Coffee is a popular drink, but some people don’t like it or can’t drink it. For these people, coffee alternatives—from ground chicory root to chaga mushroom extract—are a great option for a delicious drink.
Why Coffee Alternatives?
People have many reasons for choosing alternatives to coffee. Some people can’t drink caffeine because it causes anxiety, headaches, or stomach pain. Others just don’t like how coffee tastes. Or maybe they just want to try something new.
Plus, coffee alternatives can have great health benefits. Chicory root, for example, contains lots of inulin, an important fiber that promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. And matcha has tons of antioxidants, while apple cider vinegar may help lower blood sugar levels.
What Is a Coffee Alternative?
There is a huge variety of coffee alternatives on the market, so there’s something for everyone. Some coffee alternatives are caffeinated, just like coffee, while others have no caffeine and are perfect for those for whom caffeine causes health problems.
Some coffee alternatives, like chicory root, taste similar to coffee, while others, like golden milk, don’t taste like coffee at all and are simply a substitute for the comforting warmth of a steaming cup of joe.
The Best Coffee Alternative
The number of alternatives to coffee may overwhelm you, but don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of 10 coffee alternatives, some with caffeine and some without. We’re sure you’ll find the perfect alternative to start your morning or keep you warm throughout the day.
Let’s take a look!
1. Chicory Root
Chicory root is one of the most popular coffee substitutes. It’s naturally caffeine-free, so anyone can enjoy it. Plus, it tastes similar to coffee, though smoother and with less bitterness. It also has less acidity than coffee, so it won’t upset your stomach. It’s a great choice for those looking to reduce their coffee consumption.
If you know how to make coffee, you know how to brew chicory root. It can be ground just like coffee beans and used with any brewing method, from drip to French press.
And it’s healthy. Chicory root contains inulin, a soluble fiber that promotes digestive health by increasing the number of good bacteria in your gut. It can also promote good brain health because it contains manganese and vitamin B6. However, it’s important not to drink too much brewed chicory root because its high fiber content can lead to side effects like stomach pain and bloating.
2. Decaf Coffee
Decaf coffee is an alternative coffee rather than an alternative to coffee, but it’s still great for those who can’t have caffeine for health reasons or who want to drink a cup of coffee before bed and still be able to sleep.
Decaf coffee is coffee that has been further processed to remove the caffeine. It’s important to note that processing doesn’t fully remove the caffeine—about 3% still remains. This is generally a low enough amount that it won’t affect you, but if you have health problems due to caffeine, it’s still best to avoid decaf coffee and choose a completely caffeine-free coffee alternative.
3. Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is a coffee alternative with caffeine. It’s a fine powder made from green tea leaves, and hot tea made with this powder is traditionally drunk in East Asian countries. It’s also growing in popularity around the world, as evidenced by Starbucks’ Matcha Green Tea Latte.
This is a great morning beverage because it will still give you an energy boost and help you wake up. It has an earthy flavor that some people describe as grass-like. The taste isn’t for everyone, but many people find it delicious and comforting.
Plus, it has lots of health benefits. It contains EGCG, an antioxidant that might lower your risk of high blood pressure. Matcha tea might also help you lose weight and body fat, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Golden Milk
Golden milk is a delicious, caffeine-free coffee alternative. It’s a warm Indian beverage that has also become popular in the West. It’s made of milk, turmeric, and a variety of other spices and ingredients. You can add ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, honey, and even black pepper. There’s no limit to your imagination when making this comforting drink.
Golden milk is quite healthy because turmeric contains curcumin, an antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are molecules that can damage DNA. Golden milk is also anti-inflammatory and may prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease or reduce their symptoms. Plus, some of the ingredients in golden milk—especially cinnamon and curcumin—might reduce the risk of heart disease.
5. Yerba Mate Tea
Yerba mate is a caffeinated coffee alternative that will help you wake up in the morning. It’s brewed by steeping dried leaves from the South American holly tree in hot water. It tastes strong, bitter, smokey, and earthy, so it can take some getting used to, but it’s a great coffee substitute for those who want to branch out. And because it has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, you won’t experience any withdrawals.
It also has many health benefits. It has tons of antioxidants, and also lots of vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, and vitamins C and E. But make sure not to drink too much yerba mate, because drinking more than a liter per day for a long time may cause cancer.
6. Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is a classic drink enjoyed by kids and adults alike. It’s the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter day.
Of course, all the sugar in hot chocolate means it’s not quite as healthy as some of the other coffee substitutes on this list, especially if you top it with marshmallows and whipped cream, but it’s still a great coffee replacement. It’s especially good for kids, who shouldn’t drink caffeine.
And hot chocolate isn’t completely unhealthy. Cocoa powder has lots of fiber, iron, and vitamins, as well as antioxidants.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a unique coffee replacement. It’s caffeine-free, but still a great alternative to coffee to wake up because it can give you energy. Plus, it has other potential health benefits as well, like regulating blood sugar levels and assisting with weight loss.
Apple cider vinegar is an especially good choice in the summer because it’s often drunk with cold water. It’s important never to drink apple cider vinegar by itself because it contains acetic acid, which can burn your mouth and throat. A good recipe is to mix 1 cup cold water with 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and some sweetener (if desired). Of course, if it’s a chilly fall or winter day, you can use hot water instead.
8. Green Tea
Green tea is made from the same plant as matcha tea, but they’re slightly different drinks. Whereas matcha tea uses a powder made from grinding up the whole tea leaf, green tea is made by steeping those leaves in hot water and is less concentrated than matcha tea. They both taste a bit grassy, but green tea is less earthy.
If you don’t like the earthy taste of matcha tea but still want lots of health benefits, then green tea is a great option. Like matcha, green tea contains antioxidants, just in lower amounts. And it can increase your metabolic rate, helping you lose weight. Plus, green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, so it can help you wake up without giving you the jitters.
9. Chai Tea
Chai tea, a delicious alternative to coffee, is made with black tea, herbs, and spices. It’s caffeinated, so you’ll still get a morning kick, and it has many health benefits.
Like green tea, chai tea contains powerful antioxidants than can help reduce inflammation and maybe even prevent cancer. Chai tea may also reduce the risk of heart disease.
You can make chai tea from scratch by brewing black tea leaves with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, or you can buy tea bags with tea leaves and spices already mixed. One great thing about chai tea is that it’s often used in lattes, so if you’re missing your coffee latte, never fear—chai tea lattes are equally as delicious.
10. Chaga Mushroom Elixir
Four Sigmatic Chaga Mushroom Elixir is a delicious alternative to coffee. It features wild-harvested Siberian chaga mushrooms, which are bitter like coffee. The company also added mint and rosehip to cut through the bitterness and provide a pleasant drink.
Dubbed “the King of mushrooms,” chaga mushrooms have long been used medicinally, though their health benefits have not been extensively studied. While they have been used to treat cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and some claim they can boost your immune system, it’s best to be careful when consuming something that hasn’t yet been well-studied. However, chaga mushroom definitely does contain antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, so you can be sure you’ll get those health benefits even if other medicinal claims haven’t been proven.
There are many caffeinated alternatives to coffee to choose from, and all of them are teas: matcha tea, yerba mate, green tea, and chai tea. Which one you choose should be based on your personal tastes. Matcha tea and green tea both have an earthy, grassy flavor, while chai tea has a comforting spiced flavor. Yerba mate is the strongest-tasting of the bunch, so it’s great if you like intense flavors.
Very few coffee alternatives actually taste similar to coffee. If you truly want that coffee flavor, your best bet would be decaf coffee. But if you want to avoid coffee altogether, choose chicory root. It tastes similar to coffee and brews just like coffee, so it’s great if you’re just starting to branch out into coffee alternatives.
Almost all coffee alternatives have health benefits, but some have more than others. If you’re someone for whom drinking caffeine hurts your well-being, it’s best to choose from caffeine-free coffee alternatives like chicory root, golden milk, or hot chocolate. Overall, the coffee alternatives with the most health benefits are all the kinds of tea on this list, as well as golden milk and chicory root.
- 9 Alternatives to Coffee (And Why You Should Try Them) – healthline
- What is Golden Milk? – Access Health Care Physicians
- 8 Health Benefits of Yerba Mate (Backed by Science) – healthline
- Hot Cocoa Health Benefits – weather.com
- 8 Coffee Alternatives That Will Wake You Right Up – Bustle
- The Difference Between Matcha and Green Tea! – Nourished Life
- 10 Evidence-Based Benefits of Green Tea – healthline
- What Are Chaga Mushrooms and Are They Healthy? – healthline
Coffee is part of the lives of everyone on the MyFriendsCoffee team. We are a group of professional baristas, coffee bean roasters, and coffee machine repairers. Coffee has connected us, and together we strive to provide the best information to our readers.
Our responsibility is to provide advice on any and all coffee-related issues. And we know that to do this we must be experts in this field.
Coffee consumption culture has changed dramatically over several centuries. New brewing methods, bean quality control methods, roasting methods, and much more have appeared. We are sure that coffee will change further, and we want to be involved in changing it for the better.