What Are the Healthiest Alternatives to Replace Coffee and Drink Instead?

  • Medical Reviewer: Mahammad Juber, MD
Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2022

Why substitute coffee?

If you're looking to reduce your dependence on coffee, there are some alternatives to the drink. The healthiest alternatives to replace coffee include chicory root, rooibos, golden milk, matcha tea, and yerba mate.
If you're looking to reduce your dependence on coffee, there are some alternatives to the drink. The healthiest alternatives to replace coffee include chicory root, rooibos, golden milk, matcha tea, and yerba mate.

For various reasons, coffee is one of the most popular morning drinks for many people. Still, while it has some health benefits, you can sometimes become dependent on it for an energy boost, especially when you’re dull or tired. If you’re looking to reduce your dependence on this beverage, check out some of the alternatives to coffee.

Some people tend to drink coffee to get a quick energy fix, especially when they’re tired or sluggish. These tendencies make you dependent on the beverage, though, which can become a cause for concern. You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you decide to stop drinking it or reduce your intake.

Of course, the exact effect of caffeine on the body will depend on factors such as the individual’s age, weight, gender, and overall health. Studies indicate that having moderate levels of coffee, equivalent to roughly 300 to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, is safe for most people. 

Higher doses of caffeine, on the other hand, could lead to anxiety, drowsiness, nausea, headaches, and higher blood pressure. Regularly drinking coffee is also linked to lower iron levels in the blood, which could cause anemia

If you’re looking for a different beverage that can satisfy your mid-afternoon or mid-project craving, you can try some of these healthier alternatives to coffee.

Chicory root coffee

Chicory root is an excellent substitute for coffee. Like coffee, this root should be roasted and ground to make a delicious but caffeine-free beverage. Chicory roots are considered the richest source of inulin, a prebiotic that vastly improves gut health. Your gut breaks down inulin into smaller molecules like fructose and oligofructose, which then enhance bowel functions.

Chicory is rich in fiber, an important food source for probiotics, which are microorganisms that maintain gut health. These microorganisms break down fiber into fatty acids that improve digestion and maintain a healthy pH in your gut. A healthy pH, in turn, supports the growth of beneficial bacteria and lowers the harmful effects of bad bacteria.

You can make your own prebiotic brew by roasting chicory roots and then grinding them up to get a brown powder that can be used to prepare a hot drink.

Rooibos tea

Rooibos tea is derived from a widely grown plant in South Africa called Aspalathus linearis. “Rooibos” means “red bush” in the local Afrikaans language. It has a naturally sweet taste, is rich in polyphenols, and is entirely caffeine-free.

Research has demonstrated that drinking fermented rooibos tea improves your body’s lipid profile, a critical marker for adults at risk of getting cardiovascular conditions. Another laboratory study found that this tea reduces oxidative stress caused by diesel fumes, which may otherwise produce an inflammatory response. Its rising popularity, combined with the fact that it’s caffeine-free, makes it a great alternative to coffee.

Additionally, a separate study revealed that this tea could also improve cardiovascular health. According to the study, the tea restricts the activity of angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE). This is helpful because overly active ACE enzymes can cause a spike in your blood pressure.

To prepare rooibos tea, take approximately 10 grams of rooibos infusion and boil it with 400 milliliters of water for 10 minutes. Rooibos tea bags are also available. Keep in mind that Rooibos tea usually needs to be left in hot water longer than other teas, though.

Golden milk

Golden milk, also called turmeric milk, is an Indian drink that’s been used for a long time and is known for its health benefits. The drink mainly contains turmeric, which gives it a yellowish-golden color (hence its name). Turmeric has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, thanks to curcumin, its main ingredient.

You can also add other spices and condiments to golden milk, including pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and cumin, to enrich its flavor. Research suggests that adding pepper to the drink also improves your body’s ability to absorb curcumin.

To prepare this drink, you first need warm milk. Add around one teaspoon of dried turmeric powder to warm milk, along with other spices of your choice sprinkled on top or mixed in. Additionally, you can add jaggery or honey to sweeten the drink.


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Matcha tea

Matcha tea is a Japanese variety of green tea obtained from the Camellia sinensis plant. The tea is prepared using the finely ground powder of the plant. It has several health benefits, some of which are attributed to a specific compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Matcha tea also contains many polyphenols, which are very effective antioxidants. Polyphenols make up almost 30% of the dry weight of the tea powder.

Research suggests that regularly drinking matcha tea improves cardiovascular and metabolic health. Its consumption has also been linked to lower body weight and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

To make matcha tea, add one teaspoon of matcha green tea powder and three tablespoons of warm water. Add around 1.5 cups of milk or a milk substitute and heat it. You can also serve this tea cold by adding cold milk. To make it sweet, you can use a natural sweetener like honey or sugar.

Yerba mate

Mate is a popular South American caffeinated drink. Mate is prepared using an infusion of the leaves of the yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) tree. 

If you’re looking for a coffee alternative but don’t want to completely give up caffeine, mate is a good option. The caffeine content in Yerba Mate varies depending on the variety of the plant, but each gram of Yerba Mate tea contains roughly 25 to 175 milligrams of caffeine.

Yerba Mate is rich in many biochemical compounds that have antioxidant properties and could also prevent the onset of certain types of cancers. It’s also an abundant source of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, calcium, sodium, and magnesium.

You can make this tea by adding the leaves directly to hot water and letting them steep for a few minutes. You can then use a sweetener of your choice to add a tinge of sweetness. Alternatively, you can buy yerba mate tea bags from supermarkets, enjoying the distinct flavor.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/20/2022

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