The average american drinks 3 cups of coffee per day. If you’re reading this, you’re probably not average, which means you likely drink EVEN more than that. I know the feeling— I can put down espresso shot after espresso shot with the best of ‘em.
And, for most, it’s not just coffee, but rather.. office coffee. Life’s too short to drink bad beer, bad coffee, and bad wine. But we’re addicts for that caffeine drip.
Over the years, I’ve collected a repertoire of eccentric beverages that I enjoy drinking instead of coffee. I go through cycles of giving up coffee, mainly because it’s such a potent stimulant. I don’t always do a great job of it (I fail my fair share), but I try to treat it like a tool.
Used occasionally (1-2 times biweekly), caffeine becomes an EXTREMELY potent stimulant. When you use it everyday, though, you just build a tolerance and addiction that really doesn’t serve any purpose.
Calling caffeine “baby cigarettes” might be a stretch, but that doesn’t mean it’s all roses— consistent high dose caffeine stresses the hell out of your Adrenal Gland.
When I give up coffee, I still miss the occasional hot beverage throughout the morning. One of the more convenient aspects of a hot cup of black coffee is that there’s no calories involved— it’s basically a free drink. Remove it, and your list of calorie-free beverages drops by 25%.. Water, Tea, and Diet Soda (no thanks).
Here’s some AWESOME coffee replacements that I’ve collected over the years. I’ll cover each one— By the way, some of these still have caffeine but in FAR less quantities than a solid cup of black.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with this delicious green drink called Matcha. Matcha is made from green tea, but if you’ve never had Matcha before.. it’s NOTHING like green tea.
It’s super labor intensive to make— they cover the plants from direct sunlight to increase chlorophyll and aminos, dry it out for days, and grind it into a very fine powder.
You can mix Matcha powder with ice cold water (coldbrew matcha) to make a ridiculously refreshing, thirst-quenching, earthy drink. Or you, can mix it with hot water to make an espresso-like beverage with a superb crema.
Matcha is REALLY fucking expensive. It’s really labor intensive to produce and the harvest only happens once per year, so if you find cheap Matcha it’s probably incredibly bitter and not worth the consideration of your taste buds.
The best cheap Matcha that I’ve found is DoMatcha Organic. It’s good, but there are far better Matcha’s out there… if you’re willing to pay. At $278/100g, the “hyperpremium” Breakaway 100 ain’t cheap, but it’s worth every penny.
By the way, like most of the drinks here, there’s a whole ritual surrounding Matcha— it’s more than just pour and stir. There are bamboo scoops, special cups, and matcha whisks that can bring back the reminiscent ritual of making a cup of joe, depending on how far off the deep end you want to go :)
Before I was obsessed with Matcha, I was really into Mate. Yerba Mate is a tea made from leaves of a huge rainforest bush. It’s closer to coffee on the caffeine scale, so don’t go crazy with it, but actually has several stimulants that make it a smoother ride… less afternoon crash.
On top of caffeine, the stimulants theophylline and theobromine also come along for the ride.
Mate is smooth and sweet, enjoyed hot or cold (I like to brew it in the fridge overnight for maximum deliciousness). Don’t buy the crazy sweetened stuff at the store, brew it yourself. I’ve tried a bunch of the “mass produced” brands, and nothing even comes close to the Mate that Adagio sells. By the way, they also have toasted, chocolate, and citrus mate that’s tasty, too.
Again, there’s a whole ritual that goes along with brewing and drinking Mate. The classic way to drink Mate is hot, in a gourde, through a bombilla.
Most people drink pretty crappy tea. Even the most snobbiest coffee drinker pulls out the cheap-o Lipton bags when they reach for tea. What gives? Lipton is like the Folgers of the tea world.
If you have a couple of bucks to spare, I recommend buying a few different tea samples and tasting them side-by-side. It’s eye opening how the flavors are so distinctly different between even the most similar types of tea. Not all black tea tastes the same, for example.
My favorite place to source good tea from is Adagio— I have no affiliation, just an extremely satisfied repeat customer. It’s hard to beat a solid black, green, or pu’erh tea.
Pu’erh, by the way, is a totally uncommon style of tea that’s become popular recently. It kind of tastes like a campfire.. it’s actually made by fermenting the tea with mold, yeast, and bacteria (sometimes for 20+ years!)
I highly highly highly recommend you just buy a ton of different samples and get a feel for what you like. Even if you stick with a single type of tea, like black tea, the variations between each type is CRAZY. Each one tastes so different.
Here are a couple of my favorite picks for teas—
Keeping with rituals, brewing tea the RIGHT way encompasses a bunch of rituals.. I made the investment in a temperature controlled tea kettle. It turns out that water temperature plays a huge role in making delicious tea.
Ever have super bitter green tea? You used the wrong temperature water. For me, this bad boy electric kettle does the job— no more bitter tea. It’s also a good idea to get good tea infuser. I like the super fine in-cup infuser like this one (but throw the lid away, it’s useless).
Teeccino and Dandy Blend are both more-or-less the same thing.. the basic idea is you take a bunch of flavorful roots and spices, seep them in hot water, and get a black-ish brew that’s sweet, nutty and reminiscent of a really smooth cup of coffee. I think they use chicory and dandelion root. Either way, it’s a really nice, smooth drink that’s totally caffeine free (unlike the small amounts of caffeine in the tea).
Teeccino isn’t gluten-free (there’s barley in the blend), so if that’s a deal-breaker for you go for the Dandy Blend. Otherwise, Teeccino tastes way better (just like every other gluten/gluten-free comparison, eh).
Also, Dandy Blend dissolves straight into hot water which makes it super convenient for the office. Teeccino has a seeping step like tea.. doesn’t take long, but less convenient for sure.
Kombucha is fermented brewed tea (unlike Pu’erh, the brewed tea is actually fermented). You take some black tea, throw in some sugar, and ferment it with a bunch of bacterias and yeasts. In the end, you get a delicious beverage filled with probiotics. Even though it sounds weird.. it has a very unique tangy, sweet, and vinegary taste.
Most mass-produced sweetened Kombucha has the nutritional content of a soda, so shop with eyes open. You can actually brew it at home pretty easily, similar to home brewing beer.
I try to keep coffee (and the whole caffeine family) as a tool in my productivity toolbox. If I overuse it, I dramatically reduce the effects and it just becomes something that I’m addicted too— I end up drinking it because I’m constantly tired from abusing my adrenal glands.. I drink it to keep away the withdrawl headaches.
If you can give up on the daily coffee consumption, it unlocks a super power that you’ve never had before.. caffeine becomes SUPER effective.
Go a month without a cup of coffee and the stimulant effects become something like a dose of crystal meth. It’s becomes an instant-productivity elixir that’s just a drip machine away.
When I do drink coffee, I like to take it a couple of steps further. Instead of mixing in creamer or milk (thanks to a DNA test, I learned that dairy makes me.. flatulent), I actually blend grass-fed butter into my coffee similar to the “Bulletproof Coffee” guy, Dave Asprey. (I don’t like his beans though, I just use some nice locally roasted ones.)
Anyways, a nice serving of fat via the grass-fed butter with caffeine goes a long way to taking your caffeine experience to the next level.
Take a hunk of butter, throw it into a blender with a finely brewed cup of coffee and viola— you have something that’s reminiscent to a latte without the sugar or lactose. The high fat content helps sustain the caffeine wave.
Use it wisely young grasshoper, you’re playing with fire. Too frequent, and you’re back on the caffeine IV drip. Once or twice every two weeks and you can use its benefits as part of your own superhuman productivity arsenal.