You might think of that first cup of joe as the highlight of your morning, but it could also be sending you on a one way train to burnout-ville! For those already prone to anxiety and/or depression, the never-ending cycle of caffeine high and crash, refuel and repeat can often result in leaving you feeling anxious, panicked, exhausted, and ultimately helpless, left with only dependency and fatigue.
And if you are trying to boost your creative expression, total exhaustion by the afternoon is going to more likely than not have you sitting in front of the tv bingeing Orange is the New Black (even though you finished it already- but forgot some of the back-stories so totally need to re-watch, right?) than working on that painting project you've had in the back of your mind for months.
But what if you LOVE coffee? Like, you can't imagine getting out of bed and let alone getting yourself to work without it? And you just can't get enough of the smell of freshly ground beans, the taste- bitter, rich and smooth, and the first little jolt you get when you take that initial sip?
I totally understand! Which is why I've put together a few coffee and caffeine alternatives that I have snuck into my morning routine to start my day with energy and peacefulness, rather than the jittery sweaty panic that coffee and caffeine (yes, even decaf- which, in my opinion, NEVER tastes as good!) too often throws my way.
Please note that I am not a medical professional, and am sharing only my own experiences. Please consult your doctor if you are currently taking medication that may interfere with the items listed below.
This is a coffee substitute I've been enjoying for YEARS (before I bought and made it myself I would frequently go to a coffee shop totally out of my way to get a taste of this creamy goodness!) If you have tried coffee alternatives before and thought they were barely palatable at best, give this a try, as I have found that it tastes way better than most other alternatives. AND it's made from dandelions!
Bonus: dandelions have natural anti-inflammatory properties, and this mixture has none of the acidity found in coffee that might be upsetting your stomach. In full, Dandy Blend is comprised of a blend of barley, rye, chicory, sugar beet extract and dandelion, and I have found that it is super delicious either hot or cold!
For those who are well versed in mushroom coffee substitutes, Four Sigmatic is often regarded as the gold standard of shroom-fee (not a real term, haha).
At the generally higher price point it might feel a bit out of range for many, but if you are experimenting with mushroom coffee for the first time, I recommend trying something like their sampler pack to get an idea of what flavors and mushroom combinations taste and feel right for you, and then venture out on your own to explore more options! (Which is what I did).
Through testing out their variety option, I discovered that what really brings the shroomy earthy flavor home for me is the blending of some cacao powder into the mix. Keep in mind, some of Four Sigmatic's blends do include instant coffee (and cacao contains small amounts of caffeine), so if you are trying to avoid caffeine completely this might not be the solution for you.
However, with that being said, generally you'll find the caffeine amounts to be far lower that most plain coffee beans or blends. And if you've tried this blend and decided that you are intrigued by the mushrooms and want to explore further, then I recommend you check out...
So maybe at this point you have now tried Four Sigmatic, but are curious about more varieties of mushrooms and their benefits, and also are looking for what might feel like a more sustainable price point. That's where Republica comes in! This blend is comparable to Four Sigmatic in taste with the same benefits, but instead of tiny single serving packets, you get a whole tub! Overall, I prefer this blended with a few other things (more on that later!) but I'll find that a generous scoopful will imitate a quality hot (or iced!) coffee very nicely.
But let's say mushroom coffee is just not for you, and Dandy Blend is a little TOO rich in flavor (you're more of a plain coffee type rather than mocha/latte kind of person). In this case you might want to try out....
If you're looking for a no-nonsense, plain coffee alternative, aren't into the richness of Dandy Blend, and are okay with a taste somewhat reminiscent of instant coffee (many aren't- though I actually find it oddly appealing, as it reminds me of overseas travel to places where instant coffee is the norm), then Pero is likely a great choice for you!
With Pero, you can get a good amount for your money with this no-caffeine alternative that is both tasty and healthy, and has many of the same ingredients as Dandy Blend.
However, with that being said, let's say you want to get all the possible health benefits you can, while also experiencing an explosion of flavor each morning!
Then you'll likely want to try...
Mixing them all!
And adding a dash of cacao powder (be aware of caffeine content here) for an extra dose of richness and flavor. I like to add a little bit of maca powder (which is supposed to be great for energy- boosting! I'm not totally sure if it works, but am enjoying the placebo effect!)
I also add an extra bit of this reishi mushroom powder that I really like as an added boost (though not so much on its own).
My ultimate coffee substitute concoction typically includes:
A tablespoon of Dandy Blend
A tablespoon of Pero
A tablespoon of Republica Mushroom Powder
A dash of cacao
A dash of maca powder
A dash of reishi mushroom powder
A tiny dribble of coconut milk
Hot Water (I love this chic electric kettle to get nearly instant hot water)
Check out the full list of items to grab here!
And, to take it a step further, if you're also the type of person who secretly drools every time you see an artfully crafted iced cold brew photo with cream poured through the center (I can't even count the number of times I have ordered one from a photo and all they had was plain milk! Ugh!), I highly recommend also picking up some heavy whipping cream (SO much better than half and half and a million times better than plain milk- trust me! Just add just one or two drops!) or splash from a can of coconut milk or coconut cream (this one from Trader Joe's is great, just be sure to shake it up to mix the more dense coconut cream with the coconut water before opening).
(Just make the blend a little stronger if you're going to be adding ice, so you don't compromise the flavor.)
Did you try these and are now in a caffeine-free state of true bliss?? (As I write this it's approaching 3pm, I woke up at 5:30am, and my energy is still sky high! (This would NEVER have been the case had I kept my previous routine of 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning.)
My vote goes to NO MORE AFTERNOON SLUMPS, EVER!
Still on the fence about drinking mushroom coffee? Check out this article by Fast Company with one person's experience in making the switch and this article on taking a closer look at the potential health benefits of shroomfee (yes, yes, I still know it's not a real word!)
And lastly, once again, before adding any new supplements to your diet, please be aware of any possible interactions with medications, and consult your doctor if needed.
As always, I'd love to know what you think! Post a comment below to share your caffeine free experiences!