There is some debate around how much coffee is too much. Some think anywhere within 25 cups a day is fine, which is a silver lining to this debate (but seriously, do people really drink 2 cups an hour?). However, since the jury is still out on the matter, we thought we’d prepare for the worst and proactively take a look at great alternatives to coffee.
This is not actually a list of exclusively caffeine-free drinks, but rather a selection of beverages that offer an alternative to coffee in different ways. Some are different in taste, others are similar in taste but different in composition, and some are just plain old good for you.
So if you want to get experimental as your morning classes with VIPKid begin, check out these options:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Eww. Admittedly, the first time you try a steaming cup of apple cider vinegar, that’s precisely the reaction you’ll likely have. But this tangy drink is an acquired taste, and can even offer up additional health benefits not available in coffee. Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar, a teaspoon or two of lemon juice and a dollop of honey (real honey) into a mug before filling it with hot water. Since it’s caffeine free, it can be enjoyed first thing in the morning, or even right before you go to bed. If you’re feeling skeptical on the health benefits, check out the Livestrong article on it here.
The problem with tea as an alternative to coffee, is that most teas have caffeine in them too. In fact, pound for pound tea has even more caffeine than coffee does. Not rooibos tea. This delicious red tea hails from Southern Africa and is purportedly full of antioxidants. While it is a herbal tea, it can also be drunk like a black tea (with a milk and maybe a little sugar), making it not only a coffee alternative, but a caffeine-free tea too. Which means, like apple cider vinegar, it can be drunk right before bed.
Chicory’s dodgy adoption of the coffee moniker is hardly arbitrary. During the Continental Blockade imposed by Napoleon some 200 odd years ago, France was having a tough time getting hold of enough coffee. In a bid to avert a pre-noon daily crisis, they turned to chicory as a means to stretch out supplies since roasted chicory root has a similar taste to that of coffee. Fast forward 200 years and chicory coffee is now used as a coffee alternative that tastes similar, but contains none of the caffeine. As an added bonus, chicory is also a source of inulin, which aids in digestion and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the body.
Even though it sounds like a badly branded yoga mat, Yerba Mate is actually a South American brew that’s said to offer the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate” all in one beverage. While it sounds like it’s promising a lot, Yerba Mate is known to give you a similar buzz to coffee (it’s full of caffeine too), but unlike coffee many people say it provides a more sustained boost, without the drop-off that coffee tends to have (you know, when you feel like you’ve just aged 25 years at around 2pm). Yerba Mate can be drunk in all sorts of ways (hot, cold, with honey, in a tea infuser, in a French press) and can even be made in a traditional coffee machine.
Kombucha is the drink you accidentally bought one hot day thinking it looked like the most refreshing thing on the shelf, and then reeled in horror as the fermented, alcohol-like taste tore down your throat. Another acquired taste on this list, Kombucha tastes funky because it is actually a type of yeast. By fermenting it with various ingredients (like tea, sugar and flavors) you can create Kombucha tea. Wrapping it up in pretty packaging and popping it next to the fresh fruit juice in the supermarket will even trick people into buying it. There is still some debate on the benefits of Kombucha, but many claim it is the drink of the future.
We couldn’t really end this list without including China’s favorite pastime now could we? If you walked into any workplace in China, the most common sight to greet you would be little thermos flasks of green tea on almost every desk. Green tea boasts an impressive list of health benefits that have long been studied, and is jam-packed with antioxidants and nutrients. Green tea is also high in caffeine, making it an ideal (and healthier?) alternative to coffee. Plus, you can simply keep topping up your tea leaves with hot water and you have a bottomless cup!