As someone who has become very sensitive to caffeine and stimulants through a chronic illness, I am not able to have coffee everyday any more. Not helpful if you’re a barista! I still have coffee occasionally, but I find if I have too much I feel very “acidic” and on edge, so I keep it as a treat or for when I seriously need a boost. Coffee is not inherently bad – but the caffeine and acidity can become a big issue for many of us.
So what can you do instead? Most coffee alternatives on the market are full of grains. In my experience, these grains (rye, barely, etc.) don’t really lend that much flavour or mouthfeel, so presumably they are mostly added to make the product cheaper. Fair enough, but again – not helpful for someone using paleo or the autoimmune protocol (or other protocols) for minimizing inflammation and damage.
A great option is to make your own coffee alternative. There are a plethora of recipes on the internet, so check some out to find a flavour that works for you – common ingredients are dandelion root, chicory, carob, rooibos tea, sweet spices, etc. In a pinch, I use plain raw or roasted dandelion root, but the recipe I adore combines this with chicory and ginger root for a spectacular flavour that is naturally sweet, not musky, and has a gorgeous, velvety mouthfeel. It combines well with plant milks, and works well in a french press, clever/manual drip filter, or even a tea infuser. If you have a burr grinder (I do not), you may even be able to get a consistent enough grind to make espresso, but I have not been able to test this.
Dandelion is a bitter herb, making it naturally a digestive aid. It is a potent liver cleanser, meaning it supports the liver in its daily functions and enhances its ability to clear, preventing congestion and stagnation. When your liver is functioning optimally, the rest of your body has a much better chance of functioning well also. Like coffee, dandelion is a diuretic, so use in moderation (like everything!). It can also be nourishing to the body. Energetically, dandelion root is cool-cold, bitter, and dry, making it helpful for dampness in the body and congestion. Be cautious, however, if you have gallbladder issues as dandelion can be a potent bile stimulant.
I add ginger partially for flavour, and partially to warm things up a little. Ginger is pungent and heating, a strong blood circulator, and is extremely helpful with digestive issues and discomfort. Ginger relieves inflammation and pain, and prevents bacterial infection and flu. Be cautious of ginger in instances of ulcer or “hot” skin conditions such as eczema.
Ayurvedically speaking, dandelion increases Vata (Air + Space), while ginger increases Pitta (Fire + Water) and some Vata. To make this drink more balanced with Kapha (Water + Earth), I make my coffee “bulletproof” by adding coconut milk, coconut oil, ghee and gelatin to add healthful fats and support my brain, skin, joints, and sustain energy.
Dandelion Coffee (serves 1)
Per 1.5 cups of boiling water:
1 Tbsp ground dandelion root (try raw or roasted!)
1 tsp roasted chicory root
Pinch of dry ginger
Allow herbs to steep for at least 5-20 mins.
*To make “bulletproof”: in a blender mix coconut milk (or other plant milk), coconut oil and collagen powder. Blend this alone and add on top of coffee or blend right into the coffee.
Dandelion Coffee (from the ground up)
* Purchase raw dandelion root (or harvest and dry yourself!)
* Roast in a single layer in a 300F oven for 2+ hours (taste every hour to experience the deepening of flavour and decide what you like best – I stopped at 2 hours)
* Grind until appropriate size for your coffee maker of choice (if using a regular coffee/spice grinder, there will be powdered bits and larger bits, but don’t worry, it still works in presses, manual drips, and infusers – BUT you don’t want sludge, so be careful not to grind too far, and use a filter if this becomes an issue)
* Follow recipe ratios above, using @1 Tbsp dandelion per cup of water
* Look at that pretty solid crema and enjoy your earthy, sweet non-coffee!