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But first, coffee. According to The National Coffee Association, 63% of American adults drink the brewed beverage daily, with more than half of U.S. workers admitting to needing that hug in a mug — and the caffeine buzz, laser focus, and increased physical and mental function that comes with it—before heading to the office. In total, stats show more than 2.25 billion cups of java are consumed globally every day. With numbers like that, you gotta respect the drip.
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But what if you don’t think the best part of waking up is French roast in your cup? Not everyone is a fan of coffee, which is why a number of good coffee alternatives have become available in recent years. The best coffee alternatives are great for people who have a venti-sized dislike for the taste, or who perhaps can’t stomach the gastrointestinal or urinary side effects, the afternoon crash (aka rebound fatigue), the jitters, or the accelerated heart rate.
Swapping your coffee for a coffee alternative is also helpful if you’ve become too drip-endent. Or maybe you’re just bored and want to shake up your morning routine. No matter the reason you want to make a (fair) trade, there are plenty of coffee alternatives including mushroom coffee, tea, juice shots, matcha, chicory, and other functional concoctions that are good to the last drop. Here are some of our favorites.
The idea and the name for this California-based, coffee-alternative empire came to its founder in a dream. That was 28 years and more than 24 gluten-free, caffeine-free, and acid-free flavors ago.
The rich, full-bodied beverage is made of a proprietary blend of seeds, fruits, nuts, and organic herbs like chicory, carob, and barley that gets roasted and ground like coffee. The “coffee” options get brewed while the “tea” options get steeped.
No matter which preparation method you prefer, there are plenty of reasons to pour a cup of Almond Amaretto, Pumpkin Spice, Snickerdoodle, or Vanilla Nut. Recently, Teeccino’s portfolio has expanded to include the Mushroom Adaptogen line, which harnesses the wellness power of fungi and natural adaptogens like chaga, ashwagandha root, and reishi to help the body cope with stressors and give an endurance boost.
With 1/7th the caffeine of coffee, the Insta-famous, single-origin substitute is a strange brew of organic ingredients like masala chai (where the dash of black tea caffeine comes from), spices, sea salt, and several types of fungus.
MUD\WTR arrives in powder form, and it can be made with hot water, milk, or faux dairy products. The starter kit also includes an USB-rechargeable frother to give it a latte consistency. Or the spiced dust can be prepared bulletproof style, served with honey, or mixed into protein shakes.
No matter what form you ingest it in, the company say the product promotes mental clarity, increased immunity, and alertness. They’ve also recently introduced a plant-based creamer made with coconut milk and MCT powder.
Morning Ritual Starter Kit
The highly-respected tea purveyor out of Milwaukee spent three years in R&D to perfect these plant-based potions — their first for the ready-to-drink category — and then built a specialty brewery to manufacture them in small batches. They leveraged longtime trade and import relationships to source high-quality specialty ingredients from farmers, like foraged maqui berries from Patagonia, or a unique variety of pungent ginger and hibiscus from Burma, then combined those with complimentary dried teas.
No powders, sugars, or flavorings are ever added so there’s no synthetic aftertaste. The layered ingredients pop with strong flavor, but are ultimately light and refreshing. Unlike anything on the market, the current six flavors (like Black Lemon and Patagonia Maqui) also support functional side effects to the imbiber such as ‘clean’ energy (some of the teas have caffeine), metabolism boosts, and inflammation reduction.
Rishi Tea Sparking Botanicals (12-Pack)
If bubbles aren’t your jam, Rishi has plenty of tea types to meet your energy needs. There’s a whole line of teas and vibrant botanical powders (to add to blended drinks) featuring nootropics like butterfly pea flower and Thai gotu kola, substances that naturally enhance cognitive functions.
Speaking of green tea, become a better barista with this all-in-one system designed to reproduce the stone mill and bamboo whisk techniques traditionally used to make matcha.
It was made to work best in conjunction with Matcha Leaf products, and the starter kit includes three packets (each packet makes 20 cups). The machine, an Innovation Awards Honoree at CES 2020, grinds loose, organic Japanese-grown leaves into a fine matcha powder and then handles the pesky whisking-into-water step for you too. Enjoy it as a straight shot, as a latte, or mixed into mocktails. Thanks to the sleek modern design, you won’t mind keeping it out on the kitchen counter.
Cuzen Home Matcha System
Created by certified holistic nutritionist Cindy Kasindorf, her plant-based, nutrient-dense protein shakes promise to aid in muscle recovery and fortifying immunity while being free of dairy, gluten, soy, and GMOs.
In the case of their silky Matcha Fuel, it’s formulated with Japanese matcha and maca to deliver a boost in the a.m. or pre- and post-workout. Matcha is also one of the main ingredients in the new-in-2021 Energize Me Immunity+ Shots along with cayenne for a metabolism boost. The creamy Keto varieties including the chocolate and cold brew flavors pump up the total protein and also provide a portable pick-me-up. Note that these demand space in your fridge, and are some of our favorite juice and shake delivery services.
Remedy Organics Reset Program
There’s nothing new about this brand’s flagship herb Tulsi, aka holy basil aka the “Queen of Herbs.” The ayurvedic adaptogen has been used to promote calm and clarity in the mind for centuries in India.
The Tulsi Focus line also benefits from bonus nootropics gota kola (healthy blood flow to the brain), bacopa (memory and mood), and shankpushpi (concentration). There are four functional flavors: Clementine Vanilla and Hibiscus Cinnamon are caffeine-free, while Pomegranate Orange green tea and Raspberry Lemon black tea contain 13 and 30 milligrams of caffeine respectively.
Organic India Tulsi Focus Tea
When a Tennessee momtrepreneur couldn’t find a satisfying coffee proxy for her percolator, she got creative and wound up inventing one herself. Her artisanal-roasted root brew contains only six ingredients: organic quinoa, chicory root, orange peel, cloves, allspice, and superfood MCT coconut oil.
It still delivers a full-bodied mouthfeel that doesn’t wreak havoc on the stomach, with MCT being associated with a natural rush and increased mental focus. The “noffee” comes as grounds, single-serving pouches (great for travel), and ready-to-drink cold brew. Part of the proceeds are donated to National Angels, a nonprofit that provides goods and services to the foster care community, so your heart and your body will be warmed by NUJO.
nuJo Super Brew
Kombucha can also be a source of extra vigor, as it starts its life cycle as tea and therefore contains caffeine, but with a dose far lower than coffee. It used to be something you had to cultivate in your closet, or track down at hippie co-ops and health food stores, but the current upswing in popularity means the tangy drink is stocked just about everywhere these days.
Health-Ade, a favorite of model Ashley Graham, pulls its wide range of flavors like pink lady apple, mint limeade, and pomegranate from juices cold-pressed out of real organic produce. They also offer Kombucha Pop, which drinks more like a soda while still benefiting the belly, and the Health-Ade PLUS line, which takes the classic formula and adds adaptogens to achieve certain moods or address target issues like stamina.
Health-Ade Kombucha (12-Pack)
9. Slate Milk
Slurping down chocolate milk can make you feel like a kid again, but when that milk is Shark Tank alum Slate, that’s actually a solid example of adulting. Slate’s cocoa creations are made using ultrafiltration, which makes the milk lactose-free and results in less sugar (nine grams a can) and 50% more protein (20 grams a can). As protein takes longer to break down than carbs, it becomes a longer-lasting energy source and helps muscle recovery after the gym.
Both the classic and dark chocolate versions are caffeine-free, but the espresso chocolate packs an extra two-shot punch (175 milligrams) of caffeine from Columbian coffee. All can be enjoyed hot or cold and do not require refrigeration.
Slate Chocolate Milk
Cascara is more than just a flavorful addition to cacao water. The husks of coffee cherries, usually left behind as waste from the coffee-making process, are dried to create a product similar to herbal tea. It’s got a sweet and fruity taste, with a touch of tobacco on the tongue.
The product’s biggest benefit is in the cleansed-colon arena, but the antioxidant-rich elixir is also said to improve digestion, reduce stress, and aid memory and clarity.
Twin Engine Coffee Fruit Tea
Recreate the unique flavor profile of chicory at home by augmenting your stash with these organic caffeine-free granules during brewing. If you’re looking for something caffeine-free to sip instead, simply brew Anthony’s solo in a coffeemaker.
Chicory is high in inulin, which studies have shown promotes healthy gut bacteria colonization and blood sugar control. Warning: As the chicory plant is in the dandelion family, folks with ragweed or birch pollen allergies should avoid this coffee alternative, as it has been known to cause similar reactions.
Anthony’s Chicory Root Granules
Available in 12 sparkling and non-carbonated flavors like watermelon, raspberry acai green tea, and limited-edition Peach Vibe, this sugar-free, low-carb energy drink is a monster help at the gym.
CELSIUS is fortified with seven essential vitamins including C, B6, B12, niacin, and riboflavin but lacks junk like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup. Its MetaPlus brew includes guarana, ginger extract, caffeine, and other items with fueling properties has been clinically proven to accelerate metabolism when exercising.
CELSIUS Sparkling Peach Vibe Drink
This substitute is a south-of-the-border special — way south, as in Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina (it’s the national drink in that country). Usually using a specialty gourd cup and metal straw with a flattened opening, yerba mate is sipped after rolling out of bed in the mornings, with a similarly high caffeine content as coffee.
It’s made by soaking the leaves of a native holly tree found in the rainforests in hot water. Regular drinkers swear it doesn’t cause the shakes or an intense crash. More reasons to make friends with mate: B and C vitamins and polyphenol antioxidants like chlorogenic acid.
Guayaki Yerba Mate
If you aren’t ready to retire the robusta, you should still consider upgrading your java jolt for wellness purposes. One way to do that is by pouring a cup of morning joe infused with functional fungi.
Four Sigmatic, early adopters to the concept of mushroom coffee, add lion’s mane and chaga to their single-origin arabica grounds claiming the mushrooms help smooth out the caffeine intake to avoid a mid-day crash (yet it still tastes and smells like coffee).
The feline-named fungus is a nootropic long thought to fine-tune cognitive duties of memory, focus, and concentration. The “Think” line, which contains rhodiola root to combat stress, also comes in instant packets and coffee pods.
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