Coffee Substitutes

One of the toughest parts of my job as a nutrition coach is helping people to quit coffee. This recommendation is never well received! It’s harder than giving up sugar or alcohol for most people.  Trust me, I can relate. I clung fiercely to my morning cup of coffee for a long time, even though I didn’t like feeling so addicted, I was uneasy about the chemicals and pesticides in coffee, and I wanted to create my own energy throughout the day instead of relying on my morning fix.

What’s the problem with coffee?

Coffee is very acidic and dehydrating. Coffee taxes your adrenal glands, as well as your liver and kidneys. And caffeine seriously disrupts your sleep. Coffee has a half-life of 7 hours, so it stays in your system for a long time, which means even a cup of coffee in the morning can effect your sleep.

What happens when you ditch coffee?

What I’ve seen over and over again by working with patients and people going through the Cleanse program is that when they stop drinking coffee they surprisingly have MORE energy, feel calmer, are better able to handle stress and they sleep better. I’ll never forget one woman who went from having 6 cups a day to none, and she couldn’t believe the change. She went from dragging to energized, and her eyes sparkled!

In my personal experience, I’ve gotten rid of an afternoon “fuzziness” – I now feel sharp and awake, instead of a foggy feeling that my head was in the clouds. I have steadier energy from morning till night.

How to quit

In order to get off coffee, it’s helpful to recognize that you’re addicted and have a game plan. It’s best to taper off slowly to minimize headaches and withdrawal symptoms. Be gentle with yourself and try to get some extra rest. And I feel that it’s essential to find a coffee substitute to make the transition go smoothly.  Here are some suggestions – some of these replicate the emotional experience of coffee, and others give a smaller dose of caffeine to get you going.

1. Teeccino is an herbal coffee substitute that I’ve tried and like. It’s made with barley, but they say there are no detectable levels of gluten. The Teeccino Tee-bags are convenient and perfect for gluten-sensitive customers because the Teeccino grounds are enclosed completely in the tea bag filter paper. They have good flavors like Vanilla Nut and Maya Chocolate, and you can add some almond milk or hemp milk and some stevia to sweeten.

2. Dandy Blend is another herbal coffee substitute, made with dandelion root. I’ve tried this one too and I’m a fan. It’s gluten-free and tastes good with almond milk and stevia. They will even mail you a free sample if you call and

3. Matcha green tea is my favorite. It still has a little caffeine, but feels much cleaner and greener than coffee. I stir a half teaspoon of matcha with a bit of almond milk and then add boiling water and some stevia to sweeten. I use the Teavana brand.

4. Vanilla “Latte”: If you want something warm and comforting in the morning, you can heat up a mug of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (on the stove or in the microwave) with a dash of cinnamon and stevia to taste. It’s delicious! You could also add a teaspoon of cacao powder for a chocolate-y treat.

5. Water with Lemon: If you use coffee to help go to the bathroom in the morning, another option is to have a glass of water (hot or cold) with half of a lemon squeezed into it. This will alkalize your body, re-hydrate you, and it helps with elimination.  It also helps the liver to get rid of toxins, so this is a great way to start the day.

Good luck with your coffee crusade and let me know how it goes! Feel free to email [email protected] with any questions.

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  • Dee Joyce

    I had a Dr. put my whole class on 1 c. of water, a tbsp honey and a tbsp of apple cider vinegar (these had to be good products not junk).  At first we balked at the idea…  some of us just did it.  The reason was that we would be doing a lot of joint manipulating and she wanted us free of toxins.   However, some kept trying to keep their old habits while doing the cleanse… One girl got a lot of sores inside of her mouth because she couldn’t quit smoking. I found that at first, the drink was repulsive as I don’t like honey, but over time, I came to really enjoy it and began drinking 2 c ups of it in the a.m.! It worked really well for me, I wish I had never stopped!

  • Noreen

    does this mean goodbye to coffee forever ?

  • Aniqsa

    I gave up caffeine nearly 3 years ago. It was 3 weeks of hell-withdrawal symptoms, headaches-and I’ve rarely felt the need for coffee since. I definitely have a ton more energy without it.

  • Diane

    I’ve found that roasted chicory tea satisfies my taste for coffee.  I add a little stevia powder and love it.

  • Alena Gerst

    I was able to get off coffee (and all caffeine) using Dr. Lipman’s guide in Revive.  The s-bucks people knew me as the girl who went for half caf, then quarter caf, then a teeny bit of caf, to decaf and finally, herbal tea.

  • Rspiezio

    This article talks of “Coffee substitutes” when I think the author should refer to it as “Caffeine substitutes. I have stopped drinking caffeinated coffee and switched to decaf. I would think this would be comparable to the other drinks shown here. You may not escape the acidity by drinking decaf but I would think it would cover the other pitfalls of caffeinated cofee. Thoughts?

  • Awesome Alena!! 

  • Kayd929

    I notice everytime I have tried to give up my morning cup or two, by evening I’m gorging on chocolate, chocolate ice cream, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, etc. and then I am up all night because I can’t sleep!  So I have to be really vigilant when I start the caffeine withdrawal.

  • Marylou

    what about yerba mate?  i have switched over to that, love it and it is NOT acidic.  

  • I like Yerba Mate a lot!  I only discovered it very recently, before writing the blog post, otherwise I would have included it.  Kerry 

  • Tgrah

    I am so glad that I stumbled upon this post.  I really wanted to try Teeccino and was so disappointed to see barley in the ingredient list.  Now that I know the gluten is undetectable, I am ordering some today!

  • I love this post Kerry; and I absolutely LOVE Dandy Blend. I drink it with almond milk and cinnamon. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is giving up coffee. 

  • I tried Teecino today, and in my opinion, it does not taste like coffee at all.(it must be an acquired taste). I actually thought it was foul.

  • E-Sports4LifeDigitalART

    Coffee. That is all.

  • E-Sports4LifeDigitalART

    I actually really like the 3rd option you listed, Matcha green tea — very nice!

  • Bryan Irving

    Raja’s Cup by Maharishi Ayurveda Products is a delicious substitute for coffee. It aids the digestion of fats and is beneficial after heavy meals. Ingredients include: Clearing Nut, Ashwagandha, Liquorice and Coffee Senna. It is a recipe that was used by the Kings of ancient India for health.

  • karen

    i’m day 12 after weening off it for months. i was soo addicted. i needed to have a higher purpose for giving it up, else I had no chance. I feel a lot more inspired, and starting to get more energy, so grateful to hear it just gets better

  • That’s so great to hear Karen. Congratulations!
    It sure does get easier with time so just keep up the good work.
    – Katrine, Be Well Team

  • Anonymous

    That’s so great to hear Karen. Congratulations!
    It sure does get easier with time so just keep up the good work.
    – Katrine, Be Well Team

  • Marie

    You may be happy to know that there is a new species of coffee plant that has been created which is caffeine free. This was actually named one of the top 10 new species of 2009 by the University of Arizona, and it is a caffeine free coffee plant coming from West Africa. The name of the plant is coffea charrieriana, and it is from Cameroon and happens to be the first recorded species of coffee plant that is caffeine free. The purpose of the breeding process was to cultivate beans that are grown naturally as decaffeinated. Wikipedia has some good info on “Decaffeination.”

  • Mother Nature

    Never drank coffee until I turned 40….6 yrs later, I still only drink a quarter of a cup each day…..hate the taste. I just thought it was something people do, so I started. On weekends I drink water all morning. Glad to hear it is bad for you. I don’t think it will be hard to quit. I love the smell though…..fresh brewed coffee smell is amazing. But the taste is gross. Thanks for the article. Coffee is now gone from my diet. I rarely drink alchohol either , but on the up side, people say I look really young for my age…. no wrinkles!!

  • misterperson

    you spelled ‘affect’ wrong. im out.

  • Jennifer Jones

    Choffy is another alternative made with pure cacao roasted and ground like coffee. It is prepared either in a French press, percolator, or regular coffee maker. It has a chocolate taste, but it isn’t sweet. Also, it’s packed with antioxidants, magnesium, and theobromine – a much gentler stimulant than caffeine that improves circulation. Find out more about it at

  • Kelvin Wallace

    Tomorrow makes a week. It has been one hell of a week at that! Headache every single day. I went cold turkey and went on a Daniel Fast to boot. I have only been eating Fruits, Vegs, and Water. No animal products. I have lost 8lbs but its probably from the diet since I drink my coffee Black with no sugar or cream anyway. I just wish one of you could make the headaches stop!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Kelvin ~ Sorry to hear about your headaches! That’s why we recommend tapering instead of cutting it out cold turkey. You can try some black tea which may help, but it if you’re 8 days in already you should be getting through the caffeine headaches by now. If they continue, perhaps something in the diet shift is behind them?

  • xx

    Oh I forgot that mistakes couldn’t be made, simple human error

  • Try Bueno Coffee Substitute for all your coffee withdrawal blues or just to enjoy. It is simply made from roasted garbanzo beans and comes in three flavors: Original, Creamy Hazelnut, and Pecan Praline. Bueno naturally tastes like coffee, but unlike coffee it does not contain caffeine and acid. Mix it with your coffee and gradually increase the Bueno to get off coffee to minimize the withdrawal headaches. Check it out at

  • Clang

    Thank you so much! Personally, i think coffee is nasty. I don’t like the bitter taste. I’ve tried some of your substitutes, they’re delicious!

  • kim h

    I just quit smoking 2 weeks ago and knew that I needed to quit everything that I used to have with my cigarette including coffee and alcohol.I drank 2-4 cups of coffee daily and enjoyed a glass of wine every now and then with dinner.I found herbal tea to be a great help,I now and then really miss the taste of coffee but I resist .I really feel like I have more energy then ever,I am not. A walking around like a zombie by 4 pm and I do fall asleep at a good time at night and have a much deeper sleep ,my days are better I am happier and much calmer of a person in general.quiting my three favorite things have been a hard process but the pay off is so worth it I feel so much healthier and when I do not have any tea around a warm glass water and lemon does the trick.

  • James Richardson

    Excellent article, but I actually must agree with Rspiezio’s comment, these are not coffee substitutes as much as caffeine free delicious alternatives :-) (well at least “Vanilla Latte” and “Water and Lemon” are delicious).

    If you do try to quit coffee – you will indeed feel “MORE energy, feel calmer, are better able to handle stress and they sleep better” – BUT it only comes after a month or two of pretty much hell.

    Personally, now a days when I want to drink something that actually tastes like coffee – I prepare a very bland coffee alternative with a tiny bit of real coffee added to it. This way I enjoy the best of both worlds (well, almost).

    If you are looking for some healthy coffee substitutes which taste a bit like coffee I recommend what is called “date seed coffee”. It is actually a coffee like beverage from date seeds drank in the Middle East for thousands of years.

    You can either prepare it at home (not recommend :-) or purchase it on-line at or from some other vendor.
    I think I am going to have some Vanilla Latte now :-) (with real milk and two drops of vanilla extract).

  • Ron

    You really should try Bueno Coffee. It is the only product on the market that tastes love ke coffee, brews like coffee and made from a single ingredient. Check out the website.

  • Barbara Minnella

    I am trying to have a non acidic diet for my GERD. I did not know that coffee and tea were acidic, even when decaffinated. I have been on Nexium too long and was told by the doctor to get off that “stuff” as it was killing my good bacteria in my colon. Checking out what is not acidic as a hot drink in the AM to substitute for the decaf coffee