I have quit drinking coffee countless times in my life, and if there is anything I have learned is that it is near to impossible to do unless you have the best coffee alternatives. And why quit coffee you wonder? Well, for some of us, a coffee-free life is an essential step to getting the health we want. For all coffee’s health benefits, and there are quite a few, there are also a number of health side effects. From anxiety and energy crashes to sleep problems, blood sugar swings and gallbladder attacks, coffee does influence the body system.
Just to be clear, this is not an article written to demonize coffee (a great cup of coffee can be heaven!), but rather an article to help those of us who no longer want to be attached. It is for those of us that are victim to the negative side effects of coffee, and no longer solely enjoy its highs. I am one of those such people. I used to be able to drink countless cups of coffee a day without effect, but over the past couple of years, I have noticed a slew of unwelcome symptoms. Drinking a cup of coffee in the morning causes me to sweat (I know, a definite negative side effect), makes me anxious, and the worst one of all, it causes a blood sugar crash that makes me feel more tired throughout the day. After months and months of denial, I finally came to terms with the fact that it was time to make a change. From there I tried all different kinds of coffee alternatives with the goal of finding the best one meeting the following criteria:
- Minimal to no caffeine: I have found that a little caffeine helps the transition off coffee, and provides just enough of a boost to get started in the day without side effects
- Warming beverage that can replace the ceremony of drinking a morning cup of coffee
- Contains nourishing and revitalizing nutrients to energize and support health
- Easy to make: typically it is too early to bother over complex drink recipes
The good news is that I found quite a few great coffee alternative options that taste delicious and still give you energy. By supporting the body rather than draining it, the nutrients in my picks for best coffee alternatives give you long-lasting energy with no side effects. So if you are looking to switch from coffee, I’ve got you covered.
Reasons to Switch to the Best Coffee Alternatives
There are quite a few conditions in which it is advantageous to lower your coffee and caffeine intake. Some people are more affected than others, making it a better choice to drink something else in the morning. Here is a list of conditions where minimizing caffeine is advisable and where using the best coffee alternatives is highly recommended:
- throughout pregnancy or fertility issues (check out why this is so important in my article here)
- adrenal fatigue and burnout (chronic fatigue, feeling wired and anxious, sleep issues, mild depression or anxiety, weak immune system, difficulty getting up in the morning)
- gallbladder attacks
- acid reflux (GERD)
- irritable bowel syndrome
- heart conditions
- abnormal blood pressure
- anxiety or mood disorders
- type II diabetes
- blood sugar imbalance
The Best Coffee Alternatives for Energy
I am drinking a warm cup full of this coco gogo as I write this. Full of fiber, complex carbs, minerals, and whole-seed guarana, it is the healthiest hot chocolate you will ever drink. And there is always a good excuse for drinking hot chocolate! Coco gogo is not particularly sweet, but just sweet enough. It also is spiked with some serious superfood powerhouses such as lucuma, mesquite and guarana, giving your body a waterfall of nutrition first thing in the am.
Lucuma is a delicious fruit, native to the Andes, that is enjoyed for its nutritional content as well as its creamy flavor. Lucuma contains a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins and minerals and is especially high in beta-carotene, iron and niacin (vitamin B3).
Next, we have mesquite. Mesquite is a traditional Native American food that has been used for centuries as a reliable source of nutrients in the harshest of climates. Mesquite boasts an impressive protein content and a solid variety of minerals, being especially high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sulfur. Mesquite’s combination of calcium and magnesium make it a great food for bone health. It has a molasses-like flavor which helps make this cacao drink so delicious!
Now let’s not forget guarana. Guarana is a natural energy-booster known to quicken perception, increase metabolism and assist in weight loss. Guarana contains caffeine but does not create the same agitated response since it does not stress the adrenal glands.
Finally, we have the big dog, cacao. Cacao is one of the highest natural sources of magnesium and antioxidants, helping to protect our cells from damage. Containing Theobromine, cacao enhances mood and brain function, making us feel happy and alert. Cacao’s nutrients also support healthy muscle contraction (great for restless leg), cardiovascular health, PMS and give us energy. And let’s not forget that it provides some of the same neurotransmitters our brain produces when we’re happy and in love! No wonder I love this drink so very much!
Ingredients: Organic Coconut Sugar, Organic Cacao Powder, Raw Organic Lucuma, Organic Mesquite, Organic Guaraná, Organic Vanilla, Himalayan Sea Salt. 6 grams of sugar.
Okay, I will admit that I was sufficiently addicted and obsessed with this drink for months… many months. It has the perfect combination of a bitter matcha green tea flavor, the complex and alluring exotic notes from the chai and turmeric spices, and a hint of sweetness and full body flavor from the coconut sugar and coconut milk. This drink is everything all in one cup. The best part is like the Coco Gogo, it is crazy healthy for you.
Matcha (a powdered green tea) is one of the world’s most potent natural sources of antioxidants, free radical quenching flavanols, chlorophyll and catechins (EGCG). This means that it has powerful anti-cancer, anti-disease and anti-aging capabilities. Green tea has numerous research articles proving its health benefits, which also include blood sugar balance, weight loss, and increased mental focus. Matcha is also supportive to the immune and cardiovascular system.
The caffeine that is released from matcha is unlike that which is released from coffee. Matcha provides a natural energizing effect, one that increases alertness and concentration, but is also soothing and meditative unlike coffee. There is no caffeine crash, just a supportive sharpness throughout the day.
As if those health benefits were not enough, this Matcha Chai Latte also contains turmeric. Turmeric is renown for its far-reaching health benefits that are derived from its compound called curcumin. It is this compound that has been proven in countless research studies to provide extraordinary benefits to the functioning of the body. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and alleviate symptoms of arthritis. Evidence is also mounting – with 200 citations for turmeric and cancer and more than 700 for curcumin and cancer – that turmeric may be comparable to pharmaceuticals for its effectiveness against cancers, specifically of the colon, breast, esophagus, oral cavity, prostate and liver.
Ingredients: Organic Coconut Milk Powder, (Organic Coconut Milk, Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Gum Arabic), Organic Coconut Nectar Crystals, Organic Japanese Matcha Tea, Organic Chai Spice Blend (Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger, Organic Cardamom, Organic Cloves, Organic Black Pepper), Organic Turmeric, Organic Reb-A Stevia. 4 grams of sugar.
Out of all of these choices, Teeccino is probably the most well-known coffee alternative. It is caffeine-free, but has a similar taste to coffee itself. The reason why I really like it is that it can help wean you off caffeine. It comes ground like a coffee, so you can actually blend it with coffee grounds. That way you can slowly taper off caffeine by decreasing the amount of coffee you are drinking over time. It blends really well, so if you make it in a French Press or something similar and add a splash of creamer, you cannot really tell that much of a difference.
Teeccino is naturally acid-free, helping to restore alkalinity to the body. It is also rich in minerals and nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and magnesium and contains some of the B vitamins. Through these nutrients, it provides a natural energy boost and restores hydration to the body. Chicory also provides a source of inulin, a prebiotic soluble fiber that feeds your probiotics (healthy gut flora). These gut bacteria promote healthy digestion, a happy mood and healthy immune system.
Ingredients: roasted organic carob, organic barley, organic chicory, organic ramon seeds, natural coffee flavor.
Golden milk is all the rage today as a slew of research reveals how beneficial turmeric is to health. I personally love this coffee alternative since it offers a wide range of benefits including anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a perfect reprieve to the darker, bitter and more sweet tastes of the options above, and is great for an afternoon snack.
So what is golden milk exactly? Golden Milk is based on the traditional Ayurvedic recipe that has been savored for centuries and used to support the mind and body in a number of ways. Within the ancient branch of medicine in India known as Ayurveda, Golden Milk is a tonic that’s meant to be nourishing, while also tasting delicious. This warm yellow beverage takes its color from Turmeric, which is combined with other traditional Ayurvedic herbs like Cardamom and Ashwagandha – each with their own healing abilities.
Turmeric, as we have seen before is a versatile herb that supports a healthy inflammatory response while maintaining overall health and vitality. Turmeric has antioxidants eight times more powerful than vitamin E and C, and is shown to lower cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular health. It supports the liver and bile flow, protects the brain and the stomach, and may inhibit the development of cancer.
Cardamom has a long history of supporting the digestive system. A relative of ginger, cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) was called the “Queen of Spices” in Ayurveda, where it is commonly used. It supports the elimination of intestinal gas, while improving digestive function.
Ashwagandha is a herb that is highly valued in Ayurveda. Ashwagandha is one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs used today, utilized for its ability to reduce stress and to strengthen the body. This herb is both a tonic, meaning it supports the body’s overall well-being and an adaptogen, meaning it supports the body’s natural resistance to the stresses of daily life. It can help with energy and sleep, as well as supporting natural hormone balance.
Ingredients: Turmeric root (Curcuma longa), Date Palm fruit (Phoenix dactylifera), Cardamom seed (Elettaria cardamomum), Ashwagandha root (Withania somnifera), Vanilla bean (Vanilla planifolia), Black Pepper fruit (Piper nigrum). less than 1 gram sugar.
What about the caffeine content?
Just to make it clear, the matcha chai and the coco gogo do contain caffeine, but at much lower levels than coffee. This makes them great alternatives to coffee, especially when making the transition. They offer a more even and steady energy boost without the negative side effects. Since they do contain some caffeine, they are great for weaning off a caffeine addiction. But, as you can see from the table below, they have minimal caffeine compared to a cup of coffee.
*there are varying amounts of caffeine in coffee depending on roast and type of brew. These are best estimates.
Coffee (8 fl.oz): 95-200 mg
Espresso (1 fl.oz): 47-75 mg
Coco Gogo (per 8 oz. serving – 13 g): 20 mg
Matcha Chai (per 8 oz. serving – 12 g): 51 mg
Golden Milk: caffeine-free
What about Decaf Coffee? Is that a healthy option?
Decaf coffee certainly seems like the most obvious alternative when switching from coffee to a low caffeine option, but I have not found it to be the best. Here are the reasons why:
- Decaf coffee is very dehydrating. Being dehydrated is a quick way to disease, kidney stones, bladder cancer, and dull and dry skin to name a few conditions.
- Decaf coffee causes mineral loss: Much like regular coffee, drinking decaf coffee diminishes our mineral content. Minerals are essential for all aspects of health including strong bones, digestion, energy production, detoxification and disease prevention, so we do not want to lose them.
- Decaf coffee has chemical residues: the process of decaffeinating coffee utilizes potentially harmful chemicals. The most common method of decaffeinating coffee uses chemical solvents, which leave residues on the beans. In fact, decaf coffee may have been soaked in several chemical solvents such as methylene chloride, a base for paint strippers, and ethyl acetate, also known as dry cleaning fluid.
- Decaf coffee has virtually no antioxidants: In addition to adding potentially harmful chemicals, the process of decaffeinating coffee also greatly diminishes the coffee’s antioxidant content. Antioxidants are what makes coffee healthy in the first place, so without them, it is merely acidic and dehydrating water.
- Decaf coffee is acidic: high acidity can cause health problems that include heartburn, ulcers, inflammatory bowel conditions, osteoporosis, and urinary tract inflammations.
*Disclaimer: I was not paid or endorsed to promote these products. All reviews and opinions are mine alone.