Healthy and budget-friendly alternatives to coffee

barista pouring milk into a matcha latte

Alice Piper

Posted August 26, 2022

If you’re looking to cut down on caffeine, or simply looking to try something different, here are the best healthy and budget-friendly alternatives to your morning coffee.

Morning coffee is a ritual for many Victorians. Studies have shown caffeine can help you think more clearly, increase alertness and improve physical endurance, while antioxidants can help the body fight off free radicals.  

However, for some people, too much caffeine can cause a host of health issues, from digestive distress and restlessness to increased anxiety, irritability, and disrupted sleep.  

Not to mention a takeaway coffee can be more than $5 at many Melbourne cafes (unless you take a reusable cup), that morning and afternoon coffee habit could easily be costing you more than $60 a week, so a cheaper alternative that you can make at home can put money back in your pocket.  

Le Petit Gateau café manager, Alex Hall, says in his 10 years working for one of Melbourne’s most loved cafes and patisseries, he’s seen a huge rise in popularity for alternatives to coffee.  

“We’re definitely seeing more and more people ordering them,” he says. “We could do anywhere from 30-50 chai lattes a day at Le Petit Gateau.” 

So, whether you want to reduce your coffee consumption for health reasons, or perhaps financial reasons, here are the best coffee alternatives to order at your local cafe, or make at home.  

Healthy and budget-friendly coffee alternatives

Matcha tea

Matcha is a superfood popping up everywhere, from desserts and savoury foods to smoothies, lattes and teas – and for good reason. 

Containing more nutrients and antioxidants than green tea, the health properties in matcha are reported to help protect the liver, promote heart health, and assist in stabilising weight. 

“Matcha is a relatively new coffee alternative,” says Hall. “We’ve offered it at Le Petit Gateau for maybe five years now and we're seeing an uptick in orders.”  

There is also research to show matcha can help promote enhanced brain function, increased attention to detail, improved reaction time, and even enhanced memory – perfect for getting through the afternoon without the rise and fall in energy levels often felt with coffee consumption. 

For a delicious matcha tea, simply place 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder into a mug, then add in hot water and use a small whisk to stir and combine. 

Chicory coffee 

Chicory coffee is said to taste very similar to coffee, however, is caffeine free. It's also a rich source of inulin and soluble fibre, which may aid digestion and can promote healthy gut bacteria. 

Simply make chicory in the same way as your regular coffee – brewed with milk, in a French press or with a filter – and you have one caffeine-free coffee that tastes like real coffee.  

woman holding an iced chickory coffee

Chicory coffee looks and tastes similar to caffeinated coffee. Image: Getty


Turmeric latte

Regulating inflammation in the body is important to help repair damaged tissue, and thanks to the chemical curcumin, which is found in turmeric, your afternoon turmeric latte can provide beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. 

Consumed regularly, tumeric's anti-inflammatory properties may assist in lowering joint pain from conditions like arthritis. You won't be able to miss a tumeric latte at your local cafe either, with this drink giving off a distinct golden hue.

Using either cow’s milk or a plant-based milk, your local barista will be able to make the perfect afternoon warm drink.

Chai tea

If you’re a fan of black tea, then you’ll love chai tea, which is essentially black tea blended with strong herbs and spices. Unlike other coffee alternatives however, chai tea is not completely caffeine free. 

Chai tea is said to have numerous health benefits, such as the potential to reduce blood sugar levels, as well as aid digestion and promote sound heart health – and it's all thanks to the presence of cinnamon.  

“Chai is one of those alternatives that’s so good if you don’t drink coffee, or just want to cut down,” says Hall. “It’s so delicious, and just sweet enough.”

“It’s a drink for any time of the day, really.”

Cinnamon is one of the main spices in chai tea and is loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenols, which protects the body from free radicals, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon is even said to contain more medicinal benefits than garlic. 

turmeric latte

Turmeric lattes can help regulate inflammation in the body and repair damaged tissue. Image: Getty


Beetroot latte

Beetroots are a vegetable naturally high in vitamin C and B6, folate, manganese, potassium, copper, fibre, magnesium, iron, and antioxidants, so opting for a beetroot latte for your morning or afternoon warn drink can add some extra nutrients into your day.

Beetroots are also great for heart health, being high in natural chemicals called nitrates which are processed by the body into nitric oxide, helping to increase blood flow around the body and stabilise blood pressure. 

A beetroot latte is also great for those who have a sweet tooth, as these vegetables are naturally sweet, so there’s no need for sugar. Ask your barista for a beetroot latte with almond or coconut milk for an afternoon treat with a twist.  

Mushroom latte 

A mushroom latte may seem a little left field, but this new-on-the-scene coffee alternative is being labelled the new superfood thanks to mushroom’s medicinal benefits and natural energy-boosting properties. 

Mushroom lattes are also said to help boost immunity, calm the nervous system to reduce stress, and provide anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties – in a way that’s similar to green tea and turmeric. 

Mushroom lattes typically use chaga mushrooms, with the coffee being made by isolating the chaga mushrooms' key compounds, drying them, then grinding them into a powder that can be brewed with different milks.  

Try making your own mushroom latte by adding a few teaspoons of mushroom powder to your milk of choice and frothing the milk until warm. 


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