When I quit coffee over two years ago, I had no idea what I was in for. I was about to embark on the Sakara Level II detox when I found out that I couldn’t have coffee on the five-day cleanse. Instead of freaking out, I decided to go cold turkey. It can’t be that hard, were my famous last words because let me tell you, quitting coffee was hard. Very hard. That’s even with the help of delicious healthy coffee alternatives.
If you have a caffeine addiction or just want to know how to quit coffee, then be prepared for some very real side effects. I’m talking headaches and body aches from the waist down for three days, 24 hours a day. Yeah, it wasn’t easy, but the silver lining is that it made me realize my sensitivity to caffeine. I’m so much better off without it. It helped ease my anxiety, improved my sleep, and gave me glowy skin. Not to mention, I don’t have the mid-morning caffeine crash anymore.
Featured image by Michelle Nash.
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Everything to Know About Healthy Coffee Alternatives
But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up coffee altogether. No way. My morning ritual depends on the ceremony of crafting the perfect cup—who’s with me? Now, I just drink decaf. I even grind my own decaf beans in our Rancilio Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder (we bought ours on Craigslist) and pour the perfect shot in our Gaggia Classic Pro (my husband and I got it to each other for Christmas).
After my cup of decaf, I typically make a golden latte or another healthy coffee alternative, and some days I even have matcha (yes, it has caffeine but the health benefits outweigh the bad—more on that later!).
A Nutritionist on Finding the Best Healthy Coffee Alternatives
To get a better understanding of the why behind swapping out our go-to morning beverage, I spoke with Cindy Kasindorf, a holistic nutritionist and the founder of Remedy Organics. The brand is known for its plant-based protein beverages focused on functional nutrition. I’m partial to the Matcha Fuel shake and love sipping it alongside a lighter breakfast in the morning.
Read on to learn why you might consider switching to healthy coffee alternatives. Plus, I’m sharing all the delicious substitutes that I drink when I need a boost without the crash. I’ve listed them in two sections: healthy coffee alternatives without caffeine and some with caffeine too. But if you have a caffeine sensitivity, you can skip the second section altogether!
How might our coffee habit be working against our wellness goals?
There has been great debate over whether coffee is good or bad for you. The best way to find out is by paying close attention to how coffee makes you feel as it may affect each individual differently. For some, coffee may cause jitters, headaches, insomnia, and gut issues. If so, then it may be working against your wellness goals and it’s best to find a coffee alternative.
What should we look for in a healthy coffee alternative?
For a natural boost of energy, some coffee alternatives I love are matcha, ashwagandha, maca, cacao, and L- theanine for a stimulating affect without the jitters. You can add any of these or a combination of these ingredients to tea, oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk or your preferred base of choice.
Oftentimes, products can be marketed as ‘healthy’ but really include artificial ingredients and fillers. What are a few ingredients that can clue us in right away that the product’s a no-go?
Sugar-free or zero sugar is something to be wary of as it typically disguises artificial and synthetic sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame which are endocrine disruptors and can cause headaches and digestive issues.
So many coffee alternatives, like Remedy, now feature additional wellness-boosting ingredients. What ingredients would you recommend we look to incorporate into our morning beverage routines and why?
We intentionally combine functional ingredients along with plant-based protein in each of our wellness shakes. When these ingredients are combined, they work synergistically and allow your body to absorb the nutrients at their optimal level.
What’s your personal beverage routine throughout the day?
I am currently taking a break from drinking coffee and instead substituting with Remedy Organics’ Matcha Fuel, Cacao Essentials, and our Energize wellness shot which contain naturally derived stimulating ingredients such as matcha, ashwagandha, maca, cacao, and L-theanine. This provides long and sustained energy without the crash and jitters.
Healthy Coffee Alternatives Without Caffeine
I am a huge fan of golden lattes and this Cosmic Gold version from Moon Juice is delicious. The adaptogenic golden milk supports healthy collagen with reishi, ashwagandha, and astragalus while also managing stress with Silver Ear Mushroom and Hyaluronic Acid.
Yes, it’s another golden latte, but this one has a slightly different flavor to the Moon Juice version above. It is a little sweeter thanks to the coconut palm sugar and comes in handy sachets for perfect portions. Add hot water and a splash of milk or heat some milk with a frother and have a creamy latte.
If you really want to give yourself an energy boost without the caffeine, then reach for the power of mushrooms. This delicious beverage is a hot chocolate with benefits thanks to the mushrooms like reishi and chaga which support and strengthen your immune system while managing your stress and enhancing your mood. I love to mix a little into my golden latte.
If you miss the flavor of coffee, then try a dandelion instead. It has a great roasted flavor without the acidity or bitterness of coffee. Roasted dandelion root also boasts major health benefits too because it contains probiotics which according to nutritionist, Julie Upton can “help feed good bacteria in the gut for regularity and immune-boosting. It also has antioxidants and may stimulate circulation to help reduce inflammation.” Sign me up.
While the Sakara Level II detox I spoke about earlier was intense, the results were incredible and one thing I continue to drink is their detox tea. It has a rooibos base with lemongrass and rose so it tastes delicious, but it always helps to soothe my stomach if it’s feeling bloated.
This brand might be the new kid on the block but Chaga has been around for centuries. This nutrient-dense superfood has been known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol while supporting the immune system and fighting inflammation. It can be added to any beverage for a natural boost.
I love an elevated hot chocolate, and this blend is the ultimate grown-up version that just so happens to deliver incredible health benefits. The powder blend has seven essential superfoods to support skin glow, helps to debloat, and balances out stress. Your body and mind will thank you for this one.
If you’re looking for another golden milk option, then you’ll definitely want to check out Clevr’s lovely offerings. It’s made with single-farm turmeric, blended with organic spices, adaptogens, mushrooms, and probiotics. Oat milk and coconut cream give it a delectable creamy consistency, so all you need to do is add water to jump-start your morning.
How gorgeous is this beetroot latte? Not only is it tasty, but it’s packed with antioxidants, nitrates, vitamins, and minerals that can help to reduce blood pressure, detoxify, and boost post-workout recovery. It gives you a natural boost of energy while supporting heart health.
Healthy Coffee Alternatives With Caffeine
While these healthy coffee alternatives do have caffeine, they don’t have the crash that coffee can give you. Often, the way our body processes the side effects of caffeine is different depending on the drink, since options like tea can have milder physical effects than coffee.
That’s also why I’m including decaf coffee options under the caffeine section. Even though the amount of caffeine is minimal, some people still feel the effects. If you have caffeine sensitivity, then opt for the fully caffeine-free options we outlined above.
As I shared above, I love having the Matcha Fuel shake in the morning to kick start my day with an extra boost of protein. Each bottle is packed with nutrients that provide immune support, sustained energy, and a healthy dose of antioxidants. I also love the addition of turmeric to combine all of this goodness with natural anti-inflammatory properties. The fact that it’s gorgeous to look at in the fridge is only a secondary benefit.
If you find that the caffeine in tea doesn’t affect you as much as coffee, then give this chai concentrate try. I suggest making chai ice cubes like the photo above and adding milk—a game changer!
Pop & Bottle
It doesn’t get much prettier than this. Pop & Bottle’s pastel-hued cans aren’t just stunning in any fridge—depending on the flavor, these healthy coffee alternatives are packed with everything from collagen to adaptogens to functional mushrooms. The matcha is my personal favorite. The ceremonial-grade matcha is lightly sweetened with dates and supports your immune system with reishi and maitake mushrooms.
This is the perfect alternative for those looking to get a tiny dose of caffeine that won’t leave you jittery. It’s a soothing blend of cacao, chai, and a powerhouse combo of ingredients including Lion’s Mane, chaga, reishi, and more. It helps with energy, memory, focus, and calm, while also boosting immunity and soothing inflammation. And don’t get me started on the delicious, earthy flavor.
If you’re not a huge fan of the taste, then this matcha turmeric blend is a delicious compromise. It is also packed with all the good stuff and none of the bad—it’s a win, win! Plus, you’re also supporting a small BIPOC-owned business!
Good & Gather
As I explained earlier, I have transitioned to decaf since quitting cold turkey over two years ago and now I’ve even converted my family to the decaf side! There are so many great options now like the Good & Gather organic vanilla blend, but I am also a big fan of buying beans from (and supporting) local coffee shops. My favorites are the Cafecito Organico Decaf Coffee Beans or the Canyon Coffee Afternoon Decaf. It honestly tastes like the real thing!
Now, I know matcha isn’t caffeine-free but it doesn’t give you the jitters as coffee does. That’s because matcha contains L-Theanine a rare amino acid and natural calming agent that combines with caffeine to give you a boost without the typical coffee crash. There are also a lot of incredible health benefits like powerful antioxidants that can help to improve metabolism, and it’s packed with fiber.
If you’ve been curious about fermented teas like kombucha, dip your toes in with one of my most loved flavors. It’s one of my favorite ways to start the day. It soothes the stomach, is surprisingly filling, and is full of superfoods, probiotics, and detoxifying acids. Most of the caffeine is eliminated during the fermentation process, but it does have trace amounts that can affect those who are very sensitive. Overall it’s a delightfully bubbly beverage.
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This post was originally published on February 11, 2021, and has since been updated.