Coffee is one of our favorite beverages, but we understand that some people need or want to cut back on their intake for medical or personal reasons, and others just want a nice alternative to mix things up. We know from firsthand experience that coffee never seems so enticing as when you can’t have it!
That’s why coffee substitutes are so important, but the right one needs to have the same satisfying mouthfeel and flavor complexity as coffee, or you’ll just find yourself craving coffee even more.
If you’ve already started searching for coffee alternatives, you may be surprised to see just how many there are. Having multiple options is great, but it might leave you wondering which will be the best one to crush those coffee cravings and satisfy your taste buds at the same time. We put together these reviews and our buyer’s guide so that you can find the perfect coffee substitute for you and your taste. Let’s dive in!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 10 Best Coffee Substitutes – Reviews 2020
1. Postum Wheat Bran & Molasses Coffee – Best Overall
This Postum Wheat Bran & Molasses Coffee is made from all-natural ingredients like wheat and molasses, so it includes no artificial ingredients or colors. One serving of this coffee alternative has just 10 calories and no caffeine. That means you can guiltlessly swap it in for your low-calorie coffee each morning, and you can even have multiple cups without packing in the calories. It’s a powder that is prepared similarly to instant coffee, so it dissolves very easily in hot water, making preparation effortless and straightforward.
The molasses in the powder gives this alternative a delectable and thick mouthfeel that is very similar to coffee, and it left us wanting more after each sip. The taste is delicious as well, and the sweet and bitter notes offer a complexity that really makes you feel like you’re drinking coffee. We did find that one serving isn’t quite strong enough to satisfy our coffee craving. We ended up using double servings in each cup, and this only comes in small quantities, so it gets used up rather quickly. However, this coffee substitute is very affordable, even when considering the effectively halved number of servings per bottle.
All in all, we think this is the best coffee substitute on the market.
2. Monterey Bay Spice CHICORY ROOT Roasted Granules – Best Value
These Monterey Bay Spice CHICORY ROOT Roasted Granules are a delicious alternative to coffee. It’s all-natural, so there are no artificial colors or ingredients. It’s made from 100% chicory root, which is roasted and brewed just like regular coffee, so you will need to do a little extra work than most options on our list. The more complex preparation method is the only thing that kept this out of our number one spot, though. However, the simplified ingredients mean that this alternative is very low calorie and free of caffeine.
The taste of this coffee alternative is lovely, and it offers roasty flavors and a nice, earthy complexity that make you feel like you’re drinking coffee. The mouthfeel is excellent as well, so it’s likely to satisfy in much the same way that coffee would. This chicory root comes in large quantities, so it’s great for those looking to replace multiple cups of coffee a day or for those who serve several people daily. Especially given the price, we think this is one of the best coffee substitutes for the money.
3. COFFIG Roasted Fig Beverage– Premium Choice
This COFFIG Roasted Fig Beverage is made solely from figs, so it contains all-natural ingredients and no artificial sweeteners or colors. The taste is surprisingly complex, given that it’s just made from figs, and they taste like they were roasted to create an enticing flavor profile. It doesn’t taste like coffee, but it gives you a great taste and a beautiful mouthfeel that is likely to satisfy much like coffee does. It has just 10 calories per serving, so you can enjoy this guilt-free, even if you drink multiple cups a day.
This only comes in small quantities, but the flavor is very concentrated, so one serving per cup is plenty. You’ll likely find that even the tiny bag lasts quite a while. This needs to be brewed like coffee, so preparation is more involved than the instant options on our list. The more complex brewing process, along with the relatively high price, kept this out of our top two choices. Still, if you’re looking for the highest quality and most satisfying coffee alternative and are willing to pay a little more, this is likely the best option for you.
4. Crio Bru Ghana Light Roast Brewed Cacao Drink
This Crio Bru Ghana Light Roast Brewed Cacao Drink is made from 100% pure cacao, so it includes only all-natural ingredients without artificial sweeteners or colors. It has just 10 calories per serving, and one serving is plenty to get full flavor from this cacao, so you can enjoy multiple cups per day without worrying about the calories. It offers a delicious flavor profile with notes of chocolate and toffee, so the flavors are similar to some coffees and are very enticing. We also get a beautiful complexity from the natural sweetness and a creamy, satisfying mouthfeel.
This coffee alternative does have a nominal amount of caffeine, so it may not be suitable for you if you need to cut out caffeine altogether. It comes in large quantities and is very affordable, especially since you’ll get plenty of flavor from a single, small serving. It needs to be brewed like coffee and filtered, and the brewing time is actually longer than that of coffee to get the right flavors. As such, it’s less convenient to prepare than many other options on our list.
5. Cafix Coffee Substitute Crystals
These Cafix Coffee Substitute Crystals look just like instant coffee. This product is prepared the same way as well, so preparation is effortless and straightforward. It mixes well with hot water, so you won’t have to blend or spend much time stirring. It’s made with all-natural ingredients and contains no artificial sweeteners or colors, plus it contains just 5 calories per serving and is 100% caffeine-free.
We found that the taste is relatively weak with a single serving, so we used double servings for each cup. Even with double servings, the mouthfeel was very thin and not nearly as satisfying as coffee. The taste is also less complex than many other options on our list, and with these two factors, you may find that this coffee substitute doesn’t satisfy that desire for coffee. Although the package is small, it contains many servings and is sure to last you for quite some time. It’s very affordable, especially given how many cups you can make with just one container.
6. Ayurvedic Roast Organic Coffee Substitute
This Ayurvedic Roast Organic Coffee Substitute is made from all-natural, organic ingredients and contains no artificial constituents. It’s naturally caffeine-free, so it’s suitable for those looking to cut out caffeine entirely. It has an excellent flavor profile that brings some complexity, and it offers notes of chocolate and caramel that you’d expect to find in coffee. The mouthfeel is relatively thin, so although the taste is good, you may not get the satisfaction you’re looking for from drinking this.
This alternative needs to be brewed like coffee, so the preparation isn’t as easy as some other options on our list. We found that two servings will provide enough flavor to mimic the intensity of coffee, but at almost 30 calories per serving, you may want to limit the number of cups you have daily. This only comes in small quantities, so you’re likely to run out very quickly, especially if you use double servings. This coffee substitute is also significantly more expensive than most others on our list.
7. Teeccino Chicory Coffee Alternative
This Teeccino Chicory Coffee Alternative is made from various natural ingredients, so you won’t have to worry about artificial colors or flavors when drinking it. It’s naturally caffeine-free, so it’s great for those looking to cut out caffeine altogether. The flavor is good, and it offers a pretty lovely complexity that’s satisfying, but not quite as much as coffee. Although the taste is good, the mouthfeel is very thin, contributing to how little it resembled coffee. Each serving contains 20 calories, so whether you’re using one or two servings, you may want to limit the number of cups you have daily.
This alternative is brewed just like coffee, so it’s not as convenient as the instant options we’ve reviewed, and brewing will be a bit involved. This coffee substitute only comes in small quantities, and there are very few servings per container. As such, you’ll likely find that you go through this chicory coffee very quickly. Especially given the small number of servings included, this is a costly option.
8. Herbaila Chicory Root Roasted Granules
These Herbaila Chicory Root Roasted Granules contain all-natural ingredients with no artificial additives. This substitute naturally contains no caffeine, so it’s suitable for those looking to cut out caffeine altogether. This chicory brings somewhat bitter and burnt flavors to your cup, so while the flavor is bold, it’s not very tasty or satisfying. The mouthfeel is good and will help satisfy your urge for coffee, but the taste may turn you away.
Altogether, it doesn’t give you the same satisfaction as drinking coffee does, mainly due to the unsavory flavors. It’s brewed just like coffee, so preparation is more involved than the instant options on our list. This comes in large quantities, but the serving size is relatively large. As such, you’ll find that you go through this quickly, especially if you drink multiple cups each day. However, you won’t have to worry about calories, as each serving is very low. But considering the number of servings you get, this is relatively expensive.
9. The Maca Team Maca Coffee
This Maca Team Maca Coffee is made from all-natural and organic ingredients, and it contains nothing artificial. It has a relatively thin mouthfeel that makes it far less satisfying than coffee, and the flavors don’t help much either. The taste was relatively weak, even when we used double servings to prepare a cup. It tastes very earthy, and overall the flavor isn’t desirable; it left us wishing we had a cup of coffee instead! It’s reasonably high in calories, especially if you use double servings, so you’ll likely want to limit the number of cups you drink each day.
It is naturally caffeine-free, so it’s suitable for those looking to cut out caffeine entirely from their diet. This comes in large quantities, but the number of servings per container is rather low, especially if you double up on each cup. As such, you’ll likely go through a bag of this coffee substitute very quickly. This is also one of the more expensive options on our list on a per-serving basis, so it isn’t nearly as budget-friendly as other options.
10. Barlee Coffee Alternative Beverage Blend
This Barlee Coffee Alternative Beverage Blend is another on our list that is made with all-natural ingredients and doesn’t contain any artificial colors or sweeteners. It’s caffeine-free and very low in calories, so it’s suitable for those looking to cut out caffeine entirely, and you can drink multiple cups guiltlessly.
The mouthfeel was very thin, so it won’t be nearly as satisfying as drinking coffee. Additionally, the taste was weak even when we doubled up on the serving, and what flavor was there was rather undesirable and lacking in complexity. Overall, the experience wasn’t very enjoyable, and we’d recommend choosing a different option for replacing your morning coffee. It’s made like instant coffee by mixing it into hot water, but it doesn’t blend very well, and even with excessive stirring, we still got undissolved granules in our cup that were unappetizing. This comes in large quantities, but given how many servings we needed to brew with, you’ll likely find that you go through this coffee alternative very quickly. Especially given the effective number of servings, this is fairly expensive, and we feel it isn’t worth the price.
Given how complex and unique coffee is, it may not come as a surprise that finding a good alternative isn’t so simple! There are many factors to consider when choosing a coffee substitute, so whether you choose one of the above options or continue your search elsewhere, make sure you keep the below in mind when shopping.
We think the most important thing when it comes to coffee alternatives is the flavor. Many substitutes use vegetable roots as their main ingredients, which can lead to a very earthy flavor that isn’t palatable, let alone enjoyable. Choosing the wrong coffee alternative could lead to even stronger coffee cravings if you can’t satisfy the desire for a bold flavor in the morning.
Make sure you choose a coffee alternative that tastes good! Especially if you’re trying to curb your coffee addiction, a robust and delicious flavor in your substitute is more likely to satisfy you and keep you from returning to caffeine.
On a similar note, complexity is essential and will keep you returning for more, which is precisely what you need when kicking your coffee habit. Many coffee alternatives focus too much on nailing down a bold flavor that they forget to include a variety of tasting notes to keep things interesting. If you’re used to drinking multiple cups of coffee a day, switching to a coffee alternative with a flavor that is uninteresting and gets old quickly won’t help your cause!
The last thing in the satisfaction department, but certainly not the least important, is the mouthfeel. Coffee has a unique feeling to it because of balanced acidity, bitterness, and dissolved coffee grounds. Matching that thick and satisfying mouthfeel isn’t easy, and many producers of coffee substitutes fall short. You should try to choose a coffee alternative that provides a satisfying mouthfeel similar to that of coffee, as this is more likely to satisfy your desire for a heavy beverage in the morning.
Next, you should consider how many calories are in each serving of your chosen coffee substitute. Some options contain 5-10 calories per serving, which is comparable to coffee. In those cases, you can guiltlessly drink several cups just like you would coffee.
However, others have up to eight times as many calories per serving, and some that require double servings for proper, bold taste can pack in 16 times the caloric content! It’s best to find a balance between flavor and calories per serving so that you don’t have to limit how much you drink each morning.
Since not all coffee substitutes are created equal, you’ll want to consider the preparation method required for the coffee alternative you’re considering. Some are brewed just like instant coffee and are simply mixed into hot water, while others need to be brewed just like coffee or tea and take far longer to prepare. If you’re used to ordering coffee every morning or preparing instant coffee, you may want to choose an alternative that is easy and quick to prepare.
Quantity & Cost
Lastly, you should consider the quantity in which your preferred option is sold, as well as the cost. If you are used to drinking multiple cups of coffee a day and plan on consuming just as much of the coffee substitute, it would be most convenient to choose one that is sold in large quantities so that you don’t have to restock frequently.
You should also do some math and figure out how much your alternative costs on a per-serving basis. Some options contain up to 100 servings per container, but if you need a double serving to get a bold taste and drink two cups a day, the whole package will last you less than a month! You’ll need to balance flavor, serving size, and cost per serving to find the ideal coffee substitute to fit your needs.
As you can see, choosing a coffee alternative that will actually help you curb your coffee cravings isn’t as simple as picking the cheapest or even the most flavorful substitute. Many factors go into the perfect coffee alternative, and it would be best to consider them all before making your purchase. Hopefully, these reviews have helped you narrow down the multitude of options available and home in on a single substitute that will suit your taste and budget.
Our top pick for its bold flavor and enticing mouthfeel that will help you cut out coffee is Postum Wheat Bran & Molasses Coffee. It’s delicious, low in calories, and very satisfying. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option but still want excellent quality and an enticing flavor profile, we recommend Monterey Bay Spice Chicory Root Roasted Granules. This chicory coffee offers bold and complex flavors and is still remarkably affordable.
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