Home » 8 Popular Coffee Substitutes Reviewed (Top alternatives)

8 Popular Coffee Substitutes Reviewed (Top alternatives)

Need to take a break from coffee? Don’t despair! There are many alternatives to coffee that can taste just as good and be just as satisfying as your morning coffee.

The reasons for wanting to take a break from coffee are many. Some people do it to reset their caffeine tolerance, or because they’re experiencing caffeine jitters.

Others may simply dislike the bitter taste of coffee while still wanting to get a dose of caffeine to get them through the day.

It is also common for doctors to restrain coffee consumption for many reasons; sensitivity to caffeine, heart-related issues, stomach problems.

As delicious (and healthy!) as coffee is, it is not that uncommon for people to seek out an alternative. Coffee has a very low pH, meaning that it is acidic.

Prolonged consumption of coffee can cause a lot of discomforts and, in some cases, stomach and esophagus pain and even ulcers.

Then there’s caffeine a stimulant that has a lot of value to millions of people, but that can cause problems for some. People that are prone to anxiety, for example, usually need to cut back on all caffeine-containing foods and beverages.

And it might also be the case that you just want to try something different. Any reason is as valid as the next one.

Here is a list of the best coffee alternatives out there, some containing caffeine and some that are completely caffeine-free.

The Coffee Substitutes

Matcha

Matcha has gained quite a lot of popularity recently; it can be found in the menu of popular coffee chains and coffee shops.

The best example of this is the matcha latte, a latte made using matcha that looks both cute and yummy with its vibrant green color.

What is matcha, though? It is a type of tea. 

As you may know, all tea comes from the same tree. The leaves are harvested and then fermented.

Depending on at what point they are harvested and how much fermentation is allowed, it becomes a different type of tea. There’s white, green, and black tea: those are the three basic types.

Matcha is green tea, but a very special kind. The trees are grown exclusively under the shade, which triggers a response in the leaves that urges them to produce more chlorophyll so they can absorb more sunlight

Chlorophyll is what makes them green. So, matcha leaves are dark, deep green.

But that’s not all. These leaves aren’t used as regular leaves but are instead ground down into a fine powder, meaning that the whole leaf is consumed rather than just steeping them in water like any other type of tea.

This makes matcha the espresso of teas. It can be concentrated into a very small amount of water so you can make beverages like you would with espresso. Plus, the flavor of matcha goes great with that of coffee.

In terms of caffeine, matcha has a lot more caffeine than any other tea

It comes very close to the amount of caffeine in actual espresso, so in this regard, it is the best substitute for those looking for a caffeine kick.

Cocoa

Hot cocoa consumption goes back many centuries, although we’ll never really know just how old this practice is.

The Mayans drank cocoa when the Spanish conquistadors first arrived. It was, they thought, incredibly similar to coffee.

It was thought to be more of an acquired taste since Mayans, unfortunately, did not have sugar. Hot cocoa was rather bitter, so one can only surmise that caffeine played a big role in why people drank it.

Indeed, cocoa contains caffeine. Anything that is made from cocoa has caffeine, too! Chocolate, white chocolate, and so on. The higher the concentration of cocoa, the higher the amount of caffeine.

Unsweetened cocoa and dark chocolate have the highest concentration of caffeine.

The amount of caffeine in cocoa is, though, very little compared to that of coffee. At most, a cup of hot cocoa has a third of the caffeine found in a cup of coffee.

The good news is that cocoa can be added to a lot of things, and doesn’t have to be just a beverage: you can also get your daily dose of caffeine through brownies!

Kombucha

Kombucha is an ancient beverage that originated in Ancient China.

It is made by fermenting certain bacteria along with other ingredients. The most important ingredient to us is black tea, which is why this beverage made our list.

The black tea makes this beverage a slightly caffeinated one—and although black tea comes close to coffee in terms of caffeine, kombucha isn’t 100% black tea, so its caffeine content is quite low.

It is estimated that a cup of kombucha has about six times less caffeine than a cup of coffee.

Still, kombucha is a great alternative to caffeine. It offers a very different flavor, fizz, and a myriad of health benefits because it is a fermented food, so it has benefits that no other coffee-related beverage has.

How to make Coffee Kombucha? – Video

Video from TheBruSho on Youtube

Carob

Carob is the name of a tree native to the Mediterranean. It has been grown for centuries because of its edible pods which can be ground down into a powder or flour from which people make beverages, desserts, and so on.

Carob has a taste that can feel a lot like cocoa, which is why it is used sometimes as a cocoa substitute in desserts and snacks.

When ground coarsely it looks just like ground coffee and it is prepared similarly.

In terms of flavor, carob isn’t anything like coffee. It has a rather mild and sweet taste that is very opposite to the strong, bitter taste of coffee. And yet, it is still quite delicious, all the more if you add milk or cream to it.

Carob is sold mostly as a healthy food. Coffee itself offers no nutritional value whatsoever; the only useful thing we get out of drinking coffee is a big dose of antioxidants.

Carob has just as many antioxidants and it’s also got a very complete nutritional profile.

A single serving of carob has several different vitamins and minerals, on top of being quite high in fiber which has a lot of health benefits.

Even though carob does appear to be a more complete food and offers more health benefits than coffee, it contains no caffeine whatsoever.

This puts it in a really weird position of being a coffee substitute that offers no caffeine and doesn’t taste like coffee.

Even so, carob has a very unique taste which has gained it a big following simply because of how delicious it is. Luckily enough, it’s also very good for you!

Powdered Malt

Malt is made usually with a mixture of grains, with barley being one of the main ingredients. The process of malting involves letting the grains germinate, then quickly drying them and roasting them.

The roasting gives it a flavor profile that comes close to that of coffee. It has quite a fragrant aroma depending on the brand.

Powdered malt comes, as the name suggests, in powder form and all you have to do is dissolve it in a cup of water. It is quite convenient to make—and it is incredibly cheap.

Despite being inexpensive, powdered malt has great nutritional value. It’s made from grain, after all.

And germinated grain, too! This process boosts the nutritional value of grain and gets rid of most antinutrients in grain, meaning that you absorb the vitamins and minerals much more easily.

Roasted Barley

Barley has a history of being a coffee substitute. This grain, which can be incorporated in all sorts of foods, can also be roasted much like coffee is and then steeped whole to make a roast, delicious beverage.

Back in the 15th and 16th centuries, when coffee only came to Europe via the Middle East, it was a rather fancy product.

At first, only aristocrats could drink it, but soon it would become the favorite drink of the middle class, too. But, as it happens, wars broke out fairly often during this time.

Kings would put in effect restrictions to fund the war. In almost all cases, these restrictions meant no more coffee.

Already aware of the marvels of coffee not to say completely hooked on it, citizens started looking for ways to satiate their thirst for it.

The most well-liked one was roasted barley, which can have a taste very similar to coffee but milder and with a much more roasty or toasty flavor.

Much like it was the case with carob, barley has no caffeine content whatsoever but in turn, offers an important amount of different vitamins and minerals.

Barley tea is often recommended for those suffering from anemia because of its high iron content.

Barley tea can be purchased in different forms; whole-grain, in tea bags, and you can even purchase it whole, unroasted, and roast it yourself using a pan or your oven. It’s really easy to do and achieves great results!

Tea

Probably the most obvious item on this list. And yet, it deserves a mention.

Tea has been consumed for thousands of years and it trumps over coffee in many countries today.

Tea was, before coffee, the world’s favorite and most universal drink. It was popular in the far east as well as in the US. It was only until relatively recently that coffee became hugely popular.

So much so that coffee is almost as popular as tea now in some Asian countries which have been drinking tea for more than two thousand years you can find Starbucks-like coffee shops even in places like North Korea. That’s how popular it is.

As we mentioned earlier, there are three basic types of tea: white tea, green tea, and black tea.

When harvested very early, it is white tea.

There is no fermentation involved and the tea leaves are very young, which yields a very flavor that is prized because of its mildness and subtleness.

Green tea is harvested when the leaves are fully matured and has a much stronger flavor, is more complex, and yields a bolder brew.

Black tea is harvested even later and in some cases subjected to fermentation.

This helps the flavor to develop and more caffeine to naturally accumulate in the leaves.

White tea has the least amount of caffeine; then green tea, then black tea.

Chicory Root

Chicory root has a very long tradition of being used as a coffee substitute it was born at the same time as roasted barley tea, although chicory root has a more bitter flavor that could be said to resemble coffee the most.

Chicory root is quite bitter, unlike roasted barley, which is why chicory root hasn’t been used by itself.

It is mostly used in combination with coffee, mostly to make the coffee last longer. Or that was, at least, its use in the beginning.

Over time, people developed a taste for this combination which has a very distinct taste.

Chicory root with coffee was a big hit particularly in France, and French immigrants eventually brought it to the US.

New Orleans was at one point where most French immigrants concentrated, and when the state was facing some problems with trade, the French put this old trick to work to help make their reserves last longer.

The result? A classic New Orleans beverage that became an instant classic and has a lot of drinkers nowadays. It’s Café Du Monde.

So there you have them. The best coffee alternatives out there. If you’re trying to cut back on coffee, then this list is going to be your best friend during that journey!

Remember: don’t try to go cold turkey. Instead, phase it out bit by bit so that your body doesn’t feel it so much.

And try all of the options on this list! Even if some of them don’t sound appealing on paper, you just might surprise yourself and discover a new favorite beverage.