Kick the Caffeine—6 Alternatives to Your Daily Brew
by Catherine Morris | November 18, 2020, updated 4 days ago
There are two types of people: those who like coffee, and those who are wrong. Just kidding! Not everyone's a coffee fiend, and not everyone can tolerate caffeine.
A powerful stimulant, caffeine can cause high blood pressure and raise your heart rate. Depending on your genetics, you might even find yourself jittery after just one cup.
Whether you're avoiding the world's favourite pick-me-up for health reasons, taking a break from the bean, or just wanting more options when it comes to your cuppa, we have some ideas. From herbal teas to plant-based coffee substitutes, there's a few ways to get that energizing jolt without the shakes.
1. Dandelion Tea
There's a reason coffee addicts turn to dandelion to break the habit—this powerful plant not only tastes like coffee, with its roasted, rich flavour, it's also full of minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
Much like coffee, dandelion is also a great tonic for the liver, so it's particularly helpful for heavy drinkers, or those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Thanks to its popularity among herbalists and health enthusiasts, there's now a good range of dandelion teas and coffees on the market, mostly made from the ground roots of the weed. If in doubt, consult an herbalist to see which preparation will work for you.
2. Chicory Root
Another earthy coffee substitute, chicory is also from the dandelion family. It has a long history as a brewed beverage and was popular in 1800s France, when coffee was scarce thanks to Napoleon's Continental Blockade.
Chicory is a pretty plant with purple flowers, but the good stuff is below the earth. When dried and roasted, the roots are mixed with water to make a dark brown, sweet liquid that can be blended with your favourite milk and spices. So you can still enjoy a frothy 'cappuccino' or a pumpkin spiced latte.
3. Rooibos Tea
Rooibos is a caffeine-free, sweet, red tea, common in South Africa but enjoyed around the world as more and more tea drinkers take advantage of its health properties.
4. Chaga Tea
If you came across chaga in its natural habitat, the last thing you'd want to do is drink it. This parasitic fungus likes to nestle into tree trunks, bulging outwards while the bark rots...and it's not a pretty sight. If you can put aside the ick factor, chaga is surprisingly tasty—sweet, earthy, woody and very similar to a dark roast coffee.
Chaga is an energy booster, and a potential cancer fighter according to traditional medicine. Its first documented use as a natural remedy dates back to the 11th century, and it's still being consumed and studied today.
5. Barley 'Coffee'
Barley 'coffee' is the drink for you if you love the taste of coffee, but hate the caffeine. It's sweet, malty, dark and rich, and is usually a blend of roasted barley with other plants like chicory and/or rye.
Roasting grains in place of coffee beans has a long tradition around the world, usually in times of economic shortages when grains were cheaper and more readily available. It's no longer a sign of scarcity though, many people find they prefer the taste—especially given that the preparation has evolved to become more sophisticated than simply grinding up grains and adding water.
We also know more about the health benefits now. Barley is a great source of fibre and can help with weight loss. It also lowers cholesterol to help heart health.
6. Sage Tea
Okay, so sage tea isn't the most appetizing sounding beverage, but if you enjoy green tea you might like this flavourful herbal substitute.
Sage is known to improve concentration and focus, clearing the mental clutter and helping you get on with your day. The culinary herb also contains over 160 polyphenols, which have an antioxidant effect in the body.
Those with hormonal issues may want to use sage cautiously—the herb is a phytoestrogen and has been used to calm symptoms in menopausal women. A naturopath or nutritionist can help you decide if sage is appropriate, and how to use it.
Most tea drinkers prefer their sage brew with a slice of lemon and a tsp of honey stirred in to soften the earthy taste. You can buy it bagged or make your own by steeping and then straining fresh sage leaves.
For further information or advice on any of the above dietary substitutes for coffee, get in touch with one of our many qualified herbalists, dieticians or nutritionists. All are available for one on one consultations at your convenience through our easy and accessible Which Doctor booking platform.
Catherine Morris is an award-winning journalist with a bad case of wanderlust and a passion for all things health and wellness. Originally from Northern Ireland, she worked as a news and feature writer for media outlets in the UK, South Africa, France and the Caribbean before settling in Canada. Catherine now lives in Alberta with her husband and rescue mutt and spends her time happily exploring the great outdoors with both.