Explore New Tastes: The Ultimate Guide to Alternative Coffee Drinks

Written by: Christine VanDoren, nutritionist

Fact Checked by: Kelsey Butler, RDN

woman enjoying a warm beverage in the morning

Like so many consumers, you may be looking for another beverage to drink in place of coffee. There may be various reasons for seeking coffee alternatives, whether it’s to curb how much caffeine you take in or it’s to relieve any possible digestive stress. It could be that you want to try a different energy booster. However, in many cases, it’s all about a change of pace and a change of taste.

Going forward, we’ll discuss several coffee alternatives, their taste, and the various advantages of each one. Not only this, but we’ll address the best preparation for at-home recipes of alternatives so you can enjoy these drinks any time you please. Additionally, we’ll explore some key features to consider when you purchase coffee alternatives, including which brands may be the best to purchase.

Why Consider Alternative Coffee Drinks?

Health Benefits

It has been reported that coffee alternatives possess qualities that can work to optimize your wellness. These alternatives have become more appealing to consumers because of the lowered caffeine content or even lack thereof, as many consumers want energy support paired with a calm and clear head rather than feeling jittery or wired throughout the day. 

Additionally, the nutrient profile consists of polyphenols and antioxidants, as well as vitamins, minerals, and fibers. These constituents can help to support cardiac function, optimize your focus, and sustain your energy throughout the day.

Taste Diversity

In general, many of the coffee substitutes have a slightly bitter flavor profile, but they are less intense than the standard caffeinated coffee products. However, even though the alternatives have hints of a bitter flavor, there are a variety of flavors offered. For instance, some of the substitutes may have a more earthy or herbal taste. Other substitutes may have a fresh or smoky profile, and some of the more tea-like beverages may even boast a fruity or sweet flavor.

Sustainability Perspectives

Over the years, an increasing amount of research has been conducted regarding the sustainability of coffee production and consumption. This concept is often concerned with many factors, such as the cultivation of the crops and the packaging of the product. The significance of sustainability has come to the forefront due to the environmental stress brought on by certain fertilizers and habitat destruction.

In addition to this, consider the possibility that these coffee alternatives could be stronger and better able to withstand harsh climates and conditions compared to the commonly used Arabica. This will lessen the burden that is caused by environmental stressors while providing a variety of tastes to enjoy. Trying a lesser-used coffee alternative may ease the strain caused by the mass production of coffee, which may allow you to do a favor for the environment and your taste buds.

Comprehensive Review of Coffee Alternatives

Matcha Tea

Matcha tea may be one advantageous coffee alternative that suits your tastes. Typically marketed in powder form, matcha is a type of green tea that is made using the entire leaf of the Camellia sinensis. Using the entirety of the leaf allows for much greater antioxidant content, such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). 

In addition to the impressive antioxidant properties, matcha also contains polyphenols, vitamins and minerals, and caffeine. If you like the uniqueness of the umami flavor, you’ll love matcha, as this creamy drink has a taste that has been described as fresh, green, and vegetable-like.

Much research has been done regarding the benefits of matcha tea. These may include an increase in clarity, as well as maintaining efficient blood flow and healthful blood sugar levels. This can support a healthy body weight and can keep your blood pressure balanced.

Chicory Coffee

Chicory coffee is a perfect alternative for coffee if you want the bitter taste without the caffeine.  This plant boasts a slightly nutty flavor and is packed with many nutrients. Chicory root is used to make coffee, and it possesses tannins, phenols, and B vitamins, among many action-packed minerals like iron and zinc. However, the hallmark of the chicory root is the inulin content.

Inulin is the key component that drives the health-promoting actions of chicory coffee. As a result, this alternative is favored for its role in promoting adequate gastrointestinal function. These constituents encourage proper digestion of the food you eat, so it’s broken down and utilized efficiently. Inulin, as well as the tannin and phenolic compounds, can help usher the helpful bacteria into your system, which can keep you feeling light and comfortable throughout the day.

Rooibos Tea

A lesser-known coffee alternative is rooibos tea. This herbal tea has less tannin content compared to some other teas. However, the phenolic content still underlies a potent antioxidant ability. This red tea can provide you with a caffeine-free drinking experience that offers a fruity and sweet taste.

The results of most studies focused on rooibos tea indicate that this tea is advantageous for promoting heart health. Regular consumption of this tea can promote healthy levels of cholesterol, which is a friendly action toward your blood pressure and body weight. This also keeps your heart pumping at effective rates.

Herbal Infusions

Using herbal infusions as a substitute for a cup of coffee during the day may be a fresh way to wake yourself up in the morning or keep your stamina going while you’re at the workplace. These concoctions can be made with any spice or plant food and are stuffed with vitamins and minerals, which results in a tasty garden inside of a mug!

The flavonoid and pro-immunity content of the various plant parts combined with the pharmacological effects of added spices, like ginger, could lead to a health-promoting impact. Such a combination of herbs and spices can promote a healthy immune response and dampen oxidative stress while maintaining stable blood glucose levels and strengthening a happy gut.

Mushroom Coffee

A fascinating alternative to your morning cup of joe is Mushroom coffee. In this scenario, functional mushrooms, like cordyceps or lion’s mane, can be used in place of coffee beans, or they undergo the grinding process with the coffee beans. A cup of this may act as a protective guard for your system because functional mushrooms are noted for adaptogenic effects that work to alleviate stress and optimize immunity. Ultimately, this unexpected combination makes for a smooth cup of dark, nutty coffee.

Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate, a naturally caffeinated herbal tea, can serve as a great alternative to coffee. This tea is made from dried leaves and contains a vitamin and mineral profile similar to green tea. 

As a result, it has been applicable in promoting wellness, as the water-soluble caffeine may amplify your focus and energy while keeping your mind clear and attentive, thus overcoming any jitters or nervousness. This beverage of choice has somewhat of an acquired taste, with it being described as strong, smoky, and very bitter. 

Preparing Alternative Coffee Drinks at Home

Matcha Tea

There are several ways that you can prepare matcha tea at home, as you can enjoy this great flavor as a hot or cold beverage.

You can begin by sifting the matcha powder. This helps prevent clumps in your final product. Next, you will add hot water, typically around 170 degrees.

You’ll want to stir this mixture slowly until the powder dissolves, and then whisk it to allow the powder to disperse evenly in the water and create foam. If you prefer, you can add milk or a milk substitute to make a latte.

Chicory Coffee

You can prepare Chicory coffee the same way you would prepare your traditional coffee.

The chicory root is minced and then roasted. Pre-ground, roasted chicory is available on the market, which allows you to brew it the same way you would brew any coffee, using a filter. 

Rooibos Tea

It’s important to note that Rooibos tea preparation requires a longer steeping time than most other teas.

Use your tea filter to steep about one teaspoon of loose rooibos. Do this for ten minutes.

Herbal Infusions

To prepare your herbal infusion, start with your dried herb of choice, like basil or peppermint. You can use up to one or two teaspoons of dried herbs to make your infusion.

Next, you’ll bring your water close to a boil and pour it over your desired herbs.

One difference between herbal infusions and teas is that the steeping period is much longer, so all active ingredients of the plant can be released. Steeping should last between four and ten minutes. 

Mushroom Coffee

Mushroom coffee can be prepared by using mushroom powder, combining it with your coffee beans, and grinding it into a mixture. If you’re using a grinder or blender, the mixture is usually half mushroom powder and half coffee.

Another way to prepare your mushroom coffee would be to brew your coffee as usual and then add one or two teaspoons of mushroom powder to the coffee.

Yerba Mate

For standard Yerba Mate preparation, you would use a yerba mate gourd. It can be stainless steel or ceramic.

Fill the gourd either two-thirds or three-fourths way with yerba. You can use yerba with the stem or without the stem, but if you exclude the stem, you should cover the top of the gourd, shaking it slightly to get rid of any small particles.

Next, you’ll add lukewarm water near the wall of the gourd so that it’s half-full of water and half-dry. Wait approximately one minute so the yerba can soak up the water.

After this, you’ll repeat the previous step using hot water this time. The water shouldn’t be any hotter than 176 degrees, or the yerba will burn.

Take a metal straw and press on the yerba, making a high and dry side and a lower wet side. Think of an imaginary line down the middle of your gourd as you do this.

Add hot water to the lower wet side, using the straw to separate it from the higher dry side. Be cautious of this, as yerba will lose its taste if the dry side gets wet. 

Buying Guide: Choosing the Best Coffee Alternatives

When buying a coffee alternative, consider how much caffeine the product contains because sensitivity to caffeine may be a determining factor for switching from coffee. 

When deciding which brand of coffee may be best suited, look at the labels and compare the caffeine content. Read the package to get an idea of what kind of flavor will be provided. This may help you determine if the flavor will be on the lighter or darker end of the taste spectrum. 

One notable brand to consider for your mushroom coffee is Four Sigmatic. It can be difficult to get a balanced ratio of mushroom powder and coffee, so it may be helpful to browse this brand as there are different forms of mushroom coffee offered. These include instant coffee, ground coffee, and coffee pods. 

Additionally, different medicinal mushrooms are used across the products, like Chaga, lion’s mane, or turkey tail mushroom, which is helpful if you have a preference for a mushroom or the desired outcome as listed on the packaging. 

FAQ About Coffee Alternatives

Q: How can I dampen any potential caffeine withdrawal?

A: Try to remove coffee from your routine slowly. If you consume coffee daily, you may want to try one of the caffeinated alternatives first and then work your way to a caffeine-free substitute if you wish.

Q: Which alternative may be best suited for the morning wake-me-up?

A: Chicory coffee has the closest profile to coffee, so this may be the substitute of your choice if you want to recreate the effects.

Q: How should I select an additive?

A: When using an additive, investigate the ingredients, as some creamer ingredients can alter the activity of the natural compounds. You’d also want to avoid added sugar and fat. Also, consider using plant-based and non-dairy additives, but note that it may be hard to match a desirable flavor.


Overall, you’ll find the perfect coffee alternative for your tastes by considering the flavor profile you like and the intended effects you’re hoping for. Investigate the sustainability regarding how it is produced and compare ingredients and prices among brands. Also, think of your daily routine and the time needed to prepare certain blends when making a decision.


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