New York City, NY

'Procoffee' Trend Catching on in NYC, Enthusiasts Swear it Makes Them 'Prettier'

Bryce Gruber

The latest coffee trend to hit New York has solid bones.

New Yorkers are pretty jaded when it comes to coffee -- oatmilk lattes, flat whites, upside down mochas, and energy jolt shots? Been there, done that. The newest craze is called 'procoffee' and it's one that health, beauty, and wellness fanatics across social media are sipping with gusto.

Procoffee is simply collagen-enhanced coffee, with the 'pro' part of that name stemming from collagen actually being a form of protein. Those who love the supplement swear by it, insisting it makes them feel everything from 'prettier' to 'stronger' after just weeks of regular use. In fact, the global collagen market demand hit nearly a billion pounds in 2019, and the cosmetic wellness industry is driving the uptick.

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Instagram.com/vitalproteins

"Gut health is all of the rage these days and collagen is touted for keeping our gut healthy," explains Marissa Meshulam, MS, RD & Founder of MPM Nutrition, based in New York City. "We all have this obsession with protein where we feel like we constantly need more, and collagen is more protein. Collagen is what keeps our skin youthful and elastic, so in the world of anti-aging, collagen is a dream. Collagen companies have done a great job with influencer marketing showing people how easy it is to add it into your routine. Since it has tacked onto the whole gut health, anti-aging, protein & influencer train, it has really caught speed!"

Influencers, beauty editors, and bloggers have rallied around the supplement as a sort of unsung hero of ingestible beauty. "I just feel prettier when I'm on my collagen routine," says a major national beauty magazine editor who requested anonymity. "I know it's common to add it to your coffee, and I do that too with a bit of coconut milk creamer, but I also add it to my smoothies, and occasionally I add the powder to my soups in the winter if they're already heavy on flavor. I know there aren't a lot of studies, but I feel like my skin just looks brighter when I'm good about adding it to my diet every day, and my nails definitely look great when I don't skimp. But maybe it's because I don't eat much meat."

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Instagram.com/mpmnutrition

So how much collagen are you supposed to add to your coffee, anyway?

"The amount you 'need' really depends on body size," says Meshulam. "I have a blog post on collagen here. Because we cannot absorb longer chained molecules like collagen or collagen peptides, our body breaks them down into amino acids that we can absorb. Once absorbed, we use the amino acids as building blocks to synthesize protein throughout the body, including collagen."

Amazon reviews of Vital Proteins, the clear front runner in the ingestible collagen supplement field, suggest the brand's single-scoop serving of nine grams is enough to see noticeable results. "Nine (9) grams protein per scoop," writes one five-star review.

"This much protein is a MAJOR BOON for my 90-year-old mom, who cannot eat enough protein to meet her daily goals. She is sensitive to 'funny tastes' and textures and she LOVES this unflavored, completely dissolvable product! She uses it in her coffee, soups, drinks, shakes, even gravy! She asked me to put it on automatic order. HOORAY! So happy we found this"
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Vital Proteins Unflavored Collagen Powder, Amazon.com

Procoffee can be served either hot or cold as these collagen-based powder supplements are designed to dissolve quickly into all types of liquid -- with even 'protea' beginning to catch on as a breakfast drink counterpoint.

It's important to remember these collagen supplements likely aren't suitable for vegetarians or vegans though, the very audiences they'd likely be best for. Vital Proteins, for example, is made of grass-fed bovine collagen, which is harvested from cow bones. This particular brand is both kosher and halal, making it suitable for a wide variety of potential imbibers, while other brands market themselves as sources of "marine collagen" which is far more ambiguous and less precise on exactly which types of fish and seafood are harvested (nevermind the how or where questions). The marine collagen option leaves those with shellfish allergies wondering if they're safe to try.

"I use the Vital Proteins powder because I don't do seafood," our New York City-based beauty editor friend quipped when we asked which collagen supplement she added to her morning brew. "I like the flavorless one. It just sort of melts into whatever you add it to, but I also think the chocolate flavor is really nice with a tall mug of coffee. I do six or seven ounces of super hot coffee, add a scoop of the chocolate powder, and then an ounce or two of coconut creamer. It's really good, and you don't taste anything except for mocha-style goodness. But also, I think I got all my neighbors in Williamsburg hooked on this stuff now."

Does collagen supplementation really do anything, though?

"Collagen supplements totally seem like they should work," Boston-based board certified dermatologist, Dr. Papri Sarkar explains. "Our bodies starting breaking down more collagen than they make in our twenties, so adding some back in to help our skin retain its plump and structure just makes sense. The problem is that dietary collagen gets broken down in the stomach, like all proteins do, into amino acids and we can't control where our body sends those. We do know the body generally errs on sending nutrients that we need to the areas that we need it. So if your muscles have taken a hit? That's where your body is sending those collagen break down products."

While we probably can't pick and choose where the benefits of collagen supplementation and our morning procoffee drinks go, Dr. Sarkar is cautiously optimistic. "A recent meta-analysis examined the results of 19 little studies and found that dietary hydrolyzed collagen taken over 90 days may help with fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin elasticity and hydration. Sounds promising right? The problem is that although those studies were randomized most of them measured whether fine lines and wrinkling were improved by relying on subjective patient self assessments. They also didn't control for whether the patient added another significant skin care product to their regimen when they were on their skin improvement kick, like retinoids, which also happen to improve fine lines and wrinkling in 90 days. So, I'm not quite ready to sign all of my patients up for this, especially because for some patients it can have side effects. If you're prone to kidney stones or kidney problems, taking too much collagen can be dangerous. For others it can cause gas."

Sarkar actually thinks the procoffee trend is actually onto something though, although the expected benefits may not be the most medically-accurate results. "Many people add this hydrolyzed collagen to their diet in beverages like coffee or smoothies. Adding a protein source to sweetened liquids will help slow down the sugar and resulting insulin spike that this usually elicits. Slowing down sugar absorption or decreasing it in the diet is thought to decrease inflammation. Infllammation eggs on many skin diseases including the aging process."

She suggests giving it a try if you have a low-protein diet, because protein deficiencies on their own can cause structural hair and nail abnormalities and even hair loss.

"Our body tends to shunt our resources towards the things it needs the most like our heart, lungs, blood etc. If you're low in protein, your hair and nails won't be getting much love. So if you loathe steak or lentils, collagen supplementation might help with tangible results."

Have you tried adding collagen to your morning coffee? We'd love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the trend in the comments section below.

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Bryce Gruber covers women's lifestyle content and news ranging from shopping to travel, beauty to parenting, wellness and delicious eating. Find her at @brycegruber on social media, and across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting topics at TheLuxurySpot.com, Readers' Digest, Bravo, Parents.com, Martha Stewart, and on your TV screen through national talk shows including The Tamron Hall Show. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.

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