The Best Coffee Substitutes (Review) in 2020
There’s nothing quite like a hot cup of coffee – or is there? As more and more of us try to cut down on our caffeine intake, the prospect of ditching the arabica for a coffee alternative becomes increasingly appealing. If you’ve been searching for a coffee substitute, read on. Whether you’re allergic, pregnant, or simply looking for a caffeine-free night time drink, we’re confident you’ll find the perfect solution below.
To help you find the perfect coffee replacement for your taste, we’ve put together this handy buying guide. Below, we run through 10 of the best coffee substitutes on the market right now, so you can make an informed decision as you try something new. To help you get the most out of these healthy alternatives to coffee, we’ve also taken the time to answer some common questions about what they are, how to brew them, and why you might want to.
All-natural ingredients, including rye, chicory, barley, and malted barley
Very low acidity formulation
Contains 5 calories per teaspoon
Natural ingredients that include rye, chicory, and barley
Tannic acid-free and non-GMO formulation
Dairy-free, vegan, 0% caffeine formula
Contains 10 calories per teaspoon
100% all natural ingredients: sugar beets, chicory, rye, and roasted barley
Contains 5 calories per teaspoon
Zero caffeine formulation
Coffee-like granules and taste
The Best Coffee Substitute
Kicking off our list is Pero, with their tasty instant beverage. Thanks to its water soluble granules, the drink is easy to brew – simply add hot water and stir, just like regular coffee. The totally caffeine-free drink is made from 100% natural ingredients, so there’s no need to worry about artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. If you have a sensitive stomach, this could be the perfect drink for you – not only are its natural ingredients easy on the digestive system, it also has a low acidity level.
As well as being healthy, the drink is tasty, too. Its rich and subtly bitter flavor closely mimics coffee, making it a great alternative if you enjoy the taste of regular coffee. Created from a blend of malted barley, chicory, and rye, the satisfying beverage is versatile enough to make your way. You can add your favorite syrup, milk, or honey, to make the perfect drink for any time of day.
Instant coffee substitute
Rich, subtly bitter taste
Add your own syrup, milk or sugar for a unique taste
100% natural ingredients
Gentle on the stomach thanks to a low acidity level
Made with malted barley chicory, and rye
Perfect for any time of day
Rasa Koffee have also earned themselves a spot on our list with this herbal coffee alternative. Rasa developed their tasty beverage with a simple goal in mind – to help curb stress. Although coffee has certain health benefits – such as antioxidants – it’s also high in caffeine. Consuming too much of this mild stimulant can lead to high blood pressure, and stress. In response, they’ve created this tasty herbal blend, designed to stabilize your energy levels without the buzz and crash cycle of caffeine.
The formula is based around a component of herbal medicine called ‘adaptogens’. These herbs are thought to improve daily energy levels over time, and improve the body’s ability to handle stressful situations. Rara’s ingredient list includes chicory, burdock, dandelion, and eleuthero – each herb has been grown organically and sustainably, helping you reduce your environmental impact. To brew the beverage, simply add one tablespoon per cup of boiling water to a French press, allow to infuse for 10 minutes, and depress the plunger. It can also be made using an espresso machine, drip machine, or aeropress. Overall, the rich and subtle flavor is a great substitute for your average cup of joe, and in the long run, it may well leave you feeling more energised.
Organic herbal coffee substitute
Caffeine free and low acidity
Mild yet coffee-like flavor
Suitable for versatile recipes
Easy to brew in 10 to 15 minutes
Features a herbal blend designed to improve energy levels over time
Recipe based on the herbal theory of ‘adaptogens’
Made with sustainably sourced herbs
The next coffee substitute to find a spot on our list is this delicious natural beverage by Kaffree Roma. Its all-natural formula has been carefully blended to mimic the taste of coffee, without the pesky caffeine. Thanks to its soluble granules, the beverage is easy to brew – simply add a heaped teaspoon’s worth to a mug of boiling water, and stir vigorously for a delicious drink. The natural, low acidity formula is hinges on barley, chicory, and rye, offering a complex flavor that will satisfy coffee cravings left and right.
If you’re experimenting with keto diets, or simply trying to lose a few pounds, Kaffree could be the perfect drink for you. Each serving contains no fat, no sodium, and comes in at just 10 calories. Just like coffee, the beverage is versatile, too. You can add soy milk and cinnamon for a light yet indulgent latte, or add vanilla syrup and low fat milk for a tasty hot chocolate alternative. Whatever you make, you can rest assured you’re getting excellent value for money – each seven ounce jar can make 100 cups. Even long-time coffee addicts say that Kaffree has curbed their cravings, offering a rich and complex taste without the acidity and caffeine content.
All-natural coffee alternative
100% caffeine free
Complex, coffee-like taste
Low acidity – ideal for sensitive stomachs
Easy to brew by adding hot water
Made with a blend of barley, rye, and chicory
Free from fat and sodium
Just 10 calories per serving
Versatile, and great value for money
If you want to ditch coffee without ditching the caffeine, Zest Tea have the perfect solution. Their delicious Earl Grey blend offers a higher caffeine content than coffee, without triggering that brutal post-coffee crash. Thanks to the presence of L-Theanine, a rare amino acid, the blend manages to promote long-lasting energy that won’t leave you craving cup after cup. Together, caffeine and L-Theanine create a prolonged state of steady alertness, without triggering the jitters that coffee drinking can cause. In fact, studies have demonstrated that L-Theanine can actually enhance relaxation, without triggering lethargy. On top of all this, the powerful amino acid can lower the heart rate, and even improve immune function.
Along with these surprising health benefits, Zest Tea offers a delicious Earl Grey flavor. Popularised by Earl Charles Grey in the 1830s, this classic beverage combines black tea with the subtle orange hints of bergamot oil. Zest Tea is easy to brew – simply pour fresh boiled water over a tea bag, and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Every bag contains premium, non-GMO ingredients, and is free from sugar and other additives. Overall, this award-winning tea is sure to sway even the most stalwart coffee fanatics.
Earl Grey tea blend featuring a high caffeine content
Caffeine works in conjunction with L-Theanine amino acid for sustained energy
Promotes energy levels without triggering jitters or crashes
L-Theanine can enhance relaxation and lower heart rate, without causing drowsiness
Studies suggest L-Theanine may improve immune function
Delicious black tea and bergamot flavor
Simple to brew
If you crave the taste of coffee but chicory root just isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. Coffig are here to provide a delicious coffee substitute made using organic roasted figs. Made with just one ingredient – dried roasted figs – the all-natural beverage is caffeine-free, gluten-free, and contains zero additives. It’s also easy to brew – simply place a scoop as usual in any coffee machine. Each bag of Coffig is made using only the highest quality figs, grown and dried in California. This slow roasting process causes the figs to take on a rich, distinctive flavor, which closely mimics coffee without the caffeine.
The blend is twice as concentrated as regular ground coffee, allowing each small bag to produce as many as 65 cups. The tasty beverage can be consumed hot or cold, with or without milk, and even added to home baking for that subtle coffee taste. You can even add a scoop to smoothies and milkshakes. Even skeptical coffee lovers have been won over by the dark color and rich flavor of the brew, which allows coffee fans to continue the ‘ritual’ without the acidity, or the caffeine.
Fig based alternative to coffee
Free form caffeine, gluten, and added sugar
Made with high quality, California figs only
Rich, roasted flavor closely mimics coffee
Easy to brew – use the same technique as you would for regular coffee
Consume hot or cold, add to baking, or make a milkshake
Lower acidity than regular coffee
Cafix are a well-known name in the world of coffee substitutes – and for good reason. Their delicious beverage is totally free from caffeine, all natural, and simple to brew. Simply add hot water to the soluble crystals, stir, and you’ll have a fragrant hot beverage in no time. Carefully blended from a combination of roasted barley, rye, chicory, and sugar beets, the tasty drink mimics the rich and complex flavor of coffee, without the draw-back of caffeine jitters and stomach irritation.
Each cup of Cafix is free from trans fat, cholesterol, and artificial additives. It’s also very low in sodium, helping to prevent water retention and bloating. The beverage is a great option for weight loss, too, coming in at just five calories per serving. Cafix can be consumed hot or cold, and added to milkshakes, home baking, and more. Whatever your coffee preferences, Cafix have made them easy to recreate with this impressively versatile concoction. Coffee fans across the board were impressed that Cafix could satisfy their cravings, and loved how easy the drink was to brew.
Caffeine-free coffee substitute
Delicious, rich taste
Made with a blend of barley, chicory, rye, and sugar beet
Free from trans fat and cholesterol
Low in sodium
Just 5 calories per serving
Easy to brew – just add hot water and stir
A versatile beverage that can be enjoyed hot or cold, and used as a baking ingredient
If you’re craving something a little sweeter, you could try Teeccinno’s vanilla nut chicory coffee alternative. The chicory based blend is enhanced with vanilla extract, dates, and almonds, for a sweet nutty flavor to satisfy your Frappuccino related cravings. Along with these ingredients, the drink also contains carob, barley, and figs, carefully balancing sweet and bitter flavors for a truly coffee-like experience. As well as being delicious, the blend is free from caffeine, non-acidic, and totally vegan, making it an excellent alternative for the health-conscious coffee lover.
The formula is also rich in potassium, an important mineral for cardiovascular health and good blood pressure levels. Thanks to the polyphenols and micronutrients in the beverage, it can also provide a natural energy boost without the jitters and crashes often caused by caffeine consumption. Rich in soluble fiber, the drink is easy on the stomach, and can actually improve digestive health over time. However you like your coffee, Teeccino’s substitute can brewed in the same way, and enjoyed hot, cold, or as part of a milkshake or baked good.
Chicory based coffee alternative
100% caffeine free
Dates, vanilla extract, and almonds add a sweet, nutty flavor
Suitable for vegans
Non-acidic blend contains soluble fiber for improved digestive health
Rich in potassium, for improved cardiovascular health and blood pressure
Easy to make – use your usual coffee brewing method
Provides a natural energy boost
Can be enjoyed hot or cold, and used as an ingredient
Four Sigmatic have also earned themselves a spot on our list, with this unique ‘golden latte’ blend. Specially formulated to promote digestive health, this hot beverage combines turkey tail mushrooms, reishi spores, and carminative spices like cinnamon and ginger. The formula is also rich in herbal ‘adaptogens’, believed to improve energy levels over time – without the buzz and crash cycles that caffeine can cause.
As well as being caffeine-free, this unique blend is totally vegan. Coconut milk powder brings creaminess to the latte, without the need for dairy. It might taste deliciously sweet, but each serving contains just one gram (less than 1/10 oz) of sugar, making it a great option whether you’re trying a paleo diet, or simply cutting back on the sweet stuff. To make the latte, all you have to do is add freshly boiled water and stir – it’s that easy. This invigorating yet soothing drink can be enjoyed hot or cold, at any time of day. Certified organic by the USDA, Four Sigmatic have really made a splash in the world of hot beverages. Their customers say that their golden latte is mellow and sweet, with chai overtones. If you’re a fan of earthy flavors, but want to cut back on coffee, this might just be the perfect option.
Golden latte sachets
Vegan and paleo-friendly
Blended to promote digestive health
Recipe features turkey tail mushrooms, reishi spores, and spices
Just 1 gram of sugar per serving
Easy to make – just add water and stir
USDA approved organic
Mellow and sweet with chai overtones
Dandy Blend have earned the penultimate spot on our list, thanks to this refreshing coffee alternative. It’s free from caffeine, gluten, sugar, dairy, and wheat, making it a suitable alternative for pretty much anyone. The drink’s full-bodied flavor is achieved through a blend of dandelion root, chicory, rye, and sugar beet. Together, these ingredients recreate that bittersweet coffee taste – all without giving you the caffeine jitters. The blend is also non-acidic, so it’s easy to drink if you have a sensitive stomach. Thanks to its rich antioxidant content, this tasty beverage can even help to protect your cells against free radicals in the body.
On top of its myriad health benefits, the beverage is also easy to brew. Simply add freshly boiled water to a teaspoon of the soluble crystals, and give it a vigorous stir. You’ll be left with a rich, dark beverage, which can be easily adjusted to match your tastes. For a stronger flavor, add more crystals, for a milder flavor, add less. The versatile formula can also be used to craft milkshakes, mochas, and lattes. If you’re a keen baker, you can also swap out instant coffee for Dandy Blend in your favorite recipes.
Dandelion root based coffee alternative
Rich yet refreshing flavor
Free from caffeine, gluten, sugar, dairy, soy, and wheat
Rich in antioxidants
Easy to brew – just add water
Last, but not least, comes this chicory coffee substitute by Frontier. Chicory root is known for its rich, roasted, coffee-like flavor, making it a great alternative. Frontier’s blend is free from caffeine, sugar, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. In fact, it’s made with pure chicory root – and absolutely nothing else.
If you already love that rich chicory flavor, these soluble granules could be the perfect coffee substitute. Each pack is made with organically grown chicory, carefully ground to make a convenient and delicious beverage. It’s also easy to brew – simply add a scoop to your French press or coffee maker like you would with regular coffee grounds. Frontier’s pure ground chicory root can also be used to cut back on your coffee consumption, without foregoing the beverage altogether. You can make brew a pot of half coffee, half chicory grounds to cut back on caffeine without compromising on that distinctive flavor. Former coffee addicts love the rich, full-bodied taste, and said you could hardly tell the difference by the time milk or creamer is added.
Roasted, ground chicory root – a great coffee alternative
100% caffeine free
Rich, full bodied flavor closely mimics coffee
Easy to make – brew like your regular coffee
Cut back on caffeine with a half coffee ground, half chicory brew
Free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives
Best Coffee Substitute Buying Guide
These tasty alternatives to coffee are the best of the bunch, and we’re confident you’ll find the perfect option for you somewhere among the list. To help you choose, and learn more about coffee substitutes, we’ve put together this brief guide. Below, we run through what to look for in a coffee substitute, how they differ from regular coffee, and why you might want to drink one.
What Makes a Good Coffee Substitute
When it’s time to choose a substitute to satisfy those coffee cravings, look out for the following features:
It might not taste exactly like coffee, but a good coffee substitute should be enjoyable to drink. What this means to you will depend upon your individual flavor preferences, and it can be difficult to tell whether you’ll like something before you’ve given it a try. For this reason, a little trial and error is usually involved when it comes to finding your new favorite drink. If you enjoy coffee for its rich, full-bodied flavor, a chicory based option is probably your best bet. For something a little sweeter, consider dandelion root.
One of the great things about coffee is that it can be enjoyed hot or cold, or in myriad other ways - a good substitute should mirror this characteristic. For maximum versatility, choose a coffee substitute that hasn’t had additional flavors added. This type of beverage is easier to personalise, and bake with.
- Ease of Use
When you’re trying to cut back on caffeine, the last thing you need is the frustration of a beverage that’s difficult to make. For this reason, it’s important to choose a coffee substitute that’s just as easy to brew as your regular cup of joe. Luckily, this shouldn’t be too hard to find - all of the options on our list can either be brewed like regular coffee, or simply stirred into hot water.
- Health Benefits
The great thing about coffee substitutes is that many come with unique health benefits. For instance chicory root, a common coffee alternative, is known to support healthy digestion, thanks to its high prebiotic content. Another common substitute, dandelion, is rich in iron, and can help prevent urinary disorders. Most coffee alternatives are also low in sugar, fat, and calories overall.
Why You Should Drink a Coffee Alternative
People choose to give up coffee for a number of reasons, from pregnancy to health conditions, to a simple desire to cut back on caffeine.
Although some studies suggest that coffee may carry some health benefits in moderation, introducing an alternative into your lifestyle could also be a good idea for a number of reasons:
- Coffee substitutes make it easier to cut down your caffeine intake
- Many alternatives to coffee, such as chicory, have multiple health benefits
- Coffee substitutes are a great way to taste new flavors
- Too much coffee can trigger the body to produce extra stress hormones
- Coffee is a natural diuretic, so drinking too much can cause dehydration
- Drinking a coffee substitute allows you to enjoy a rich, roasted flavor without caffeine
- Coffee substitutes are generally less acidic, and won’t upset sensitive stomachs
Coffee Vs. Coffee Substitute - What's the Difference
Coffee is brewed from roasted and ground coffee beans. Coffee substitutes, on the other hand, attempt to replicate this flavor using a variety of different plants. The most common coffee substitute is chicory root, the root of a flowering plant.
Unlike tea, coffee substitutes attempt to mimic the rich, full-bodied flavor associated with coffee. Many substitutes also manage to recreate its smooth, slightly viscous texture.
Our Top Pick
In our opinion, the best option on the market right now is this chicory root coffee by Pero. This tasty beverage has been blended from malted barley, chicory, and rye, for a rich yet subtle taste to satisfy your coffee cravings - without the negative effects of caffeine. Each cup of Pero is made with 100% natural ingredients, free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Thanks to its low acidity level, it’s also easy on the stomach, making it the perfect beverage for any time of day.
Just like instant coffee, it’s easy to brew: simply add hot water to a spoonful of the soluble granules and stir. Drink black, or customize with syrup, milk, honey, or sugar, for your perfect drink. Customers say it tastes great, without upsetting the stomach, and even hardened coffee lovers enjoyed the rich and subtle flavor. For a caffeine-free, low-calorie coffee alternative, Pero just can’t be beat.