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Coffee Alternatives: Looking Beyond the Bean-Based Drink

Not everybody drinks espresso. In this caffeine-crazed world, it appears 1 out of 4 folks can by some means operate with out that morning jolt of java. (Seriously, it’s true! Researchers even verified it!)

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All kidding apart, there are legitimate causes for not leaning on the espresso bean at dawn and all through the day. Perhaps the caffeine offers you jitters or bumps your blood stress right into a hazard zone. Or possibly the drink upsets your tummy.

It’s even doable that you just don’t just like the style of espresso or ­— gasp! — simply wish to strive one thing totally different.

Whatever the rationale, there are drinks that serve properly as espresso options. Let’s look by way of some tasty, stylish and fascinating choices with registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, LD.

Chicory espresso

Chicory stands because the OG relating to espresso substitutes. (That’s a stylish method of claiming it’s an old-school various that dates again tons of of years.)

Chicory espresso is constituted of the ground-up roots of the chicory plant, a blue-flowered herb that’s a part of the dandelion household. It’s brewed identical to conventional espresso and gives an identical bitter style.

But the large distinction from espresso is that chicory espresso doesn’t have any caffeine: “If you’re sensitive to caffeine or want to cut back, that makes chicory a really nice alternative,” says Czerwony.

Chicory additionally checks a number of packing containers on the constructive facet of the well being ledger by:

  • Promoting intestine well being. Chicory features a fiber often called inulin, which might support your digestive course of. “It’s a prebiotic that can help your gut bacteria work better,” Czerwony provides.
  • Acting as an anti-inflammatory. Studies present that antioxidant enzymes in chicory goal chaos-causing free radicals in your physique to scale back irritation.

But no meals is ideal, proper? It appears that the inulin that revs up digestion might result in fuel and stomach bloating. And you could be extra susceptible to points with chicory if you happen to’re bothered by ragweed or pollen, cautions Czerwony.

Chicory additionally isn’t advisable if you happen to’re pregnant (an excessive amount of chicory may trigger a miscarriage) or breastfeeding (chestfeeding).

Mushroom espresso

If you wish to tone down the caffeine-packed KA-POW in your espresso, the fashionable “mushroom coffee” would be the reply. It’s principally simply common floor espresso blended with dried and milled mushroom powder.

Mushrooms are thought to be dietary powerhouses — and rightfully so. But he jury is out on whether or not the fungi are equally good to drink.

“There’s not much research backing claims that mushroom coffee delivers the same nutritional value as eating whole mushrooms,” notes Czerwony. “It doesn’t appear that the hype is based on many facts.”

Mushrooms (and mushroom espresso) can also result in digestive points, particularly if you have already got kidney issues or bother consuming grains.

Tea choices

Coffee or tea? This age-old query pits two of the world’s hottest drinks in opposition to one another. (It’s additionally the inspiration for quite a few on-line character quizzes.)

Here are a number of kinds of teas to think about if you happen to’re seeking to stray away from espresso:


“Vibrant” barely begins to explain the looks of matcha tea, a singular inexperienced tea that’s VERY inexperienced in shade.

This extremely concentrated tea is constituted of finely powdered inexperienced tea leaves spooned into sizzling water or milk. “Basically, you’re drinking down the whole leaf in a pulverized form,” explains Czerwony.

Matcha is larger in caffeine than common inexperienced tea, however usually brings a decrease buzz issue than espresso. (But there are “high-energy” matchas which can be loaded with caffeine.)

The tea drink is filled with body-boosting antioxidants and micronutrients, too. Matcha has grown in reputation lately however has been broadly used and loved in Asian cultures since historic instances.

Yerba mate

Want the caffeine of espresso with out consuming espresso? Then, allow us to introduce you to yerba mate, a strong natural tea constituted of the dried leaves of a South American holly tree.

The caffeine content in a cup of yerba mate tea is corresponding to what’s in a cup of espresso. Brew the tea longer and the caffeine depend can develop even larger, too. (And like matcha, there are high-energy yerba mate merchandise out there.)

Yerba mate boasts a formidable listing of nutritional vitamins and vitamins, and it consists of antioxidants.

One phrase of warning, although: Drinking mass quantities of yerba mate has been linked to elevated danger of sure cancers, so it’s greatest loved carefully.


Spicing up your morning routine could also be as straightforward as including in a cup of chai tea.

Chai is usually a mix of black tea and fragrant spices akin to cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and clove. It gives about half the caffeine as espresso, so it’ll present a bit of kick to get you going at dawn.

And cease if you happen to’ve heard this one earlier than about teas, however chai additionally consists of antioxidants.


After greater than 2,000 years of consumption, it appears kombucha is instantly the world’s “new” beverage of alternative.

The fermented drink’s branding as a well being elixir has despatched gross sales hovering over the previous decade. Many of the well being claims middle on “healthy little microbes” in kombucha that develop through the fermentation course of.

“There are a lot of claims about the benefits of kombucha, but a lot of them are anecdotal,” says Czerwony. “There’s not a lot of research backing it up.”

And if you happen to do drink kombucha, it’s greatest to go straightforward. Drinking an excessive amount of can result in complications, nausea or GI (gastrointestinal) misery. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that consuming roughly 4 ounces of kombucha per day “may not cause adverse effects in healthy people.”

Other teas

This listing could possibly be seemingly limitless if we cited each accessible tea. But if you happen to’re inquisitive about different tea varieties, Czerwony gives a go-to listing of wholesome teas on this article.

Hot water

A comforting warm-you-up morning drink doesn’t get extra fundamental than a mug of sizzling water — and there are particular advantages.

“Most of us are a little dehydrated first thing in the morning because we haven’t had anything to drink in eight hours,” says Czerwony. “Plus, we all need water — and most of us don’t drink enough of it during the day.”

The heat of a steaming mug of water brings one other perk, too: “Warm liquids go through your system a bit faster,” explains Czerwony. “So, it’ll help get things moving through your GI tract.”

Plus, water is calorie- and caffeine-free!

Golden milk

Golden milk is the brand new golden youngster of the clean-eating motion. Turmeric stars on this heat and savory drink that’s all the fashion in the mean time whereas being hailed for its anti-inflammatory powers.

Milk or a nondairy various serves as the muse of golden milk. After that, it’s all about including spices akin to ginger, black pepper, vanilla and no matter else your tastebuds would possibly crave.

The drink is caffeine-free, too.

(Curious about this concoction? Check out this recipe for almond gold milk with apricots and cinnamon!)


If you actually wish to get away from espresso or coffee-like drinks, mud off your blender and make a smoothie, suggests Czerwony. The filling drink could be loaded with fruits, veggies, protein and no matter spices you need.

It’s even doable so as to add a caffeine kick by together with matcha powder, yerba mate or another brewed tea. (Learn learn how to mix the proper smoothie with these tips and recipes.)

Bottom line: Be adventurous

Despite what many espresso drinkers might imagine, there’s no ONE excellent drink to start out your day.

“You shouldn’t be dependent on any single thing,” encourages Czerwony. “Just reaching for coffee day after day after day is limiting. There are a lot of different options. If you want to get ‘boujee’ or fancy, do it! Experiment a little and have some fun.”

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