Are you ready to give up coffee completely or just want to cut down on your caffeine intake? You are in the right place! As a former coffee drinker, I never thought I’d be able to give up my morning cup of coffee. But thanks to this list of 8 coffee alternatives and substitutions, I hardly ever drink coffee anymore. Read on for tips on how to give up coffee or reduce your consumption by switching to these decaffeinated options.
Here’s what you can find in this post:
My experience of not drinking coffee
I never thought I would give up coffee. Not for a month, certainly not for life.
But when I was doing my natural liver detox experiment to heal perioral dermatitis, it was elimination (which also included alcohol and sugar) that I missed the least. Withdrawal was brief and fairly direct—two days with a mild headache—while my body’s response to sugar detox was longer, more violent, and more varied.
Because of what my personal experience of not caffeine has taught me about my cravings, I’ve kept coffee out of my life for the most part. I drink green tea most days but not all. And sometimes I drink an espresso or almond milk latte at the weekend or on vacation when I really want to spoil my taste buds.
When I started the 4 Weeks to Wellness program, which begins with a week-long mini-vice detox where we cut out sugar, alcohol, and caffeine, I was surprised by how many people’s dreads were approaching coffee waive. When it was over I was also shocked at how many people were surprised itself by choosing, like me, to stick with it.
Is coffee unhealthy?
Coffee is a polarizing ingredient in the wellness world, viewed by some as a drug and by others as a superfood. As I write in my book The Wellness Project, your tolerance really depends on how well you metabolize it, which varies from person to person and can be affected by a number of variables (hormonal birth control is a big issue).
So I’m continually amazed that so many elimination diets, detox and “cleansing” protocols don’t include coffee on the list (I’m looking at you Whole30).
While it may not have been on your resolution list this year, I think everyone can benefit from going without caffeine for a short time. If you suffer from hormonal imbalances (PCOS, endometriosis, thyroid problems) or symptoms thereof (bad skin, unpredictable digestion), coffee could be an under-the-radar culprit or contributor.
Finally, if you have trouble sleeping at night and supplements like magnesium for sleep haven’t helped you, maybe it’s not that you need natural sleep aids, it’s that you need to eliminate the stimulants from your life. If you drink coffee after noon, it’s still in your system until bedtime. But even for those who enjoy just one cup in the morning, it’s often a great realization that when you cut out caffeine, sleep improves dramatically and you no longer feel tired in the morning or need extra assistance waking up.
Give up coffee?
What many fail to acknowledge about coffee in particular (not caffeine in general) is that it is a mild endocrine disruptor.
Coffee competes in the liver for valuable enzyme resources that are also needed to process estrogen during the detoxification process. This is one of the reasons why women who take hormone replacement drugs (like birth control pills) metabolize caffeine more slowly and may feel its effects longer.
This isn’t doing our skin any favours, but it also impacts other aspects of our delicate endocrine system.
When estrogen levels are elevated, which can happen when your liver doesn’t efficiently sort and properly excrete the excess, a chain reaction occurs through other parts of the body, particularly the thyroid.
“Estrogen dominance” can cause hypothyroidism. It’s also been linked to painful periods, scary PMS, ovarian cysts, and balloon-in-the-belly bloating.
ladies. Please consider giving your coffee break a break?
How do you go about cutting out caffeine?
To avoid headaches with withdrawal symptoms, I don’t recommend cold turkey.
Instead, replace your morning Java infusion for a few days with a single cup of green tea, a low-caffeine, high-antioxidant option. If you’re heavily dependent on coffee (e.g. 3 or more cups a day), give yourself a full week to downgrade. Start with two days of just 1 cup in the morning, followed by 2 days of black tea only, followed by 2 days of green tea only. Then boom. Eliminate caffeine completely with one of the options below.
Emotionally, there is a lot to be said for what a warm cup can do for the routine at the start of the day. But I also want to talk about the benefits that warming up the intestines has on the digestive system.
If you depend on coffee in the morning to go to the bathroom, don’t stress.
Especially if you drink smoothies or eat overnight oats straight from the fridge, it helps to sip a warm coffee substitute first.
Cold food slows down the digestion process, while hot food tends to put a strain on your gastrointestinal tract.
What is a healthy alternative to coffee?
There are several ingredients that can give you that warming, earthy coffee flavor without the caffeine. Mushroom elixirs have gained traction as coffee substitutes, as has raw cacao. Both are dark in color like coffee, but are high in healthy antioxidants.
There are also artificial coffee brews made from dandelion and barley that mimic the taste of coffee.
Then there are the decaffeinated black teas of the world and other herbal options that still taste great with a dash of milk like rooibos.
Is Decaffeinated Coffee Decaffeinated?
One coffee alternative that I don’t recommend is actually decaffeinated coffee. It’s fine if you’re trying to wean coffee off slowly, but since it still contains trace amounts of caffeine, it’s not the best option if you’re going completely decaffeinated or are particularly sensitive to stimulants.
Read on for some of my warm decaffeinated coffee alternatives that can help you break your habit and still enjoy a morning treat.
With health and hedonism,
The best decaffeinated coffee substitutes and alternatives
Mushroom Elixir: For those who miss the taste of coffee, Four Stigmatic’s various mushroom powders are an interesting alternative. It’s not a dead ringer for taste, but it has a nice earthy quality and looks just like coffee. It is also a superfood that touts many other nutrients. Just put in a cup and add water. Simply. The Lion’s Mane variety is caffeine-free and is great for concentration. Attention, the mushroom coffee actually contains coffee!
Teeccino: Another option that mimics coffee but comes in an easy-to-use tea bag is this brand of tea. If you’re sensitive to gluten, make sure you buy a flavor that’s not made with barley like the Dandelion Dark Roast.
Decaffeinated Chai Tea Latte. If you’re more of a tea guy or girl anyway, you’ll love these chai tea lattes, which have all the spices in the usual Starbucks order, but no real, um, tea. They’re a little more involved, so you can see the store-bought option below as well.
Bombay fog. The London Fog is a classic tea latte that uses Earl Gray and frothed milk. It’s incredibly easy and can be repeated with decaffeinated English breakfast tea, or for a fun round with decaffeinated rooibos chai tea bags and warm almond milk! In general, rooibos tea is a fantastic herbal alternative to replace black tea and coffee as it is herbal yet earthy.
Golden milk lattes: These need a little more time in the morning, but can be conjured up quickly on the stove from a pre-made spice mixture. The turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory for your system, while ginger is a well-known ointment for any digestive issues you are suffering from. A simple trick is this ginger tea with a squirt of unsweetened almond or coconut milk. You can also follow the Golden Milk Chia Pudding recipe in The Wellness Project and omit the chia seeds for a simple latte!
bone broth: Not only is it incredibly warming, but the collagen and glutamine also help heal your gut lining. There is a fabulous recipe for a low FODMAP healing chicken broth on my website. A beef version can be found here. If you want to buy bone broth, Kettle and Fire makes a good one (albeit expensive) and I think it still pales in comparison to homemade broth. If you live in NYC, visit Brodo!
Warm water with fresh lemon juice: Simply add 1/2 lemon to 8 ounces of hot water. Lemon juice acts as a dissolving agent for toxins, helping your liver flush out and flush out of your body all the garbage it has built up overnight. This is especially good if you are just starting out on your caffeine or vice detox and need extra help to overcome the withdrawal symptoms!
Cocoa Latte: The dark, chocolaty flavor of raw cacao hits that earthy spot just as much as mushroom elixirs. Sunwink is my favorite brand so far. They have other decaffeinated options too!
Detox Drink Recipes: If you don’t mind a more elaborate homemade option, I have green immune drink recipes, detox smoothies, and more!
Have you ever tried giving up coffee? do you feel better without Which warm preparation is in your cup in the morning? Tell me in the comments!
Sign up for the 4 Weeks to Wellness Program waitlist to kick caffeine out of your hand!