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What Is the Best Coffee Substitute?

Posted by Morgan Cornell on

What Is the Best Coffee Substitute?
What Is the Best Coffee Substitute?
Choosing the best coffee substitute depends on why you want a substitute. Many people develop the jitters and can’t sleep well after consuming lots of coffee. The caffeine becomes an addiction, and people experience more negative feelings about their addiction to coffee as they age. Others simply don’t like the taste of coffee because of its bitter flavor when not diluted with a creamer and sweetener. [1] You can always try a lighter roast or change your preparation method, but the basic flavor remains, which some people just don’t like.

The Best Substitutes for Coffee

Chicory is often used to enhance coffee or substitute for it, According to, the best substitutes for coffee include these tasty beverages, and two of them have chicory: [2]

  1. A Favorite Tea Blend
    Teas around the world are more popular than coffee. In the U.K., China and other countries, tea is regarded with the same awe that Americans generally reserve for coffee. You might prefer white, black or green teas, but proprietary tea blends are extremely personal choices that grow increasingly popular even among American consumers.

  2. Teeccino
    Teeccino is a beverage made from roasted carob, chicory, barley and organic ramon seeds, which have similar flavors to coffee. You can even prepare the beverage using your coffee machine, percolator or French press.

  3. Four Sigmatic Chaga Mushroom Elixir
    Chaga mushroom powder, which is made from the mushrooms that grow on birch trees, is a 100-percent caffeine-free coffee alternative that tastes a lot like coffee. Aficionados claim that the beverage imparts mental clarity and focus, and the label promises the benefits of antioxidants for your health.

  4. Postum
    Postum is a beverage made from wheat bran and has a dark, sweet flavor that children actually like. It’s a good alternative for those who always drink their coffee sweet to mellow the taste.

  5. Ayurvedic Roast
    Ayurvedic Roast is made from chicory, barley, rye and ashwagandha, a relatively unknown ingredient that has gained popularity with smoothie lovers. The company that sells Ayurvedic Roast proudly proclaims that its flavor is the “closest taste to coffee.”

Alternatives with Different Flavor Profiles than Coffee

Unfortunately, except for tea, most of these beverages claim to taste like coffee. Many people don’t like the flavor of coffee, and they must turn to other sources for a coffee alternative. In random order, the following are some of the best coffee alternatives that don’t taste like coffee. [3]

Matcha Teas

Matcha teas are made from the whole leaf, which separates it from green tea. That results in a stronger dose of antioxidants, and the beverage can reduce high blood pressure naturally according to observational studies. The flavor is rich and earthy, but it definitely doesn’t taste like coffee. Depending on how you prepare Matcha tea, it can have more or less caffeine than coffee, but this issue will be addressed further along.

Chai Tea

Chai is a black tea that incorporates wonderful herbs and spices into the brew. It still contains less caffeine than coffee, and the increased antioxidants slow the absorption of caffeine that results in longer-lasting and gentler effects on the drinker. Anecdotal evidence shows a strong correlation between drinking tea and several health benefits that include a lower risk of heart disease, antioxidant benefits and improved mental focus. The aroma of the tea is lovely, and many drinkers choose it for this reason.


Smoothies often substitute for meals, so it’s debatable whether to include them as an alternative to coffee. However, the popularity of smoothies and the ability to create your own blends make it an obvious choice. Your beverage doesn’t need to have empty or no calories; it can easily serve as a source of good nutrition.

Golden Milk

Golden Milk is an appealing coffee substitute that you can prepare yourself at home. Heat milk or a non-dairy substitute in a saucepan after adding your preference of spices that include turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Start with a sprinkling, and adjust the amount of each spice according to your taste. Many people add vanilla, honey and cardamom.

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is an herbal tea that’s made from the leaves of South American holly. It’s loaded with soothing plant compounds and antioxidants, and it supplies caffeine in a more gentle way than coffee caffeine, which hits you in a sudden jolt. The taste is somewhat bitter -- an acquired taste just like coffee.

Energy Drinks

Commercial energy drinks can give you a jolt that’s similar to coffee for those who don’t like the coffee taste. The beverages can boost your mood and eliminate the groggy feeling you get late in your work day. However, you should be aware that some of these drinks contain sugar, cause weight gain, trigger cardiovascular problems and can become addictive. [4]

Hot Cacao or Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate drinks are always favorites with kids, and most adults enjoy them as well. You can certainly use hot chocolate as a coffee substitute, and you can control how much sugar you use if you use unsweetened cocoa powder in warm milk. The beverage contains magnesium, which awakens the muscles and boosts natural energy.


Kombucha uses fermented tea as a base, and that provides L-theanine, the ingredient that tempers the way caffeine affects you. You get natural energy instead of the jitters. Tea actually contains less caffeine than the average cup of tea, and it also provides beneficial bacteria for your digestive system.

Energy Tea

The special blend of ingredients of Energy Tea is considered by many people as the best substitute for coffee. A highly rated Energy Tea is Total Tea's Energy Tea. It’s made from green tea, guayusa, cinnamon bark, eleuthero root and caffeine, and it also makes a good alternative to energy drinks. The tea’s caffeine works synergistically with L-theanine, the amino acid that reduces stress and works with caffeine to promote calmness and relaxation so there are no side effects such as, jitters or crash.

The Difference in the Effects of Caffeine in Coffee and Tea

The caffeine in coffee can have a markedly different effect than the caffeine in tea. One source reports that the caffeine in tea is usually less than the caffeine in coffee, although brewing tea incorrectly can result in an even higher caffeine content. [5] That seldom happens because tea aficionados impose strict limits on how long the tea steeps. Most cups of tea have less caffeine than the typical cup of coffee.

Green teas and white teas are typically brewed for shorter periods than black teas. They're also made with cooler water in most cases. That means that a cup of tea often contains only half the caffeine of the same size cup of coffee.

The Effects of L-theanine and Caffeine on Alertness and Focus

Clinical studies show that caffeine and L-theanine produced by the plants that are brewed for tea have a powerful, positive effect on mood, alertness and focus without generating nervousness or the jitters. [6] Both substances provide healthy brain stimulation for better word recognition, faster switches in attention and critical mental alertness that is often compromised by pure caffeine. [7]

What all this means for people seeking alternatives to coffee is something tea drinkers have known intuitively all along. Coffee can cause the jitters while tea often proves relaxing and calming. The caffeine level in both coffee and tea depends on many factors such as the leaf location on the tea plant, how long the beverage is brewed, how long the coffee beans are roasted, water temperature and holding and steeping times.

The Effects of Tea Antioxidants

Tea contains high levels of antioxidants, which tend to slow the chemical absorption of caffeine. That results in a more gradual response to the caffeine in tea instead of coffee’s sudden boost in energy and the accompanying nervousness that the boost generates.

Concluding Thoughts

You’ll notice that many of our recommended coffee alternatives are blends of tea. Tea is probably the best single alternative to coffee, given the broad popularity of the beverage worldwide. You can probably switch to green or white tea and enjoy greater alertness without the anxiety that coffee can trigger.





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