Coffee is what most people reach for first thing in the morning and then again throughout the day whenever they’re in dire need of a pick-me-up. For those of us who depend on the stuff, it’s hard to imagine anything could be an adequate substitute.
After the first glorious cups, though, things get complicated. As most coffee drinkers find out for themselves, too much caffeine gives you jitters, and the acidity of coffee can cause indigestion, stomach pain and heartburn.
Whether you’re looking for a warm, comforting beverage to take coffee’s place or just searching for a way to sustain your energy without relying on caffeine, here are five healthy, delicious alternatives.
1. Yerba Mate
Yerba mate is a smoky, woody dark tea brewed from the leaves and twigs of a shrub grown in parts of South America that provide less caffeine than coffee, but twice as much as black tea.
The smaller dosage means you can sip at a few cups throughout the day without over-caffeinating. Yerba mate also provides a variety of vitamin, minerals, and antioxidants that help boost your immune system.
2. Rooibos Tea
A warm, comforting beverage for the caffeine-sensitive, Rooibos tea is entirely herbal and caffeine-free, with a more complex flavor than your standard black tea, making it an excellent substitute for coffee. It’s dark, nutty faintly sweet, and packed with energizing antioxidants.
You may be lucky enough to find a cafe near you that presses “red espresso,” which is concentrated rooibos pulled and served like regular espresso. Yes, this means that you can get rooibos-based drinks like red lattes and red cappuccinos.
If a Yelp search for red espresso doesn’t find any local results, try ordering it online.
3. Dandelion Coffee
Another toasty drink to ease your way on a chilly morning is Dandelion coffee. Made out of roasted dandelion root, it tastes and looks, like coffee. Blends can include roasted barley rye, chicory root, and sugar beet, and it’s considered the most coffee-like out of available alternatives.
In addition to antioxidants, roasted dandelion root also contains probiotics, which foster good gut bacteria to help digestion and boost your immune system.
Popular in the UK, Canada, this little-known brew is making a comeback in trendy cafes across the country. You can also find it online, where it comes in an instant coffee-like form.
4. Coconut Water
If it’s not a coffee-like beverage you’re looking for, but simply a non-caffeinated way to get more energy, reach for coconut water. Dehydration is one of the most common reasons people feel lethargic.
During your morning, it’s not uncommon to realize you haven’t had a thing to drink since the night before. Coffee and tea are both diuretics so that the cup o’ joe you had a few hours ago didn’t do much to hydrate you at all.
Coconut water is more hydrating than plain water because there’s naturally-occurring sodium, which helps to retain water. With a small amount of sugar, it can also help regulate your blood sugar levels if you haven’t had a meal in a while.
5. Power Smoothie
If your body’s in starvation mode or you’ve eaten a high fat, carb-heavy meal, you might find yourself nodding off. Recover from the brink of total collapse by making your next meal a light, energy-packed power smoothie.
Bananas and berries make for a great base since they contain simple sugars that provide instant energy, along with a variety of other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Green vegetables like kale and spinach are low on the glycemic index, so you’ll digest them slowly throughout the day, providing sustained energy.
Spirulina is a type of algae frequently found as a supplement, but you can also find it in liquid form. Studies show that spirulina improves endurance and circulation by boosting the hemoglobin content of your red blood cells, enabling your body to recover more quickly from exertion.