Drinking coffee in the morning is part of many people's morning routine and getting ready to face the day. Others enjoy a coffee as a pick-me-up after lunch or an espresso after dinner. But for some people, too much coffee can quickly interfere with overall health and well-being, including your sleep routine. If you feel that it is time for a change, take a look at this article.
We have compiled eight of our favorite healthy coffee alternatives. Some are ideal in the morning or afternoon, and others help you get a good night’s sleep so you don’t need a pick-me-up when you get up. These tasty and nutritious beverage alternatives all share some similarities in that they are dense in nutrients and possess potential health advantages that may convince even the toughest coffee aficionado.
8 Top Picks for Coffee Alternatives
Finding an alternative to coffee can seem overwhelming, with hundreds of products vying for consumers' attention and thousands of ingredients, intended benefits, and side effects to research before committing. This wide selection can make it difficult to choose the best coffee alternative that is best suited to your needs. But with a bit of research and perhaps some taste testing, you will soon identify your new version of the perfect morning cup.
1. Golden Milk
Golden Milk has a long history as a healthy Ayurvedic drink. Traditionally made with turmeric, milk, and other spices, this drink’s golden hue is largely due to curcumin, the active component in turmeric that is known for its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
If you struggle to find the time to make your own version of this drink, consider a ready-made powder. Live it Up’s Golden Milk Latte is one of our favorites, and it works especially well as a wind-down drink in the evening.
There are many possible upsides to this beverage, including helping you relax, assisting with healthy sleep patterns and stress relief, and supporting immunity. Golden milk is also fairly easy to prepare. One of the only downsides is that if you choose to consume this beverage in the morning, you may miss the kick your morning coffee would deliver.
Bottom line: If you are looking for a calming coffee alternative, look no further than this beautifully colored, anti-inflammatory drink.
2. Herbal Tea, Green Tea, and Black Tea
Black tea is perhaps the most obvious alternative to coffee as a morning beverage. Brewed with boiling water and tea leaves or tea bags, making the perfect cup of tea can be more of a ritual than a quick pick-me-up.
If you do not enjoy the taste of black tea, check out alternatives such as green tea and herbal tea. Both black and green tea are available as caffeine-free tea, too, for those looking to break their dependence on a stimulant.
Tea is arguably a more budget-friendly and healthier alternative to coffee. Green tea and herbal tea varieties may provide additional health benefits, including high levels of antioxidants in green tea. That said, you might want to add honey or a slice of lemon to your beverage to make it tastier.
Bottom line: Tea is a classic coffee alternative, and once you find your favorite variety, you may never want to drink coffee again.
3. Yerba Mate
If you are looking for a coffee substitute that offers a similar caffeine content to your traditional morning cup, Yerba Mate may be the right choice. This traditional South American drink is a bit of an acquired taste. Some people find that it is a bit too bitter for their taste.
Traditionally, this drink is made in a gourd and consumed through a metal straw. Yerba mate tea bags make the preparation easier, and with their help, nothing is stopping you from simply enjoying your beverage from a cup.
Apart from a caffeine kick, the Yerba mate plant also delivers essential vitamins and minerals. Some studies suggest that Yerba mate contains more antioxidants than green tea leaves. Before buying any Yerba Mate in bulk, make sure you like the flavor, as not everyone is a huge fan of the smoky and sometimes bitter taste.
Bottom line: If you are looking for a caffeine upgrade with powerful antioxidants, give this coffee alternative a try.
4. Matcha Tea
Matcha tea has become one of the most popular alternatives to coffee. Walk into any coffee shop that sells espresso, latte, and similar drinks, and you will likely find a matcha alternative on the board.
Matcha is similar to green tea in many ways, but there are a few critical differences between the two. For starters, a cup of matcha contains almost twice the amount of antioxidants. The difference is all in the preparation of the drink.
Green tea leaves are steeped in hot water, whereas matcha leaves are turned into matcha powder, which is then mixed with water. None of it is thrown away.
One of the biggest upsides of matcha is that even though it contains less caffeine than coffee, its caffeine content is released more slowly, so you can experience a slower, longer-lasting effect. That said, some people find the grassy green flavor of the drink takes some time to get used to.
Bottom line: Matcha is an excellent coffee alternative that may give you more controlled energy compared to coffee. It works great as a warm beverage but can also flavor dishes and is even used as a skincare ingredient.
5. Chicory Coffee
Looking for a caffeine-free alternative to your morning joe? Give chicory coffee a try! Chicory coffee is made almost like regular coffee. Its main ingredient is the root of the chicory plant. Once harvested, chicory root is roasted to create a similar taste to coffee.
You choose how to prepare your hot beverage: French press, espresso machines, and filter coffee machines work equally well. This drink is also rich in fiber and may support your digestion by helping beneficial bacteria in the gut.
The main reason why chicory coffee makes a great java alternative is that even though it's caffeine-free, it's made from roasted chicory and tastes like the real thing. Its lack of caffeine makes for a calmer start to the day. However, for some individuals, its soluble fiber may cause side effects like bloating.
Bottom line: Chicory coffee is one of the closest coffee substitutes available with a distinct coffee flavor. If your stomach is happy with it, this may be the alternative you have been looking for.
6. Mushroom Coffee
Mushroom coffee tastes better than the name may suggest. Different brands use different mushrooms, but the Chaga mushroom is one of our favorites.
Chaga mushroom coffee powder is generally added to your existing morning cup and comes with a range of potential health benefits. It is full of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties that can support your overall health. Plus, it’s tasty!
By drinking mushroom coffee, you can stick to your coffee habit but may also add additional nutritional benefits to your morning coffee routine. While wrapping your head around the idea of drinking mushrooms might take some effort, the potential benefits are worth it.
Bottom line: This is the best of two worlds for those who love coffee: you keep your coffee flavor and simply add more nutrition.
Chai tea is a bit of a misnomer. In Hindi, "chai" simply translates to "tea," so chai tea really means "tea tea." Be that as it may, we want to take a closer look at masala chai as one of the best coffee alternatives.
This spiced tea is traditionally made from flavorful black tea that is mixed with milk, although you can choose a milk alternative. It derives its flavors from spices like cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom, among others.
Drinking chai has numerous purported benefits, which include aiding digestion and helping maintain healthy body weight. Plus, it is delicious and sugar-free! Mixed with cold milk and ice, chai is a great alternative to iced coffee, too. One of the only downsides to this beverage is making chai from scratch is quite an involved process. Choose a ready-made blend to get all the possible benefits in less time.
Bottom line: Packed with delicious spices, this is one of the tastiest alternatives to coffee that can help you reduce your daily caffeine intake without compromising on flavor.
8. Greens Powder
Trying a greens powder is a wonderful alternative to your morning coffee because it's packed with nutrients that can give your body a healthy start to the day. Most high-quality greens powders are brimming with superfoods, which can support gut health, balanced energy levels, and normal immune function.
As a superfood supplement, greens powder drinks can help you hit your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, leaving the guesswork out of maintaining a balanced diet. Ingredients like kale, spinach, and chlorella are high in iron and chlorophyll, which may help regulate energy. With just a scoop a day, greens powders offer a fast and easy way to give your body the nutrients and support it needs to thrive.
Bottom Line: By mixing greens powder into your next smoothie or protein shake to start off your day, you can experience all the potential benefits of this nutritional coffee alternative, transforming your morning routine.
Why You Should Consider Alternatives to Coffee
First things first: coffee helps with more than waking up in the morning. According to research compiled by Harvard University, moderate coffee intake is more "healthful than harmful." The study found that regular coffee consumption may support heart health and even help balance your mood. Those potential benefits come on top of others that are more commonly known, such as feeling more alert.
However, drinking too much coffee may lead to negative consequences like restlessness and insomnia. In some people, caffeine intake may lead to anxiety or cause your heart rate to increase. Others also experience irritability from too much caffeine or not enough of it, frequent urination or an inability to control urination, and muscle tremors.
If any of these concerns sound familiar, it is time to consider alternatives to your morning coffee. Whether you are looking to quit caffeine altogether or simply want to substitute a cup or two, there is a good coffee alternative to suit every taste.
Final Thoughts on a Coffee Alternative
Do you love coffee? We do, too, but healthy coffee alternatives are a great way of mixing things up and can improve your overall nutrition as part of a healthy diet. Starting with black tea, there are simply countless coffee alternatives on the market right now.
We have tried to narrow it down to eight of our favorites, combining caffeine-free drinks with others that still deliver the energy you have come to expect. Our favorites also include drinks that may deliver additional potential benefits and nutrients, like mushroom coffee, a greens powder, or golden milk, helping you optimize your overall diet one cup at a time.
Remember, drinking coffee is not detrimental as such. But when you are overdoing it, you may start noticing some of the negative effects of caffeine. And with so many delicious alternatives to try, why not look for a new regimen?
FAQs on the Best Alternative to Coffee
Is coffee unhealthy?
For most people when consumed in moderation, no. Scientific studies have shown that coffee is generally more beneficial than detrimental. However, some people experience uncomfortable side effects such as jitteriness, sleep disruptions, or digestion issues, especially if they consume excessive amounts of caffeine.
Which coffee alternatives work well in the morning?
That depends on what you expect from your morning coffee. Do you want a real kick or wake-up call? In that case, mushroom coffee or Yerba mate are great options, as is coffee made from chicory root. Matcha is good in the morning because it releases its caffeine more slowly, avoiding some of the bad things that can happen when you drink coffee. All the other choices also work well in the morning, like a superfood greens powder packed with vitamins.
Do coffee alternatives taste like coffee?
Some of them do, whilst others have their own distinct flavors. Out of our list, chicory root coffee is closest to the original in flavor. Tea-based alternatives come in different flavors, starting with classic black tea, including teas with a fruity taste, all the way to the full flavor of spiced chai. Matcha and options made with turmeric put yet another spin on coffee substitutes. There is something for every taste.
Do coffee alternatives have other potential health benefits?
Yes, absolutely! Some of our options contain antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial to your health. As a result, they may support your overall health, plus sleep and relaxation. Simply take a look at the list and choose your favorite.