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Coffee alternatives

By Lisa Nicklanovich

Love coffee but looking to ditch the caffeine? For some, a daily dose of coffee can cause insomnia, anxiety, stomach upset, increased heart and breathing rate or a host of other negative side effects. Sometimes caffeine can worsen certain menopause symptoms, and it can raise blood pressure levels. Even without experiencing negative side effects, some just want to move away from needing coffee to get going in the morning or relying on it for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Luckily, there are quite a few options that have either low or no caffeine to try. Many people look to coffee alternatives made with chicory root for a coffee-like experience. Although some chicory coffees actually are a mix of coffee and chicory, there are many caffeine-free options. Cafix, Pero and Dandy Blend, for example, are caffeine-free beverages which – in addition to including chicory root – have a variety of other ingredients such as roasted barley, rye, beets and dandelion root. These options all dissolve in hot (not boiling) or cold water, and though the taste of each is unique, chicory coffees are often described as tasting slightly woody and nutty. Chicory coffee has some health benefits, but some may be allergic to it and it is not recommended for pregnant women.

Unlike Cafix, Pero and Dandy Blend, Teeccino chicory herbal coffee is drip-brewed like ground coffee and comes in flavors like vanilla nut, hazelnut, amaretto, mocha and chocolate mint. Roasted almonds, dates and figs make some of the varieties slightly sweet. Teeccino can be brewed in a French press or an espresso machine, and it is caffeine free.

Yerba Mate is a tea-like beverage brewed from the leaves and twigs of a type of holly plant grown in South America. It contains only a third of the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee. Yerba Mate contains more antioxidants than green tea and many vitamins and minerals. The taste is described as very distinctive – strong, bitter and vegetal.

Mushroom coffee is a popular way to transition away from regular coffee. The earthy, rich and mellow taste of mushroom coffee is made by combining a blend of powdered mushrooms and ground coffee. The blends dissolve in water though most need to be blended very thoroughly. Mushroom coffee is a big trend now, but fungi have been used in traditional Chinese remedies for many centuries. Two interesting options are MUD\WTR, which has one-seventh the caffeine of a cup of coffee, and Four Sigmatic, which is caffeine free but intended to be added to a favorite hot drink, not replace it. Both have a blend of mushrooms, herbs and spices.

If keeping the morning ritual of a cup of coffee is important but dropping the caffeine is intriguing, one of these options may just do the trick.



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