10 Healthy Alternatives to Coffee for Lasting Energy
In this article, you will discover 10 healthy alternatives to coffee, both caffeinated and non-caffeinated.
There are many drinks that you can drink to wake up and feel energized other than coffee. They are just as fun to prepare, taste just as great, and spare you from some of the unpleasant side effects of coffee consumption.
Ready to replace your morning's beverage of choice? Let's dive in with the first alternative (it's one of our team's favorites).
Matcha is a powdered green tea. The Japanese have been drinking it for centuries.
It is made from high-quality green tea leaves and inherits all the health benefits of green tea.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains catechin, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium. It also delivers amino acids that improve mood and cognitive function.
Matcha contains caffeine, though much less than coffee. A gram of matcha packs around 30mg of caffeine, while a gram of coffee has 96mg.
Matcha is a great alternative to coffee because it provides sustained energy. Unlike coffee, it's unlikely you'll experience a crash after a cup or two of matcha.
Matcha powder is bright green. It tastes grassy, bitter, and umami (meaning "pleasant savory taste").
You can prepare it in several ways, but the most common is to dissolve it in hot water.
To make matcha, place 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder in a mug, or a bowl, which is the traditional way.
Add about 2-3 ounces of warm water (60-70 degrees). Then, use a whisk or spoon (bamboo, if available) to stir the matcha. Keep going until it has turned a bright green color and thin froth forms at the top of your drink. You can also use an electric frother if you have one.
If you want a sweeter drink, you can add honey or sugar to taste. For a cold drink, mix matcha with cold water or milk and ice.
2. Yerba Mate
Yerba mate (yer-bah mah-tay) is a traditional South American beverage. It is made from the dried leaves of Ilex paraguariensis, a species of holly.
Brewed yerba mate tastes like a mild, earthy tea with a mild sweet aftertaste. You can drink it hot or cold, with milk and sugar. Some people also add lemon or lime juice to add a bit of tartness.
It contains caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, which all contribute to its energizing effects.
Yerba mate also contains antioxidants and polyphenols. They help detoxify the body and promote healthy blood flow.
Like coffee, Yerba mate improves mental focus, increases physical energy, and enhances fat burning.
It contains theobromine and theophylline, which help smooth out the effects of caffeine. In other words, you shouldn't experience the infamous caffeine crash after drinking Yerba.
The traditional way to drink yerba is to use a gourd and a metallic straw called a bombilla.
3. Green Tea
Green tea is often touted as a healthy alternative to coffee.
Both beverages contain caffeine. But green tea also contains a variety of other nutrients that coffee does not. These include catechins, which are powerful antioxidants. And L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation.
Green tea offers a variety of health benefits. It improves brain function, reduces inflammation, and protects against heart disease and cancer. It may also increase metabolism and prevent the body from absorbing fat, thus boosting weight loss.
So, if you're looking for a healthier way to get your caffeine fix, green tea is a fantastic alternative.
To brew green tea, start by boiling water in a pot or kettle. Remove the water from the heat source and let it cool down for 2 to 3 minutes. We want it to reach a temperature of about 80°C / 175°F.
Time to make the tea. Use one teaspoon of leaves for every 5 ounces of tea you want to brew.
Place the green tea leaves in a tea filter and into your teapot or teacup. Pour the water over the leaves and let them steep for 2 to 3 minutes, depending on how intense of a flavor you want.
Once the tea has finished steeping, remove the leaves, and set them aside. Don't throw them out. You can use them again for your next batch of tea.
4. Black Tea
Black tea is one of the most popular teas in the world. You may recognize the names Darjeeling, Ceylon, or English breakfast tea. These are all different blends of black tea.
Black tea leaves come from the Camellia sinensis plant. Once harvested, they are briefly fermented before being dried and rolled. Fermentation is what gives black tea its signature dark color and rich flavor.
Brewed black tea contains more antioxidants than coffee. Like coffee, black tea contains caffeine and improves mental alertness. Thus it is best if you avoid drinking it late in the day.
To prepare black tea, steep the leaves (or bag) in hot water for 4 minutes.
Like with green tea, let the water cool down to about 80°C / 175°F before starting your brew. Any warmer than that and you will kill the leaves' aroma and health properties.
So let the water cool down at least 2 minutes before pouring it in.
Set the leaves aside and reuse them once or twice more.
5. Mushroom Coffee
If you are looking for a healthier alternative to coffee, mushroom coffee is a great option. Made from dried mushrooms, it has many health benefits over coffee.
It is higher in antioxidants and contains less caffeine. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to boost your immune system.
There are many brands of mushroom coffee on the market, but not all are equal. Some brands use lower-quality mushrooms or add fillers to their coffee. That minimizes the beverage's health benefits.
Choose a brand that uses high-quality mushrooms and doesn't add fillers. I like Four Sigmatic.
Four Sigmatic's mushroom coffee is instant and comes in individual packets. Mix it with hot water, drink up, and buckle up! You can also add milk or sugar to taste.
Chicory is a healthy coffee alternative without caffeine.
It is made from roasted chicory root. The roots are ground and brewed like coffee, resulting in a drink that has a similar flavor to coffee but is caffeine-free.
Chicory coffee has a dark brown color with a rich flavor.
It is rich in antioxidants, gluten-free, and has many health benefits. It may help to improve digestion, lose weight and lower cholesterol levels.
Chicory coffee is instant. You mix it with hot water, stir it for a few seconds, and it's ready to drink. Drink it plain or with milk and sugar.
7. Turmeric Latte
Turmeric Latte (also known as Golden Milk) is a popular drink in India. It contains:
- Turmeric: a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
- Ginger: helps digestion
- Black pepper: helps the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric
Turmeric latte is caffeine-free which means you can enjoy it at any time of day.
Golden milk improves brain function, skin health, and blood circulation.
To make a turmeric latte, simmer 1 cup of your favorite milk with:
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
- a cinnamon stick.
Once the milk heats through, strain the spices out and enjoy.
Sweeten it with honey or stevia. I like to whisk in a tablespoon of coconut milk. The result is Oh-So creamy.
Chai tea is another delicious Indian beverage. It is a blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger.
It contains black tea. So unlike turmeric latte, it packs a small amount of caffeine—about a fourth of that of coffee.
And because black tea improves cognitive performance and increases alertness, so does Chai.
Chai tea has many health benefits. It may reduce the risk of heart disease, boost the immune system, and fight cancer. It also is a good source of antioxidants.
Brewing chai tea is simple. Steep black tea with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger for 3-5 minutes. Add sweetener if desired. Milk is optional.
9. Lemon Water
Coffee is a popular morning drink. But if you only drink it to wake yourself up in the mornings, you may want to try lemon water instead.
The reason you are low in energy when you wake up may be that you're dehydrated. During sleep, your body loses a lot of water and electrolytes through sweat and breath.
If those aren't replenished, your body can't perform at its best. And you may feel fatigued or lethargic as a result.
Lemon water is a great source of Vitamin C and other antioxidants. It kickstarts digestion, boosts your immune system, and can even help you lose weight.
Plus, it tastes great and is refreshing first thing in the morning.
If you feel adventurous, here are additions worth trying:
- Drink it warm. Drinking cold water can actually shock your system and cause indigestion. Warm water can help to improve digestion, prevent constipation, and clear out the respiratory system.
- Make it a cocktail. Try adding the following ingredients:
- Himalayan sea salt: It helps you recover the electrolytes you've lost during the night.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV): ACV improves the taste of the mixture. And drinking it every day also may have health benefits.
10. Ginger Tea
Ginger tea is a great choice for anyone looking for an easy way to improve their health and boost their immune system. It is a non-caffeinated beverage you can drink instead of coffee at any time of day.
Ginger tea has many health benefits. It calms the stomach and may also help reduce nausea, lower cholesterol levels, fight cancer, and aid in muscle recovery.
To make ginger tea:
- Start by peeling about an inch of fresh ginger root and slicing it into thin pieces
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the ginger slices
- Reduce the heat and let the ginger simmer for about 5-10 minutes
- Strain the liquid and enjoy!
Ginger is a strong-tasting spice. You may need time to get used to it. You can add milk or honey to taste.
Reasons to Avoid Coffee
Coffee contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. Stimulants work by increasing the activity of the central nervous system. This is why coffee increases alertness and energy.
But stimulants can also cause side effects. One of the more common on is restlessness, aka "coffee jitters".
Some people may be more susceptible to coffee jitters than others. Factors like stress levels, sleep habits, and general health can all affect how someone responds to caffeine.
If you're someone who gets jittery from coffee, there are a few things you can do to reduce the effects. First, try drinking smaller amounts of coffee. Or, switch to decaf coffee or tea which have lower levels of caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant and can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Coffee can affect the quality of sleep. It will reduce the amount of deep sleep and REM sleep you get. Both play an essential role in cognitive function.
The less deep sleep you get, the less energized you feel the next day. So you drink coffee to stay awake. Which hurts the next night's sleep. Which makes you need even more coffee. And so on.
Caffeine has a half-life of 5 hours. In other words, you drink a cup of joe. 5 hours later, half the caffeine from that cup is still running through your bloodstream.
That's why it's best to stop drinking coffee at least 10 hours before your bedtime. So if you do drink coffee, try to drink no more than two cups, early in the day.
Coffee is a stimulant, and as such, it can speed up the digestive process. That's why people drink it to lose weight.
But the metabolic effect of coffee is temporary. The body builds up a tolerance to caffeine after a while and no longer responds the same way.
On the downside, coffee can act as a laxative in some people and cause diarrhea. This effect is usually mild and is more common amongst heavy coffee drinkers.