DAY 1: Caffeine Free Challenge

I'm Going Caffeine-Free!

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Today, I’m kicking off the New Year with the beginnings of a new habit. A caffeine-free habit. If you intended to join the Caffeine-Free Challenge, but haven’t signed up for the emails yet, go do so now!

For the rest of you, I’ll be posting the occasional update here at Food Renegade. Starting NOW.

I don’t have a caffeine addiction. At least, I don’t think I do. I know; I’d be a terrible 12-stepper. I say this because any time I’ve given up coffee in the past, I’ve had none of the typical withdrawal symptoms. No headaches. No irritability. No lethargy. What I miss is the flavor. At least that’s what I tell myself.

If you’re like me and love coffee for the flavor, for the aroma of a warm, dark, and creamy roasted beverage, then perhaps you’d like to try out these flavorful, Food Renegade approved coffee substitutes:

Roastaroma by Celestial Seasonings — This is a delicious, full-bodied herbal tea blend made from roasted barley, chicory, and carob with a hint of cinnamon and allspice. I let it steep for 8-10 minutes to get a nice, strong flavor. It's inexpensive and a nice treat on cold mornings.

Dandy Blend by Goosefoot Acres — Made from dandelion root (a natural liver detox agent) and roasted rye, barley, chicory, and beet roots, this brews up like an instant coffee. Just stir a couple of tablespoons into boiling water, and voila! Coffee substitute. I love this because dandelion root is so good for your liver and kidneys that I can actually think of this like a health drink! (No, it's not like raw milk or kombucha, but it's still good for you!)

Teeccino — These coffee-substitute blends are dreamy. In addition to roasted goodness, they come flavored with dates, almonds, vanilla, and other natural goodies to replicate many gourmet flavors like Mocha, Hazelnut, and Chocolate Mint. They're also 75% organic. BONUS.

If I’m really just addicted to the flavor and aroma, then perhaps these simple substitutes will keep me in good spirits. If not, then I’ll need to re-evaluate my Plan A. (You know, the one where I quit coffee cold turkey and just go without it for a month by sheer effort of will.)

If you know my Plan A won’t work for you, don’t fret! In the Challenge emails, I’ll be sending out a number of alternative plans over the coming weeks in the hopes that one of them will work for you. Again, if you want to join us in the Caffeine-Free Challenge, sign up here!


  1. says

    I’m not totally caffeine-free at the moment, but I am coffee free for the last two weeks. I love the flavor of coffee and was afraid some of the substitutes wouldn’t do at all. I tried Teeccino’s Amaretto and Mocha. At first I wasn’t sure if I could get past that slight figgy sweetness (always drank my coffee unsweetened), but after the second cup the next day, I was really enjoying it. I have my Teeccino like a latte…with lots of warm milk. I still have a black tea now and then as a way to keep the withdrawal headache away. I will eventually go caffeine-free completely, but just wasn’t ready for that big of a transition so fast.

    I will try the other two substitutes you suggested. Good luck to you!

  2. Natalie says

    I went caffeine free several months ago. I didn’t have any withdrawals nor did I feel/see any health benefits from it, aside from less ringing in my ears (Meniere’s Disease). I occasionally have a cup, b/c I love the taste of coffee, but, I don’t crave it or anything.

    I drink Teeccino and love it. But, I’m going to seek out the blends here that you recommend. Thanks for this post!

  3. Terri says

    I am ready for this challenge. I actually began going caffeine free about 3 weeks ago. I have been a coffee drinker for over 30 years and have always needed it just to get my day started. Then it got to the point that if I didn’t have at least one cup in the morning I would get withdrawal headaches. I tried going cold turkey and had a severe migraine that made me so sick and I decided enough is enough. I never realized how addicted I was to coffee until recently and I didn’t want to be a prisoner to it.

    I switched to half caff coffee for a slow transition and am now just drinking decaf. I am having a hard time giving up the ‘habit’ of my mornings with a cup, however. I think I will try some of the suggested substitutes next.

  4. says

    We just discovered teeccino a few weeks ago and simply love it. I think I may be addicted to the flavor also and teeccino makes a lovely caffeine free substitute.

  5. says

    As soon as I finish my last batch of unsweetened iced tea, I will be switching off tea altogether. I already don’t drink coffee, but I can drink a gallon of black tea a day. I’ll still allow myself the occasional green tea, but nothing like I’ve been doing. I need to give my adrenals a break!

  6. says

    I’ve been caffeine-free before, usually during pregnancy. Right now the thought of going caffeine free makes me hyperventilate and the fact that the hubby is pushing to be decaf is only making me more anxious. So,probably…I’ll end up taking this challenge. Or maybe switching to green tea. We’ll see.

    • Kathryn says

      i tried the teeccino – loved the flavor, but it wired me. I think I also may have problems with barley – so I may just have to go caffeine free. Yuck! i love the flavor of the coffee.

  7. says

    I actually went caffeine free without realizing it when coffee started tasting weird to me once I cut out sugar. I had an espresso the other day on a whim and it was like I was on speed!! I can’t believe I drank that stuff every day!

    That being said , I sure did get a lot done that morning. LOL

  8. says

    I’m going completely caffeine free because I drank about 6 cups of decaffeinated tea a few days ago, then tossed and turned all night. Seems even the trace caffeine is too much for me. I’m only drinking herbal blends now. Prior to this afternoon, I would have said, “BORING!” but I’m sipping a cup of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice, and it’s really yummy. (

    Thanks for getting this going!

  9. says

    I can understand wanting to reduce caffeine as much as possible, and have had to do that while on chemo a couple different times. But I’m puzzled why people wouldn’t just switch to decaf coffee if they love the taste as much as the habit.

    What I do is eat breakfast first, and then have a cup of coffee…or use cold coffee to make a high protein, low carb kefir-based shake I sometimes eat for breakfast. I get just as much satisfaction from a mid-morning cup – and with two dogs and a feral cat, I never really got a cup of coffee before taking care of them, anyway. 😉

    I usually only drink one cup a day, caffeinated. But there are days when I can pound a full 20oz. cafe au lait while doing errands after work. I don’t drink, I keep carbs under 60 grams/day, I don’t smoke, move and walk every day. Coffee is my main vice. I’m still a lot too attached. 😉

  10. says

    I got scared! Cold turkey was too much with a 5:30 wakeup every day, so I’ve been drinking green tea instead and feel much betterr, if a little sleepy.

  11. Deborah says

    I am the biggest addict, but not coffee. I ahve been drinking Diet Soda since I was in junior high (20+ years ago). I have tried many times to give it up and have never been successful. I have been able to stay away from it for several months, but then I think it will be OK to have a little bit here and there and the next thing I know, I am drinking 2+ cans a day. I hate how I feel and am aware of the side effects, but seem unable to get it out of my life. I have never tried to work with anyone else, so I am hopeful that this will work.

    • says

      Kate, if you aren’t into “processed” foods, then you don’t want to drink decaf–I don’t remember all of the details–I looked into it years ago–but it is not very good for you. The chemicals used to decaffeinate are nasty, and you are still left with much of the complex natural chemicals that make up coffee. For me, being off coffee altogether has already improved my digestion and my sleep.

      • Angi says

        I purchase my decaf from a local coffee roaster who hand picks the beans he will roast. His decaf is a Swiss Water Processed decaf that removes almost all of the caffeine. It does leave trace amounts of the caffeine. My issue isn’t with the caffeine, but with the oils in the actual coffee beans, which aren’t removed 😀 I tremor and my face flushes just from having a cup of decaf…but I love it so much that I still have it occasionally. I’ve never been a big caffeine person. My husband, OTOH, drinks at least 2 cans of Mt. Dew/day! Some days there is a 44oz fountain Dew added in, for good measure. However, that being his ONLY vice, and knowing he functions on roughly 4 hours of sleep/night, I can’t bug him too much.

  12. Kelly says

    Yesterday was my first caffeine free day in a long time. It surprised me I had no withdrawal symptoms. I do like the nice warm cup of creamy something to start my morning. I’ll look into one of the suggestions above. Thank you for the recommendations :-)

    I was extremely hesitant to sign up for this. In grad school, how do you go without caffeine?! I’ll find out in about two weeks when the semester starts again.

  13. says

    I quit drinking coffee about three weeks ago when I was too sick with the flu for 5 days–I had a horrible headache the whole week (maybe the flu and caffeine withdrawal!) I’ve been sleeping really well at night and not feeling so tired during the afternoons since I quit. I was missing a hot drink in the morning (my husband making coffee every morning was nearly killing me! That aroma!) and did not want to do tea, so my husband reminded me that we used to drink Roma and Postum and Cafix back when we were macrobiotic (about 20 years ago!). I finally found Roma and Cafix at the health food store (chicory and malted barley blends, both slightly different). I was so thrilled when I made my first morning “cafe” yesterday–with lots of cream it was just like that cup of coffee after not having any for three weeks! I think I can do it!!

  14. says

    I quit drinking coffee a little over one year ago on the advice of my holistic physician. I was beginning to recover from Adrenal Fatigue and that was step one! I did a gradual step down, cutting my serving in half every week until I decided I no longer needed it. With this method, I only had a few mild headaches here and there. I still have a small cup here and there because I do miss the flavor, smell, and warm feeling!

  15. says

    I am addicted to coffee and have had a hard time finding a substitute because I have a gluten intolerance. All of your alternatives above have barley in them and so I cannot use them. I know Teeccino says it is gluten free, but it has barley in it and I can’t take that chance. Do you have any other coffee alternatives to suggest?

    • KristenM says

      Good question. I’ll look into it. A long, long time ago I had a gluten-free coffee substitute that was roasted chicory and one of the pseudo-grains. I’ll try to dig up the name of it for you.

      • Cynthia says

        Maybe you could talk more eloquently than I about why NOT to do the Soy Coffee substitutes–those are gluten free, but soy’s not something healthful to drink!

  16. Carol says

    I stopped coffee before the Thanksgiving holiday, no head aches. I have had coffee a couple afternoons with friends-just one cup(I did not enjoy it as much as previously either!). I previously drank 3-5 cups a day of strong coffee. The one thing that I have found is no morning grogginess and I think this is very nice.
    I occasionally now have a cup of herbal tea, but I don’t find it very satisfying and usually settle for a cup of hot water if I find myself wanting to just sit and enjoy something warm in the afternoon. Usually while my granddaughter is napping.
    I have tried the Teeccino and did not care for it about a year ago, don’t like the idea of the process of decaf.

  17. jen says

    i have been caffiene free for 2 plus years and its very difficult to be totally caffine free because this includes chocolate and green teas sodas etc. i did this because i have a hypeRthyroid. i just wanted to tell you that the roastaroma is, well, not very good. it gives me heartburn every time. so another alternative that might help is, on weekday mornings my cup consist of hot water. and for variety hot water with lemon juice, Acv, honey or any combonation. and on the weekends i will have instant decaf. with all the fixins, real cream, real sugar lol. the reason its instant? i only have 1 coffee pot and that is usually occupied by my husbands 12 cups of french roast! so instant makes it easy to enjoy a cup with him on the weekends.

  18. says

    I am as caffeine free as I am willing to go! I stopped coffee, stopped black and green tea, stopped Mate. I have chocolate occasionally and kombucha which is made from tea once or twice a week. I love Dandy Blend and teechino mixed together ( I use the french roast teechino) with a big helping of raw cream. I SO wish Dandy Blend was organic. That is my only problem with it. Good luck to all the participants. I am not always sure that I feel any better being coffee and tea free but I know my adrenal glands are happier.

  19. Bevie says

    I am not totally caffeine free yet, but I found a rooibos tea chai that hits the spot when I am wanting a coffee-like thing. Coconut milk goes well with it.

  20. says

    What are you thoughts on Teeccino being gluten free?

    Before they removed the “Certified Gluten Free” label from the package, I tried it but didn’t know I had to use a paper filter. I used it in my French press and felt rotten for days. I have since tried it successfully using a paper filter, but that first experience makes me want to warn those with more intense reactions to gluten. It’s good, but the risk of contamination may not be worth it.

    By the way, I’m 3 weeks coffee free! (I do indulge in a cup of green tea occasionally)

  21. tonya says

    i love roasted dandelion tea from traditional medicinal with honey and cream! its super yummy and smells and taste similar to coffee. my kids love it too:)

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