Trying to cut back on your caffeine but can't figure out what a healthy coffee alternative might be – that you'll actually want to drink? These 5 healthy and vegan coffee swaps can keep your morning ritual alive, without giving you the jitters.
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Coffee smells great, it tastes great...heck, it even looks great. But is it healthy?
It depends. And goodness knows when you do a quick Google search, or simply talk to pretty much anyone, you'll hear loads of different opinions on the subject, as this former coffee addict describes.
Coffee has plenty of nutrients, from several B vitamins to manganese and potassium. It's also been touted as the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western Diet — though it's important to consider that folks are getting more antioxidants from coffee than fruits and vegetables simply because the Standard American Diet doesn't consist of all that many fruits and vegetables.
That said, coffee can be a healthy beverage. It's may lower risk for several diseases, like type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, and more.
So if coffee has all these health benefits, why cut back?
- Coffee can increase stress in the body because it increases catecholamines (stress hormones).
- Too much coffee can lead to overstimulation and anxiety.
- Some people with a specific variant of they CYP1A2 gene metabolize coffee more slowly than others. This makes coffee's affect more intense and can cause jitters and anxiety even in low doses.
- Coffee is pretty acidic and can cause or worsen heart burn and other GI issues (it's a natural laxative).
- Drinking coffee can mess with our Seratonin levels, which are important for our sleep, mood, bowel functions, and energy levels.
- Coffee can affect estrogen levels in women.
Some people feel like they "need" coffee to survive in the morning – and if this is the case, you may have some addiction going on. The best thing to do, is limit your intake until you get down to zero or a very small amount. Dr. Mark Hyman has some excellent tips for cutting back your coffee routine here, should you feel it necessary.
Whether you're trying to reduce anxiety by cutting back on caffeine, or you're simply up for something new, choosing a healthy coffee alternative can make the transition a heckuva lot easier. Here are 5 healthy vegan coffee alternatives to make at home – that you'll actually want to savor in the morning :)
1. Vegan Turmeric Latte
Whether you're trying to ease off caffeine or satiate that latte craving (without suffering sugar spikes and dairy bloat), this turmeric latte recipe is the perfect dairy-free beverage and a favorite coffee alternative because it's tasty and calming. Kick start your morning or cap off an evening with this naturally anti-inflammatory beverage (thank you turmeric!).
Pro tip: Enjoy your turmeric latte with a pinch of black pepper, as the combination of curcumin from the turmeric and piperine from the pepper pepper dramatically enhances absorption, by up to 2,000 percent!
2. Healthy Vegan Hot Cocoa
This vegan hot cocoa recipe is thick, rich, and creamy — with no refined sugar! The perfect coffee alternative for the kid at heart.
3. Dandelion Root Tea Latte
With a similar color and strong taste like coffee, dandelion root tea is a herbal healthy coffee alternative to your morning cup. It's especially beneficial for liver support and female hormonal balance. This gluten-free blend has extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root, and sugar beet.
To make a dandelion root tea latte, mix:
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 TBSP dandy blend or other dandelion root tea
1/2-1 tsp of date syrup or other whole food plant-based sweetener of choice
Pour heated mixture in your favorite mug and use an immersion blender to foam. Alternatively you can foam the almond milk before you combine.
4. Matcha latte
Matcha is a wellness trend worth the hype. It is powdered green tea — whole leaves of tea milled into fine powder. Like green tea, it's super high in antioxidants and while it does still have caffeine, it's a gentler caffeinated beverage than coffee making it a wonderful coffee alternative for someone who still needs a little, albeit gentler, jolt in the morning.
We love this vegan matcha latte recipe from Minimalist Baker because it's just four ingredients. She calls for homemade macadamia milk, which sounds delicious but if you're looking for something a little easier (and more budget-friendly), really any non-dairy milk will do.
5. Warm lemon water
I get it; a glass of water doesn't sound like the most exciting coffee alternative but hear me out! If drinking coffee is about "waking up" for you, swap out your cup of Joe for warm lemon water once in a while. The antioxidants in the lemons can give you a nice energy boost, plus this immunity-boosting and hydrating drink is great for your digestion, your skin, and weight management.
While we love cozying up early in the morning with a warm cup, sometimes you want something cold to sip on. If iced coffee was your go-to and you're looking to expand your morning beverage horizons, try a healthy vegan smoothie instead as a hearty coffee alternative. You still get the satisfying "ritual" of making your smoothie and there are endless combos to try.
Here are 3 easy vegan smoothie recipes:
Or get all your smoothie ingredients delivered!
Grab our MamaSezz Breakfast Smoothie. It’s rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. And antioxidants! It’s completely plant-based and ready to blend — just add your favorite liquid and you’re good to go.
- Coffee can be a healthy part of your plant-based diet. It's got lots of B vitamins, antioxidants, and may even reduce risk for certain diseases, including cancer.
- Too much caffeine can increase stress hormones and anxiety, trigger GI issues, mess with Seratonin levels and mood, and affect female hormones. If these issues sound familiar, a coffee alternative may be a smart move for your health.
- In search of a coffee alternative? There are plenty of healthy vegan coffee swaps. Try vegan turmeric lattes, healthy hot chocolate, dandelion root tea, matcha, or warm lemon water.
- Smoothies are also a great way to kickstart the day as a coffee alternative that serves as meal, too!
By Ali Brown
Ali is a mom, wife, and nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor. She has her Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.