The People's Perspective on Medicine

What Are the Health Benefits of Cinnamon in Coffee?

Adding cinnamon and cocoa to coffee may enhance its benefits for blood sugar and heart health as well as its flavor. Our reader tells how to do this.

Have you been hearing that cinnamon is good for you? Or maybe you’re worried about the potential health hazards of cinnamon but unsure of what they could be. Perhaps you have been wondering how you might take it safely. One reader found a way to put cinnamon in coffee.

The Delights of Cinnamon in Coffee:

Q. Our family has been adding cinnamon to our coffee for years. We put a mixture of cinnamon and cocoa powder (no sugar) into the coffee filter. Then, we put another filter on top of the cinnamon-cocoa filter in which we put the coffee. It gives the coffee a slight chocolate-cinnamon flavor. Yum! Are there any health benefits?

Is Cinnamon in Coffee Good for You?

A. Cinnamon can help keep post-meal blood sugar from spiking (Lipids in Health and Disease, June 12, 2017).  It may also help control cholesterol levels (Clinical Nutrition, online March 11, 2018). Along with blood sugar, cinnamon also appears to help moderate blood pressure (Diabetic Medicine, Oct. 2010).

Putting cinnamon in coffee as you do takes care of one problem we worry about with cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon, the common spice you probably have on your kitchen shelf, contains varying levels of a compound called coumarin. At high enough levels, coumarin can be toxic to the liver. However, coumarin is not water-soluble. By adding cinnamon to a filter and pouring hot water over it, you get the benefits of cinnamon in coffee without the risk.

You are smart to use a disposable filter. Powdered cinnamon can gum up a metal filter and cause a mess that is difficult to clean up.

Is Cocoa in Coffee Good for You?

Some research indicates that cocoa might also have health benefits, reducing the risk of cardiovascular complications and diabetes (Clinical Nutrition, online, June 1, 2018). Although most research has focused on the health benefits of cocoa flavonoid compounds without sugar (as you are getting in your coffee), one meta-analysis even found that chocolate could help lower the likelihood of stroke, heart attack, heart disease and heart failure (Heart, online July 30, 2018). The optimal dose appears to be around 45 grams/week, about an ounce and a half.

The Health Benefits of Coffee:

Coffee itself appears to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (Diabetes Care, Feb. 2014). Caffeinated and decaf coffee work equally well. People who drink coffee are also less likely to develop liver disease (PLoS One, Nov. 10, 2015). Those who consume one to three cups daily appear to enjoy healthier blood pressure levels than those who drink more or less (Nutrients, March 14, 2017).

Learn More:

To learn more about a variety of ways to control blood sugar, including other natural approaches, you may wish to read our People’s Pharmacy Guide to Managing Diabetes. Anyone who would like a printed copy, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope:

  • Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy
  • No. DM-11
  • P. O. Box 52027
  • Durham, NC 27717-2027

You may also wish to read other articles we have written, such as this one on the health benefits of chocolate and this one on the benefits of cinnamon. Our podcast, How to Prevent Diabetes by Changing Your Life, may also interest you.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I see a lot of questions but do not see any answers here. Where are the answers to the questions?

The two disposable filter approach sounds very wasteful.

I believe cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties as well. Might be helpful for people with osteoarthritis. I’m definitely going to try it.

How much cinnamon and cocoa would you use per cup?

How much is an ounce and a half of cocoa powder in terms of teaspoons? Giving amounts in terms of ounces and grams is not helpful for most people. Thank you in advance.

I never thought to use 2 filters! Cinnamon floats!!
So, I bought commercial filters that go all the way to the top of my basket when I use my 12-cup drip.

I too would be interested in “how much” of each is used. I use about 1/8th teaspoon.

Since reading about adding cocoa here in the People’s Pharmacy post and in an AARP publication, my husband and I began adding between 1 tsp. (his preference) to up to 1 tbsp. (mine) to a cup of brewed coffee. It dissolves well in hot coffee. Just stir it in. We use premium baking cocoa – we buy it in two packs online. Now we’ll add some cinnamon. We buy the Ceylon cinnamon that’s safe on your liver in large packets from the health food store or online. There was an article in a recent AARP magazine about the cognitive benefits of the cocoa in coffee.

I think the coffee and cocoa lobbies have gone in together! I do not believe that coffee or cocoa are healthful. They both have additives and impurities. I have read that Ceylon cinnamon is less toxic than other kinds, but why consume cinnamon at all?

In answer to Patricia’s question, I use 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon per cup. Start lower than this. The filter on some coffee makers may overflow with this amount. Powdered cinnamon slows down the drip. If you use Ceylon cinnamon, instead of cassia, it can be put directly in the cup.

Pure cacao is helpful for me. I was stressed and remembered how dark chocolate had a calming affect on me. I know it activated the dopamine receptors. I believe coffee does as well. I definitely feel better since adding it to the coffee along with cinnamon. I wasn’t using cinnamon for awhile when my fasting sugar was over 150. Next time I had coffee with sugar and cinnamon, donut, and banana before the test. My sugar was 100. I know a woman whose doctor told her if she couldn’t control her diet and sugar she would have to go on insulin. She did some research. She refused to stop eating her cookies so she took cinnamon capsules with her cookies. A month later her doctor asked her what she did? Her sugar was perfect, and she is no longer diagnosed as a diabetic. It’s not the first story like that I had heard. My neurologist told me that cinnamon is also good for memory. It’s always been my favorite spice.

I have sprinkled cinnamon on my dry caffeine-free coffee grounds for years. The cocoa sounds good, but I have to limit chocolate and am not about to give up my one ounce a day of dark sugar-free chocolate. Due to article in PEOPLE’S PHARMACY years ago, I buy cinnamon online that is made in Ceylon. I also put cinnamon on oatmeal and in most cookies I make. Also only way I eat an apple is to core, slice and microwave for a minute and sprinkle cinnamon on the hot apple. Yummy…

I keep a cinnamon stick beside my keurig, pop it in my 2nd cup daily, steep briefly and save for multiple uses. No cocoa for me. Save the dark chocolate for bedtime :)

I started taking 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder every morning about eight months ago. My A1c went from 7.8 to 6.4.

In the study from LIPID IN HEALTH AND DISEASE those who took the cinnamon ate 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a capsule(3gm)They did not filter it first in a coffee filter.Who puts that much cinnamon in coffee after it is brewed.?
The results were not impressive. Those that took the cinnamon had an average fasting blood sugar of 93. Those who did not had a fasting blood sugar of 111. Both of those are below the level ( 126)_ required to diagnose diabetes. None of these subjects had diabetes. These differences, while perhaps statistically significant, are not clinically relevant.

Lucky enough to have an old fashioned drip pot that makes 2 cups. I use it every day (it was my dad’s so is about 50 years old). I always put a little cinnamon on the grounds before adding water. Might try some cocoa next time. (regular unsweetened cocoa powder). I have low blood pressure as my dad had. Maybe that’s the reason!

Basil is probably the least expensive source of polyphenols. I grow plants in pots year round and pick a few leaves when I walk by. Bruschetta, pesto, salad ingredient.

Cloves are the most convenient source of poly phenols. Just chew one or two in the morning, at noon and at night. Cloves are reported to have the same blood sugar lowering effect of cinnamon and no reported liver toxicity.

The health benefits of coffee, cinnamon, chocolate and red wine are probably do to polyphenols. Olive oil probably works mostly because of its polyphenols and partly because of its polyunsaturated fats. Other sources of polyphenols are cloves, citrus, red cabbage, basil.

There are disadvantages to most polyphenol sources. Citrus is bad for tooth enamel; I like limes which don’t have the sugar of oranges or the effect of grapefruit on ACE inhibitors or blockers. Chocolate is bitter and is a temptation to add sugar. Coffee causes a blood sugar spike and blood pressure spike for an hour or two. I drink one cup of coffee in the morning with my oatmeal and flaxseed. The rest goes in the refrigerator for mid day. Two small blood pressure and sugar spikes are better than one big one. Some are expensive. Chocolate and coffee are bad for esophageal reflux. Wine is bad for diabetes and hypertension.

I would like to try this. Could you please tell me how much cocoa and cinnamon to add for 6 cups of coffee? Thanks!

Since this is a home remedy, we are estimating amounts. For six cups, we’d use three teaspoons of cinnamon and three tablespoons of cocoa.

I was wondering the same thing. How much cinnamon and cocoa for 8 cups of coffee

Don’t use super market cinnamon. Instead, order true cinnamon. Faker cinnamon can cause organ damage.

As we explained in the article, using the water-based extract protects against the liver damage that could result from consuming ground “supermarket” cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia).

I use a Keurig coffee brewer. I put chocolate in the bottom of my cup before brewing and sprinkle cinnamon on top of the milk froth I add to the top. Saves money and is healthier than the coffee shop ones.

I have a Keurig coffee maker. So, you put the choc. in the bottom of the cup, then brew your pod and add a little cinnamon on top. Is this the way you make your coffee??

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