The Healthy Coffee Alternatives To Know About
The Healthy Coffee Alternatives To Know About

The Healthy Coffee Alternatives To Know About

In moderation, coffee can improve anything from your cognition to athletic performance – but we can all too easily become over-reliant on it. If you can’t start your day without a strong caffeine fix, it might pay to know about some alternatives. From matcha to mushroom coffee, here’s what the experts have to say…
By Heather Steele

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First up, why might someone want to cut down their coffee consumption?

“Our individual responses to caffeine vary. Some people with a lower tolerance may wish to avoid coffee if they experience unpleasant symptoms such as agitation or palpitations. For others, excessive caffeine may cause digestive distress, nausea, heartburn or reflux, or impair the overall quality of sleep. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine may be advisable for people who are under significant stress or experiencing anxiety as the nervous system and adrenal response are already working hard.” – Christina Hughes, founder of Founded Nutrition

“Of course, some people may have other reasons to reduce their caffeine intake, such as looking to conceive or becoming pregnant, or even for mental health reasons. Like anything in life, too much of anything isn't good and too much coffee can cause anxiety and trigger deep lows or depression once the high wears off. I suggest one coffee per day with 2 litres of water. If you really want the second coffee, have another 500ml of water to maintain a good hydration balance.” – Simoné Laubscher, WelleCo formulator & founder of Rejuv Wellness

What are the benefits of regular coffee?

“Consumed in the right amounts and at the right time of day, coffee is rich in antioxidants and contains small amounts of several essential micronutrients such as potassium, magnesium, manganese, niacin (B3) and riboflavin (B2). Coffee increases your circulation, which stimulates your liver, is great for performance and mental clarity, and has been linked to supporting blood sugar levels in diabetics. Coffee also promotes heart health and unfiltered coffee, in particular, is a great source of antioxidants that have been linked to cholesterol-balancing effects. Coffee is now linked to preventing cancer due to its free radical-scavenging antioxidants and has also long been associated with fat burning and appetite reduction.” – Simoné

“We all know coffee can increase energy levels and improve mood. The good news is that it may also have a beneficial effect on overall health as caffeine is rich in polyphenols. These antioxidants have a host of health benefits including the lower incidence of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers. Some research suggests regular consumption may protect against neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that the increased energy from caffeine can increase exercise tolerance, athletic performance and metabolism.” – Christina

Moving onto the alternatives, tell us about the pros and cons of….

Mushroom coffee?

“Medicinal mushrooms have stood the test of time since China’s Ming dynasty more than 600 years ago. They’re a great thing to add to your overall health routine. When ingested, some mushrooms are wonderful sources of antioxidants, B vitamins, selenium and polyphenols – reishi, shiitake, lion’s mane and chaga are my favourite synergistic blend. They’re high in beta-glucans, which can help blood cells improve their immune coordination. They might also inhibit cancer growth and protect against viruses. Although mushrooms are one of nature’s most powerful superfoods, there is huge variation in mushroom coffee, which typically features a blend of dried, ground mushrooms with traditional coffee – the resulting taste is typically close to that of traditional coffee, because it’s made with traditional coffee. Therefore mushroom shouldn’t be thought of as a caffeine substitute, although it is usually lower in caffeine overall.” – Simoné

“Mushroom coffee tends to have half of the caffeine of a standard coffee. It offers impressive health benefits as mushrooms such as lion’s mane, chaga, reishi and cordyceps have fantastic medicinal qualities and can be used to support immunity, mental clarity and reduce cholesterol. However, more research is needed to verify if these health claims translate to coffee and if the extracts can withstand the roasting and brewing processes.” – Christina

Chicory coffee?

“Chicory coffee contains the prebiotic fibre inulin, thanks to the chicory root from which it’s ground, along with several essential macronutrients such as potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6, which can help support your overall health and immunity – though this may be limited given the small amount of chicory root actually consumed within a chicory coffee. There’s naturally a difference in taste, though many people liken the deep flavour of chicory coffee to that of actual coffee, making it a viable caffeine-free alternative. Research around chicory and pregnancy/breastfeeding is currently very limited so, for that reason, I’d suggest avoiding it in these circumstances.” – Simoné

“Chicory coffee can be beneficial for improving digestive health and reducing constipation. However, it doesn’t provide the energy boost associated with a coffee.” – Christina

It’s easier said than done, but TRY TO AVOID COFFEE BEFORE BREAKFAST as this can be challenging for the nervous system.


“Matcha is a hugely popular coffee alternative with less caffeine than you would find in a traditional coffee. As it has lower acidity than coffee, it can be a better choice for those with a more sensitive stomach. It’s full of antioxidants which are great for tackling free radical damage in our bodies and supporting their ability to detox. It also contains L-theanine, an amino acid known to ease stress and anxiety. Given its caffeine content, it shouldn’t be viewed as an alternative to a caffeinated drink and can bring about the same issues if consumed too regularly.” – Simoné

“Matcha typically contains about half of the caffeine of a standard coffee. A matcha tea or latte might be a great option to provide the energy and focus received from coffee, but without the stimulatory effect on the nervous system. I really like some of the matcha powders available and the ones containing guarana in particular have incredible energy-boosting effects.” – Christina 

Golden Milk?

“Turmeric has long been celebrated as a potent source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It’s the hero ingredient in golden milk, typically made with milk and other spices such as ginger, cinnamon and black pepper. Turmeric contains curcumin, known for its digestive-supporting benefits, with research suggesting it could also support brain health. Golden milk was typically made with cow’s milk, however it can just as easily be created with your favourite plant milk.” – Simoné

“Turmeric and ginger both boast excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Golden milk can be a lovely nourishing option for the evening as it is caffeine free, though I also enjoy a chai or cacao in the evening when I am winding down.” – Christina

What are some common misconceptions people have about coffee alternatives?

“People often think of coffee alternatives as being decaffeinated, but this is not always the case. Something else to be aware of is the fact that not all caffeine extraction processes are equal. The most common method uses solvents methylene chloride and ethyl acetate, which are supposed to evaporate the caffeine and not leave remnants in your coffee. The Swiss water and carbon dioxide process are the cleanest so, if you choose decaf, particularly if driven by sensitivity to caffeine, it may be sensible to investigate the process used to extract the caffeine out of your decaf in the first instance.” – Simoné

“Decaffeinated coffee still contains polyphenols. While not entirely caffeine free, it is an excellent choice for individuals who still want the health-related benefits, but may be caffeine sensitive. I regularly encourage clients to incorporate matcha or green tea into their day as a substitute for coffee as it is rich in an antioxidant called EGCG which has a host of benefits including reduced inflammation.” – Christina

And finally, are there any easy ways to make coffee healthier if you really can't give up?

“If you are having coffee, be careful of having it at the same time as your meals or supplements, as caffeine can block key nutrients from being absorbed. Try and leave one hour between eating and drinking a coffee or caffeinated drink. It’s also key to get your water-to-caffeine ratio right: if you want to have one cup of coffee per day, make sure you drink 2 litres of filtered water per day too. If you want to have another cup, then add in 500ml of water per day for every additional coffee.

Also, skip caffeine after 2pm, as it hits a peak level in your bloodstream within 30 to 60 minutes. It has a half-life of 3-5 hours (the time it takes for your body to eliminate half of the caffeine from your system). The remaining caffeine can stay in your body for six-plus hours, so I always tell my patients to avoid caffeine after 2pm, whether you have trouble sleeping or not.” – Simoné

“I recommend that clients opt for a black americano if possible, as sugars, sweeteners and syrups are best avoided. Interestingly, beware of excessive consumption of oat milk flat whites or lattes – the leading brand of oat milk contains rapeseed oil which can be inflammatory. Switching to a single shot can also be beneficial for those reducing their caffeine intake. Easier said than done, but try to avoid having a coffee before breakfast as this can be challenging for the nervous system. Additionally, adding some fat such as butter or MCT oil to your coffee (known as a ‘bulletproof coffee’) might be worth trying as it stabilises the release of caffeine, providing a steadier supply of energy.” – Christina

For more from the experts, visit &

Inspired? Here Are The Coffee Alternatives To Know…

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