Healthy Coffee Alternatives

There are many coffee alternatives available in the markets these days.  Some are instant, some can be brewed in a coffee maker.  And some are even gluten-free.  

Since coffee is acidic, and caffeine ~ even decaf ~ can be overly stimulating to the adrenals, it is not always the healthiest choice, and typically avoided or minimized in macrobiotic diets.  

In fact, Bob Flaws, a well known author, teacher, and practitioner of Chinese medicine considers coffee to be a very dispersing energy that dissipates our qi and essence, despite many people claiming that they are not bothered by caffeine.



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So many coffee alternatives, which to choose?

While Postum has been on the market the longest, Kraft pulled the plug on this long cherished brand in 2008.  

It has been resurrected recently, with a slight change to the original recipe.  


Postum has a long time loyal following.  It rolled out onto the market in the late 1800's.  The sweet flavor combo of wheat with a hint of molasses was a hit.  It grew in popularity in part because groups like the Seventh Day Adventists were happy for a hot beverage to drink as a coffee alternative.

The new company has made slight changes to the original recipe.  While many think it still tastes as good, some were concerned about the sticky granulated residue remaining at the bottom of the cup.



Although there are many coffee alternatives available, they may not meet your expectations on the first sip if you are expecting it to taste and smell just like coffee.  


Here are a few suggestions for the virgin grain coffee drinker:


  • Experiment with more or less of the recommended amount.  

For example, we use a heaping teaspoon, or 2 level teaspoons of the Barlee versus the 1 tsp. recommended on the label, and add only about 6 ounces of boiling water on top.  The color is a nice brown instant coffee color with a slight crema finish similar to a well poured espresso, with a smooth, mild roast-y flavor.  We especially enjoy it as a post dinner hot beverage.

For Teeccino, I have had to dilute it with more hot water sometimes if it tasted too strong at first, and that made a big difference.

  • Try any of the instant grain coffee alternatives, such as Roma, Inka, Barlee, Postum, or Pero  'black' first as a base line taste.

  • Mix it up by adding a little warmed vanilla or plain soy or almond milk, or real vanilla flavoring.  

  • Better still, cook it all together in a small pot, and whisk it to produce a nice froth.  This is a healthier option to using high-fat cream, or sugar-laden dairy-free creamers.  



The difference among many of the grain-based options can be slight, but enough to favor one over another.  Common ingredients used includes roasted dandelion root, roasted chicory root, roasted barley, and in some cases rye or beet root.

Just the difference of one ingredient can make the beverage slightly more sweet, or slightly more bitter.  Preferences, or a high sensitivity to the bitter taste may actually be genetic.  Some long time coffee drinkers like the slightly bitter taste, while others prefer the sweeter flavor of many of the instant coffee substitutes. 

I noticed while reading many reviews  that  those who drink the coffee alternatives with a creamer (half and half or non-dairy), and those who have health issues that mandated giving up coffee, such as ulcers, acid regurgitation, or insomnia tended to adapt well to the alternative options ~ grateful for a beverage that satisfies their nostalgia for hot mug of coffee.



One of our favorites is Barlee.  Barlee comes in three variations, each with three ingredients.  All three have barley and chicory root.  

One is with roasted dandelion root, which we enjoy, one with rose hips, and one with echinacea. 

The one with rose hips is just slightly more tart than the dandelion, but otherwise they are very close in taste.  Rose hips are high in bioflavonoids. 

Both Don and I and some of our clients really like the Barlee.  It's easy to make since it is instant, and the price is great.

The 5-pack, such as in the lower right image to the right is only $19.99, so if you like it, buy in bulk and save!  That makes each can only about $4!

They come shipped quickly too!



I am a long-time lover of good, dark roast coffee.  I drank it black, but I also used to love a good cappuccino, with frothed milk, or soy milk.  

While eating a paleo diet, the black dark roast cup of coffee in the morning was nearly mandatory for me.  Animal foods are more yang ~ more rich and strengthening.

Continued consumption of an excess of heavy, rich animal foods will sludge up blood flow over time,  leading to increased stagnation.  Dark coffee and dark chocolate, being on the other end of the yin/yang continuum, have a more dispersing nature. It is a counter balance to a rich diet, albeit not the healthiest method of restoring balance!

Many people don't realize that their cravings are the body's way of trying to maintain a homeostasis.  It's important to learn when your cravings are healthy, and when they are just based on habit.  It is also important to learn what the cravings may be indicating about your underlying health condition!

Eating a more centering, macrobiotic diet helps alleviate cravings for caffeine ~ and better enjoy the taste of these healthy coffee alternatives!




There are coffee alternatives made from non-grain ingredients, which are also gluten-free.  Soyava is made from soy beans, Coffig is made entirely from black mission figs, and Copamo is made from the highly touted Maya nut, which goes by other names including ramon nut, found in several of the Teeccino flavors.  All of these are gluten-free.

The ramón or Maya nut is a good source of protein, iron, potassium, and calcium, and is a natural galactagogue which helps boost milk production in nursing mothers, among several other health benefits.  


You can find all of these on our new Healthy Coffee Alternative Specialty Store, or our Minton Macrobiotic Online Store, both linked below.



Coffig comes in a tea bag for convenience, or in granules which can also be brewed.  Typically, granulated herbs will have a more full taste when simmered in a pot.  

The tea bag does come out looking very much like coffee.  There is even a slight coffee aroma, which many people love.  Coffig has a ton of great reviews online, and many are happy for the tea bags as they can take them to their office and enjoy it mid-day.

It is very alkalizing, however the fig flavor has a slightly acidic, or fruity and sour flavor.  It comes out best when covered and left to steep for at least 5 minutes, or placing the tea bag in a pot to simmer on the stove.  I have not tried the granulated form.

I enjoy it, and I am sometimes in the mood for it over the other coffee alternatives mentioned above, like Barlee, or Teeccino, however, I often prefer the roasted root flavored grain coffee alternatives.  

Don is more sensitive to the acidic taste.  His favorite is the Barlee brand.  Both the roasted dandelion and rose hip variations taste similar overall, however, I do notice the slight sour flavor of rose hips towards the end of the cup.


Even the astute coffee lover is sure to find a healthy alternative beverage to use as an enjoyable hot beverage later in the day, or to eventually wean off coffee.  

There are coffee alternatives made from slow roasted flax seeds, brown rice, and even garbanzo beans mixed with pecans.

I've selected a good handful to include as part of this special store just featuring healthy beverages.  I look forward to future experimenting.  

Do share your favorites as well!

>NEW! Special Healthy Coffee Alternatives Store

>Minton Macrobiotic Online Store

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