7 Best Coffee Alternatives to Help You Kick Java This Year
These coffee alternatives give traditional java a run for its money.
Sponsored By: Cirkul
A portion of this piece was created in partnership with Cirkul, a brand on a mission to make drinking water convenient, delicious and fun.
RD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)
You’ve got options
Somewhere between hunting down the best cold brewers and gifts for coffee lovers, we decided we should maybe take a coffee break, and ended up here. Maybe you’re a coffee connoisseur who’s tired of dealing with caffeine jitters or that dreaded afternoon crash. Maybe you’re just looking to spice up your usual morning routine. Either way, there are plenty of tasty coffee alternatives just waiting for you. Before we jump in, it’s important to know that if you regularly rely on traditional java for your morning buzz and mental clarity, ditching it might feel like it’s anything but easy. It’s doable, though.
There are coffee alternatives for pretty much everyone—yes, even hardcore espresso fans. Short on time? There’s a coffee alternative for that. Need a chocolate fix? There’s one for that, too. Still craving the taste of traditional coffee? Yep, there’s even one for that. The best part is that all of these have tons of health benefits and they wake you up, so you’ll be getting the energy and focus you need without the side effects of regular coffee. Plus, these brews make brilliant cheap gifts and gifts for neighbors who are caffeine-wary. Sounds like magic, right? It sort of is.
Best for chocolate lovers
Crio Brewed Cacao
If you’re a fan of mocha-flavored java, but want to venture into the world of coffee alternatives, brewed cacao is a solid option for you. Don’t confuse this bean-driven drink with cocoa, though. Brew Crio Cacao just like you would coffee, and then enjoy the near-complete absence of bitterness and excess acids. Drink it hot or iced, and enjoy the energy-boosting benefits. It even makes kitchens smell divine.
And that energy boost? You can thank theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant in cacao that expands your blood vessels. This differs from the way coffee works, because caffeine constricts them. Brewed cacao’s energy benefits also last longer than caffeine and promise not to activate your central nervous system—something people love coffee alternatives for. As an added bonus, brewed cacao is full of immune system-boosting antioxidants, as well as magnesium and phenylethylamine (aka the “love drug”).
- Has the taste and aroma of dark chocolate
- Long-lasting, steady energy boost from theobromine
- Can be brewed in a coffee maker or French press
- Lots of healthy antioxidants and minerals, like magnesium
- More expensive than even high-end coffees on a per-ounce basis
- Somewhat watery consistency
Best for bold flavor
If you love bold flavors, added vitamins and a caffeine-free drinking experience, Cirkul LifeSip offers some of the best substitutes for your afternoon pick-me-up. They’re portable wonders that make flavorful drinks a possibility just about anywhere you go. Simply choose your flavor, use the brand’s water-infusing bottle system to select the intensity and drink.
Dozens of flavor options abound. Lemonade, Mango Grapefruit and Blueberry Cranberry are among some of the most popular options available in both regular and stevia-sweetened varieties. Added B12 vitamins deliver smooth, steady energy that make these fruity drinks some of the best coffee alternatives for athletes.
- Dozens of exciting flavors to choose from
- Added B12 vitamins for steady energy flow
- Portable and affordable
- Zero calories and no sugar added
- Requires a Cirkul lid
Best for steady caffeine delivery
Jade Leaf Matcha
Matcha, an ultra-potent and nutrient-dense version of traditional green tea, is one of the best coffee alternatives for those looking to for both energy and antioxidants. Traditional green tea’s nutrients come from the water that the leaves have been seeping in, but matcha is different. Add a little Jade Leaf matcha powder to hot water or the milk of your choice to get the benefits of consuming the entirety of the crushed tea leaves. Plus, you don’t need any fancy equipment. Hot water and a whisk is enough.
One 8-ounce cup of matcha touts about 70 milligrams of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of coffee usually has around 95 to 200 milligrams. Health benefits aside, matcha contains something called L-theanine, which helps slow the process of your body absorbing the caffeine, so you’re less likely to experience caffeine crashes. This green goodness is also pretty versatile and can be used in smoothies, baking, cooking, lattes and even skin care. Just make sure you get the real stuff. While you’re at it, here’s how to steep the perfect cup of tea every time.
- Delivers about 70 milligrams of caffeine per cup
- Includes the health properties of the full green tea leaf
- Boasts L-theanine, which helps slow the process of your body absorbing the caffeine
- Simple to make with hot water and a whisk
- Not everyone loves the bright, floral notes of green tea
- Still has a considerable amount of caffeine
Best flavored coffee alternative
Velty Uncaffeinated Spiced Instant Coffee
Getting big flavor in a jitter-free cup is totally within reach. Each packet of Velty Uncaffeinated spiced instant coffee is brimming with all the rich, deep flavors of regular coffee and aromatic spices—just without any of the caffeine. Added prebiotics, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories make this a healthy drink that really delivers. Notes of cinnamon and ginger provide all the kick you’ll need.
Each individually packaged serving offers 4 grams of mind- and gut-friendly ingredients. These shelf-stable wonders are also ideal for desk drawers and purses, because they last for up to a year when unopened. It’s a quality winter brew and one of the coziest coffee alternatives on our list.
- Has a strong cinnamon and ginger flavor
- All the coffee goodness without any caffeine
- Added prebiotic fiber and anti-inflammatories
- Shelf stable for up to a year
- Individual, portable packets
- On the pricier side
Best for low-acidity
Dandy Blend Dandelion Drink
Dandelion coffee is the best caffeine-free solution if you’re often on the go and don’t want to waste a minute. This Dandy Blend dandelion drink has a mildly sweet, rich flavor, and is made with roasted dandelion root. It’s often blended with other ingredients, like barley rye, beets and chicory root, and dissolves instantly in hot or cold liquid. It looks and acts much like instant coffee, but is loaded with more health benefits and tastes even better.
Roasted dandelion roots are rich in natural prebiotics, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The taste is also super similar to regular, full-bodied coffee—minus the acidity or bitterness. There’s a reason Dandy Blend has more than 14,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. Before you check out, you may also want to take a look at these other brilliant buys on Amazon with practically perfect reviews.
- Acts like instant coffee, but without the acidity
- Nutty, sweet flavor, thanks to added chicory and beet root
- Includes natural prebiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- Has absolutely no caffeine
Best coffee dupe
Teeccino Chicory Coffee
Brewed chicory mimics the flavor of regular coffee pretty seamlessly without containing any caffeine or upsetting your digestive system. “Chicory is a prebiotic, and it is the botanical with the highest content of inulin, a soluble fiber that nourishes the microflora in the microbiome,” Caroline MacDougall, the CEO and founder of Teeccino, tells Reader’s Digest. Its high levels of inulin (not to be confused with insulin) can help increase your gut’s good bacteria. It also tames blood sugar levels. Chicory’s naturally high levels of manganese and vitamin B6 provide a brain boost.
Some chicory beverages, like this Teeccino brew, contain even more potassium than popular sports drinks. This helps restore electrolytes, providing a boost of energy without the crash that caffeine gives you. How can you test out some of this stuff for yourself? Teeccino offers herbal chicory coffee alternative that can be brewed like coffee, steeped like tea or prepared like an instant beverage to cut down on time. Since you’ll be brewing this as typical coffee, you’ll still need to know how to clean a coffee maker.
- Mimics the flavor and look of regular coffee
- No upsetting acids or microbiome disruptors
- Helps regulate blood sugar thanks to prebiotic fiber
- Restores electrolytes
- No caffeine or energy boost
- Some reviewers say the taste is too strong to drink on its own, so it may need milk or sweeteners
Best mushroom coffee
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee
Maybe you don’t want to give up on coffee completely, but you still like the idea of packing in all those extra nutrients in your morning brew. Allow us to introduce mushroom coffee. And before you jump to conclusions about this flavor combo, hear us out: This stuff is delicious.
If you’re looking for a two-in-one kind of deal, Four Sigmatic supplies both coffee and the mushroom goodness in one smooth drink. Using the magic of chaga mushrooms, this hot, comforting brew offers added antioxidants and naturally occurring compounds that protect and enhance health. Fungi are combined with organic ground coffee to create a jitter-free, crash-free sip that also helps with stress management. Heck, all those mushrooms even balance out the energy high from caffeine in coffee.
- Added health benefits of nutrient-dense fungi
- Slowed caffeine delivery promises a crash-free experience
- Tastes similar to regular coffee
- Available in six flavors
- Much milder than typical coffee
- Somewhat expensive when compared to typical coffee
- Women’s Health: “Does Matcha Have As Much Caffeine As Coffee? Here’s What To Know”
- Healthline: “What Are Polyphenols? Types, Benefits, and Food Sources”
- HuffPost: “So What Is Dandelion Coffee, Anyway?”
- The Spruce Eats: “What Is Chicory Coffee?”
- The Kitchn: “Caffè d’Orzo: The Italian Espresso That Isn’t Actually Coffee”
- WebMD: Turmeric
- WebMD: Ashwagandha
Stop hunting for the best products and deals—get our expert scoop on secret sales and discounts, gift ideas for everyone, and can’t-miss products. Sign up for the Stuff We Love newsletter.