Cold brew coffee is great, but it's not for everyone. Even if you have a source of great iced coffee, making coffee every day and getting the recipe just right is quite an investment. Some people spend hours every day in the ritual and art of brewing their coffee. Of course, others slam down a mug of the cheapest thing they can push through a coffeemaker every day and call it good, so everyone has their tastes, and that's fine.
For those of you who don't want to make cold brew, or who don't want coffee in general, there are still alternatives. A lot of it depends on what you want out of your coffee. To that end, we've put together a list of eight alternatives.
Alternative #1: For a Healthy Pick-me-Up
Many people drink coffee as part of a morning ritual, to wake up their bodies and minds. While a large part of the effects of coffee comes from caffeine, some health benefits can come from a good, strong cup of joe.
Our recommended alternative is Golden Ashwagandha. This product is made of a combination of many adaptogenic herbs with a range of health benefits. These include the titular ashwagandha, as well as other healthy ingredients like Rhodiola, reishi, cordyceps, holy basil, and maca root.
While you can get pure ashwagandha, we've found that combining it with a range of other herbal remedies allows all of their health benefits to compound. While you'll initially feel bad – especially if you're detoxing from caffeine and quitting coffee – once your body adjusts to the influx of nutrients, adaptogens, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds present in ashwagandha, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Detoxing from caffeine and sugar can be a great way to start your health journey, and replacing the morning coffee habit with something better like Golden Ashwagandha can be just the ticket to a new and better you.
Alternative #2: For When You Want Caffeine
Why do you drink coffee? Some people do it out of sheer habit. Many people – millions across the U.S. and more around the world – do it for the caffeine content. Coffee can be a healthy beverage, but typically only if you're drinking it straight and black. Sugars, creamers and god forbid all the nonsense they put into it at Starbucks all ramp up the calories and remove the health benefits. Still, though, it's packed with that all-important caffeine.
If you want the caffeine, but you don't want the bitterness of black coffee or the calories of a coffee drink, Tea is your go-to option. Any kind of tea, almost. Green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea; anything except herbal tea and rooibos tea has caffeine in it. What you're looking for is the actual tea plant.
Tea is great because it's extremely flexible. Want a light, thin beverage to sate your thirst and give you some nutrients? Brew up a glass of green. Want something darker, with more nutrients and more caffeine? Black tea is your thing. Want to drink something lighter and more flavorful? Good white tea with a handful of herbal additions is right where you need it to be. There are millions of tea blends, from your locally sourced herbal concoctions to online-only gimmick blends, and you can have as many as you want.
The amount of caffeine in a typical cup of tea is lower than that of a cup of coffee, so you'll either need to brew your tea strong or start to wean yourself off to reduce the caffeine resistance before you settle into a new normal. That's just the thing, though; any time you're moving away from coffee, there's going to be a grace period where you'll need to adjust. With tea, the ritual and the habit are close enough that it's only the nutritional profile you need to adapt to.
Alternative #3: For When You Want to Burn Fat
Some people drink coffee – particularly cold brew, in the mornings – to help them lose weight. Coffee has a few good, beneficial nutrients in it, and caffeine is a stimulant that helps give you energy and stimulates your metabolism into burning a few more calories than it would without it.
There are two problems with using coffee as a weight-loss tool.
The first is that black coffee has zero calories in it. That's good for weight loss, but it means if you're trying to get up and running in the morning, you still need to eat breakfast. Breakfast tends to have a lot of calories in it unless you're dedicated to eating a couple of eggs and little else. Many people eat way too much in the mornings, and that jeopardizes any weight-loss goals they may have.
The second is that, if you're having a coffee drink that has creamer, sugar, or other ingredients in it, it's going to be high in calories. It's incredibly easy to drink a day's worth of calories in just a few coffee drinks, and then you're stuck.
So what's a good alternative? Smoothies. Breakfast smoothies, lunch smoothies, meal replacement smoothies; they're all great. They give you the calories and the nutrients you need to keep going, give yourself energy, and lose weight, without overloading you with carbs and sugars, or otherwise heaping on the mindless calories.
Alternative #4: For Sating the Sweet Tooth
Let's say that you love those Starbucks frappes and lattes, and it's less the coffee and more the sugar that gets you going in the morning. You want something sweet, so black coffee, cold brew, and other straight coffee versions just won't cut it. You want something to drink that's healthier and less detrimental, but still sweet.
Our recommendation here is coconut water. Coconut water is thin, watery "juice" from the inside of a coconut. It's sweet, it's flavored like the coconut itself, and it makes for a great beverage in the morning or throughout the day.
Coconut water is also packed with nutrients. It has natural sugars, healthy minerals, vitamins, and even amino acids your body can use to build, stay healthy, and improve. It's even a great source of antioxidants, to help fight off oxidative stress. Some people even find that coconut water is better than the average sports drink at keeping you hydrated and healthy. Why not give it a try?
Alternative #5: For When You Want a Morning Energy Boost
Another good source of energy in the morning is a health drink you've probably seen, but might not have worked up the guts to try. It's available in most healthy-food stores today and in many grocery stores. Plus, you can make it yourself at home. So what is it? Kombucha.
For those who aren't familiar with it, kombucha is a fermented beverage made out of tea. It uses healthy bacteria, yeasts, and sugars to feed them, and turns what would be a typical tea drink into a powerhouse of probiotics. The fermentation gives it a natural fizz that's similar to carbonation without the chemicals used to infuse a soda with the bubbly texture.
As a fermented beverage, kombucha is very much an acquired taste. Some people love it, while others find it hard to stomach. If you want antioxidants, probiotics, a little fizzy pick-me-up, and a range of vitamins and minerals, you can't go wrong with a little kombucha.
We mentioned that you can make it at home, and that's true. Kombucha starts off life as basic tea, with infusions of fruit and other flavorings to give it more depth of taste. As a fermented beverage, though, you have to be careful in how you prepare it so you don't do it wrong and make yourself sick. Done right, though, it's a powerhouse of flavor and health benefits, so what's not to love?
Alternative #6: For When You Need a Little Spice
Coffee has a certain complexity of flavor to it that comes out in certain brews, and cold brew is one of those brews. It's a little time-consuming to make, and it's easy to do it improperly and end up with an overly bitter drink that just isn't worth it. So what if you could have a dark, complex flavor, without the inconsistency?
Enter our sixth alternative: Chai. Chai is a mixture of black tea and spices, typically cardamom, mace, ginger, cinnamon, and others such as fennel and cloves, and allspice. The spice mixture can vary, and the recipes are available all over the internet if you want to make your own. Some versions are spicy and have quite a kick to them (and some people even augment it with cayenne!) Others are sweeter. Some chai blends can taste like chocolate, without having cocoa in them at all!
Chai is one of the best alternatives to coffee because it's such a similar beverage while being generally much healthier and more nutritious. If you scroll up, all of the benefits of tea apply to chai (since chai is black tea and spices), and many of the spices have health benefits of their own. Cinnamon in particular is excellent.
Give chai a try. You might be surprised and how good it is as a morning brew.
Alternative #7: For When You Still Want Cold Brew
Let's say you like cold brew. We mean really, really like cold brew. You want to keep up the cold brew habit, but coffee just isn't doing it for you. Maybe it turns out too bitter too often, and you hate having to toss a pitcher because it's undrinkable. Maybe the caffeine is causing you heart problems and you need to cut it out. Whatever the reason, you still want a nice cold beverage on hand, but you don't want something as unhealthy as juice, and you can't do the coffee.
Why not try cold brew cacao? It's made similarly to cold brew coffee, but instead of using coffee grounds, you use cacao nibs. The cacao gives you the flavors and flavonoids of cocoa, but without the sugars and unhealthiness inherent in pure chocolate. You can brew it in water or milk, and it works well with any of the many milk alternatives you might use for your coffee. While cacao has a tiny amount of caffeine in it, it's meaningless compared to coffee, so it's much better for you when you're having caffeine side effects.
There are a ton of different recipes for cold brew cacao out there to try, including a variety of different processes using different sweeteners and different steeping methods. You can fairly easily adapt your cold brew coffee ritual into a cacao ritual, and all you'll likely need is a steady supply of cacao nibs. Give it a try.
Alternative #8: For When You Want Cold Coffee
Sometimes you still want cold coffee, but you don't want a cold brew. Your best option, in that case, is a little something we like to call iced coffee. Iced coffee is different from cold brew, in that it is typically brewed hot and then chilled.
Our recommendation, of course, is our iced coffee mix. It's a pre-brewed, crystallized powder that you simply mix with some ice and water, and you're good to go. It makes a delicious iced coffee drink, free of most calories, sugars, and other nonsense that makes coffee unhealthy. Our blend includes a couple of additional ingredients, like L-carnitine and Garcinia Cambogia, which help give you energy, regulate caffeine, and boost your metabolism. It's pretty good at helping you lose weight, too!
Overall, there are plenty of alternatives to cold brew coffee that are simply delicious. You have a whole world of beverage options available to you, both in other forms of coffee, in coffee-like alternatives, and as drinks that replicate some of the benefits you get from coffee without relying on the bean itself.
Do you have a favorite? How many of the above have you tried? Be sure to let us know all your thoughts on the topic!