The Best Alternatives to Coffee: 5 Drinks for Energy Without the Jitters

In our highly caffeinated world, coffee is king. Americans consume more coffee than any other non-alcoholic beverage besides water, according to Statistics 2020with about 60 percent of people drinking it on a daily basis.

Love it or hate it, and many of us do both at the same time, there’s no denying that we just can’t quit. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In the past, some researchers worried that coffee and caffeine increased the risk of health problems like cancer and heart disease, leading many people to fear that coffee was bad for you.

As it turned out, that hype was overblown, says Chris Mohr, Ph.D. “The truth is that coffee is a part of the whole diet,” he says. “And most studies show, within reason, that it has many, many health benefits.”

In fact, drinking 3 to 5 standard cups of coffee a day has been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases, according to a review published in July 2020 in The New England Journal of Medicine. The researchers found that coffee consumption was linked to a lower risk of melanoma, prostate cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, coffee also contains antioxidants, which help fight damaging free radicals and can also improve gut health.

The downside, of course, is that caffeine can make you feel jittery, especially if you’re sensitive to it. That’s where alternatives to coffee come in. Made with mushrooms, chicory root or other ingredients, these infusions “have little or no caffeine, along with a few other beneficial ingredients,” says Mohr.

Still, it’s important to keep your expectations in check: “Sure, they might be great, but they’re not the cure-all superfoods we need to get into,” he says. Remember: a cup of coffee is… just a cup of coffee – a few dandelion shreds here and chaga mushroom extract are not likely to radically change your health.

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Whether you’re looking to kick your caffeine habit or just tired of waking up to the same drip brew, we’ve rounded up five coffee alternatives to kick start your morning, minus the afternoon crash.

1

yerba mate variety pack

If you’re not ready to cut out caffeine entirely, yerba mate, an infusion made from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis plant, from South America—is a good alternative.

Yerba Mate contains caffeine (one serving contains 43 milligrams, less than half the amount in a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee), as well as vitamins B2 and C; iron; calcium; and other antioxidants.

“Yerba Mate shows promise as an ‘energy’ replacement,” says Mohr. A 2021 review in the magazine nutrients reported that people who drank Yerba Mate noted feeling energized, but not nervous.

Yerba mate is a tea-like beverage that can have a slightly bitter taste. Kiss Me Organics offers a variety pack with four flavors: Roasted Mate, Green Mate, Green Mate with Mint and Green Mate with Lemon, which can help soften the bitter taste for Yerba Mate newbies.

two

instant coffee with mushrooms

There’s a reason mushrooms are such a popular alternative to coffee: Their earthy, bitter taste makes them a natural substitute for coffee beans. Plus, they offer some health benefits of their own: Mushrooms are a source of vitamin D and B12, and can also increase satiety levels, according to a review published in November 2021.

This ultra-popular beer, from Four Sigmatic, combines organic coffee beans with chaga mushroom extract and lion’s mane mushroom. The result: about half the amount of caffeine in a regular cup of coffee (50 milligrams), making it a good choice for people trying to cut down on coffee, but not cut it out altogether.

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3

French Roast Chicory Herb Coffee

If you love the taste of coffee but want to kick your caffeine habit, chicory root infusion might be your best bet.

Chicory root has a long history of acting as a substitute for coffee: it has a naturally bitter taste, so much so that during the Civil War, people living in New Orleans added roasted and ground chicory root to increase their coffee supplies.

The tradition continues to this day.

Now, chicory root coffee has spread beyond the borders of NOLA; the brew imparts a strong coffee flavor, but contains no caffeine. “Caffeine itself is a drug, whereas if you’re trying to avoid it, then this might offer a similar flavor without the caffeine,” says Mohr. Chicory root also contains inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that can help boost the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Made with chicory, carob, barley and ramón seeds, Teeccino French Roast mix is ​​organic and has all the rich, deep notes of your favorite morning beverage, minus the caffeine.

You may recognize the cocoa bean as the main ingredient in chocolate. In its natural form, read: not dipped in butter sugar, cocoa is packed with antioxidants and flavanols (antioxidant-like molecules), which give it that characteristic bitter taste.

Drinking your cocoa in the form of an alternative to coffee can be a healthier way to consume it than eating it in the form of a chocolate bar. In addition, the taste is delicious, similar to hot chocolate.

This double chocolate mix from Crio Bru should satisfy your sweet tooth: It’s made from 100 percent ground cocoa, with hints of chocolate and vanilla flavors. And while it’s 99.9 percent caffeine-free, it does contain a natural stimulant called theobromine, which may be enough to relieve stress.

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Yes, that dandelion. The weed that no one wants in their lawn is suddenly all over the supplement shelves now: in capsules, teas, and liquid extracts. Dandelion advocates say the plant is rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as minerals like potassium, but Mohr isn’t too impressed with the plant’s status as a superfood.

Still, there’s no denying that it can be a good alternative to coffee, especially if you still crave at least a mild coffee flavor. This option, from Dandy Blend, is made from roasted dandelion root extract, along with roasted barley, rye, roasted sugar beet, and chicory root extracts.

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