The Rise of Coffee Alternatives

The global coffee substitute market is growing and is expected to be worth over $2 billion by 20291. As more people ditch classic java for tasty new infusions, coffee companies worldwide are introducing flavored herbal blends, tea lattes, and other innovative hot drinks to suit the changing market. In this article, we explore a few popular coffee alternatives and why people want them on coffee house menus.
Why People Want Coffee Alternatives
They are reducing caffeine intake
An 8oz cup of coffee contains about 95mg of caffeine – a quarter of an adult’s recommended daily intake, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. While drinking two or three cups of coffee per day may not be harmful, many people choose to avoid caffeine for health reasons. Many studies2 show excessive caffeine consumption can cause insomnia and reduce sleep quality. While caffeine may increase mental alertness and energy levels during the day, the stimulant also elevates the heart rate, often leading to restlessness and anxiety.
Rising coffee prices
Global coffee prices spiked in November 2021, spurred on by a challenging growing season in Brazil plagued by drought, frost, and unusual weather conditions3. The prices continued to rise in 2022, jumping by 14.8%4 in grocery stores. Even though coffee prices may finally be on the decline, many Americans are still reaching for more affordable morning beverages, including herbal coffees, flavored teas, and natural energy boosters.
Popular Coffee Substitutes
Matcha and Green Tea
Green tea is a superfood with countless health benefits, including aiding digestion, preventing disease, and balancing blood sugar. It contains less caffeine than coffee and comes from the same plant as black tea. Matcha is the powdered form of green tea which many coffee companies have started using to make bright green lattes, smoothies, and other health drinks.
Yerba Mate
Yerba mate is a traditional South American herbal tea that contains a similar amount of caffeine as coffee, increasing mental alertness and energy levels. It also contains more antioxidants than green tea, including polyphenols and saponins, which have anti-inflammatory qualities. Yerba mate or “mate tea” has been proven to help lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss, and protect heart health5.
Mushroom coffee
This beverage is a blend coffee beans and ground medicinal mushrooms, such as Chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps. It has less caffeine and offers more health benefits than regular coffee. These mushrooms are high in adaptogens, which may boost immunity and fight infection.
Chicory and dandelion root
Both dandelion and chicory root can be dried and ground to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute sometimes called “herbal coffee”. Chicory has a similar flavor to roasted coffee beans, is high in fiber, and may boost gut health.
Capturing Coffee Flavors Without The Caffeine
Coffee contains thousands of chemical compounds that create its signature flavor. Food and beverage companies can isolate these compounds and use them to create coffee-flavored products without caffeine.
Pyrazines are compounds humans can smell even in small quantities, which are abundant in coffee and responsible for its complex, roasted aroma. Pyrroles, another chemical compound in coffee, produce slightly sweeter scents that give the drinks earthy caramel undertones. Roasting coffee beans also produces pyridines – toasty flavors that emerge from burning sugars during the Maillard Reaction.
Adding caffeine-free or low-caffeine coffee substitutes to your offering can help you expand your audience and reach more health- and price-conscious consumers. Many coffee alternatives are also more sustainable and less vulnerable to environmental changes. Advanced Biotech is a leading supplier of coffee extracts and their isolated flavor compounds. Please contact us for more information.