Herbal Coffee Substitutes

| February/March 2000

  • Herbal coffee substitutes are roasted, ground, and brewed just like coffee.
  • Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria)
    by Steven Foster
  • During traditional rituals, yaupon and yerba maté are sipped from a maté, an ornamental calabash shell, through a bombilla, a silver straining straw.
  • Juniper (Juniperus communis) berries
    by Steven Foster
  • Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria)
    by Steven Foster
  • Cacao (Theobroma cacao) leaves
    by Steven Foster
  • Celebrate Fat Tuesday with a cup of chicory coffee and some beignets, a treat that brings home the taste of New Orleans.
    by Steven Foster
  • Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
    by Steven Foster
  • Spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, orange peel, caraway, cardamom, and coriander brighten the flavor of coffee substitutes.
  • Yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis)
    by Steven Foster
  • Coffee
    by Steven Foster

About a thousand years ago, some Arabs trading on the East African coast spotted local inhabitants chewing a pemmican-like mixture of fat and herbs. Curious about the substance, they purchased some. The peanut-size bean turned out to be just the thing for keeping Arab sailors alert when on watch. The Arabs named it qahwah, meaning “keeps awake.” This seed of Coffea arabica, an Ethiopian shrub of the madder family, would go on to ­become one of the most valuable herbs on Earth. Coffee, the beverage brewed from the bean, now starts the day for millions of addicts around the world.

According to scientific research, caffeine, the xanthine alkaloid that is coffee’s principal active ingredient, stimulates the nervous system and can cause nervousness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and disturbances in heart rate and rhythm; it may also influence blood pressure, coronary circulation, and the secretion of gastric acids. These effects, coupled with coffee’s high price, have spurred herbalists to seek healthful, cheaper alternatives.

The most successful alternatives to coffee combine several ingredients to achieve a complex flavor. Coffee substitutes don’t taste exactly like real coffee but may be mixed with it to extend it and reduce the caffeine content or they may be blended into a satisfying drink that contains no C. arabica at all.

Read about alternate flavors yaupon and yerba maté. 

Root Brews

The roots of several familiar plants may be washed, sliced or chopped, and dried for use as a coffee substitute. When slow-roasted at 300°F until crisp and dark brown, they are ready to be ground and infused like genuine coffee.

A bitter blend of chicory (Cichorium intybus) and real coffee complements the spicy food that made New Orleans famous. Residents eschew the mild brew sold to tourists in favor of mixtures in which chicory’s acrid bite is the dominant flavor. To preserve freshness and flavor, some aficionados grind their own roasted chicory roots just before brewing.

4/9/2014 7:52:52 AM

when www.hypecoffee.com are as fresh and lovely as when you get them from Hype Coffee you will just never even consider this an option! You will be buying more and more real coffee until the coffee has all gone.

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