Is a fresh cup of coffee the only thing you want to see when you first wake up? You aren’t alone.
But if that daily caffeine boost is beginning to make you feel like a prisoner to your French press, it might be time to start looking into some energizing alternatives to coffee to wake up with instead.
11 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Coffee Intake
When it comes to coffee, it’s all too easy to take too much of a good thing.
400 mg of caffeine is the recommended maximum daily limit for most adults, which comes to about 3-4 cups a day. Drinking more doesn’t do your body any favors because it puts you at risk for caffeine overdose and other adverse health conditions. While the effects of drinking too much caffeine will vary from one person to another, they often include the following.
Addictive Qualities: Once you train your body to rely on coffee to wake up, it’s difficult to start the day any other way. If you ever need to go a morning without it, you’ll almost regret starting the habit in the first place.
Low Energy: Because caffeine can only stimulate the body’s adrenal system for a brief time, the resulting crash often leaves you feeling more exhausted than before.
Unhealthy Weight Gain: Because caffeine can increase your body’s level of the stress hormone cortisol, drinking excessive amounts of coffee can lead to weight gain over time.
Extra Stress: That same cortisol triggers insulin production in your body, which can increase inflammation and decrease your overall sensitivity to insulin. This makes it hard for cells to respond to blood sugar, which consequently raises your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Racing Heartbeat: Pounding down a cup of coffee can leave you with a heart that feels ready to burst from the ribcage. In some cases, these unpleasant palpitations can lead to dizziness or fainting- and in extreme cases, they can trigger severe cardiovascular problems like a heart attack.
Diarrhea: Coffee is a natural laxative, and drinking too much at once can trigger diarrhea. The best way to become regular again? Fill up on fiber and cut down your caffeine consumption.
Headaches: While a little bit of coffee can improve a headache by making your pain-relief medication more effective, too much will make your head pain that much more severe when you eventually crash from the caffeine.
Mineral Deficiency: Excessive caffeine intake can affect your kidney’s ability to store calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and other essential minerals. Instead of being absorbed from your food, they are excreted in urine.
Low-Quality Sleep: Because caffeine stays in your system for up to six hours after drinking it, a few late afternoon cups can severely affect your ability to fall asleep.
Excessive Acid Exposure: Due to its high acid content, drinking endless cups of coffee can cause painful cramping and indigestion as well as heartburn.
The good news? There are ample opportunities for getting a quick boost of energy without relying on excessive amounts of coffee. Whether you want a slightly less potent form of caffeine to wake up with or would rather not live with permanent coffee breath, there are lots of caffeine alternatives to coffee to try for yourself.
16 Best Healthy & Energizing Alternatives to Coffee
Check out these sixteen caffeine alternatives to coffee to get that energy boost you crave with fewer of the drawbacks.
1. Mushroom “Coffee”
For a low-caffeine coffee alternative filled with far more health benefits, consider sipping on coffee brewed with dried mushrooms. Four Sigmatic brews a potent blend of organic dark roast coffee and certified organic Lion’s Mane and Chaga mushrooms. This blend is designed to boost productivity while supporting your immune function, enhancing the benefits of your regular cup without even a hint of mushroom taste.
Best of all, each cup contains just 75 mg of caffeine, or about a third of the amount in a regular serving of coffee. Don’t want to mess with a coffee pot? The company also offers a line of instant coffee drinks that can be brewed in seconds.
2. Kombucha Tea
This ancient Chinese “elixir of life” can be made for pennies at home, and its fermented, fizzy texture makes it an excellent alternative to standard soft drinks. Best of all, the brew is considered by many to treat memory loss, help with high blood pressure, and even regulate the digestive system.
Kombucha is made with just three ingredients: black tea, sugar, and a collection of yeast called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Every batch of kombucha creates a brand new SCOBY, so you can source one from a brewing friend or buy one to begin the process.
Read this post to learn more about the health benefits of kombucha and how you can make your own. And don’t let the cup of sugar per batch scare you away; most of the sweetener is consumed by the bacteria long before you take a sip.
3. Dandelion Tea
Your weedy lawn might hold the secret for brewing a quality coffee alternative. Dandelion tea is full flavored and highly nutritious, and you can easily harvest your own from the plants in your yard, so long as you ensure they’ve never been contaminated with chemical pesticides or fertilizers. If you can’t find dandelions or don’t want to spend time harvesting them, you can purchase ready-made dandelion root tea.
To find out how to make your own dandelion tea, take a look at our recipe here.
4. Yerba Mate
If you can’t bear to start your day without a cup of caffeine, yerba mate tea is a stellar alternative to standard coffee. Providing you with 85 mg of caffeine per serving, yerba mate packs in far more nutrients and won’t cause you to crash once the effects wear off. Yerba mate comes from a holly tree variety in the Amazon rainforest, and the taste is similar to green tea. It’s equally tasty brewed both hot or cold.
Try this Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate for the highest quality tea.
For those struggling to overcome an extreme coffee addiction, teeccino offers an ideal alternative. Though technically an herbal tea, teechino provides a surprisingly similar taste and aroma to standard coffee without any caffeine. The brew contains plenty of prebiotics and soluble fiber through carob and chicory root, ensuring that it can support the health of your gut microbes. You can brew ground teeccino in a French press or buy it in teabags.
6. Wheatgrass Juice
If you’re looking to take a liquid shot of energy that isn’t espresso, consider sipping on wheatgrass juice instead. A single serving contains almost everything BUT caffeine, including 17 types of amino acids, ample amounts of vitamins A, B, C, E, K, and dozens of minerals.
7. Peppermint Tea
If you’re looking for a quick energy boost in the middle of the afternoon, you won’t go wrong with peppermint tea. Thanks to its bold yet pleasant flavor, peppermint’s strong scent wakes up your olfactory nerves and can trigger your brain back to attention when you feel it fading. And unlike coffee, peppermint tea is known to soothe an upset stomach and aid digestion.
8. Green Smoothie
You can turn your morning drink into breakfast by starting the day with a fresh green smoothie. Incorporating more fresh fruits and leafy greens into your diet is always a good idea, and a green smoothie ensures that you get some much-needed hydration as soon as you wake up.
Adding even half a cup of spinach to your standard smoothie will boost your iron levels, helping you restore some of what your coffee habit might have cost you over the years. For an extra nutritional boost, sprinkle in some spirulina powder to aid your immune system.
9. Turmeric Tea
Turmeric tea might not wake you up, but it may be just what’s needed to improve your memory. In fact, curcumin, its active ingredient, is correlated with less risk of Alzheimer’s, lower rates of memory loss, and even a reduction in your risk of cancer. Beyond boosting your brainpower, turmeric tea is also renowned for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. This spicy tea is an excellent option for sipping throughout the day.
To make turmeric tea bring four cups of water to a boil, add one teaspoon organic turmeric powder and simmer for 10 mins. Strain the mixture and add a spoonful of honey and a pinch of black pepper to increase absorption.
10. Matcha Tea
This jade green drink stands heads and shoulders above other brews because the tea leaves aren’t merely infused in the water. Instead, matcha tea is the term used for powdered tea that is dissolved into your cup, ensuring that you get over ten times the antioxidants as regular green tea. You also get the caffeine benefits to match. A two-gram serving provides one fifth the caffeine of a cup of coffee, and the amino acid l-theanine allows it to be released more slowly into your bloodstream. This means matcha gives you a sense of ‘alert calmness’ that can last up to eight hours at a time.
This TEAki Hut Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder is one of the best reviewed matcha teas on Amazon.
11. Ginger Tea
Ginger is renowned for being a powerful digestive aid, but few people know that it can actually work to wake you up in the morning. Sipping a warm cup of ginger tea first thing will help reduce your inflammation and improve joint functioning as well. This anti-nausea drink is especially beneficial after you’re feeling carsick.
To make ginger tea, grate or finely slice a two inch piece of fresh ginger root. Pour over a cup of boiling water and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain out the fresh ginger, add a squeeze of honey and enjoy.
12. Coconut Water
If you’re looking for a convenient drink to replace your afternoon coffee habit, coconut water deserves a closer look. The lightly sweet flavor will keep you interested if regular water isn’t appealing, and you’ll get a beneficial boost of electrolytes and bioactive enzymes as well.
13. Sparkling Water
Give yourself something that’s caffeine-free and pleasant to sip by keeping a supply of sparkling water on hand. You can drink this CO2-infused beverage as-is, or blend in any number of flavorings to create your perfect blend.
14. Hot Apple Cider
When you’re craving something hot and sweet, apple cider can be a surprisingly effective substitute for coffee. You’ll get the nutrients from the apples, and the brew’s natural sweetness means you won’t need to add any extra.
To make, quarter 8-10 apples and place into a pot filled with water to cover. Add four cinnamon sticks and boil for an hour, followed by two hours simmering. Remove spices and mash the apples before pouring through a strainer. The resulting liquid is your delicious hot apple cider. You can store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Simply reheat on the stove and enjoy.
15. Fruit Infused Water
If tap water isn’t tempting enough to get you to sip, consider switching over to a special water bottle that makes it simple to infuse herbs and fruits for enhanced flavor. You’ll get a portion of the vitamins and nutrients in the water, and the taste can be personalized to your preference. If you’re just starting out, consider a book of water infusion recipes or stick with richly flavored fruits like strawberries, watermelon, ginger, or cucumbers. Here are some great recipe ideas to pack more flavor and vitamins into your water.
16. Organic, Single-Origin Coffee
If you just can’t kick the craving for a classic cup of joe, you can at least take steps to source your coffee as sustainably as possible. Low-quality coffee often contains mold, and millions of acres of rainforest are chopped down each year to make room for coffee plantations. A better option is to look for shade-grown coffee that is certified by the Rainforest Alliance like Java Planet coffee.
Even if you aren’t ready to quit your coffee habit for good, adding a few of these caffeine alternatives to coffee to your life will make a significant difference in your health, happiness, and risk of caffeine headaches. For that reason alone, the switch is well worth it.