Alternatives to Coffee

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I gave up coffee about three months ago without planning to. The three-day headache that resulted from not drinking my daily one or two cups hardened my resolve to stay off coffee, more specifically the caffeine. However, I miss the morning ritual of a hot cup of coffee with the aroma, the cream and sugar, and quite truthfully, the taste of coffee.

So I’ve been looking for a substitute. Tea is not my thing, and I’m hesitant about decaffeinated coffee.

There are several methods in the process to remove caffeine from coffee beans: one in which the beans are soaked in water, which removes the caffeine and the flavoring oils. Ethyl acetate is added to the water and the caffeine binds to the chemical. When the water is heated, the chemical and the caffeine evaporates. The beans are then soaked in the remaining water that now contains only the oils. While ethyl acetate is a naturally occurring substance in fruits (it’s responsible for their aroma), it is considered a “flammable liquid and vapor”  and, in addition to causing irritation of the eyes,  “prolonged or repeated contact causes defatting of the skin with irritation, dryness, and cracking.” (Mayo Clinic).

“Defatting of the skin”? My skin is dry enough already, I’d like to keep some of that moisturizing fat…

So, while realistically drinking what is called “naturally decaffeinated” coffee may not defat my skin and cause other problems, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

There is the Swiss Water process that uses no solvents or chemicals to decaffeinate coffee. The water that beans are soaked in to remove the caffeine processed through a carbon filtering system. This kind of coffee I might try. The prices don’t seem too outrageous, from $16 for a 1 lb. bag of Organic Decaf Peru to $31 for 30 oz. from Jeremiah’s Pick (it’s organic too).

In the meantime, I found in my pantry shelves, from a long ago trade show, a small envelope of Caffeine-Free Herbal Coffee from Teeccino. It’s not really coffee, but a blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that  taste surprisingly close enough to it, and has a dark rich color, like coffee! The flavor I am drinking now, Almond Amaretto, is made with roasted carob, barely, chicory root, dates, almonds, figs and natural Amaretto flavor. The price range is decent as well–a 1 lb. can of its French Roast Herbal Coffee is $13.50.

I’m more used to spending $5 to $7 for a can of supermarket-bought coffee, like Don Francisco’s, but as in my quest to healthier eating, having to pay more for organic produce, I have to consider what’s more important–my health or a new pair of shoes.



Mayo Clinic

International Coffee Organization

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Swiss Water

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