5 energising coffee alternatives

If you love your coffee but it doesn’t love you back, the good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to your go-to brew that will still provide a…

If you love your coffee but it doesn’t love you back, the good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to your go-to brew that will still provide a pick-me-up – without the jitters, reflux, or stomach upset. 


Matcha caffeine content vs coffee

If you’re trying to cut back on coffee because it makes you anxious but need your daily dose of caffeine, this vibrant Japanese ceremonial brew is your new best friend. With a bold, bittersweet flavour that will be appreciated by coffee drinkers, matcha contains a similar amount of caffeine to coffee (you’ll get around 70 mg of caffeine from a teaspoon of matcha powder, and about 100 mg of caffeine in an espresso shot), but it’s delivered without the jitters. Matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid which works synergistically with caffeine to leave you feeling stimulated and calm. 

Yerba mate

Yerba mate caffeine

Earthy, bitter, and strong, South American yerba mate or mate for short (pronounced ‘ma-tay’) is an acquired taste, much like coffee and matcha. With around 85 mg of caffeine per cup, yerba mate is a happy medium between tea and coffee, providing more caffeine than a cuppa tea, but less caffeine than a latte. It’s also abundant in antioxidants, including anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering saponins, and health-protective polyphenols, linked to a decreased risk of numerous diseases.

Traditionally, mate is brewed in a calabash (gourd) cup, which is passed between friends and consumed with a metal straw. For a fast mate fix, you can also find it in tea bags at health food stores.

Dandelion tea 

Caffeine free alternatives to coffee

Bold in flavour with bitter and toasty notes, a cup of roasted dandelion tea looks and tastes a lot like a long black – but without the caffeine and acidity. Dandelion tea is also one of the few herbal teas that works well with a dash of your go-to milk. It also offers mild diuretic properties, helping to reduce water retention. 

Hot chocolate

Caffeine in hot chocolate

Yet another reason to treat yourself to a daily dose of chocolate, the flavonoids (plant chemicals) in cocoa have shown to increase blood flow to the brain, enhancing cognitive (brain) function in the process. Cocoa also contains a stimulating compound called theobromine, as well as a small amount of caffeine – but in a much gentler dose than coffee.

A quality low sugar hot chocolate with a cocoa concentration of at least 70% makes an ideal coffee alternative if you’re trying to wean yourself off, or cut back on caffeine. Or if you prefer to eat your choccie, a couple squares of 70-85% dark chocolate will help wake you up, too. 


Signs of mild dehydration

Feel like you can’t think clearly without your morning coffee? A lack of hydration might actually be what’s causing your brain fog. With water comprising more than 50% of your body weight, mild dehydration can reduce everything from your energy levels to your mood and mental clarity. That headache which you might associate with caffeine withdrawals can also be a sign of poor hydration.

The colour of your urine serves as a sign of how hydrated you are – dark yellow urine can mean you need more water, whereas pale yellow urine indicates adequate hydration levels; if the former sounds like you, try keeping a reusable water bottle on your desk as a reminder to drink up. Herbal tea counts as water, too. 

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Published: 20/01/20

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