Sometimes, being the resident expert (clown) at a food and drink website is all about tackling the questions that absolutely no one is asking. Why? Because that’s the only way to justify what I’m about to do: demonstrate three equally effective ways of adding caffeine to your breakfast, beyond a simple cup of coffee.
I’m always looking for ways to multitask and mix things together. I do this mostly out of curiosity, and also because I like to pretend I’m doing science in the kitchen. Now, drinking coffee is delicious and absolutely appreciated, but preparing it in liquid form is nothing more than a routine; there’s not much variety when it comes to dealing with caffeine as an ingredient—you just sip on it. Why not chew it instead?
Adding caffeine to your breakfast might save you some time to do other things in your probably not-so-busy social calendar, but honestly, this is just something you can do if you’re bored and tired, too. This way, you can be fed and feel amped enough to morph into the Kool-Aid man for the purpose of violently destroying a perfectly good wall. If you do, please put this video on TikTok.
Overnight oats are great. They involve zero cooking and you can assemble your breakfast within a plastic quart container in under two minutes before bed. This one’s pretty easy. All you need are oats, cold brew coffee (which you can steep yourself or buy as concentrate), and some form of milky substance if you’re so inclined, to cut the acidity of the coffee and help plump up the oats. I used Nesquik, because the added sweetness counteracts the bitterness of cold brew, and I decided to sprinkle in a bit of extra sugar, too.
If you’re not part of the deli quart container club, I highly recommend either collecting them from takeout meals or buying some online. I use them frequently to store food in the refrigerator that I subsequently forget about. (One recent example of this was a small quantity of plain white sticky rice, which we discovered later had grown some small green spots, plus an alarming patch of red near the bottom. That was a new mold color to me.)
All you need to do is pour in the desired amount of oats (usually anywhere from 1/2-3/4 cup), enough coffee to cover the oatmeal, and a splash of whatever milk you have on hand. If you’re feeling sassy, you can stir in dry spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. In fact, you can pair overnight oats with just about anything, such as nuts, fruit, and loose cat toys you find under the couch. Bonus points if you don’t even have a cat.
Leave it in the fridge overnight, and in the morning, breakfast is served.
Be warned: Cold brew concentrate straight from the store-bought bottle is strong. For eight ounces, expect 170 milligrams of caffeine. That’s more than some 16-ounce energy drinks, which can clock in anywhere between 140-160 milligrams of caffeine (although I’ve seen a can of energy drink clock in at a disturbing 300 mg for 16 oz.).
I expect many of you caffeine junkies are already aware that cold brew is strong, but I’m just giving you fair warning, because I don’t want any of you to blame me if your hair follicles start talking to you or something.
The caffeinated oats will come out very brown and smell pleasantly of coffee. It’ll also taste like coffee (shocking, I know). But it’s more interesting eating your coffee with a spoon, and it’ll perk you right up.
One thing that got me through ass-whooping dinner services at my former restaurant job was a mid-shift squeeze of energy drink concentrate into my deli quart container of water.
This stuff is a godsend without being too insane on the caffeine, and you can find it in most large supermarkets near the powdered drink section. The generic brands are much cheaper and taste just fine, and no matter which brand you choose, the best part is how easy it is to control your caffeine intake. One squeeze (a quantity that is not elaborated upon in the label) contains roughly 60 milligrams of caffeine. Want a little pick-me-up? Just use a touch. Hungover? Better do two firm squeezes. Looking to turn your breakfast into a coffee substitute? Let’s see what we can do here.
For something like yogurt, I’d recommend starting with plain Greek yogurt and adding some form of vaguely fruit-flavored concentrate. This one is called “Acai Berry Storm.” Since yogurt and fruit play so nice together, this helps trick your brain into thinking that such a concoction is somehow healthy for you. Although “Green Thunder” yogurt sounds like it would fit perfectly into my Xtreme Lifestyle (aka, sitting on my ass all day writing about food), it’s probably not what you want before 9 a.m.
Top it off with some real fruit and call it breakfast. I’m not sure that the seven berries I placed gingerly on the surface of the yogurt for this photo counteract all of the artificial ingredients in the energy drink syrup, but whatever. I will believe what I want to. Science doesn’t own me!
The concentrate is strong enough to make plain, unflavored yogurt taste like cheap sugar-free fruit-flavored yogurt, the kind that’s always on sale (buy one, get 25 free!). I asked my fiancée, Davida, if she wanted the rest of the little bowl I had made.
“This is pretty good,” she said after tasting a spoonful. “It tastes like Yoplait.”
As I cleaned up after my experiment in the kitchen, she looked at me from the couch and said, “I feel like I’m psychic or something,” motioning to her ears.
“What?” I asked.
“I feel like I can see into the future,” she replied, staring off into the distance. I gave her a funny look.
“It’s the energy drink in the yogurt,” I said.
Take this how you will.
Yes, I am about to caffeinate some eggs. Yes, I used caffeinate as a verb.
This is a powder you add to your coffee to make it insane. If you think your 170 milligrams of cold brew isn’t strong enough, here’s another 60 milligrams to make you confident enough to fistfight a grizzly bear. Please do not attack bears. Trust me, it’s not worth it.
This stuff is supposed to be flavorless, but it’s actually slightly sweet. You’d definitely notice the flavor if you mixed it into a glass of plain water or something. But that’s not what we’re doing here.
All you have to do is beat it into some eggs and scramble them like you would normally do. The added benefit (if you can even call it that) is that your eggs will also have Vitamins B12 and B6 in them, thanks to the energy powder. Is that good? I don’t know, but the packet sure made it sound like a selling point.
They look like scrambled eggs. They taste like scrambled eggs. They will not make you feel like you just ate scrambled eggs. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but eating caffeine feels different than drinking it. Is this purely psychological? It just hits differently, and almost all at once.
If you’re feeling cheeky, you can also incorporate caffeine into my mom’s french toast grilled cheese recipe. But do not tell her I suggested this, because I have a feeling she’d get upset with me for turning a perfectly good sandwich into a stimulant. Now that you know how to weaponize your breakfast, go forth and enjoy your productive morning, at least until the caffeine crash kicks in.