Coffee Substitutes (Healthy and Caffeine Free)

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist July 8, 2012

The recent article A Visual View of Caffeine seemed to generate comments mostly related to coffee and whether or not drinking coffee is a healthful habit.

With so many assaults on our hormones today and many people living under constant and seemingly never ending stress, it seems to me that a coffee or even a tea habit can’t help but exacerbate these problems over time leading to health challenges and hormonal imbalances.

As a personal example, I really enjoy jasmine green tea and would love to drink a cup or two every single morning, however, I refrain and only drink it occasionally because I have repeatedly noticed that if I drink green tea for a few days in a row and then skip a day, I feel the effects on my adrenals as I experience fatigue from the removal of the caffeine.

The positive antioxidant profile of green tea in no way overcomes this worrisome effect on my adrenals, in my opinion, so I drink red tea instead.

Help!  I Need a Morning Pick Me Up!

What if you really need a morning or afternoon pick me up and are truly concerned about the effect of coffee or tea on your adrenal and overall hormone health?

You can go the decaf route, but decaf coffee and tea still have caffeine in them and so will not eliminate the stress on the adrenals completely.

16oz of Starbucks Decaf, for example, contains about 25 mg of caffeine which is about the same amount as 8 oz of regular green tea.

Even decaf black tea has up to 12 mg of caffeine per 8 oz.

One option for a completely caffeine free morning brew is Dandy Blend, made of dandelion root.   I know plenty of folks who just love Dandy Blend and swear it tastes just like coffee, but if you choose to give it a try – go slow and build up gradually.   I’ve had some people report that the detoxifying effect of the dandelion can result in a close relationship with the bathroom until your digestive tract adjusts!

Another option is to make a coffee substitute yourself.

The following recipe is suggested by Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation who recommends it as a really good pick me up:

Coffee Substitute

coffee substitutes1 Tbl Molasses

1 Tbl Coconut oil

1/4 tsp organic powdered ginger

Place ingredients in a mug and pour in boiling water and stir.  Let cook until still hot but drinkable and enjoy!

Do you have a coffee or tea substitute that works for you?  Please share with all of us!

{Where to buy quality molasses, coconut oil and organic herbs}


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source:  Caffeine Content of Coffee, Tea, Soda and More, Mayo Clinic

Picture Credit


Comments (85)

  1. Monica in Huntington Beach July 8, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Thank you for the non-commercial option!! Haven’t tried it yet, but looking forward to doing so.

    • I love teeccino! Interestingly, it is alkaline too :) I get mine on subscription shipping from Amazon. So far the Java is my favorite – I like to add cinnamon in the basket before brewing.

    • I tried the Teeccino because my in-laws drink decaf, and all of us thought it was pretty awful. None of us thought it tasted a bit like real coffee.

        • I think if your expecting a coffee substitute to taste like coffee you will be disappointed. Kind of like expecting carob to taste like chocolate. While they all can be substituted in recipes in the same way, prepared the same way, the taste will not be the same.
          As for the natural flavorings, I try to avoid those types of things. I just didn’t know what else to use. I’m afraid to try the dandy blend due to allergies. Although my issues seem to be better, haven’t needed the neti pot in 8 mos. now. Ever since I started raw milk coincidentally.

        • Thanks for the reminder, I was about to recommend Teccino to clients and forgot that was why I stopped drinking it years ago.

    • I really like Teeccino too! However, it does contain phytic acid that makes my stomach feel heavy.

      Also, It has sugar beets listed on the label and they are not certified organic so chances are they are GMO sugar beets.

      I just can’t win! I’m sticking to a cup of broth.

  2. Dandy Blend is great–super quick and convenient to make as well–just like instant coffee. To me, it doesn’t taste exactly like coffee, but I am a bit of a coffee snob and like REALLY good coffee. All the same, it is “coffee-ish” in flavor and does the trick when you want to drink something “like” coffee.

    • Same here Jill….I too am the coffee snob…but the Dandy Blend isn’t bad….I have been planning to get some and start the change over.

  3. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook July 8, 2012 at 10:22 am

    It is so confusing because I and I imagine many others have heard that coffee fights cancer if you consume 5 to 6 cups daily. I could never consume that much or I’d be not only sick to my stomach, but I’d have tremors and palpitations. Decaf isn’t healthy either because of the chemical process that is used to remove the caffeine. Therefore, I limit myself to only 1 cup of coffee or tea daily that has caffeine in it and the rest of the day, I make iced herbal tea during the summer months or hot herbal tea in the winter. Also, if one is concerned about their caffeine intake, they should also limit their intake of chocolate and cocoa.

    • I’m like Roseann, I’ve read pros and cons about caffeine and have stopped on several occasions only to start up again. I’ve been at one cup of half-calf for over a year now, and recently changed that over to one cup of Matcha Green Tea. I’ve just decided to enjoy my morning pick-me-up, focus on the antioxidants, the benefits of caffeine, and ignore the dangers. It’s about my only “vice”.

      BTW, I love DandiBlend as a coffee substitute – it’s the only one I’ve tried (and I think I’ve tried them ALL) that comes anywhere close to tasting like coffee to me…

    • Actually, there is the water method of decaffinating coffee that involves no chemicals.
      Aside from that, no substitute could take the place of my regular morning cup of coffee. Thanks for the info, but I think I’ll stick with the energy rush:)

    • It is confusing. But, I figure there are other things I can do to help fight cancer. Coffee is just one thing. Eating healthy, excerising, cutting out processed foods are other things I can do too. :)

  4. Thanks for another informative post Sarah. Red Tea is amazing stuff. CocoCeps by MadreLabs (and CocoCardio) is wonderful. I love the Vanilla Nut Teeccino line made from dandelion root as well which is 100% gluten free. I put coconut milk and a touch of coconut nectar in it…good stuff!

  5. Thanks so much for all the info on caffeine and good alternatives. As an avid coffee drinker, I have dried to break the habit for a few years. I usually start by switching to green tea and then minimizing the amount until I am caffeine free totally. I usually have a few days of withdrawl after that, to be expected. But then my level of energies never improve and my body gets extremely achy. I have continued to improve my diet, but I always seem to end back with my one cup of organic coffee with raw cream in the morning. I know at the end of the day such a cup occassionally is not going to kill me. Does anyone have any advice on how to get over the “slump” period so to speak or what to include after going off the caffeine to help one get to that naturally energized,feel great….etc…Any idea how long to get to that period? Thanks for any insights. I have read alot on how to cut back to get to no caffeine, but haven’t really found insight on the amount of time the body needs to adjust to being without so it functions more energetically. Thanks for any insights.

  6. “It seems to me” that a nutritional/health message that begins with “it seems to me” and follows with a personal diagnosis/anecdote, is not much of a peg for someone to hang a scientific argument on. I greatly prefer Sarah’s more thoroughly researched posts.

  7. I had a heart arrythmia, and was told not to drink caffeine. I drank a lot of black tea, iced. I had no idea what to do, and it drove me nuts to not have that morning routine. The others would get up and make their coffee and I’d drink water. Just didn’t seem right. So, I made a list of all the different substitutes. The list is huge actually and I had no idea before that.
    I’m trying Teccino right now, and found it less expensive online, and less expensive overall than coffee. I use a porcelain coffee filter and let it drip into my cup or small porcelain pot. I never had a use for those cute pots before so that was a bonus. I like Teccino, only the first cup seemed a bit “different.” There are many others, Pero, Cafix, Celestial Seasons Roastaroma, Inka and many others. I eventually would like to taste them all. I heard they are bringing postum back but have yet to see that yet.

  8. I’ve tried Dandyblend and love the taste but I experience a crash about 30 minutes after drinking it. I think it affects my blood sugar in a significant way and causes an insulin dump. I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times after drinking it.

    • Pam- Do you have adrenal fatigue? Often times people with exhausted adrenals have a sodium/potassium imbalance. I’m including a link for you to read more about it. In my own case, I had a period where I couldn’t get enough coconut water. Like Dandyblend, it is high in potassium, and 30 minutes after drinking it I would crash. So I cut back, but when I do crave a cup of cocnut water now, I eat some sea salt first and it really seems to help with my crashes.

  9. Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook July 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I know…it actually says that it cuts the risk of Prostate and Breast cancers. I couldn’t drink 6 cups not even in a week. Some days I don’t even have any caffeine at all. I get my antioxidants from other sources, such as berries, vegetables and nuts and seeds. I realize these studies are garbage and I don’t take them seriously. I’m just saying that it’s confusing for the average American who buys into this propaganda. Some men and women will actually start drinking that much coffee thinking they’re preventing themselves from getting cancer. Like you, I’d be in a casket too if I consumed that much coffee.

  10. WOW thanks for this. I’ve had severe adrenal problems for years (and still in bed because of the fatigue). I don’t drink coffee, but once in a while, have a swiss filtrated organic decaf. Never, ever thought of the molasses, ginger, and coconut oil. Going to try that. Passing this onto some I know would benefit (like my “I WON’T GIVE UP COFFEE” husband :)

    Tamara Slack
    Tamara Slack\’s last post: Bible Verses on the Sin of Gluttony

  11. Hi, I love your very information site! I’ve learned a lot from the things you post.

    I would love to kick the coffee habit but I have such an addiction to caffeine that even cutting back very slowly it can take over a month for me to get to the point where I don’t get a horrible migraine if I don’t have some. Usually, I fall short of that, have a cup and have to start all over again from that cup size. Any suggestions on what I can use to help keep the debilitating migraine at bay while I quit coffee? The only thing that ever helps my migraine is Excedrin, which is like a cup of coffee in each pill. I don’t care about the coffee flavor. If I was able to quit, water and herbal teas are my drinks of choice. I don’t need a sub for the coffee, but for whatever goes on in my head when I don’t get the caffeine. Any suggestions?

    Thanks so much!

    • I recently did a Standard Process cleanse and the method that I used to get off caffeine in preparation for that was really effective and painless. All the same things that happen to you normally happen to me when I try to quit caffeine… but they didn’t this time. I started with a blend of one-half organic Swiss water decaf and one-half organic regular coffee. After a couple of days of that, I switched to 3/4 decaf and 1/4 caf for a couple of days. Then I switched to totally decaf for a couple of days and then switched to green tea. My practitioner had no issues with green tea because the caffeine behaves differently due to another substance that’s preserved in green tea (can’t remember what it was offhand) which prevents the caffeine from intercepting the adenosine from hooking up with its receptors (which is what caffeine normally does). And then I could take or leave green tea as I pleased, it caused no explosive head issues to be without it. I was rather amazed at how painless it was.

  12. I just got back from Europe and brought back chicory root coffee everyone seems to use as a coffee substitute, It tastes great, although I really miss the smell of a real coffee… I would definitely recommend to give it a try!

  13. I’m trying to go off coffee because I want to get pregnant this year. It’s been so hard to find a substitute but I’m drinking Roastaroma and love it! I add a little cinnamon and milk and it reminds me of coffee. The tea bag produces a strong cup so I take it out half way through and save it for a second cup later in the day. I like it better than Teccino and Pero but I use those now and then to add a new flavor.

    • I have to second Roastaroma. It’s great! I gave up caffine/coffee 28 months ago, pretty much cold turkey, for the same reason as you. But I love, love, love coffee. Once in a while when I’m craving a coffee, I’ll brew a cup of this. It takes care of the craving perfectly without the caffine. Now whenever my baby decides to wean, I will probably still continue to go caffine free since I feel SO much better without that in my system.

  14. There’s a product called Teeccino. It’s made of and barley and Chickory and dates and some other natural organic stuff. It’s delicious!

    • I was just about to go to Amazon and order some of this Teeccino to try based on so many good reviews. But now that you said it’s made of Barley I can’t do it because of the gluten in Barley. Does anybody have any other suggestions for ready-made stuff that tastes as good as this one?

        • Thanks for all of your suggestions. I just went to Amazon and both the Dandy Blend and the Teeccino were too much money for my budget. I don’t have a caffeine problem; I just love the smell and taste. So I’m going to stick to my daily cup of Mount Hagen organic instant freeze-dried coffee. They recommend a teaspoonful and I use about 2/3 of a teaspoonful and it gives me just what I need.

  15. LOVE LOVE LOVE Dandy Blend! I was so addicted to coffee and it was doing crazy things to my body! Switched from coffee with cream to a heaping table spoon of Dandy Blend with half milk half water and it tastes exactly the same, minus the bitter coffee taste! I love it, and my body is thanking me! I feel better than I have in years!

  16. I love Mountain Rose Herbs roasted dandelion. They also have a coffee sub blend that I haven’t tried but I’m sure is even better. After using up my MRH roasted dandelion I just roasted regular dandelion root in my oven. It tastes best when it seems like it’s been roasted too long, pretty stinky process though. I started throwing in some chai tea spices as well and it makes a nice flavored “coffee.” Lately I’ve been into chai with coconut milk. I mix my own with chai spices and adaptogenic herbs like ashwaganda, shatavari, rhodiola, astragalus, etc. and cover the rooty flavor with lots of spices. Then I add either oatstraw or red roobois tea. It’s quite yummy.

  17. For those who want a espresso-like experience try roobios tea in your espresso makers. It makes a lovely tea that can be made into espresso type drinks. I use a bit less tea my moka pot than I would if I was using espresso ground coffee. I find it to be a a very satisfying alternative.

      • There are SO many great caffeine-free alternatives to coffee. I personally love Chicory Root tea. The health benefits are astounding as well. It helps control blood sugar and metabolize fats, for starters. Our Chicory Mocha Spice is divine (although I like plain Chicory at times, too), and someone mentioned Rooibos Chai. That is a big seller in our store. All red teas are delicious, Honeybush as well. And totally without caffeine as they are herbal.

        Another option is herbal teas. I think it is best not to try and replicate the coffee flavor. You will be disappointed. You can get used to the change. :) Herbal teas are a great way to incorporate medicial herbals into your diet. For energy and alertness, and in addition for healing the adrenals which have been previously taxed by overconsumption of coffee, I made a blend for my husband. It also includes herbs for nutrition. It includes Foti Root, Ginseng, Ginkgo, Nettle, Oats, Bilberry, Ashwagandha, Dandelion, Burdock, Licorice Root, Oatstraw, and cinnamon chips and cloves for flavor. You can add Peppermint or Spearmint as well. I need to share this recipe in an upcoming newsletter! The key is healing the adrenals so that you do not feel like you “need” that caffeine.

        Hope this helps! All year long, even in the hot summer, I must have a hot beverage in my hand. I love hot herbal teas.


  18. LOVE Dandyblend! I’ll scald milk and then in the mug add a tablespoon or more of the Dandyblend and 1/4 mugful of boiling water and then quickly pour in the scalded milk – creates a lovely foam and it is just as delicious as a cappuccino but is actually relaxing while energizing.

  19. I tried Dandy Blend, loved the taste, but within 20 minutes my throat began to swell and itch. I am allergic to ragweed and dandelions and chamomile are related to ragweed. I have also tried Yerba Mate but it made me jittery whereas coffee does not. Go figure!

  20. I drink a product called ” Ganocafe Classic “. It is a blend of coffee 25gms and Ganoderma lucidum extract . It is spray dried Chinese mushroom extract. I add raw cream and coconut oil and sometimes 1 tsp raw maple syrup .
    Has anyone else heard of this???
    It seems to be a very large multilevel marketing product popular all over the world.

  21. We grew up in GA where we drank iced tea all day long, especially in the summer. It’s been a process – 1st I took the sweetner out of it, then switched to loose, organic black tea, I can get by on 1 glass a day, but my husband will finish the pitcher – I just learned how to make it “decaff” myself, which he is agreeable to – 80% of the caffeine is released in the 1st 30 seconds of brewing – steep the tea 30-45 seconds, then discard the water – resteep as usual with fresh water and you will have reduced the caffeine to about 20%, which is essentially what purchased decaf tea contains. We crumble a tsp of organic Stevia leaves in with the tea as it steeps to lightly sweeten it. Not perfect, but a place to start.

  22. You are actually very wrong on this one, healthy home economist … coffee (good quality coffee, that is, not the rubbish kind) really IS good for your health … I’m too tired now … but I can get back to you with quite a lot of documentation on this.

  23. You are actually very wrong on this one, healthy home economist … coffee (good quality coffee, that is, not the rubbish kind) really IS good for your health … I’m too tired now … but I can get back to you with quite a lot of documentation on this.

  24. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Genmaicha or brown rice green tea, which even has a (somewhat) coffee-like fragrance. It is also ideal if you have an overactive GI system. My favorite tea is the Stash Fusion which blends white and green tea — then I add a bit of honey, some cinnamon and a few anise seeds to give it a more chai-like flavor. It would also be interesting to see if anyone has tried to combine coffee, tea and cacao for the ultimate warm brew — so you would really maximize the antioxidants!

    • The problem with the green teas, and combining coffee, tea and cacao is that they contain caffeine.
      Many people are trying to avoid caffeine for various reasons so are looking for healthy alternatives.
      Even decaf coffees and teas have caffeine so they are not an option.
      To Josephine, I’d very much like to see any data that you have as to coffee or caffeine being healthy. And if anyone else has any data on it not being healthy. I see both, but it still seems to remain a very controversial topic, and while both sides make good points, there still remains no concrete resolution to this.

  25. Monica in Huntington Beach July 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Sarah, I tried Sally’s recipe for the morning drink this morning right after I read the post and … well, I’ll just have to keep looking for other options. I just couldn’t get it down. I was on the brink of not KEEPING it down, perhaps I need to get used to having so much oil in my system, don’t know, but … yeah. No.

  26. Rooibos, milk and honey is my tea alternative and tastes great! When I need a sweet pick me up afternoon tea I go for a licorice tea that is naturally sweet and really yummy, so worth a try :)

  27. Welcome back Sarah! Thanks for the coffee substitute suggestions. I have tried a turmeric tea recipe variation from Marks Daily Apple that is very good. Take 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch of powdered ginger, and cayanne pepper put in mug and pour boiling water over it let it cool and add raw milk or organic cream for a lovely drink or add it to tea. It is comforting and you can drink it morning or night unless you add tea!

    • Hello Jean,

      THANKS for that recipe! I make a morning drink by placing one packet of knox gelatin (when my 5 lb. bag of organic powdered beef gelatin from Now Foods arrives, I’ll use an equivalent of that) and one heaping tablespoon of coconut milk powder, Matcha Green Tea powder, in the bottom of a mug. Then I pour coconut oil into the mug and stir until the powders are all emulsified into the oil. I don’t measure – I’m guessing it is between one and two tablespoons of oil??? Then I add hot water and 9 drops of vanilla flavored liquid Stevia (I like NuNaturals alcohol free) and drink. Can’t wait until this afternoon to try the same recipe, but replacing the Matcha Green Tea Powder with the Turmeric, Ginger, and Cayanne. I’ll have to go to the store to get the powdered Ginger and the Cayanne…
      Lea Ann Savage\’s last post: Updated Vitamix Lady website launched!

  28. I gave up drinking coffee over a year ago. I drink kombucha daily, sometimes alot, especially when it’s hot outside. So I was wondering about the caffeine in kombucha, I use black tea, white sugar, SCOBY and brew it for 7 days.
    Does anyone know. I feel better not drinking coffee but did I just substiitue kombucha for coffee?

    • I’ve been told the caffeine in kombucha is minimal because of the fermentation process. Never checked it out to see if that’s true….

  29. The coffee/Tea substitute that works for me is water! I drink filtered water when I get up and it picks me right up!

  30. I usually drink my coffee black with no sugar and cream but I found this recipe several years ago that quinches your thirst during summer when it is hot outside and if you like the coffee flavor, you’ll love this. Try it and let me know how you like it.

    Dandelion Root Tea:
    2 teaspoons roasted dandelion root
    Dash hot water
    1/4 teaspoon raw honey
    Dash pure vanilla extract
    1/2 of a large glass of ice cubes
    1/2 glass raw milk

    1. Place roasted dandelion root in large mug.
    2. Add dash of hot water and stir to dissolve.
    3. Add raw honey, and mix well to dissolve.
    4. Add dash of vanilla extract and mix well.
    5. Fill large glass halfway with ice cubes.
    6. Pour raw milk over ice until glass is two-thirds full.
    7. Add dandelion coffee mixture from mug into milk glass and stir.

  31. I just tried the molasses, coconut oil, ginger recipe. It is really good! Might even be able to use it in place of my 1-2 cups a day coffee. Thanks Sarah!

  32. This post gave me the courage (yes, it took courage) to wean myself off of coffee after consuming 6 to 8 cups (sometimes more) daily for years – many, many years. I’ve given up a lot in the last few years to heal my gut, but I held on to my black coffee habit. I snuck my first sip at age 5, and by age 18, I was a full-blown daily consumer of black coffee. I’m 52. I had heard myself utter the words “I’ll never give up my coffee” more than once in the last few months, with my friends nearby nodding in agreement. I knew that my coffee consumption had spiraled out of control when I began to drink decaf in the evenings. I have a shelf in my kitchen that holds no less than 30 varieties of regular coffee beans and a handful of decaf coffee beans. It took raging adrenal fatigue to bring me to my knees, literally. My poor adrenals gave out after I experienced 3 back-to-back very stressful, life-changing events since Memorial weekend 2012, most certainly weakened and stressed by all the coffee I’ve consumed over the years.

    I’m proud and happy to say that today, I am coffee free. It was this little idea in this blog post that I could make a coffee substitute that planted the seed for me to quit. For the record, I haven’t made the coffee substitute yet, but I know it’s there, ready and waiting for the day that I might want it.

    Thanks, Sarah, for all you do.

  33. I’m trying several flavors of the Teeccino and they are ..ok. I need to get off caffiene so I will try to stick to it. I’ve made many changes in our diet and lifestyle in the last 8 yrs and ultimately it really hits the wallet pretty hard, even if I find it online or squeak out deals as much as possible. But between this suggestion for Dandy Blend and the last post I read on Olive oil……….I just can’t keep spending so much more money on alternatives. I’d have to just stop using some of this stuff instead of finding healthier ways. Then again, I am on the tail end of our changes. These are the last areas of adjustment.

  34. Thanks for sharing thisn informative article. This can help coffee drinkers to refrain from drinking too much coffee everyday. I just remembered my dad who died just this year. He used to consume 10-12 cups of coffee daily. Unbelievable but true. His doctor tried to make him stop from drinking too much coffee or even just lessen the amount but he can’t simply do it. Is coffee really that addictive?

  35. I just tried Sally Fallon’s recipe for a coffee substitute. I can’t say that it tastes like coffee, but it is actually a nice warming drink. I think I’ll try swapping this for coffee. :)

  36. Hi, was excited to give this i try since I’m 1 week without coffee an I am dying. Tea just doesn’t cut it. So I went to amazon to check out the Dandy Blend, but then i found this comment…. 1.0 out of 5 stars Not *Actually* Gluten Free, June 21, 2012
    Eric D. Smith – See all my reviews
    This review is from: Dandy Blend 2 lb. Bag (Misc.)
    FYI Gluten-Intolerant Folks! This product contains Rye and Barley which contain gluten. The package states that the gluten is removed in the processing, but my personal experience drinking this doesn’t support that claim. I am gluten-intolerant, and I reacted to Dandy Blend as if I had ingested gluten. Too bad, because it is pleasant-tasting and a nice coffee substitute!

  37. Pingback: Kick the Caffeine Habit and Feel Better Quick with these Natural Alternatives | Wake Up World

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