Coffee substitute

Coffee substitute

Coffee substitutes are non-coffee products, usually without caffeine, that are used to imitate coffee. Coffee substitutes can be used for medical, economic and religious reasons, or simply because coffee is not readily available. Roasted grain beverages are common substitutes for coffee.

In World War II, acorns were used to make coffee. During the American Civil War coffee was also scarce in the South:[1]

For the stimulating property to which both tea and coffee owe their chief value, there is unfortunately no substitute; the best we can do is to dilute the little stocks which still remain, and cheat the palate, if we cannot deceive the nerves.

The Southern Banner, 1865

Coffee substitutes are sometimes used in preparing foods served to children or to people who avoid caffeine, or in the belief that they are healthier than coffee. For religious reasons, some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons, refrain from drinking coffee but may enjoy a substitute.

Some culinary traditions, like that of Korea, include beverages made from roasted grain instead of coffee or tea (including boricha, oksusu cha, and hyeonmi cha). These do not substitute for coffee, but fill its niche as a hot drink (optionally sweetened).



Grain coffee and other substitutes can be made by roasting or decocting various organic substances.

Some ingredients used include: almond, acorn, asparagus, malted barley, beechnut, beetroot, carrot, chicory root, corn, cottonseed, dandelion root (see dandelion coffee), fig, boiled-down molasses, okra seed, pea, persimmon seed, potato peel,[2] rye, sassafras pits, sweet potato, wheat bran.

The Native American tribes of what is now the Southeastern United States brewed a ceremonial drink containing caffeine, "asi", or the "black drink", from the roasted leaves and stems of the Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria). European colonists adopted this beverage as a coffee-substitute, which they called "cassina".[3]

Ground roasted chicory root has been sold commercially on a large scale since around 1970, and it has become a mainstream product, both alone and mixed with real coffee. It was widely used during the American Civil War on both sides, and has long enjoyed popularity especially in New Orleans, where Luzianne has long been a popular brand in this respect.

Postum was an instant type of coffee substitute made from wheat bran, wheat, molasses, and maltodextrin from corn. It reached its height of popularity in the United States during World War II when coffee was sharply rationed. It remained popular for many years but is no longer made.[4][5] In the wake of its discontinuance, a number of replica recipes for Postum have circulated across the Internet.[6]


Ersatz is made of roasted rice, roasted peas, and roasted chicory.

Nestlé Caro is made of roasted barley, malted barley, chicory, and rye and enjoyed as a coffee substitute. [7][8]

Inka is a Polish drink made of rye, barley, chicory, and sugar beet, produced since 1971.

Barleycup is a similar product sold in the UK.

There are many dandelion based powdered coffee substitutes known as dandelion coffee.

Ayurvedic Roast is a coffee substitute which borrows from both the American tradition of using roasted barley, rye, and chicory, and the Indian Ayurvedic system of health by adding the traditional herbs of ashwagandha, shatavari, and brahmi.[9]


  • Some commercially available preparations are finely powdered and dissolve instantly in hot water
  • Some coffee substitutes, like chicory, are ground and brewed like coffee
  • Some coffee substitutes, like roasted barley grains, are left whole and boiled and steeped like tea

See also


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