Caffeine is a benign chemical (alkaloid) that is well-tolerated by most people. It is a very popular legal psychoactive stimulant that is consumed all over the world. I grew up in a family that didn't allow kids to have any caffeinated beverages (besides tea), because they thought that kids were hyper enough already. I had my first glass of Coca Cola when I was 10 or 11 years old, and my first cup of coffee when I was 17. During my childhood Coca Cola was more of a treat during birthdays, holidays and other occasions, not a diet staple like in other families. When I was 17 years old, I became addicted to Nescafé instant coffee with milk and sugar. I loved the taste and I enjoyed the caffeine lifts that my morning and afternoon coffee provided, but I hated the jittery feelings after. However, my desire for a cup of delicious coffee was stronger than all the unpleasant feelings that followed after. As a teenager, there were times that I would go to a party and drink about 8 bottles of Red Bull Energy drinks during one night. My heart was racing and I was all bursting with energy, but I didn't feel bad. When I moved to USA, I started to drink more brewed coffee instead of the instant coffee, and quite a lot of soda, including Coca Cola and Mountain Dew that are both high in caffeine. When I became a vegan I learnt to like my coffee black, or with some soy creamer, coconut creamer, or almond milk.
Unfortunately, I became very sensitive to caffeine over the years. I started to feel very drowsy in the morning, alert after a cup of coffee and then drowsy again, but too wired up to sleep. I started to have irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), chest pains and anxiety. I was nervous, my stomach was upset and I experienced frequent heartburn. Last February I made a strong cup of instant coffee and about 20 minutes after I thought that I was having a heart attack, which turned out to be a panic attack. That experience was so painful and horrifying that I decided to kick my caffeine habit for good. I quit cold turkey.
I started to drink a lot of herbal, fruit or decaf green teas.
For the next few weeks I suffered from horrible caffeine withdrawal, such as headaches, irritability and fatigue. I was extremely tired all day, especially in the mornings. Few weeks later I started to feel better. I stopped feeling foggy. I wasn't a zombie in the morning anymore and I started to have more energy. However, I had strong coffee cravings so I decided to try decaf coffee for a while. That didn't work because the decaf coffee gave me heartburn. Not to mention, decaffeinated coffee isn't always 100% caffeine-free. It may contain 3 - 6 mg caffeine per 6 ounces cup. Since last February I have been on a mission to find a good tasting coffee alternative that would not give me heartburn.
So far I found these two brands that I really like.
This natural caffeine-free coffee alternative looks and smells just like a regular ground coffee. When it comes to taste, it is very similar to coffee, but I would say it tastes even better than coffee. It slightly reminds me of New Orleans’ chicory style coffee.
I brew Teeccino Herbal Coffee in my French press. It brews just like a regular coffee. This herbal coffee is non acidic so it does not cause a heartburn. It contains prebiotic-inulin from chicory root that improves digestion and intestinal health. It also contains a heart-healthy potassium and soluble fiber. Teeccino comes in many varieties and flavors, plus light, medium and dark roast. I personally prefer the light and medium roasts.
I have been buying the Mediterranean variety in Almond Amaretto, Hazelnut, and Original flavors at my local Whole Foods Market for several months now. They don't have a big selection at my Whole Foods Market, but Teeccino has tons of other flavors and varieties online. They were so nice and sent me some samples of other flavors to try.
Some of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean varieties are organic carob, organic barley, organic chicory, organic dates, almonds and figs. The Original flavor contains organic orange peel, the Almond Amaretto has natural amaretto flavor and the Chocolate Mint has organic cocoa, peppermint oil and organic peppermint leaves. The Mediterranean variety is slightly sweet so I don’t feel like I need too much sugar in it. I liked all the flavors, except for the Chocolate Mint. Maybe it is because I was never a big fan of Chocolate Mint ice cream and other stuff with that flavor.
The Maya varieties have similar ingredients, plus organic ramon nuts that have been wild-crafted in Guatemala, from a small family farmers. The Maya herbal coffee varieties that I tried were Caffe, Chai (with organic ginger and organic cardamom), and Chocolate (with organic chile flakes).
They have a great suggestion for kicking the caffeine habit- Mix 3/4 regular coffee to 1/4 Teeccino. Then gradually decrease coffee and increase Teeccino until you are caffeine-free.
I will pick one random comment on January 31st, Monday evening. There are several ways to enter this giveaway, but you have to leave a comment for each option to count, if you leave one big comment with everything in it, it will only count as one. The more comments, the better the chances are to win.
# Leave a comment telling what is your favorite coffee alternative or if you prefer real coffee.
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# Tweet about this giveaway and leave me a comment that you did (1 tweet per day is allowed). Include @CzechVeganBlog and @Teeccino in the tweets.
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# For extra 5 entries-make any recipe from Czech Vegan in America blog, and blog about it. Leave 5 separate comments for the entries.