Do you like to start your day with a healthy smoothie? Do you also like to start your day with a coffee? I am guessing most people answer the second question with a resounding, “Yes” and a fair proportion also answer “Yes” to the first question, especially the more health-conscious folks. But what if you could combine both and get the best of both worlds?
When visiting Antigua in Guatemala, surely the most beautifully-preserved, Spanish, colonial city in all the Americas, I happened to stop at the Union Café. I was looking for a good coffee but I noticed a smoothie on the menu which caught my eye. It contained ingredients like an espresso shot, coffee beans, coconut oil, cacao, banana and milk.
I was hooked and on first taste I was tickled pink with how good it was. Filling, satisfying, delicious, healthy with just a little bit of naughtiness! It might sound like an unusual mix of ingredients but then I was in Guatemala, home to arguably the best coffee beans in the world and masters on all things cacao, the raw ingredient for making chocolate.
I also find it interesting the Union Cafe’s Smart Smoothie meets all the requirements for a paleo diet and definitely appears to be the smoothie version of Bulletproof coffee. So interesting to see modern diet trends, including coconut oil, have made it to the ancient colonial city of Antigua! (By the way, their whole menu of smoothies and juices are all healthy!)
Antigua, Home to Great Coffee Beans and Cacao
Antigua in Guatemala is simply a stunning place to visit. High in the mountains, it is cooler than other parts of Guatemala, and is reputed to be the most attractive, Spanish, colonial town in all The Americas. With due respect to Lake Atitlan and Tikal, it is my favorite place to visit in Guatemala. It is also a safe place to visit.
Antigua is surrounded by 3 volcanoes, 2 of which are active. You can read more about volcanoes in Guatemala including our hike up one of them, Pacaya. The area around Antigua is heavily-forested with steep hills and this is where a lot of Guatemalan coffee hails from. The cooler, tropical climate works in its favor for growing coffee.
I acknowledge I am a coffee snob, but I have enjoyed Guatemalan coffee for some years in a number of great Melbourne cafes, surely the world’s best place to enjoy real coffee!
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Now in Antigua, I took the opportunity to visit a coffee plantation, Finca Filidelfia, and learn how great coffee beans are grown, harvested and (minimally) processed. The biggest surprise is how much effort and labor goes into producing enough coffee beans for a great cup of coffee.
Another one of my vices is chocolate. As I have aged, I have realized that less is more and I tend to buy better quality chocolate but less often compared to when I was younger. I grew up on cocoa. But as I have now learned, cocoa is often highly processed (read sugar). So you need to be picky and source unsweetened cocoa or cacao, the raw bean from which cocoa is derived from.
So, having confessed my love of chocolate, it was a must visit to tour the ChocoMuseo, also in Antigua. It is free to enter and the staff are generous handing out free samples. Like the coffee beans, the chocolate and other cacao-based products are extremely high quality and reasonably priced.
So, in honor of the coffee beans, cacao beans and the Union Café in Antigua, I knew I had to recreate the recipe and share how to start your day with this healthy smoothie.
Start Your Day with This Healthy Smoothie
There is no ice in this smoothie, instead cut up some raw banana and freeze it. If you have ripe bananas needing to be eaten, freeze them! That way the smoothie is not diluted with the melting ice, so it is naturally thick and you still manage a cold drink.
If you can, try and source real cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder. .
As for the coffee, you want a shot of espresso. Most people don’t own an espresso machine, use it if you do. Otherwise, use a tablespoon of (Guatemalan) ground coffee and 1 fl oz of hot water. Don’t worry if that sounds too strong, the rest of the ingredients tone down the coffee. (I will often use a coffee maker or French press, to make strong coffee). I also add some whole coffee beans into the blender, for some great texture.
I use yogurt, but feel free to substitute with milk or almond milk, for a nuttier and dairy free option. And for a Central American taste, add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top of the finished smoothie.
I hope you start your day with this healthy smoothie. It has a real touch of class about it and will leave you satisfied.
NOTE: We have no commercial relationship with Finca Filadefia, the ChocoMuseo nor Union Cafe. We just enjoyed their products.