Mother Earth Living

Alternatives to Coffee

By Rachel Albert-Matesz
January/February 2002
Add to My MSN

Reduce your consumption of the addictive brew with tasty herbal alternatives to coffee.
Slideshow


Content Tools

Related Content

In The News: Coffee May Help Prevent Strokes

Coffee may be more beneficial to your health than previously thought. A new study explains the conne...

Peak Coffee?

As climate variability causes coffee yields to shrink and prices to soar, we may need to start looki...

Morning Brew: Make Your Own Coffee

Roast your own coffee beans and steam milk yourself to create a cheap and flavorful cup of coffee.

4 Foods That Weaken Bones

The foods you’re eating could be chipping away at your bone density. Find out which four foods and d...

Recipes:

• Chicory Coffee Substitute 

• Healthy Mocha Recipe 

What would you do for a cup of coffee? According to food historian Martin Elkort, author of The Secret Life of Food (Putnam, 1991), “Sultan Selim I of Persia had his doctors hanged when they had the temerity to suggest he give up his daily cup.” You probably wouldn’t go so far, though you may feel like Joseph Cotten—-from the Hitchcock movie Shadow of a Doubt—-whose famous line was, “I can’t face the world in the morning. I must have coffee before I can speak.” If so, you’re not alone.

Half of all American adults start their mornings with at least one cup of coffee, down from 74.7 percent in 1962. How many people does this amount to? “Today, nearly 100 million American adults drink three or more cups of coffee each day,” says researcher and clinical nutritionist Stephen Cherniske, author of Caffeine Blues (Warner, 1998), a look at America’s number-one addiction.

Cherniske catalogs evidence linking the cumulative adverse effects of caffeine (particularly coffee) consumption to a host of health problems: asthma, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, anemia, calcium loss, osteoporosis, PMS, fibrocystic breast disease, fertility and conception disorders, complications of pregnancy and childbirth, diabetes, glaucoma, digestive disorders, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, tension headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers.

Do you suffer from caffeine dependence syndrome? If you experience three out of the four following symptoms, then it’s likely that the answer is yes, say researchers at John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore:

• Withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, depression, and fatigue

• Continued consumption of caffeine despite physical problems

• Unsuccessful attempts to cut back on or eliminate caffeine consumption

• Tolerance (you need or can tolerate increasingly large intakes)

What can you do? Well, you have a few choices. You can keep doing what you’re doing, or you can taper down, dilute your coffee, switch to decaf or banish the beany brew altogether.

Consider substituting half of your ground coffee with a brewable coffee alternative, such as roasted dandelion or chicory root. Chicory (Cichorium spp.) is native to Europe—-particularly popular in France, Belgium, and Holland, where its leaves are used as a salad vegetable—-and was naturalized in North America. Chicory bears heads of large, bright-blue flowers with dandelion-like roots. When roasted, the roots make a wonderful caffeine-free coffee extender or solo substitute. Chicory root contains lactucin and lactucopicrin, compounds with a mildly sedating effect on the central nervous system. In the Deep South, roasted chicory has been blended with coffee for decades to make the popular French Market Coffee.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is second only to chicory as a coffee substitute. Most folks regard dandelion as an invading weed of golden flowers, jagged toothed leaves, and finger-thick roots that delve deeply into lawns. Unfortunately, the common yard variety of dandelion yields roots that are difficult to harvest and are too small to be economical for use as root “coffee.” For this reason, larger-rooted varieties of dandelion are usually grown for medicinal and culinary uses.

Both chicory and dandelion root have been used throughout history (dating back to the time of Egyptian pharaohs) as a liver detoxifier and a natural remedy for arthritis, diabetes, elevated cholesterol levels, constipation, and more. Researchers have identified substances in these bitter roots that increase the flow of bile, necessary for proper liver function and metabolism of fat and cholesterol. Herbalists have used them to aid in reducing PMS symptoms. By improving liver function, the roots help the liver eliminate excess estrogens that would otherwise build up in the body, causing hormone imbalances.

The decaf solution

Coffee can inhibit iron absorption by as much as 50 percent. Decaffeinated coffee has less caffeine, but it still contains polyphenols, a family of substances that bind with iron and excrete the mineral along with the urine. If you use decaf, select a product made by the Swiss Water Method, rather than with methylene chloride, a chemical solvent that causes liver cancer in laboratory mice.

The no-caf solutions

For several decades, consumers have had access to “instant grain beverages” made from roasted wheat, rye, barley, and chicory root powder, with the optional addition of acorns, figs, or beetroot. The instant crystals dissolve readily in hot or cold water and often taste similar, but not identical to, coffee—-if you use two or three rather than one teaspoon per cup of water. Be open to experimentation. You may take a liking to these beverages within a few days or weeks.

Instant grain products include Caffix, Pero, Caf-Lib, Lima’s Yannoh, Bioforce’s Bambu, Natural Touch’s Kaffree Roma, Post’s Postum, Oskri’s Barley Coffee, and Dr. Christopher’s Express Aroma. If these don’t do the trick, consider tea alternatives such as Celestial Seasonings’ Roastaroma (which includes roasted barley, roasted chicory, roasted carob, and cinnamon) or Maharishi Ayurveda’s Raja’s Cup, an antioxidant-rich coffee substitute made from Ayurvedic herbs. Vary the steeping time and add-ins (milk, milk substitute, or sweeteners) as you like.

If you value the deep, rich flavor and enticing aroma of coffee as much as the ritual of brewing, “herbal coffees” are well worth trying. They look, taste, and are brewed like coffee—-in an automatic drip coffeemaker, electric or stovetop percolator, French press, or espresso maker. Common ingredients include roasted chicory and/or dandelion root, with or without roasted carob, barley, almonds, or figs.

My favorite buy

I’m not a coffee lover, never have been. As a child, I sipped my mom’s coffee with cream and sugar but never developed the coffee habit. (And I love mornings!) As an adult, I have choked down black coffee under duress on a couple of long, snowy cross-country drives, agreeing with my driving companion that I’d rather have coffee than an accident. I tried coffee as a pre-aerobic stimulant and fat-burning aid, then gave it up. I liked the buzz, but it wasn’t worth the lost sleep or adrenal exhaustion I incurred.

For years, I’ve enjoyed the hearty, robust flavor and fragrance of roasted barley, dandelion, and chicory roots and successfully served them to guests. I buy the “grinds” from the bulk herb and spice section of health-food stores, although you can also order them by mail or over the Internet from Frontier Herbs (www.frontierherb.com) and Alvita (www.alvita.com).

Of the instant alternatives, Kaffree Roma and Yannoh were my favorites for many years. In recent years, I’ve sampled and enjoyed Roastaroma and Raja’s Cup.

What about organic coffee?

Don’t want to banish the brew? Then go organic and work on reducing the amount of coffee you drink. Organic coffee is grown, harvested, and processed without synthetic chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers), which have been linked to cancer and other health problems. Organic growers must meet stringent standards and have their products certified by an independent third party.

Look for “shade grown” coffee. This type is cultivated under a canopy of native shade trees, home to a complex ecosystem, including half of the plant and animal species (migratory birds, insects, and more) on the planet. This approach supports the soil and land while providing low-income third world farmers with alternative cash and food crops in addition to coffee, giving them a chance to break the cycle of poverty and farm their land sustainably. According to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, as many as 150 different bird species have been sighted and documented in shaded coffee farms, compared to only five to twenty species in unshaded coffee farms.

As for cost, organic coffee ranges from $10 to $14 per pound. The good news is this: One pound of coffee makes about thirty to forty cups, so even if you pay $12 a pound for organic, you’ll still only be paying $.30 to $.40 per cup of coffee.

The following are sources for organic coffees.

Kalani Organic Coffee  (shade grown); www.kalanicoffee.com

Equal Exchange Fairly Traded Organic Coffee  (shade grown); www.equalexchange.com

Cafe Altura  (biodynamically grown); www.cafealtura.com

Rapunzel Pure Organic Coffee  (shade grown); www.rapunzel.com

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters  (shade grown, fairly traded); www.greenmountaincoffee.com

Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company  (organic, fairly traded); www.santacruzcoffee.com

Caffe Ibis  (shade grown, organic, fairly traded); www.caffeibis.com


Rachel Albert-Matesz, B.A., is a freelance nutrition journalist, healthy cooking instructor, and food coach. More than 180 of her articles have appeared in national and regional magazines and newspapers. She is currently at work on The Paleo Diet Cookbook (J. Wiley & Sons, January 2003).


Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Next






Post a comment below.

 

hamzeiku
5/26/2014 10:05:18 AM
In the past I used to brew my own coffee beans in the mornings but this takes too much time and now I prefer to drink coffee from http://www.ferriscoffee.com/#?filter=gifts&key=All&c1=All. Now I can sleep longer in the mornings and when I wake up I can enjoy the amazing flavor of Ferris coffee.

neon45
3/16/2014 3:38:59 AM
I could not possibly www.hypecoffee.com!! I would not know what to do... what is a person expected to do when they can't have a coffee to wake up in the morning.


MY COMMUNITY
no image
valerykenery
8/29/2014 12:04:10 AM
no image
HarvestRight
8/21/2014 5:22:39 PM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 10:03:07 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:59:22 AM
no image
NatureHillsNursery
8/20/2014 9:30:07 AM
no image
melisastarr
8/19/2014 12:57:22 PM
no image
Peggy McMahan
8/18/2014 11:29:51 AM
no image
lorina21
8/17/2014 10:16:45 PM






Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.