Love coffee but looking to try something different? We feel you. And we have good news. There are actually a plethora of alternatives to your morning cup of joe that can give you a little boost without that dreaded afternoon crash.
While some coffee shops are now expanding their menus to include lattes etc. with alternative ingredients mixed in, the various mushrooms, herbs, and roots in this guide are delicious without any added coffee as well.
If the idea of giving up your daily caffeine fix horrifies you, fear not—we have a few caffeinated recommendations, too (hello, matcha!). So, whether you’re taking a break from caffeine, or simply looking to shake up your morning routine, these delicious coffee alternatives will have you excited for your alarm to go off each day. Imagine that!
Lion’s Mane currently grows wild in North America, Asia, and Europe, and its origins date back to ancient Chinese medicinal traditions. In the wild, lion’s mane looks like a frozen waterfall, attaching itself to the barks of trees like the American beech. We love its earthy flavor when whisked into hot milk, water, or tea, or even blended into our morning smoothies.
Chaga mushrooms grow and thrive in super cold environments, which explains why this mushroom variety has been a mainstay in the Russian (especially Siberian) diet for centuries. In recent years, Chaga’s popularity has made it more widely available throughout North America, so you should have no trouble finding it (most likely in powder form) in your local health store or market. The most common preparation is to mix ground Chaga into warm water, but we also love to mix it into warmed almond or cashew milk. The flavor can be intense at first, and the flavor of a nut milk can make it easier on the palate.
Reishi is another mainstay of traditional Chinese medicine. While these mushrooms are edible in full form, you’re more likely to find reishi in a ground powder or infused tincture form (at least in the U.S.). Many describe reishi as having a woody or bitter taste, so it’s best to mix this one with a strongly-flavored base—like milk or a fruity tea.
Despite its name, dandelion coffee doesn’t actually contain any coffee—or caffeine, for that matter. It’s made by coarsely grinding roasted dandelion root, blending the grinds with chicory root and often beet sugar, and then steeping the mix in hot water. Roasted dandelion root has a flavor that’s remarkably similar to a cup of joe, but without the acidity that coffee typically entails. And don’t worry, you don’t have to do all the grinding and blending yourself—the pre-ground mixes on the market are much easier and just as delicious.
Maca is part of the cruciferous vegetable family (yes, just like cauliflower and broccoli) that is native to the Andes region of Peru. In its whole form, maca root looks quite similar to a turnip, though maca is most often found in ground powder form in the U.S. The powder is known for its sweet, earthy flavor and tastes amazing when mixed into spiced tea (like chai), hot chocolate, or smoothies.
This bright green, earthy flavored tea has been a culinary and cultural staple in Japan for centuries. And it definitely packs an energizing punch. Because matcha is made from crushed, whole leaves, its caffeine content is nearly twice that of bagged green tea—around 68mg per cup.
There are many ways to enjoy matcha—simply prepared with hot water and honey, frothed into a latté, or even shaken into a cocktail!
Hailing from South America, yerba maté is one of the most caffeinated tea varieties (one cup containing nearly as much caffeine as a cup of coffee!) This simple drink is made by pouring hot water over dry maté leaves and steeping. Adding sugar is a matter of preference—many prefer to drink the strong, grassy, vegetal flavored tea straight up.
And a bonus category-buster…
Chocolate lovers, rejoice! There’s a way you can satisfy your sweet tooth without refined sugar. Carob powder—which has been harvested and consumed in the Mediterranean since for centuries, since the heyday of the Roman Empire— is similar to cocoa powder in terms of color, texture, and flavor. It’s mildly sweet and has no caffeine, which means it’s totally acceptable to make hot carob cocoa all day, every day.
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