It’s dawn. The sun peeks through a tiny gap in the curtain and the birds are in full swing of their morning chorus. Just as you turn over and begin to drift off into a secondary snooze, your alarm promptly reminds you that it's time to get up, get moving and get on with your day. We all need a little help to get going in to the morning and for most of us, that help comes in a very reliable, freshly brewed, steaming cup of smooth addiction. Whether it’s one shot or three, milky with sugar free vanilla, or tall, black and strong; coffee is that go to caffeine hit many of us cannot function without. Now, coffee is not all that bad being so rich in antioxidants and of course there are many benefits to moderate caffeine consumption, such as enhanced alertness and memory function, body detoxification, increased energy and improved stamina. However, too much caffeine and you’ve got restlessness, irritability, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia. So if you are experiencing any of the latter, less desirable effects of regular caffeine intake, then you might be overdoing it.
Here are some suggestions to kick out your morning coffee and consider a caffeine-free alternative, while still enjoying a warm, welcoming, wake up cuppa!
Chicory root has a long-standing reputation as a cleansing medicinal herb as it is full of antioxidants. Ancient Romans used the root to help purify the blood, Ancient Egyptians consumed the root to clean the blood and detoxify the liver, and Medieval monks raised the plants making it widely used in Europe. Even in southern states like New Orleans the root is dried, roasted and ground for use as a regular coffee substitute. Chicory root supports digestion, and the breakdown/metabolism of fats by increasing bile production. It contains inulin, which is food for beneficial digestive flora and can regulate blood sugar levels as well as pull toxins from the body when we visit the bathroom. To make chicory coffee, steep 1 tbsp of roasted chicory root (or a ready-made blend) in a large cup of boiling water for 7-10 minutes. It has a very similar rich, deep, dark, roasted and slightly bitter flavour to regular coffee and you can sweeten it with blended date puree, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar. Finish it off with a little almond milk foam topping and you won’t look back.
Harvested primarily for its radish-like, nutrient-rich root, maca is what’s known as an adaptogenic food. Just as the maca plant adapts and adjusts to the hardships of its growing region, when ingested, it amazingly has a similar effect on the body – helping balance stress and maintain a state of biological equilibrium. Maca’s adaptogenic compounds directly support the adrenal glands to help regulate hormones and enhance energy without being a stimulant. Add a couple of tablespoons of Organika’s Maca blended in a cup of warm almond milk, with a splash of raw honey and ground cinnamon for a delicious way to start the morning. Just mix all the ingredients in a blender to incorporate the maca powder thoroughly with the liquid, then pour into a small saucepan and heat over a low stove setting until mixture is warm and becomes slightly frothy.
Dandelion coffee (also dandelion tea) is herbal tea often used as a coffee substitute, made from the root of the dandelion plant. The roasted dandelion root pieces and the beverage have some resemblance to coffee in appearance and taste. Dandelion root tea has shown "choleretic" effects, which means that it can stimulate the liver to increase bile flow. Once bile is released by the liver, its two main functions are to carry away waste and to break down fats during digestion, thus Dandelion coffee can have the same detoxification benefits as regular coffee.
Siberian Ginseng Tea
In traditional Chinese medicine, Siberian Ginseng tea has been used to treat lacking stamina, fatigue and lethargy. It is an adaptogen, an antioxidant and a diuretic and its benefits are believed to generally promote wellness, increase energy levels, alleviate fatigue, and enhance athletic performance. To prepare the tea, start with fresh (or dried), organic Siberian ginseng root. Use a peeler or knife to shave the root into thin slices and place about a tablespoon of these slices into a metal tea steeping ball. Heat purified water in a medium saucepan and when the water reaches boiling, turn it off. Pour a cupful of water and place the tea ball in it. Allow to steep for about five minutes until desired strength is obtained. You can enjoy with flavor enhancers like lemon, honey or cream.
Hot Apple Cider (the nonalcoholic kind!)
Caffeine can be a major culprit behind inflammation. Apple Cider vinegar is the hero in combating inflammation by aiding digestion and balancing your body’s PH level. It is rich in enzymes and potassium and can help to prevent acid reflux, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and break down fats. It also lowers the levels of fatigue, making it a perfect coffee substitute for your morning wake up warmer.
Simply add 2-3 tsp. of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, such as Braggs and the juice of 1/2 -1 whole lemon (optional) to warm water.
Reishi Mushroom Tea
Drinking reishi mushroom is a practice that has existed for years, and it's still one of the best ways to reap the benefits of this medicinal mushroom. The reishi mushroom is cultivated on logs or woodchip beds and although it is softer when fresh, it becomes quite hard when dried. This is due to the presence of chitin, a derivative of glucose that helps makes up the cell walls of fungi. The benefits of this tea come from water-soluble carbohydrates known as beta-glucans; molecules that stimulate the immune system to fight infection and foreign cells as well as lower blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar. It’s pretty simple to prepare this mushroom tea as the amounts are up to you. A standard reishi recommendation is 3 - 5 grams a day (1 - 1.5 heaping tablespoons) of dry, ground reishi mushrooms. Bring 4-5 cups of water to a boil in a stainless steel or ceramic pot and add the mushroom pieces. Reduce the heat until the mixture is simmering (not boiling) and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Remove from the heat, strain, and set aside. Allow the liquid to cool a little and then serve. You can find more information on the tea preparation here.
Decaf Bulletproof Coffee
There are two reasons why caffeinated coffee is preferred. One, the caffeine protects the beans from toxins (if stored improperly). And two, poor quality beans with the most toxins are universally turned into decaf. These poor quality beans negatively impact coffee drinkers, and inhibit peak performance. Once an already damaged bean is stripped of it’s caffeine, until it is roasted, it is at an even higher risk of mold infection as caffeine has a protective effect against mycotoxins. Besides its lower antioxidant value, unless it is carefully processed, decaf is practically guaranteed to contain mold toxins among other bad stuff. Bulletproof decaf coffee beans are of a high quality source from a single estate, Central American farm (just like their regular Upgraded Coffee beans. They are also processed without fermentation, which means it remains a high quality decaf coffee with the least amount of toxins available. If you just simply love the taste of coffee and cannot bear the thought of giving it up, you can still get all of the benefits with minimal side effects, by choosing decaf. Now, if you rely too heavily on your morning caffeine buzz then quitting so suddenly may result in several withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability and lethargy. But before you reach for that coffee pot, we suggest opting for these lower caffeine options for an easier transition.
Earl Grey, Black Tea or English Breakfast
While it’s been suggested that tea has less caffeine than coffee when given in the same amount of servings, this isn’t actually true. However, both coffee and tea are stimulants, coffee has a much bigger depressing effect (not making you sad but reducing your energy levels) than tea, meaning that while both tea and coffee will give you a bigger rush of caffeine, with coffee, the high will also last shorter and crash much quicker. There are a huge variety of unique teas to choose from, both caffeinated and decaffeinated and let’s face it, tea is a lot quicker and easier to make. So why not swap your cup of java for a spot of tea instead.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha is a premium green tea powder from Japan used for drinking as tea or as an ingredient in recipes. While other green teas are grown throughout the world, matcha is unique to Japan. Renowned for its premium health benefits, Matcha is rich in nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and chlorophyll, making it a powerful detoxifier. The health benefits of matcha exceed those of other green teas because the whole leaf is ingested, not just the brewed water. Matcha is also rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that actually promotes well-being by acting upon the brain’s functioning leading to a state of relaxed alertness. While L-Theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common black and green teas. As an additional benefit, L-Theanine may help memory and learning and ability all the while inhibiting any possible side-effects from caffeine. Therefore, a bowl of matcha promotes concentration and clarity of mind without any of the nervous, spikes of energy found in coffee. We recommend Organic Traditions Premium Matcha Tea as a perfect introduction.
Yerba Mate (yer-bah mah-tay) is considered to have the “strength of coffee, the health benefits of tea, and the euphoria of chocolate" all in one beverage. It is made from the naturally caffeinated and nourishing leaves of the much loved South American rainforest holly tree. It provides the same buzz that coffee gives, but is higher in nutritional value with the leaves naturally containing 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and abundant antioxidants. The caffeine content varies between that of green tea and coffee. Unlike tea, yerba mate has a low tannin content so it can be strong like coffee without becoming extremely bitter and unlike coffee, yerba mate is not oily and acid forming, so it is less likely to cause stomach acid and jitters. Yerba mate is extremely versatile and can be prepared in many ways, from a tea infuser or French press to a coffee machine, even an espresso maker. It can be consumed hot, or cold, and served with milk and honey or iced with lemon and mint. With so many combinations you are spoilt for choice. So there you have it, 10 energy boosting substitutes for your regular cup of Joe. But as a last friendly reminder; (we know you’ve heard it a million times before) water is essential to maintaining energy throughout the day. A glass of water should always be your first choice before turning to caffeine, fancy energy drinks or sugar-loaded beverages. More often than not, your mind will fool you into thinking you need that quick lift when in reality, your body is just asking to be better hydrated.