But first coffee — sound like anyone you know? Maybe those are the three words that describe your Monday morning… and every day after.

If coffee is an integral part of your AM routine, then you probably already know the productivity and health benefits a cup of joe bestows upon us.

However, sometimes our dependency on coffee and the caffeine boost becomes all too evident when we storm the kitchen, searching for the last drop of cold brew.

For some, that dependency is a sign it’s time to look for a replacement. But is there truly an alternative that offers the same great taste and benefits as our morning lattes?

Maybe not exactly — but there are plenty of coffee alternatives which can provide the energy and health benefits you need in the morning. The big question though is: Do they work?

We spoke to 9 people who gave up coffee, their reasons for doing so, and how they feel now.

Lauren Sieben, 29, Self-employed

Why they quit:

At the time, I was dealing with sinus and upper respiratory symptoms, and usually when I’m under the weather I skipped my morning coffee. But a couple of weeks of coffee abstinence turned into a shift away from coffee completely, especially since I realized after I quit that my coffee habit had been upsetting my stomach and making me jittery.

Coffee replacement:

I replaced coffee with tea of all kinds, though I do drink a lot of matcha and green tea.

Did it work?

Now that I’ve stopped, I don’t have those symptoms very often. I’m not sure if it’s the acidity, the caffeine, or a combination of both, but for someone like me with a sensitive stomach, I feel better getting a mild caffeine kick from tea and avoiding the stomach upset that often came with coffee.

I still drink lattes every now and then — I think the milk helps ‘mellow out’ the espresso, not just in terms of flavor but in terms of caffeine and acidity. I don’t miss my daily cup of black coffee and at this point I don’t see myself making it a regular habit again.

Melissa Keyser, 34, Writer and naturalist

Why they quit:

I quit coffee more than a year ago. I was having really bad anxiety and I almost constantly felt like I couldn’t fully inhale a deep breath.

Coffee replacement:

I liked the ritual of something hot, so I found a green tea I like. I’ve since discovered that even black tea or chai will cause the anxiety, but a toasted brown rice green tea (Genmaicha) is a perfect amount.

Another good thing is that I’ve saved money! I never liked straight coffee, but my morning latte of free trade espresso and organic milk was eating up a significant amount of my cash.

Did it work?

I felt better right away.

Green tea and matcha vs. coffee

general, green tea has about 30 to 50 milligrams (mg) per 8-oz. serving while
instant coffee has anywhere from 27 to 173 mg per serving. The amount of caffeine
in green tea
can also vary depending on the quality, the brand, and
how old the tea is.

India K., 28, Marketing consultant

Why they quit:

I quit because I went on a homeopathic remedy that prevented me from drinking it, but I also just didn’t enjoy it very much.

Coffee replacement:

I primarily drink black tea (often Assam or Darjeeling) and occasionally matcha these days.

Did it work?

Now that I’ve cut it out, I feel very good — coffee would make me jittery and overstimulated. I’ll never drink it again.

Sara Murphy, 38, Writer and editor

Why they quit:

I went on an elimination diet for about 6 months, and coffee was the only food or drink that made me feel ill when I incorporated it into my life again.

Coffee replacement:

I exclusively drink black tea these days — I don’t really like the taste of white or green. Since I’ve always loved tea, too, I cut out the coffee.

Did it work?

I wouldn’t say quitting gave me any unexpected benefits, since I fully expected the abdominal pain and digestive discomfort to disappear once I stopped drinking coffee. Nor do I feel I’m missing out on a caffeine boost at all.

People have suggested that I look for low-acid coffee and ensure I only drink it on a full stomach, but I don’t miss coffee enough to do that. Plus, my favorite work café is actually a tea shop with an 80-page menu, so it’s incredibly easy to stick with a cuppa instead of a cappuccino!

About to be in Italy in a few weeks, though, so that might be interesting…

Black tea vs. coffee

may have heard that steeping black tea for a few extra minutes might give the
same caffeine boost as coffee. Depending on the quality and type, it’s possible!
Black tea has about 25 to 110 mg of caffeine per serving compared to brewed
coffee’s 102 to 200 mg.

Stefani Wilkes, 27, Part-time freelancer

Why they quit:

I quit coffee because it interfered with my medication. I have BPD (borderline personality disorder), so it would impact my anxiety which made me cranky — which then made me swing between moods or become dysregulated.

Coffee replacement:

These days, I have water, juice, cannabis, caffeine-free soda, basically anything that has zero caffeine — except chocolate. I still eat chocolate.

Did it work?

I feel so much better since I quit!

Nat Newman, 39, Operations manager

Why they quit:

Weirdly enough, I literally woke up one morning and couldn’t stand the smell anymore. It now smells like a fresh turd to me and I have no idea why.

Coffee replacement:

I don’t drink coffee anymore but I didn’t replace it with anything — I just stopped drinking it.

Did it work?

It’s made zero difference in my life, although it is harder to find something to order when I go to cafes.

In that case, I suppose I’ve replaced coffee with beer (and yes, I’ve been known to drink beer at 10 a.m.). Will I ever drink it again? Depends if this weird smell reaction changes.

Beer vs. coffee

micro-breweries make beer with yerba mate,
which naturally contains caffeine, but the amount of caffeine is unknown. In
general, most beers don’t contain caffeine. In fact, the FDA
caffeinated alcoholic beverages an “unsafe food additive.”

Laurie, 48, Writer

Why they quit:

I cut out coffee for medical reasons.

Coffee replacement:

Instead of my morning cup, I make smoothies with raw cacao.

Did it work?

They’re good, but the lack of caffeine makes me never want to get out of bed because I don’t have the same amount of energy as I used to with coffee.

On the plus side, my skin does look way better. That being said, I definitely plan on going back to coffee in the future.

Raw cacao vs. coffee

amount of caffeine in raw cacao is very small compared to coffee, but that’s
also what could make raw cacao an excellent alternative for people who are
sensitive to caffeine.

Cold turkey, or sugar

Catherine McBride, 43, University medical research editor

Why they quit:

My doctor told me I was overdoing it with the caffeine, which is why I quit.

I’ve struggled with anemia and caffeine messes with your body’s ability to absorb iron from foods so I needed to change.

Coffee replacement:

I don’t really have a coffee replacement. My doctor told me that drinking a lot of caffeine is bad for me so I’ve tried to listen to my body and sleep.

Occasionally I’ll use sugar to pep myself up when I need to.

Did it work?

I do feel less productive at times, less able to control my energy levels — but I also sleep much better and I’m much less irritable. I can’t imagine I’ll ever go back.

Cailey Thiessen, 22, Translator

Why they quit:

I don’t like the addiction feeling or getting a headache if I don’t have coffee one day.

Coffee replacement:


Did it work?

I’ve cut out coffee a few times but in the end keep going back to it. Long term, after a few weeks I usually feel more awake overall, though in the first week or two I always have intense headaches. However, I haven’t experienced many benefits other than that to quitting.

I end up feeling about the same and take up coffee again because I just love the taste. It’s such an integral part of my schedule to sip a cup of coffee in the morning. Tea feels like an afternoon drink.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, it’s important to know that you may experience some unpleasant side effects at first.

Of course, how easy or difficult your post-coffee period is depends on how big of a coffee drinker you were and what you’re replacing your morning brew with.

After all, caffeine can be addictive to some, so cutting it out cold turkey doesn’t always go smoothly. At least not right away.

Moving over to green or black teas may help you fare a bit better during the transition.

And hey, remember that those side effects are temporary and will fade once you’re on the other side.

Jennifer Still is an editor and writer with bylines in Vanity Fair, Glamour, Bon Appetit, Business Insider, and more. She writes about food and culture. Follow her on Twitter.