How I Kicked My Caffeine Addiction For Good and My 4 Favorite Coffee Alternatives
How many of us have ever stayed up too late, unable to sleep because we’re thinking about the steaming cup of coffee that awaits us after our alarms go off in the morning?
That was my reality for the last 10 years: I would consume 2-4 iced coffees a day, some cold brews, sending me into an orbit of jitters, shakes and alertness. I primarily loved coffee for its delicious taste, but after so many years of leaning on it as a crutch, it became something that dictated my sleep schedule and caused me severe jitters, leaving me unable to function with or without it.
In the last two years, I noticed that after I drank my morning cup of coffee, it triggered my anxiety. I became nauseous and shakey after just a few sips and I hated feeling addicted to something that my body was rejecting. So, I decided to do something about it. Starting this past October, I decided to finally get off the bean juice, for good. I cut out coffee entirely and began to search for low or no caffeine beverages to fill the void it left.
During the first few days, I felt cloudy, lethargic and stuck. Right when it seemed like the fog wouldn’t lift, I started feeling less slug-like and was able to fall asleep and wake up with ease. Without the burden of the intense anxiety, I started to feel much clearer, mentally and physically.
I did miss coffee though— I missed it every morning as I prepared a cup for my boyfriend. I missed the taste and the ritual of sipping it in my bed as I awoke. After a few weeks without coffee, I began my quest to find an adequate replacement. I wanted to err away from decaffeinated coffee, at least for a while, because I had read about potential harmful chemicals in the decaffeination process and didn’t want to consume something that would put me on the fast track to drinking fully-caffeinated coffee again. After several months without caffeine, I found myself less anxious, and after testing many products I found a handful that became staples in my daily routine.
Mudwtr, a chai with cacao, turmeric and reishi mushrooms was the first coffee alternative I tried. It's organic, contains 1/7th of the caffeine of a traditional cup of coffee and comes in an aesthetically-pleasing, travel-friendly tin.
To prepare the drink, I add a spoonful to boiling water and used a milk frother to blend. You will need to blend the powder thoroughly because as the drink cools it separates and the mix falls to the bottom, which meant I kept having to re-froth the drink, as someone who likes to take their time sipping.
The taste is delicious, smooth and reminds me of a healthier, spice-filled hot chocolate, without being overly sweet. While the ingredients include several different types of organic mushrooms, there is no overwhelming mushroom or earthy taste. It gave me a boost of alertness without any jittery side effects.
2. Rasa Coffee Alternatives
Rasa offers three types of Adaptogenic coffee alternatives: Original, Cacao, and Dirty, which is a lightly caffeinated coffee blend, and a great option to ease the transition. Adaptogens are healing herbs that assist the body in reducing stressors, so even the 'Dirty' offering didn't leave me with any shakes, and I loved each variety and the way they could be mixed to create new flavors.
I prepared my Rasa in a French press, but it can also be made in an espresso machine or single-serving coffee maker. I love the way that preparing Rasa feels like an intentional routine: Boiling the water, then pouring it over my french press, waiting a few minutes to steep and then straining the grounds felt meditative, and this French Press method made me feel far more sophisticated than my beat-up bargain coffee machine.
All of the Rasa varieties tasted amazing, but my favorite was hands-down the Cacao. Decadently chocolatey, lightly sweet and filled with herbal notes. It tastes simultaneously delicious and like it's doing a wealth of good for my body. I kid not when I say that I actually prefer the taste of Cacao Rasa over coffee. The Original is has a rich, nutty taste and the Dirty tastes closest to coffee, a great option for someone transitioning between coffee and alternatives who don't want to go cold turkey.
The best part? Rasa is USDA-certified organic and uses sustainable herbs and fair trade, women-picked coffee, so you can feel good about the process from harvest to cup.
3. Four Sigmatic Cordyceps Elixir
This mushroom blend is mild, smooth and is a great introduction to coffee alternatives. With organic mushroom-derived cordyceps, mint, rose hips and Schisandra, Four Sigmatic's blend is light and earthy. Add some non-dairy milk or use the powder to add to a protein shake to start your day off feeling uplifted.
I love this blend because it gives me a sustained, all-day boost with none of the shakes or jitters. My preferred way to use this "coffee" is by blending a banana, oat milk, ice and a tablespoon or two of cordyceps elixir. While I tend to not drink it alone because I favor a more robust roast, the Minimalist Baker has a great latte recipe which adds a sweeter, creamier flavor to temper the earthy taste.
I love to use this elixir in the same way that I would use chia seeds or spirulina powder: To mix into açai bowls, smoothies and oatmeal for a healthy pick-me-up. Plus, Four Sigmatic's Instagram page is always posting new, inventive recipes that show you how their versatile products can be used in dishes such as hummus or pancakes.
4. Ito En's Oi Ocha Unsweetened Bold Green Tea
Besides Mudwtr, Rasa and Four Sigmatic's coffee alternatives, I also reach for green tea or matcha powder when I feel like I need a lift. My favorite green tea is Ito En's Oi Ocha Unsweetened Bold Green Tea which has a strong, robust, earthy taste that I adore and is loaded with antioxidants, nutrients and the multitude of other benefits that green tea boasts.
Have a coffee alternative that you love? Let us know in the comments below!