A Guide to Caffeine-Free Coffee Alternatives: Chicory, Dandelion, & More
Is your morning cup of coffee starting to give you more misery than joy? Maybe it’s making you feel a bit too jittery or giving you a lovely little case of acid reflux?
I can definitely relate. I’m the first to admit to being obsessed with our morning coffee routine, but my body just isn’t having it lately.
I’d been powering through, reducing my consumption when I can, working in some decaf here and there … and then my doctor suggested I consider eliminating caffeine altogether. “And not decaf, either,” he said. “Decaf is a racket.” Yep, it still contains caffeine – and so do black, green, white, and oolong teas. Oh, and chocolate too! It was all off the table.
Luckily, since then I have learned that if you’re looking for a caffeine-free coffee alternative, there are a TON of options out there! And because I was exhaustively researching, buying, and testing coffee substitutes, I thought, why not share?
And so here’s A Guide to Caffeine-Free Coffee Alternatives – all about the popular ingredients used in coffee alternatives, plus reviews of several brands I tried, including my top three faves (note that I have not yet tried Dandy Blend [affiliate link], so my reviews may change once I receive my sample and give that one a try!)
Table of Contents
- Popular coffee alternative ingredients
- Coffee alternative reviews
Popular coffee alternative ingredients
Before we dive head first into the specific products I’ve independently tested and have (or have not) enjoyed, let’s talk about specific ingredients, shall we?
The most common coffee alternative ingredient I’ve found is chicory root. An herbaceous perennial flower related to the dandelion, chicory has bright blue flowers and a root that, when roasted and ground, resembles coffee in aroma, taste, and hue.
Chicory coffee also has been found to have some very healthful benefits, such as prebiotic properties that feed the good bacteria in your gut. And personally, I’ve found that chicory coffees do tend to sooth my stomach, which has been a happy finding considering traditional coffee does the opposite.
This popular coffee alternative ingredient surprised me! Barley grains are roasted and ground for nutty, coffee-like flavor. Roasted barley coffee is reportedly popular in Italy, and goes by the name caffè d’orzo (or, simply, “orzo”). This interesting Saveur article goes into more detail about barley coffee, how Italians created it due to World War II rationing but it continues to be a popular drink today.
There are many barley coffee products on the market. From what I’ve found, they’re generally instant coffee drinks. Pero is the version I picked up at my local grocery store, and it’s actually one of my favorite overall coffee alternatives (read on for the full review!)
Note that if you eat gluten-free, barley is a no-go!
Roasted and ground dandelion root really does resemble real coffee in taste and color. I love the bitter notes in dandelion root, which truly remind me of coffee.
A quick Google search yields lots of claims about dandelion tea’s health benefits. Those may or may not be true; I just like how much it resembles coffee. Which, I have to admit, was a huge surprise to me, having only ever viewed dandelions as pests in the backyard!
Another surprising ingredient! Somewhere in my searches, I came across a fig coffee product called Coffig. It’s a coffee substitute out of Oregon, made with roasted black mission figs. This is one of my favorites, too – though the aroma is overwhelmingly of figs, the taste has the perfect coffee-esque bitter note.
Some Teaccino products contain figs, too.
There are several other ingredients found in coffee alternatives. Rye is often included in barley coffee products. Burdock root is a vegetable that is reported to have coffee-like qualities when dried and brewed. Carob is another ingredient I’ve been seeing in coffee alternative products. Almonds make an appearance in some coffee substitute products, too, contributing a rich, nutty flavor.
Coffee substitute reviews
Personally, I’ve always liked my coffee strong and full-bodied. We grind our own coffee beans and brew using the pour-over method, and it’s worth every bit of effort. SO GOOD.
To be honest, I’ve had face the fact that no herbal coffee or other coffee alternative is going to completely replace the experience (and taste!) of my beloved real coffee. But there are some that come close enough – so yay for that!
I like my coffee with cream, but NOT sugar. I’m not a fan of sweetened coffee. So coffee alternative products that were on the sweeter side tended to not be my fave.
It’s also worth noting that this is not a sponsored post in any way; I paid for all of these products myself, and reviewed them completely independently.
For each product, I considered aroma, taste, and ease of brewing. Are we ready? Let’s start with my #1 favorite coffee substitute.
#1: Teecino Dandelion Dark Roast
- Ingredients: Carob, chicory, dandelion root, ramón seeds, and natural coffee flavor
- Aroma: Light, nutty, sweet
- Taste: To me, Teecino’s Dandelion Dark Roast tastes the closest to real coffee, though body-wise, it is rather thin. It has just enough bitterness to remind me of real coffee. This product contains ramón seeds for a bit of sweetness. I don’t actually love that sweetness, but it does seem to help round out the flavors overall.
- Ease of brewing: Teecino Dandelion Dark Roast is available in tea bags, making it super easy to brew (just like tea). It’s also available in a loose form that brews like coffee – you can use in a drip coffee maker, French press, or even an espresso machine.
- Overall: I rate Teecino Dandelion Dark Roast a 4/5. For me, it comes pretty darn close to coffee!
- Where to buy it: I found Teecino Dandelion Dark Roast at my local PCC store (a grocery store local to the Seattle area). It’s also available on Amazon (affiliate link).
#2: Pero Instant Natural Beverage
- Ingredients: Barley, malted barley, chicory, rye
- Aroma: Smoky
- Taste: Medium body with a satisfying, almost chocolatey, coffee-esque warmth. No real bitterness and just a hint of sweetness.
- Ease of brewing: The easiest! It’s an instant beverage, so just spoon it into your mug, add hot water, and stir to combine.
- Overall: 4/5. I really like Pero as a coffee substitute; it hits almost all the right notes for me.
- Where to buy it: I found Pero at my local PCC grocery store. It’s also available on iHerb.com.
#3: Coffig Roasted Fig Beverage
- Ingredients: 100% black figs
- Aroma: Super sweet and fruity – 100% fig aroma, which I’m not necessarily wanting in my coffee substitute, but it’s not unpleasant – as long as you like figs.
- Taste: Coffig has a wonderful, coffee-like bitter note. I love that! It brews up nice and dark with medium body. It definitely has a coffee-like quality, but it’s also very figgy and a tad sweet for my tastes.
- Ease of brewing: Brews like regular coffee; I use a French press.
- Overall: 3.5/5. I like this one! It’s not the first option I reach for, but it tastes great. I like that it doesn’t take a ton of product to brew a cup – a little goes a long way.
- Where to buy it: Amazon (affiliate link).
Other Coffee Alternative Products
I also tried the following coffee alternatives, some of which I found acceptably drinkable and some, well, not so much.
- Ingredients: 100% soluble chicory
- Aroma: Lightly fruity
- Taste: Imported from France, this soluble chicory drink has wonderful medium body and goes down smooth. It has a nice nuttiness and a pleasant bitter note, but it’s a bit sweeter than I like. And it has a slightly unpleasant aftertaste that I don’t care for.
- Ease of brewing: Another instant beverage. Easy! Just spoon it into your mug, add hot water, and stir to combine.
- Overall: Overall I rate Leroux a 3.5/5. This was the very first chicory coffee I tried, and gave me hope that there might be coffee substitute out there that I could love. It’s a very drinkable coffee alternative, but it has a sweet note that doesn’t work for me, and I’m not a huge fan of the aroma either.
- Where to buy it: I found it on Amazon (affiliate link).
Celestial Seasonings Roastaroma Herbal Tea
- Ingredients: Roasted barley, roasted chicory, roasted carob, cinnamon, allspice, and Chinese star anise
- Aroma: Warmly and cozily spiced thanks to the cinnamon, allspice, and anise
- Taste: Body-wise, this one is quite thin, as it’s more like tea than coffee. The taste is very light, with little to no bitterness.
- Ease of brewing: Brews up just like tea – nice and easy.
- Overall: 3/5. I reach for this when I’m in the mood for a comforting cup of chai-ish tea moreso than when I’m craving coffee.
- Where to buy it: I found it at a local grocery store. It’s also available on Amazon (affiliate link).
Teecino Java Chicory Herbal ‘Coffee’
- Ingredients: Carob, barley, chicory, dates, almonds, natural coffee flavor, figs
- Aroma: Nutty, sweet
- Taste: This one isn’t my favorite. It has okay body, but the flavor is a little murky. It tastes a bit hazelnutty to me, too, which I don’t love here. It’s also a bit sweeter than I like.
- Ease of brewing: This one’s brewed just like coffee. I whip it up in my single serve French press. So add the mix to the pitcher, pour over hot water, and let steep for 5 minutes.
- Overall: 2.5/5. Drinkable, but not my fave.
- Notes: I also tried the Mocha version of this product, which I liked even less. I’ve never been a fan of flavored coffees so keep that in mind.
- Where to buy it: I found it at my local grocery store, but it’s also available on Amazon (affiliate link).
Rasa Adaptogenic Coffee Alternative
- Ingredients: Roasted chicory, burdock, and dandelion roots, Eleuthera, shatavari, he shouting’s wu, codonopsis, chug mycelium, ashwagandha, rhodilia, Ceylon cinnamon and reishi extract
- Aroma: Earthy and mushroomy
- Taste: It tastes a lot better than it smells. It has a nice, coffee-like bitter note. The body is pretty thin, but it has some warm, nutty elements that are really nice.
- Ease of brewing: This one brews up just like coffee. I make it in my French press, but the 10-15 minutes brew time is quite long. So not the easiest.
- Overall: 2/5. I really wanted to like this one, but it wasn’t my fave. Rasa’s Adapogenic Coffee Alternative is one of the most innovative of the bunch, with a long list of health-promoting herbs (adaptogens are said to help reduce the effects of stress on the body). But the aroma kills it for me.
- Where to buy it: Wearerasa.com
Do you have any herbal coffee alternatives or other coffee substitutes that you love? Please share in the comments below!
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