There’s no denying how good that first cup of coffee tastes. Whether you’re in need of an instant energy boost or simply enjoying the rich flavors of specialty beans, coffee is a great way to start your workday. In addition to the caffeine boosting your mood and mental alertness, coffee is also often packed with antioxidants.
But all that glitters is not gold, and coffee can affect you negatively too. Downsides to coffee include worsening anxiety, jitteriness and low-quality sleep. Even more, the fact that caffeine is a stimulant means you can develop a dependence on coffee, leading to irritability and headaches. If any of these effects sound familiar, it may be time to consider quitting coffee or reducing your intake.
Here are some caffeinated and caffeine-free alternatives to coffee that you can try to start your mornings right.
1. Chicory Coffee
If you want something that tastes just like coffee, chicory coffee is the one.
As a caffeine-free alternative, chicory coffee is a hot beverage made from the chicory root being roasted, ground and brewed. Chicory root contains inulin, a prebiotic that is believed to promote gut health and reduce inflammation.
Just like coffee grounds, you can brew chicory coffee in a filter coffee maker, French press, or espresso machine. With its woody flavor and nutty aroma, chicory coffee is a delicious alternative to normal coffee.
2. Matcha Tea
With a fresh, earthy flavor and an abundance of health benefits, matcha is a type of green tea that works as a great alternative to coffee. Matcha is made by steaming, drying and grinding the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant into a fine powder.
Mix the powder into hot water to make tea and stir until the powder is dissolved. You’ll know it’s ready when a light froth forms. You can also add in milk to create an equally delicious matcha latte.
It’s a great source of antioxidants, just like coffee, which reduces your risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. It does also contain caffeine, but the amount is much lower than what you’ll find in coffee. This means you’ll still feel more alert afterward without experiencing an energy crash.
3. Chai Tea
A sweet and spicy drink that originated in India, chai tea is made by combining black tea with aromatic herbs and spices like cinnamon, cloves and black pepper.
It has a robust flavor and comforting smell, all while providing you a modest amount of caffeine. A cup of chai is estimated to contain 25mg of caffeine, while a normal cup of coffee can contain upwards of 75mg. This means that your mornings can still have that energy boost from caffeine without the detrimental effects.
You can find chai tea bags sold in grocery stores, or make your own by crushing cardamom seeds and peppercorns and adding them to a saucepan with water, ginger and a cinnamon stick. Steeping black tea bags in this mixture will produce the tea you’ve been craving.
4. Lemon Water
You don’t have to go the extra mile for a healthier morning. Keep it simple and start your day with lemon water, which offers similar benefits to coffee without half the trouble.
As a caffeine-free, calorie-free alternative, lemon water provides an ample dose of vitamin C. In addition to boosting your immune system and protecting your skin from sun damage, the zingy taste of lemon water is bound to perk you right up.
To make it, just add the juice of half a lemon into a cup of cold water. You can slice up and put in additional fruits and herbs like cucumbers, mint or watermelon to add a variety of flavors to your drink.
5. Fresh Fruit Smoothies
Blending fresh fruits — and even vegetables — into a smoothie is a great way to give your body a boost of vitamins and minerals to energetically kick off your day.
Berries, bananas, oranges and leafy greens can provide your body with glucose, which is your body’s preferred fuel source. This way, you’ll still get the much needed energy boost to stay alert without having to rely on caffeine.
You can also add in milk or ice to add texture to the smoothie. Playing around with different flavor combinations to find something you love.