There comes a time for every coffee lover when drinking your morning coffee just isn’t as fulfilling as it once was. This is particularly true for those of us prone to drinking more than one cup per day, or consuming increasingly strong coffee in hopes of prolonging that coveted coffee buzz. Taking a break from the black Madonna will help even out your energy levels, give your kidneys a break, and make that next cup of coffee taste even more delightful. Here are a few coffee alternatives with enough flavor and body to rival your morning coffee.
You can make 100 cups of chai, and each one will taste a little different according to subtle variations with the spices, tea or tea substitutes, types of milk, and kinds of sweeteners. Start by boiling 1-2 inch pieces of fresh ginger and turmeric (if you can find it) in a mixture of 1/2 water and 1/2 milk for 5 minutes. Next, add 2 cinnamon sticks for another 3 minutes. Finally, add all other ingredients (10 cloves, 20 black peppercorns, and 20 cardomom pods) and let simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. Other good spices to include are Fennel, Anise, Licorice, Coriander, Nutmeg, and Orange Peel. Next, add black tea, raspberry leaf, jasmine tea, or rooibos, and let steep for several minutes. Strain and sweeten with sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Alternately, you can prepare chai with only water, let it boil down until it becomes very concentrated, and then add the concentrate to steamed milk. Chai is a warming beverage that aids digestion, improves cardiovascular health, and boosts the immune system.
ROOIBOS (Aspalathus linearis):
Rooibos is a South African tea with a sweet and nutty flavor. Unlike black tea, Rooibos can be steeped for a long time without becoming bitter, and is even steeped for days in Africa. Rooibos is high in antioxidants such as aspalathin and nothofagin, low in tannins, and caffeine free. A strong brew of Rooibos served with milk and sugar is a great replacement for coffee, and very strong “shots” of Rooibos are known as the “Red Espressos” of the coffee world. Rooibos can be steeped like tea, or added to percolators and espresso makers like coffee. A general guideline is 1 Tbsp of Rooibos per 6 ounces of water.
MATCHA (Camellia sinensis):
YERBA MATE (Ilex paraguariensis):
Yerba Mate is a species of holly native to South America whose toasted leaves are steeped in hot (but not boiling) water. It is traditionally prepared and served in a gourd with a metal straw, or bombilla, which filters the tea as you drink. Yerba Mate is an acquired taste, but will certainly please those who enjoy the bitterness of coffee. Yerba Mate is not caffeine free. It contains mateine, which has the identical chemical composition as caffeine. Yerba Mate is a smooth muscle relaxer, and has a calming effect on the muslces of the arteries, veins, stomach, respiratory tract, etc. Conversely, Yerba Mate has a stimulating effect on cardiac muscle. Traditional preparation involves filling the gourd 2/3 with Yerba Mate and 1/3 with hot water. This extracts the greatest amount of nutrients per cup. Alternate methods include using a french press or tea strainer. Yerba Mate “shots” can also be mixed with steamed milk as an alternative to espresso.
GRAIN COFFEE & ROASTED ROOTS:
A combination of roasted or malted grains and roots can produce a hearty morning beverage that makes you question why you ever drank anything else. Common ingredients include roasted chicory, malted barley, rye, beet root, and roasted dandelion root. Several grain beverages are available commercially in instant powder form. However, making your own grain coffee is a rewarding way to counter the coffee blues. Grain coffee mixtures can be steeped in a french press or percolated in a coffee maker. Add some hot chocolate or ovaltine to your mix to give it a sweet kick. Mix with steamed milk and a little maple syrup, and enjoy!
Finding out what it is about coffee that you love so much will help you to find a suitable alternative. Is it the bitterness, hot milk, caffeine, or ritual of preparation? Knowing what keeps you hooked is key to winning the first 3-day battle of caffeine withdrawl. Once over the initial hump, you can regularly integrate coffee substitutes into your morning ritual and enjoy a more nutritious and less jittery start to your day.