Updated November 12, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

The 10 Best Coffee Substitutes

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This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in May of 2016. Although most of us can't even think before we've had that first cup of joe in the mornings, many people are unable to tolerate the acidity, the caffeine, or even the flavor of regular coffee. Luckily for those unfortunate folks, there are plenty of alternatives. Try one of these delicious substitutes and see if they can provide you with that needed pick-me-up without any of the discomfort. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best coffee substitute on Amazon.

10. Postum Instant Warm Beverage

9. Tattva's Herbs Capomo

8. Inka Instant

7. Dandy Blend Instant

6. Dharma Trading Post Gualala Roast

5. Zest Tea High Octane

4. Pero Instant

3. Kaffree Roma

2. Coffig Original Roasted Fig Beverage

1. Teeccino Medium Roast Vanilla Nut Chicory

Special Honors

Mud/WTR If what you'll miss the most about real coffee is the bold and exciting blends your local cafe always seems to offer, you can recapture some of that with this alternative. With tumeric, cacao, cinnamon, mushrooms, and a chai blend, it's sure to wake up your taste buds — and you. If you're on the Whole30 diet, you'll like that this stuff is compatible with that. It has 1/7th the caffeine of real java, for a subtle but still detectable buzz. mudwtr.com

Editor's Notes

November 08, 2019:

People can be just as divided on their coffee substitute preferences as they are on how they take the real stuff, so we made sure that, whether you are into dark and bold, sweet and light, or complex and nutty when you sip on actual java, you'll find something to your liking on this list.

Those looking for an uplifting beverage with health benefits will like Tattva's Herbs Capomo, which is rich in vitamins and minerals, and Pero Instant, which boasts prebiotic properties. Dandy Blend Instant caught our attention, too, with just seven calories per serving. On that note, we removed Vergonix Capomo, as it, unfortunately, had a whopping 50 calories per serving — which really adds up if you consume several cups a day.

While many of our options seek to mimic the flavor of regular joe, if that's not what you're after, but you do want significant caffeine, there is Zest Tea High Octane. It should energize you just as much as that cappuccino or espresso would have. Coffig Original Fig Beverage is also a good choice for those looking to branch out beyond the flavor of roasted beans, as it's made of its namesake fruit and is slightly sweet.

If you do, after all, want your warm drink to resemble true coffee as much as possible, Teeccino Medium Roast Vanilla Nut Chicory is a great choice. You can even use your standard drip coffee maker to brew the stuff. While Cafix Crystals came quite close in taste to the real stuff, it did, upon further inspection, contain carcinogenic ingredients, so it had to be removed.

Benefits Of Drinking Coffee Substitutes

It contains anti-inflammatory compounds called polyphenols.

The dark, bold flavor of coffee is unique, and people weaning off of coffee say it is difficult to replace. With that in mind, the experience most coffee substitute brands go for is that bold, richly roasted flavor that comes from real coffee beans. This means high quality coffee substitutes provide a very similar flavor and mouthfeel as coffee.

Coffee substitutes are often made of roasted grains and roots that are pulverized and made into a water soluble powder for use, like instant coffee. The ingredients used in many coffee substitutes have benefits beyond their distinctive flavor. Chicory is one such ingredient in many coffee alternatives. Chicory is a high-fiber root that has been extensively studied for its impact on health. It contains anti-inflammatory compounds called polyphenols. These polyphenols can protect blood cells and reduce inflammation and toxins in the body. Chicory may also protect the liver from free radical damage, and may even help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. The fiber in chicory may also improve gut health and relieve constipation.

Dandelion root is also found in many coffee substitutes. Dandelion root is packed with nutrients, like vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a rich source of calcium. Drinking dandelion tea can help fight diabetes, cleanse the liver, and protect against signs of atherosclerosis. Roasted grains like barley make up the base of many coffee substitutes. Barley tea has an impressive blend of nutrients and antioxidants that can help the body stay balanced. Barley tea improves blood circulation and digestion, and can even block invading oral pathogens. It is also low in calories and helps fight against free radical damage in the cells. The benefits of a particular coffee substitute will vary based on any additional ingredients it contains.

Coffee Vs Coffee Substitute; Which Is Better?

Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug on the planet, and it has a range of physical and psychological effects when taken. It is the most significant ingredient found in coffee, though caffeine is also commonly found in tea, soft drinks, and workout drinks.

Coffee can also make a person pass more minerals through the urine, causing an electrolyte imbalance in the body.

Caffeine from coffee appears to be good for athletes. Mixing caffeine with carbs can replenish glycogen in the muscles and reduce pain in the muscles after an intense workout. This is why caffeine is often added to protein powders and workout recovery drinks. There is also some evidence that the mental stimulation from caffeine can help keep cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s at bay. It may also help reduce inflammation in some users, and has even been linked to weight loss in multiple studies.

It is not all good news for coffee, however. Coffee increases stomach acid production in the body, which can make symptoms like acid reflux and ulcers much worse. Many people with GERD switch to coffee substitutes to find relief from their symptoms. While coffee provides high levels of antioxidants in each sip, it also releases diterpenes into the body. Diterpenes have been linked to high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Many coffee alternatives are likewise packed with antioxidants, but have little risk of raising cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Coffee is well known for the stimulating effect it has on the brain, but it actually stimulates the body in similar ways. Caffeine prompts the body to break down fat stores and release fatty acids into the blood stream. This can result in long lasting energy; up to 12 hours from a single cup of coffee. However, a regular coffee drinker will quickly develop a tolerance to these effects and require more and more caffeine to feel the same energy increase. There is less chance of developing a similar tolerance for coffee substitutes, so their benefits may be enjoyed every day.

Caffeine tolerance may also decrease insulin sensitivity and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. High caffeine intake can release chemicals into the body that cause inflammation and make a person feel stressed. Coffee can also make a person pass more minerals through the urine, causing an electrolyte imbalance in the body. These problems are virtually nonexistent with coffee substitutes, as they do not stimulate the nervous system in the same way as coffee. Coffee substitutes are usually a much healthier choice than coffee in the long term.

Are Coffee Allergies Real?

When asked why they drink coffee substitutes instead of coffee, many people will cite a coffee allergy. Coffee allergies are possible, though they are not as common as anecdotal evidence would make it seem. Most cases of coffee allergies are actually sensitivities to one or more other ingredients in the coffee.

Many people who make the switch to coffee alternatives find their symptoms subside immediately.

Most people who say they are allergic to coffee are actually caffeine sensitive. A caffeine sensitive person will experience many symptoms when they drink coffee that other people do not. Caffeine can make people jittery, nervous, anxious, and restless. It may cause a person to feel extremely irritable or agitated, and even cause insomnia. Physically, caffeine can cause a drastic increase in the heart rate or blood pressure of sensitive individuals. It may also cause muscle spasms and digestive disorders. Sensitivity to caffeine can build up over the years, and there may also be a genetic predisposition to symptoms of caffeine sensitivity in some people. Many people who make the switch to coffee alternatives find their symptoms subside immediately.

An assumed coffee allergy in some people may also be an allergic reaction to added ingredients, like milk or even sugar. Lactose intolerance can produce digestive symptoms that many confuse with a coffee allergy. These include symptoms like nausea, severe cramping, and diarrhea. It is also possible to have a reaction to the acids in coffee. Creating a very acidic environment in the digestive system by drinking coffee on an empty stomach can cause digestive upset and symptoms like nausea, gas, and bloating.

It is possible to be allergic to coffee beans, though recorded cases are extremely rare. A true coffee allergy like this would produce symptoms within the first hours after coming into contact with coffee. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to coffee often include skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

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Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on November 12, 2019 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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