Healthy Coffee Alternatives

There are many healthy coffee alternatives available in the markets these days.  Some are instant, some can be brewed in a coffee maker.  And some are even gluten-free.  

Since coffee is acidic, and caffeine ~ even decaf ~ can be overly stimulating to the adrenals, it is not always the healthiest choice, for those who are especially sensitive.

Bob Flaws, a well known author, teacher, and practitioner of Chinese medicine considers coffee to be a very dispersing energy that dissipates our qi and essence, despite many people claiming that they are not bothered by caffeine.

There are many healthy coffee alternatives on the market these days. It may take some trial and error, but there are sure to be some options you will find enjoyable, even as a die-hard coffee fan, like myself!

So many healthy coffee alternatives, which to choose?

While Postum was the original instant healthy coffee alternative,  Kraft pulled the plug on this long cherished brand in 2008.  

It has been resurrected recently, with a slight change to the original recipe.  

Postum has a long time loyal following.  It rolled out onto the market in the late 1800's as an instant healthy coffee alternative.  The sweet flavor combo of wheat with a hint of molasses was a hit.  It grew in popularity in part because groups like the Seventh Day Adventists were happy for a hot beverage to drink as a coffee alternative.

The new company has made slight changes to the original recipe.  While many think it still tastes as good, some were concerned about the sticky granulated residue remaining at the bottom of the cup.

Although there are many healthy coffee alternatives available, they may not meet your expectations on the first sip if you are expecting it to taste and smell just like coffee.  

Following are a few suggestions for the virgin grain coffee drinker:

  • Experiment with more or less of the recommended amount.  For example, we use a heaping teaspoon, or 2 level teaspoons of the Organic Instant Roasted Chicory Root, or the Barlee versus the 1 tsp. recommended on the label, and add only about 6 ounces of boiling water on top.  The color is a nice brown instant coffee color with a slight crema finish similar to a well poured espresso, with a smooth, mild roast-y flavor.  We especially enjoy it as a post dinner hot beverage with some heavy cream.  It's like dessert in a mug!

    For Teeccino, I have had to dilute it with more hot water sometimes if it tasted too strong at first, and that made a big difference.
  • Try any of the instant grain coffee alternatives, such as Roma, Inka, Barlee, Postum, or Pero  'black' first as a base line taste.  Add heavy cream or your favorite creamer, or blend in some of the Vital Proteins Dark Chocolate and Blackberry Collagen for a protein-rich Mocha treat.

  • Add some real vanilla, or cinnamon to your instant healthy coffee alternative beverage of choice.  Blend with warmed milk for a frothier finish.

The difference among many of the grain-based healthy coffee alternatives can be slight, but enough to favor one over another.  Common ingredients used includes roasted dandelion root, roasted chicory root, roasted barley, and in some cases rye or beet root.

Just the difference of one ingredient can make the beverage slightly more sweet, or slightly more bitter.  Preferences, or a high sensitivity to the bitter taste may actually be genetic.  Some long time coffee drinkers like the slightly bitter taste, while others prefer the sweeter flavor of many of the instant coffee substitutes. 

I noticed while reading many reviews  that  those who drink the coffee alternatives with a creamer (half and half or non-dairy), and those who have health issues that mandated giving up coffee, such as ulcers, acid regurgitation, or insomnia tended to adapt well to the alternative options ~ grateful for a beverage that satisfies their nostalgia for hot mug of coffee.

Our preferred instant healthy coffee alternative is the Prewitt's Organic Roasted Chicory, or any of the others shown below.    This can be enjoyed plain, or mixed half and half with instant coffee for those trying to cut back, but wanting a little hit of caffeine and the coffee flavor.  Chicory plus coffee is a nice flavor blend, commonly served up in New Orleans with frothed milk.  

Even better is chicory + chocolate!  You might really like the following recipe for a warming beverage on a cool evening.

Chocolate Chicory Drink

  • 8-10 oz. whole milk
  • 2 tsp. Roasted Chicory, or the Community Coffee + Chicory blend)
  • 7g piece of 100% bakers chocolate

Warm milk in a small pot.  Stir in the chicory and chocolate.  Heat until combined and melted, just before coming to a boil.


If you like a richer brew, add 1 tsp. salted (or unsalted) Kerrygold butter.  So good!

After warming the milk, blend with one scoop of the Vital Proteins Dark Chocolate and Blackberry Collagen in lieu of the dark chocolate.  Blend until frothy and enjoy!

Another good healthy coffee alternative is Barlee.  Barlee comes in three variations, each with three ingredients.  All three have barley and chicory root.  

One is with roasted dandelion root, which we enjoy, one with rose hips, and one with echinacea. 

The one with rose hips is just slightly more tart than the dandelion, but otherwise they are very close in taste.  Rose hips are high in bioflavonoids. 

Both Don and I and some of our clients really like the Barlee.  It's easy to make since it is instant, and the price is great.

The 5-pack, such as in the lower right image to the right is only $19.99, so if you like it, buy in bulk and save!  That makes each can only about $4!

They come shipped quickly too!

Still prefer the real cup 'o java?

Boost the nutritional value of your coffee by blending with collagen, great for the health of skin, hair and nails.  

Vital Proteins also has a non-dairy creamer, although I'm not yet sold on the flavor.  I do, however, really enjoy the Dark Chocolate & Blackberry flavor.  Another popular alternative to coffee is the Vital Proteins Matcha with collagen.  Or, try the Defiant Collagen Coffee ~ small batch coffee roasted in Seattle ~ which combines them both.

There are healthy coffee alternatives made from non-grain ingredients, which are also gluten-free.  Soyava is made from soy beans, Coffig is made entirely from black mission figs, and Copamo is made from the highly touted Maya nut, which goes by other names including ramon nut, found in several of the Teeccino flavors.  All of these are gluten-free.

The ramón or Maya nut is a good source of protein, iron, potassium, and calcium, and is a natural galactagogue which helps boost milk production in nursing mothers, among several other health benefits.  

Coffig comes in a tea bag for convenience, or in granules which can also be brewed.  Typically, granulated herbs will have a more full taste when simmered in a pot.  

The tea bag does come out looking very much like coffee.  There is even a slight coffee aroma, which many people love.  Coffig has a ton of great reviews online, and many are happy for the tea bags as they can take them to their office and enjoy it mid-day.

It is very alkalizing, however the fig flavor has a slightly acidic, or fruity and sour flavor.  

For best results, let the tea bag steep, covered, for at least 5 minutes, or place bag in a pot to simmer on the stove.  

I primarily drink the plain Prewitt's Instant Organic Roasted Chicory root warmed in milk, like the recipe above.  

I also still enjoy good coffee in the mornings.  For those who do like coffee, but are sensitive to the acidic quality or bitter flavor, I highly recommend trying cold-brewed coffee instead.  It contains far less acid, and creates a smooth tasting concentrate that you can enjoy over ice, or mix two to one, water to concentrate.  Once it is brewed, just heat and serve.  The Tekaya brand is sleek and simple. And it's made in the USA.  Read my review here.

Even the astute coffee lover is sure to find a healthy alternative beverage to use as an enjoyable hot beverage later in the day, or to eventually wean off coffee.  

Do share your favorites as well!

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