A quick Google search for coffee alternatives will return a deluge of suggestions ranging from hot water and lemon to hot juice. But what about coffee alternatives that actually taste like coffee?
Substituting one vice for another is much easier if it actually tastes the same, and we have yet to find a lemon that tastes like coffee.
So, if you’re trying to reduce your coffee consumption and cut down on the caffeine, try these natural, caffeine-free alternatives instead.
Roasted Dandelion Root
Dandelion root can be made into a very healthy tea, albeit one that tastes nothing like coffee. But when you chop up the roots, roast them slowly, and brew them for 3 to 5 minutes, the resulting liquid is as close to coffee as you’re going to get without drinking the real thing.
It has a rich, intense aroma and flavour, akin to a premium coffee, but it’s something you have to try to believe.
Just make sure you buy the pure roasted root and not a mix or an “instant” blend. We have tried the latter and it tastes like a heavily diluted instant coffee—not at all pleasant. The pure root, however, is everything you hoped a coffee alternative would be and more. It’s also cheaper, as the instant version goes through more processing and therefore has a higher price tag.
Dandelion is caffeine free and loaded with nutrients, which is why we sell the dandelion leaf as a tea. There hasn’t been a great deal of research on the nutrient value of roasted dandelion root and it may be that the roasting process destroys some of the nutrients found in the root. But for a healthy, caffeine-free coffee alternative, you can’t go wrong.
We’re in the process of trying to source our own, making sure it is organic and pure. If you want to stay up-to date with that process and get offers on dandelion root when it is available, signup to our Offers Club.
Chicory root is a common coffee substitute in the United States and it is also used to add fibre to certain foods. In the United Kingdom, it’s nowhere near as common, but maybe it should be.
When roasted, it has a taste similar to coffee and can also be combined with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg to give it even more flavour. In the US, it is occasionally added to coffee as a way of reducing the astringent taste and imparting a creamy, almost chocolatey flavour.
Chicory root is caffeine free and it has been praised for its apparent ability to reduce inflammation, thus preventing thrombosis and potentially many other issues that result from inflammation. (1)
It can also help reduce oxidative stress thanks to the high levels of antioxidants. (2) There are easier and better ways to get those antioxidants, and there are more potent anti-inflammatories out there, but as a substitute for your morning coffee, you can’t go wrong.
Carob is closer to chocolate than it is to coffee. It is produced in much the same way and often marketed as an alternative to chocolate, but it doesn’t really have the same full, rich flavour and we would be surprised if any chocoholic was happy to swap chocolate for carob.
Hot carob can be a good substitute for coffee, though, sitting somewhere between a hot chocolate and a coffee, with no caffeine, plenty of antioxidants, and very low amounts of fat and sugar.
You may need to experiment with hot carob to get a flavour that actually agrees with you. It tends to be used as an ingredient in coffee substitutes along with everything from spices and nuts to herbs and even dried fruit. Whatever you end up using, hot carob can serve as a great foundation and may even be good enough on its own.
Pure Hot Cocoa
It may seem like a bit of a cheat to include hot cocoa on a list of coffee alternatives. After all, it’s not caffeine free and it’s not fat free either.
But hear us out.
Hot chocolate made using pure dark chocolate can create a drink that is bold, strong, and as complex as any cup of coffee. This is especially true if you can drink it without milk or sugar, and if you’re passionate about dark chocolate and get the highest quality chocolate bar, this may be easier and much more enjoyable than you think.
As for the caffeine content, there is roughly 30mg of caffeine per 30g of dark chocolate, which means that a hot chocolate made with a hearty serving of the finest chocolate will have roughly the same caffeine as a cup of green tea.
If you’re looking for coffee alternatives, there’s a good chance you have already considered black tea and maybe even green tea. It may be the world’s favourite hot drink, but it’s not to everyone’s taste, and if you want to avoid caffeine altogether then they are not good alternatives. Rooibos (red tea) is a good option, but if you’re not big on the taste of black tea then you probably won’t like red tea either.
But don’t give up on tea just yet. Many varieties of herbal tea are caffeine free and can provide the strong, biting, yet complex taste that you’ll miss when you give up coffee.
Here are just a few of our favourites:
- Nettle Tea: An overlooked weed that grows abundantly in the wild, it is loaded with nutrients and has a strong, sharp taste.
- Ginger Tea: A healthy, fiery tea that will perk you up in the morning in lieu of your daily java.
- Mint Tea: Spearmint, peppermint—it’s a flavour we’re all familiar with, but one that takes on a new life when brewed as a tea.
- Liquorice Tea: A diuretic that has a somewhat sweet taste and could be a great coffee alternative if you like your daily cup loaded with sugar and cream.
- Yerba Mate: Consumed as a coffee substitute in South America because of its energising effects.
If you want health benefits, take a look at our sideritis tea. It has a very mild, fragrant taste, not unlike a flavourful green tea, and it may provide a wealth of health benefits.
Do You Need a Coffee Alternative?
Coffee isn’t as bad for you as you may have been led to believe. Unfiltered coffee may increase your cholesterol but it does this indirectly and doesn’t actually contain cholesterol. (3)
The caffeine content can be a problem, though, especially if you are drinking several cups a day. Caffeine is perfectly safe in moderation and it may even be good for you, but if you are drinking too much of the stuff and experiencing restlessness, irritability, and insomnia as a result, it’s well worth switching over to a caffeine-free alternative.
It’s a similar story for anyone who is sensitive to caffeine or is suffering from persistent caffeine-related side effects, such as acid reflux.
We discussed some of these issues and more in our guide to the health benefits and side effects of coffee. If you need more information, make sure you check them out.