Editorials

Coffee alternatives to help kick the caffeine habit

Bunny kicking coffee
GRAPHIC BY KAT SWINSCOE

So, you have decided to cut the coffee habit, or perhaps you are simply curious about the alternatives to bean juice. Regardless of the reason for reading, this article will give you something interesting to sip on. 

Before we get into this list there needs to be a few ground rules. Number one, the beverage must have a mostly neutral bitter flavor. This is so the beverage can complement any mix-ins such as sugar, creamer, milk, flavors etc. Which means teas like Thai, Macha and Earl Grey are excluded from this list. 

Rule number two, the beverage must have less caffeine than coffee. 

Rule number three is that I had to have tried it personally. With that out of the way, on with the list. 

 First and foremost, decaffeinated coffee. Now, this really should not count as a coffee alternative, it is just a weaker coffee. But it can act as a baby step in decreasing your caffeine consumption. While decaf is served everywhere coffee is sold, a major drawback of decaffeinated coffee is when ordering from a restaurant or café you run the risk of the staff giving you regular instead of decaf.  So, if you are going to utilize decaf, I strongly recommend making your own coffee at home. 

Call it English breakfast, breakfast tea, English blend, black tea or just tea, this tea is served sweetened or unsweetened at most restaurants and cafes in varying quality and caffeine levels. 

Black tea has a strong, bitter, and slightly aromatic leafy flavor that will complement your favorite cream and sweetener. Something to be aware of, if you use this to substitute coffee somewhere, like Starbucks, your drink may come out a little more diluted than what you are used to due to English breakfast tea not having the same viscosity as coffee. 

On the bright side the flavor of black tea is distinct enough to where if you order this as a substitute for coffee in a beverage and the barista uses coffee by mistake you can catch it before it is too late, unlike decaf. Furthermore, most stores and brands sell this tea at different price points. 

A few brands sold in local stores worth acknowledging are Tetley, Golden Peak, Bigalow, Hy-Vee store brand and Twinging’s. These teas have enough caffeine to add a pep in your step and lessen caffeine withdrawals, while still reducing overall caffeine consumption.  

 Dandelion coffee, yes dandelion as in that bright yellow flowering weed that grows in the spring.  This coffee substitute is made from the dried root of the spiny dandelion plant is not to be mistaken for dandelion tea which is made from the petals from the flower. 

Dandelion coffee has similar rich, deep, and full body experience to coffee but with a slight floral flavor. Dandelion coffee has a similar viscosity to coffee with the little bit of foam that makes life worth living included. I believe this makes an ideal substitute for anyone who cannot do caffeine but misses the flavor of coffee. 

You can get dandelion coffee in the form of a mix-like instant coffee or in a tea bag.  The only downside of this coffee is that it is only sold online. My description is based on Dandy Blend sold for prices ranging from $10 – $30  on Amazon.  

Celestial Roastaroma is like dandelion coffee in that it tastes like coffee with a deep, rich full body flavor experience without caffeine. Furthermore, Celestial Roastaroma has a similar viscosity to coffee. But instead of a floral flavor Celestial Roastaroma has a slightly burnt flavor to it. I have found steeping this tea with lavender balances out the burnt flavor. Celestial Roastaroma is sold on the Walmart website for $2.50 per box of 20 pack. 

Thai tea, often served with half and half and sweetened condensed milk, offers a bold rich flavor with a slight bit of vanilla. 

Depending on the concentration of tea, you can achieve a similar viscosity to coffee,  if not a little thinner, making it an ideal substitute for any homemade drinks. I say homemade because the only places I have seen this sold are Thai restaurants and Boba cafes. 

So, if you want to use this as a daily substitute, you will have to brew it at home.  Good news is Thai tea is sold at Walmart in the Asian food section, and sometimes at your local Asian store in loose leaf or bagged.  

Now, go out there and try some coffee substitutes. Even if you do not like them, you will be enriched by the experience of trying something new.

Image courtesy of Kat Swinscoe

Categories: Editorials, Opinion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.