How To Stop Drinking Coffee

If you get mean when you’re off the beans


I sit next to Amelia in the office. Most days, it’s a delight. Last week — as Amelia and Leandra dropped coffee cold turkey — it was not. And even though they’re off the no-coffee wagon and back to normal, it seems like a good time to talk coffee alternatives.

The thing is, I have no beef with coffee. I know that it tastes delicious, and I know it makes me feel like my heart’s going to explode. But is it inherently bad? For otherwise healthy people who enjoy coffee in moderation, I’m leaning toward probably not. If you’re trying to cut back, though, here are my favorite less-well-known substitutes:

Yerba MateA few years ago I visited a friend in Buenos Aires, returned home, canceled my lease and moved to Recoleta, where I started drinking lots of red wine and mate. Mate’s bump feels less jittery than coffee to me, though it’s definitely still a stimulant. Make sure you put cool water on the leaves first and use water that’s hot but not boiling, otherwise it’ll come out too bitter. Also the dark roast rules with milk and honey.

Genmaicha. This tea smells like food and it’s amazing. It’s a roasted rice and green tea, so you get some caffeine, but the taste is quite different from green tea alone. Know that green tea gets bitter when steeped for too long, and Genmaicha’s best with water temps around 170 – 185 degrees F.

Kukicha. A roasted twig tea with about 1/10 the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, and a laundry list of supposed health benefits, including alkalization of the body. It has a rich, earthy flavor and gives me the same zen/self-congratulatory aura I have when I leave yoga class.

Rosemary. If you’re used to caffeine, rosemary tea’s not going to do much for you. However, if you’ve weaned yourself off and are looking for an herb that promotes focus without jitters, rosemary’s your girl. Mentioned before in ‘how to fight midday fatigue,’ dried rosemary steeped in hot water is great for calm focus, and is often recommended as an herbal supplement for people with ADD.

Ashwagandha.  Ashwagandha is my favorite adaptogen, which is a group of herbs that support the adrenal system, which coffee tends to mess with. If you’re coming off caffeine these are particularly helpful as your system adjusts. Boil 2 parts Ashwagandha root powder to 1 part cinnamon for 20 minutes and drink daily.

And if you’re in the throes of caffeine withdrawal, drink lots of water, take naps, and try to scale down the caffeine instead of dropping off drastically. Also maybe don’t sit next to me. Until you’re nice again. Amelia. Thanks.

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  • Heba

    one time i decided to quit coffee i had a bad headache lasted for more than 9 hours.. am never gonna quit caffeine ever

  • Xenia Kuhn

    Why would I want to quite drinking coffee? It’s like the best thing ever!!!!

  • Wow, bathing in Rosemary and naming my first born daughter Rosemary from now on if that helps my ADD and no caffeine lyfe. Thanks, Kate!

    “Ashwagandha is my favorite adaptogen, which is a group of herbs that support the adrenal system, which coffee tends to mess with.” — brb, going to get another degree so I can understand what those words mean.

    • Kate Barnett

      girl, i could write a book on herbs for ADD…. definitely look into the adaptogenic herbs for that. they help to both boost energy and reduce anxiety if taken consistently.

      • Please write that book. You can include my chapter called “girl is a bitch for 8 years until she stopped taking adderall”

  • Miko

    Don’t forget Teeccino- a cup full of goodness ( Organic Carob, Barley, Chicory, Almonds, Dates, and figs).

  • Meg

    I will never give up coffee.

  • Sweet Mona
  • ElizabethBCarpenter

    It’s a roasted rice and green tea, so you get some caffeine, but the taste is quite different from green tea alone. Know that green tea gets bitter when steeped for too long, and Genmaicha’s best with water temps around 170 – 185 degrees F.

  • Montserrat Sobral

    I am Reading this while having a cup of coffee latte, gossshhh! thanks for the alternatives, they are always good to have in mind. By the way, I started drinking Matcha…mmmm…really good (specially with a bit of soya milk and some honey)

  • You’re such a guru, Kate. Livin’ tha zen life.

  • Eve

    I have tried many times and even do I fall back from time to time I think I have found the perfect substitute for coffee. Chai latte! With Bon soy.
    The only fallback is it leaves me feeling extremely relaxed.
    So not great if you need the opposite effect early morning, late afternoon pick up. And might be working better during winter! ( maybe try a chilled version in summer?)

  • I drink only one cup of coffee a day, but, for whatever reason, decided to quit. So I spent three days snoozing! Finally, I came to my senses and got back to my morning coffee routine. It was nice to become myself again. Seriously, I have absolutely no idea why I did this to myself lol Coffee is the best!!!

  • Kate Wilson

    I don’t think I could ever give it up!


  • Somebody from Somewhere

    I love coffee too much! 🙂

  • Gem

    Yerba Mate is a highly carcinogenic tea, research before you consume it regularly. It does suppress appetite though.

    • MAAN


      • Gem


  • Mara Herrera

    You should try rooibos tea, it has no caffeine. And tastes really good with a few drops of lemon juice.

    • Courtney

      Ooh yeah. I live in South Africa and we drink it here all the time!

  • Camila Freitas

    medical student … i can’t stop drinking coffee

  • Nooooo, don’t take my coffee!!

  • Sara

    I love this. I am definitely addicted to coffee!

  • disqus_ut1kAlAlc8

    No coffee = no toilet = bad mood!!!

    • Kate Barnett

      if you replace with one of the roasted grain coffee replacements, or roasted dandelion root, it has a similar effect as coffee!

      • M

        Thanks. I will give it a try.

  • Nice post!

    Wifey Off Duty

  • Farha

    WIll always be an on-going battle

  • I have been tossing up dropping the c habit for a while now but always get to 10am and give in! Thanks for the tips!

    Anisa – The Macadames.

  • Tracy

    I never drink coffee and I must say it amuses me when seeing people who can’t resist without it.

  • FatFreeFashion

    Coffee, water, wine, repeat. Never going to give up coffee. One of life’s finest pleasures!


  • Cinamaron

    My favorite coffee substitute is Good Earth’s Sweet & Spicy tea. I usually drink the decaf version because I think it tastes better. It has: rooibos, chicory root, rosehip, cinnamon, lemongrass, peppermint, chamomile, ginger, anise, orange oil, and orange peel. It is pretty much magic in a cup and you will want to drink it all day.

    • Hudson Berry

      Holy hell, Good Earth’s Sweet & Spicy is magical. Even when I’m just steeping it at my desk, my coworkers come over and ask what smells so good. Good call.

  • Caroline

    Try Matcha! Its pulverized green tea. Its so good and good for you!

  • Augustine

    Matcha green tea blesses you with all the perks of coffee and none of the jitters said everyone ever