Let me preface this by saying that I have no idea how this happened. In my early 20s, I could drink five or more cups of coffee a day, no problem. I scoffed at the idea of decaf (“What’s the point if there’s no caffeine?”) and the best coffee alternatives were nowhere near my radar.
However, I soon noticed that each cup seemed to make me more anxious and less energetic, simultaneously. My nutritionist friend said it was probably “adrenal fatigue” (and that was vague enough for me to overlook — for a while) but if I was being honest with myself, there were tons of other reasons coffee didn’t sit well with me: rapid heart rate, digestive issues, this annoying twinge of back pain every time I had a sip…
So last year, I decided to finally make a change. To decaf. It worked for a bit, but after a few months, the symptoms were back — not as bad, but still enough to disrupt my day. That’s when I realized I had to cut out caffeine altogether, but I wasn’t going down without a fight.
See, I love my morning cup of coffee. It’s arguably the best part of my day. I love the routine of it. I love the feel of a hot mug between my hands, and the taste of the first sip, and — you get the picture. I had to find something that tasted like coffee, was hot like coffee, and made my morning like coffee, but was not coffee.
I’ve spent the last six months researching coffee alternative brands and giving them a shot. While I’m being honest, a lot of them sucked, and most I didn’t even bother finishing before moving onto the next. But these are the ones that, if you have to give up coffee or caffeine for any reason, are actually worth your while:
Cafix Instant Coffee Substitute
I know what you’re thinking: There’s no way an instant beverage is the best coffee alternative. I fought it for a long time, too — but even when compared to the options you brew in a traditional machine, Cafix is the best I’ve found.
The crystals are made from a blend of roasted barley, rye, chicory, and sugar beets, and they dissolve immediately in hot water. And yes, it’s rich, tasty, and milk-friendly, just like coffee. Thanks to the whole instant thing, you can add as much as you want without causing a reusable Keurig cup to overflow (an issue I ran into often with other alternatives, as I prefer my coffee to taste like motor oil), plus the glass, spill-proof jar feels kind of high-end.
Teeccino Herbal Tea Sampler
While Cafix is my go-to for home use, I’m not about to bring a glass jar with me to someone’s dinner party. When I’m headed out somewhere, I bring Teeccino instead. This ramón-barley-chicory blend comes in a tiny tea bag that fits effortlessly in your pocket or purse. That way, when you’re at work, the diner, or a friend’s, you just need a mug of boiled water and you’re good to go.
This box is a sampler with four different flavors — French roast, hazelnut, vanilla nut, and maca chocolate — and full disclosure, I use a few bags with every pour. That said, if you’re looking for something stronger, you can also opt for Teeccino’s traditional brew that you make in a Keurig or coffee machine.
I’m allergic to wheat, and while barley doesn’t typically bother me, I try not to over-do it when it comes to grains. As a result, when I was looking for a grain-free option, I found Crio Bru, and it did not disappoint. Instead of barley, chicory, and rye, it’s made from 100% USDA-certified organic cacao. You brew it just like coffee (in your machine or French press), and the result is a hot, deliciously rich beverage that’s packed with antioxidants and nutrients.
Since it tastes kind of like dark chocolate, some reviewers find it a little too rich for breakfast — but others drink around the clock and say it “satisfies [their] sweet tooth without the sugar.” (Note that this option is 99.9% caffeine-free, not 100%.)
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