By Gabby Landsverk and Rachel Hosie
“Proffee,” a TikTok trend that involves mixing protein and coffee, promises to bring the health benefits of both in a convenient, delicious format.
As nutrition reporters (and coffee fans), we were excited to try this, and were pleasantly surprised to find that it’s a tasty way to get extra protein. However, we didn’t see many benefits compared with just having a shake and coffee separately, and it’s probably not something we’ll add to our routines.
What is “proffee”?
Protein coffee isn’t new. Will Corby, Head of Coffee at Pact, a UK specialty coffee subscription company, told Insider he’s been adding a double espresso to his protein shakes for years, and that the combination is a natural fit who want the benefits of both.
TikTok has recently reignited the trend, with people posting videos of their favorite ways of mixing the drink. Some of the most popular methods involve getting espresso from Starbucks in a large cup of ice, then pouring a bottled, flavored protein shake directly in.
While proffee sometimes includes other additives like sugar-free syrup or almond milk, most often it’s just coffee and a protein shake, which already has flavors like caramel, vanilla, or cinnamon roll.
Why would you drink this?
Many of the TikTok videos involving proffee mention weight loss, recommending the trend as a healthier version of an indulgent coffee drink, with fewer calories and carbohydrates, and less sugar. Depending on the type of protein shake, though, it could contain quite a few carbs and sugar since a lot of protein supplements are high in both.
Proffee also isn’t particularly low calorie (160–200, in our versions), so the main difference between that and a latte is that it packs 22 to 30 grams of protein, compared to four to nine grams in standard coffee drinks.
One advantage is that the extra protein could help stave off hunger, and could help you get the benefits of eating breakfast in a convenient way. That’s particularly true if the caffeine in your morning coffee typically leads to sugar cravings, said Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian and nutritionist and author of Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table.
Protein coffee could also help with weight loss if the flavored shake is replacing heaps of sugar and cream in your usual coffee routine, she said.
Adding protein to coffee could help fuel your workouts, too. However, it’s not a panacea — more protein doesn’t necessarily lead to more muscle gain, or fat loss. It’s just one component of overall diet and training.
Taub-Dix said that if you enjoy a vanilla latte as an occasional treat, you’re better off getting the real thing. Proffee will only support your fitness goals if you enjoy it enough to drink it regularly.
“If you’re taking a cup of coffee and dumping scoops of protein in there, it’s just a thick cup of coffee,” she said.
If you do drink proffee, stick to protein blends with ingredients you recognize, and avoid extra sugar, Taub-Dix said. She also suggests including whole-food sources of nutrients, such banana, berries, or nut butter.
She cautioned that combined caffeine and artificial sweeteners (often used in low-sugar protein shakes) could lead to some digestive issues.
“It could be a blowout experience that would really move you,” Taub-Dix said.
Here’s what we thought when we tried proffee ourselves.
Rachel’s proffee verdict
There wasn’t much choice of bottled protein shakes in my local grocery store, but I picked up a vanilla shake that contained 175 calories and 22g protein.
Next I stopped by a coffee shop and got myself a double espresso — I’d seen some people making their proffee with iced black coffee or cold brew, but I figured that might be a bit watery.
When I got home I let the coffee cool slightly before filling a glass with ice, pouring in the espresso and then the vanilla shake.
The liquids swirled together in a satisfying way and it certainly looked appetizing. I was surprised to find it tasted just as good.
I loved the proffee on my first few sips, but then I realized that I was only really getting the shake, so it simply tasted like vanilla milk. After stirring up, the coffee flavor came through, but I couldn’t help but think I preferred the shake alone.
Would I drink it again? Yes, but I don’t think it’ll be something I do often — perhaps after an early morning workout. I prefer a shake on its own.
Gabby’s proffee verdict
I tried two versions of this trend, one homemade, and one using the Starbucks/bottled shake technique from TikTok.
For the first, I used a scoop of my regular chocolate whey protein powder, mixed with six ounces of homemade cold brew coffee in a blender. It was appealing, with a thick texture and a pleasant mocha smell.
The second round was more ambiguous. I stopped by my local Brooklyn Starbucks and picked up triple shot of espresso over ice. Then I bought a four-pack of premade protein shakes from the nearby pharmacy.
I poured the espresso in a glass and topped in with the shake, creating a marbling effect. I wasn’t sure how much protein shake to add, so I went with half the bottle.
The experience was underwhelming. I couldn’t taste the coffee, and the drink felt much thinner than my blended, homemade version.
I normally drink my coffee black, so I also picked up a vanilla Frappuccino for comparison. The Frappuccino was sweet without the aftertaste of artificial sugar, and significantly creamier in taste and texture. If I was looking for this in my proffee, I’d have been disappointed.
After the proffee, I felt energetic, and wasn’t hungry for a few hours. This wasn’t much of a change from how I feel after my usual two cups of black coffee in the morning.
I felt less jittery than I do when I occasionally indulge in a sugary coffee drink, but the proffee didn’t satisfy my sweet tooth, so ultimately it wasn’t it worth it for me.
The bottom line
We weren’t impressed by proffee, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. If you enjoy rich, sweet coffee drinks, and you’re looking for a less sugary alternative, this could helpful. It could also provide nutrients if you’re too busy for breakfast, or need a boost after a morning workout.
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