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Need a coffee alternative? Check out these 5 expert-backed substitutes

Woman drinking coffee. (Getty Images)
Coffee is the most popular hot drink in the UK but there are some alternatives. (Getty Images)

It’s no secret that us Brits are obsessed with coffee. On average, people in the UK slurp 98 million cups of caffeinated beverages daily, meaning that one person consumes around 528 cups of coffee per year or 1.5 cups daily.

Every coffee lover knows that the brown stuff is literally the elixir of life. But while we credit a coffee hit for helping us get through the day, the caffeine in it is also highly addictive.

In fact, people can become physically dependent on caffeine, experiencing cravings and going through withdrawal symptoms such as sleepiness, reduced alertness and poor memory. Yikes!

If you're starting to suspect that your daily coffee habit is inching towards the unhealthy, it could be time to seek out an alternative beverage to pep you up.

Thankfully, there are some other equally delicious options that can help offer a similar wake-me-up hit, with fewer of the side effects. From mushroom to matcha here are some expert-backed coffee substitutes to start your day off right.

Coffee alternatives

Lion’s mane mushrooms

Lion’s mane mushrooms are a type of fungi recognisable for their white and fluffy appearance. They have a history of being used in traditional Chinese medicine, although professionals are continuing to prove the mushroom’s ability to regulate blood sugars, promote heart health and reduce high blood pressure.

"On top of these benefits, the mushroom also promotes energy levels and combats fatigue," explains Shane Heath, founder of MUD\WTR UK. "These properties make lion’s mane mushrooms the ideal coffee alternative. They can be cooked like regular mushrooms, consumed as a drink or taken as a supplement during the daytime."

Cocoa beans

Cocoa beans are valued for more than their delicious flavour. Found in the Amazon rain forest, the dried and fermented seeds are used to treat heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammatory conditions, insulin resistance and more.

"Cocoa beans are also ideal for people looking to cut back on coffee," explains Heath. "They contain theobromine, a natural stimulant which increases energy slowly throughout the day – just like caffeine, although cocoa beans aren’t addictive."

Woman holding a matcha tea. (Getty Images)
Matcha is a delicious alternative to coffee. (Getty Images)

Matcha tea

Matcha, an earth-flavoured tea made from Japanese green tea powder, has a whole host of health benefits. The drink contains polyphenols, which protect the body against disease, and chlorophyll, which supports brain function.

Matcha tea also packs a powerful punch.

"A cup of matcha tea contains around 50mg of caffeine per serving. In comparison to coffee, which has anywhere between 100mg to 200mg per serving, meaning that matcha is a sensible alternative for those wishing to cut down on caffeine, rather than cut it out of their diet completely," Heath adds.

Peppermint and ginger tea

Herbal teas are caffeine free, but that doesn’t mean they can’t promote alertness. In fact, research has shown that teas support energy levels by nourishing the body. Even the act of making a herbal tea can help wake someone up in the morning.

"Peppermint tea, for example, been found to support digestion and improve cognitive function," adds Heath. "The same can be said for ginger tea, which helps oxygen circulate around the body, therefore giving people more energy throughout the day."

Pot of peppermint leaf tea. (Getty Images)
Peppermint tea is another great alternative to coffee. (Getty Images)

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, otherwise known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, has multiple health benefits. These include, but are not limited to, relieving stress, increasing muscle strength, improving sexual function in women and boosting fertility in men.

"In addition, studies have shown that ashwagandha can sharpen focus, improve memory and boost attention spans," Heath adds. "These are three of the main benefits of coffee which can be enjoyed without the drawbacks of caffeine."

Daily strategies to reduce coffee consumption

Of course instead of switching up your coffee, you could look to reduce your intake.

Get moving

According to primary care physician Dr Ramkissoon caffeine helps people to feel alert by blocking sleep-promoting receptors. "People can mimic this by exercising when they cut down on caffeine," Dr Ramkissoon adds. "Running in the morning, for example, releases endorphins that make some people feel awake, just like coffee."

Create an achievable goal

This will be unique to each person and their situation – for example, one person may aim to reduce their intake by half over the next two weeks. Visualising this action plan can also help, with studies showing that imagining success can improve outcomes.

Take it slow

Just like any other addictive substance, caffeine withdrawal can cause numerous symptoms. So, rather than going cold turkey, it’s best to cut out coffee a bit at a time over the course of a few weeks. Decaf coffee can also be used to help curb cravings during this time.

Stay hydrated

Studies have shown that dehydration can cause fatigue, which may lead people to consume more coffee. By drinking eight cups of water a day, you're more likely to feel awake and less likely to rely on caffeine.

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