Coffee is sacrosanct in our culture. We joke about needing it before morning conversations commence. A million coffee-centric memes and GIFs float around online. Entire sitcoms center on it. But as is often the case with infatuation, our singular-minded obsession with the drink doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives. We won’t deem them better, per se, but we will say that there are coffee alternatives. And they’re delicious.
They also boast an impressive array of benefits for your mind, body and soul. In short, it’s worth giving your java-loving heart a break from its normal coffee codependence and giving these coffee alternative a.m. libations a try.
Matcha green tea
Not only does matcha green tea contain caffeine for that morning kickstart, but it’s also packed full of heart-healthy antioxidants. In fact, according to Healthline, this tea contains about three times the antioxidants as regular green tea. Various studies have suggested that catechins in matcha green tea reduce the risk of heart disease mortality and that drinking three cups every day could prevent stroke. It’s also thought to reduce cell damage caused by free radicals, improve cognitive function, boost metabolism, and detox the body naturally.
This coffee alternative has been consumed for centuries in various cultures around the world. It’s delicious, obviously. But, more than that, it’s actually a great way to get your sluggish system moving in the morn. According to certified doctor of medicine and clinical nutritionist Dr. Josh Axe, this low-calorie, low-sugar, refreshing drink can help boost energy, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, relax any lingering muscle tension, and increase performance.
Not just any tea, chai is a spicy blend of herbs and spices with many benefits — as long as you get the good stuff (read: not the frothy, sugar-laden version from coffee shops). Authentic chai tea contains ingredients such as cardamom, fresh ginger and cinnamon that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Plus, thanks to the black tea leaves, chai contains caffeine, making it an excellent morning perk-you-up alternative to coffee.
If you can get past the look of this fermented beverage, it could be one of the best things you do for your morning routine. A fermented tea, kombucha is quite literally bubbling with gut-healthy probiotics and energizing B vitamins, says dietician Maxine Smith, RD, LD. It also contains organic acids that promote liver detoxification. Should the SCOBY formation (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast — that gelatinous layer floating on top) ick you out, choose a variety without it.
Hot water with lemon
You’ve probably read at least one article in which a health-conscious celebrity touts hot water with lemon as the perfect morning elixir. As it turns out, Dr. Josh Axe told Shape Magazinethat this isn’t just a trendy idea: It flushes toxins from your system, wakes up your digestive system, gives you an immune-boosting burst of vitamin C, and nourishes your big ol’ brain with potassium.
Made from the dried leaves of an evergreen holly, yerba mate has historically enjoyed a reputation as “the drink of the gods.” So, there’s that. But this coffee alternative also provides a balanced energy boost, meaning you get the kick you love from coffee without the annoying jitters. It’s also loaded with all kinds of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and 15 amino acids that aid everything from brain function to mood regulation.
Plants use chlorophyll to convert sunlight into energy. Green juice is full of it, and it does some pretty nifty stuff in your bod, too. Registered dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD told Well+Good that it helps with digestion and boosts your immune system. Green juice also helps you take in the minerals and phytonutrients associated with green veggies without choking down a super-sized salad for brekkie.
Don’t forget, the kind of water you use to make tea or morning drinks matters. Find out why here:
What’s your go-to morning drink? Tell us in the comments below!