best coffee substittutes: crio bru brewed cacao
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If you’re cutting back on coffee or quitting completely, these energizing drinks are great alternatives to try.

The new year may (still) have you looking to make some changes in your diet, but some are harder to commit to than others. One thing I notice a lot of people are reluctant to give up is their daily cup (or three) of coffee.

I’ve seen a lot of people switch to caffeinated teas instead, only to claim they’re not strong enough and switch back to coffee a week later. I finally got myself off coffee a little under a year ago, and even though it wasn’t easy, I swear that I am much better off for not being so java-dependent; I don’t get the coffee jitters, I have an easier time falling and staying asleep, and I don’t get the crazy headaches that come when you haven’t had your fix in a while.

I’ve also discovered that there are plenty of healthy, natural, and less addictive coffee alternatives that taste great and are so much better for you. Most of them are chock-full of vitamins and promote both physical and mental wellness, so you should definitely make your 2020 all about finding your coffee substitute.

Matcha Green Tea

Encha Organic Ceremonial Matcha, $19.95 on Amazon

Encha Organic Ceremonial Matcha


Matcha is my go-to coffee alternative. When I stopped drinking coffee, I was nervous that I’d be sluggish and lethargic all day without a pick-me-up. I was talking to a friend about it and she offered me a couple of her matcha powder packets. The good thing about matcha powder is that it dissolves in hot or cold water; I used to mix it into a room temperature water bottle and take it to class with me. Matcha boosts metabolism, burns calories, is a natural energizer, and is full of antioxidants, making it much healthier than coffee and much easier on your body.Buy Now

Dandelion Root Tea

Traditional Medicinals Organic Dandelion Tea, $14.99 on Amazon

Traditional Medicinals Organic Dandelion Tea


I know this doesn’t sound like the most appetizing option, but boiling dandelion roots in water is actually super beneficial for your health. The elixir is rich in vitamins and nutrients and acts as an amazing digestive aid. Surprisingly, dandelion tea is not only a great coffee substitute because it regulates your body and makes you feel healthier and more energized, but many people claim it tastes like a less bitter, less acidic cup of joe—so if it’s the taste of coffee you’ll miss the most, you may want to try this out. This brand of dandelion root tea comes in a three-pack, so you can get your friends to try it with you. Strength in numbers, right?Buy Now

Mushroom Coffee

Four Sigmatic Ground Coffee Mushroom, $19.20 at Four Sigmatic

Four Sigmatic

Mushroom coffee is just about as simple (and maybe a little odd) as it sounds: regular coffee infused with mushroom powders to cut down on caffeine while adding other benefits. Some mushrooms commonly used in this concoction include cordyceps, chaga, and lion’s mane. These fungi specifically promote focus and energy (the cordyceps and lion’s mane), while the chaga is said to support immune function. And since this still contains some coffee, it won’t feel like such a drastic change. Four Sigmatic also sells a sampler pack of different mushroom coffees and elixirs so you can find which one speaks to you, which is also available on Amazon.Buy Now

A Newfangled Elixir

MUD\WTR™ Ritual Kit, $40

MUD\WTR Ritual Kit


A relative newcomer on the scene, MUD\WTR, is an intriguing place to start in your quest to quit coffee. You’ll enjoy 1/7th of the caffeine you’d normally get, so you’ll still be energized without all the jitters. There are nine ingredients in this unique coffee substitute, and four of them are mushrooms (all those I mentioned earlier are in there, plush reishi mushrooms). The small bit of caffeine you get comes from masala chai, and the flavor comes from turmeric, cinnamon, cacao, and sea salt. It purports to improve inflammatory response and collagen levels, as well as promote the creation of serotonin (the body’s happiness chemical). This “Ritual Kit” includes 30 servings, creamer, and an electronic frother if you want to give it a try.Buy Now

Brewed Cacao

Crio Bru Ghana French Roast, $12.49 on Amazon

Crio Bru Ghana French Roast

Crio Bru

I have a feeling this one will be a crowd favorite. Crio Bru is a coffee alternative that is simply brewed cacao, so it tastes exactly like dark chocolate. Because of its flavor, it also pairs well with your favorite milks and/or creamers. But on to the important stuff: Why is this a good stand-in for coffee? Firstly, since it’s just 100 percent cacao, it’s a good fit for the keto, paleo, and Whole30 diets, along with being free of gluten, dairy, sodium, cholesterol, and sugar. But the big kicker is that brewed cacao contains theobromine, which is a naturally occurring stimulant that’s considered much gentler on your body than caffeine. Theobromine should promote a milder but longer energy boost than caffeine, with none of the anxiety, jitters, or crashing that is almost guaranteed when you’re coming off a caffeine high. It’s also jam-packed with nutrients, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor by starting your day with a cup of cacao, and not just because of the taste.Buy Now

Low-Sugar Energy Drink Mix

Eboost Super Powder Mind + Body Energizer, $20.25 on Thrive Market

Eboost Super Powder Mind + Body Energizer

Thrive Market

I know a lot of people who get their boost from energy drinks and powders, but I’ve personally always been a little skeptical of them because they contain a ton of unnatural sugars and, in some cases, even more caffeine than coffee. However, I recently came across Eboost. This powder provides energy through green tea and other all-natural ingredients (including freeze-dried kale and astragalus), so you don’t have to worry about unhealthy additives, and it’s low in sugar too. Other alleged benefits include a healthy metabolism and a clearer mind—and there are no artificial colors or sweeteners, either. Try it in Acai Pomegranate, Orange, or Pink Lemonade flavors.Buy Now


The Kombucha Shop Kombucha Starter Kit, $44.99 on Amazon

The Kombucha Shop Kombucha Starter Kit


Kombucha has been gaining popularity over the past couple years, and rightfully so. While it contains a relatively small amount of caffeine, it allegedly gives many people a huge energy boost, and it’s proven to be great for gut health (thanks to the probiotics); it may even help relieve joint-related aches and pains since it’s high in glucosamine. The tangy, fizzy taste isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth a try instead of your usual cup of coffee. While you’re more likely to find kombucha in a bottle at your local health food store, you can also try brewing it at home; this kit contains everything you need to get started. If you go with store-bought, just watch out for added sugar, which is quite high in some brands.Buy Now

Yerba Mate

Guayaki Yerba Mate Variety Pack, 16 for $49.98 on Amazon

Guayaki Yerba Mate Variety Pack


Yerba mate is a natural stimulant that also contains a significant amount of vitamins and minerals—as well as antioxidants. It does contain a bit more caffeine than a cup of tea, but less than a cup of coffee, making it the perfect first step if you’re trying to wean yourself off of caffeine; it also contains some theobromine, like the brewed cacao. Yerba mate can be consumed in a lot of different ways (hot, cold, loose leaf tea, etc.), but I’m especially intrigued by canned yerba mate for convenience. You can keep them in the fridge at work and start each day off with a different flavor—though, fair warning, these do contain added sugar, so you may want to stick to the unsweetened varieties (and if you want, add stevia or other sweetener to your liking).Buy Now

Coconut Water

Vita Coco Organic Coconut Water, 12 for $18.99 on Amazon

Vita Coco Organic Coconut Water


While this one seems like a bit of a stretch, coconut water is a lot better for your health than you may think at first. It’s chock-full of electrolytes, which work to rehydrate and energize the body. Plus, it’s low in calories, fat, and sugar (as long as you check the label for added sugar, which varies by brand and flavor)—so if you’re ready to ditch coffee (or even soda or sports drinks) for good, give coconut water a try. It’s also great in smoothies, just in case you’re trying to cut back on milk products too. My personal favorite is Vita Coco.Buy Now

Next step: Quitting caffeine completely, or at least easing up a bit—see how to boost your energy without caffeine for help with that.

Header image courtesy of Crio Bru/Amazon

Toniann is a full-time legal assistant who expresses her love of food and eating by blogging for Chowhound. Her passions include spicy foods, hard seltzers, and Ariana Grande. Toniann spends her free time doing bar trivia, playing competitive volleyball, and studying for the LSAT (because foodies can be lawyers, too!) Follow her on Instagram @toniannpasqueralle and Twitter @NOTtoriann.
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