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When it comes to decent coffee substitutes, finding something that tastes good, satisfies you and gives you a bit of an energetic kick can be hard. Whether you’re sensitive to caffeine or looking to reduce your coffee intake, sometimes tea just doesn’t do the trick. That’s why we’re here to guide you through our top UK coffee alternatives to help you quench your caffeine addiction! 

Coffee Substitutes & Alternatives

When looking out for coffee substitutes and alternatives, there are certain ingredients that make a substitute extra delicious. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the world of coffee substitutes, it can be hard to know what blend of flavours, textures and blends work. Follow this simple guide and soon you’ll be a master in coffee substitute hunting:

Chicory: Chicory root makes an excellent ingredient in coffee substitutes. Like coffee beans, they can be roasted, ground and brewed to make a delicious and satisfying hot drink. It’s the perfect substitute for coffee lovers because it tastes very similar to coffee, but it’s 100% free from caffeine and gluten. Plus, it’s packed with gut-loving inulin and other vitamins, too!

Barley: Barley makes it to the top of the list when it comes to coffee substitutes. Why? Well, it’s simply delicious! Like Chicory root, it can also be ground and roasted to enhance the flavour and depth profile. When compared to coffee, it’s lighter in taste, less bitter and has slight earthy and nutty aromas. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is drinking too much caffeine bad for you?

Whilst drinking coffee can be incredibly healthy for you, drinking too much can put a lot of pressure on your body. Too much caffeine can have some very unpleasant side effects and can even be dangerous.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Whilst drinking small amounts can help you feel alert and increase your metabolism, drinking too much can lead to anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues and even muscle breakdown and addiction (1). Do you notice you get headaches when you miss your morning coffee? Well, that’s most likely the addiction kicking in!

For safe consumption, it’s recommended that people consume no more than 400mg of caffeine a day. That’s around 4 cups of coffee a day. If you’re drinking more than that, you should certainly look for coffee alternatives to help break up your intake. 

Are coffee substitutes bad for the environment?

Coffee substitutes are typically less resource-intensive and easier to grow than coffee beans. Coffee is a very thirsty crop and it’s estimated that 18,925 litres of water (2) is required to make up just one kilo of coffee - that’s ~130 litres of water per cup of coffee! 

Not only does it have a large water footprint, but coffee beans are also grown in tropical and subtropical habitats and with increasing popularity, more trees and precious environments have to be cut down. 

When comparing the effects of coffee and coffee substitutes on the environment, it really depends on the ingredient. For example, barley only requires 1,423 litres per kilo to grow (3) and chicory requires just 387 litres per kilo! Plus, they easily grow in the UK which reduces their carbon footprint.

What are the best coffee alternatives during pregnancy?

When choosing a coffee substitute whilst pregnant, you may wish to avoid chicory. Although there’s limited research, drinking too much has been associated with uterine contractions, digestive discomfort and allergic symptoms (4). Therefore, it’s always recommended to consult a doctor or healthcare professional before drinking coffee substitutes.

Are coffee substitutes healthy?

Whilst coffee is packed with antioxidants and can have anti-inflammatory benefits, coffee substitutes such as barley, chicory root and rye also boast an array of nutritional benefits. Barley is also loaded with vitamins B and E, as well as lots of antioxidants, whereas chicory root has a rather impressive inulin and vitamin E & B profile. Inulin is a form of prebiotic fibre, which can help support and boost your gut biome (5).

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