Once in a blue moon, a self-sabotaging alien takes over my body and decides I should try to ditch my coffee habit—a daring move, indeed. You see, when it comes to my relationship with the drink, I live in a sort of purgatory not dissimilar to the Upside Down in Stranger Things. On the one hand, I'm highly sensitive to the stuff (FYI, some people can biologically handle high levels of caffeine better than others), and on the other, I have an obsession with my daily morning fix that gives me the hypothetical street cred of a third Gilmore Girl. So, you see my conundrum.
For the most part, and if I don't want to feel bonkers by mid-afternoon, I'm pretty good at limiting my intake to one cup per day. That, and I pretty much make sure to give my sipping a hard curfew of noon (ahem, Mondays) and a soft curfew of around 10 a.m. (any other day of the week). However, no matter how well I abide by my disciplined practice, there always comes a point—every few months, I would say—when my system just completely taps out, and my body calls uncle. Symptom-wise, I'll feel shaky, anxious to the point where I'm barely able to function, fatigued (regardless of my sleep and coffee consumption), and riddled with body aches and random back spasms. It's a problem, and recently, after a weird couple weeks in which I simultaneously was sick, was dealing with a non-breakup breakup, got in a car accident, and consumed an unholy number of Americanos, I knew my body needed a coffee detox.
The problem? Since my day-to-day consists of deadlines, story quotas, meetings, and events that pretty much consume 110% of my energy, going caffeine-free cold-turkey almost feels biologically impossible, if not certifiably insane. I have no choice but to be incredibly productive, attentive, cheery, and on-the-ball at work, so I knew I'd need a padded and very comforting support system. Luckily, I had some worthy contenders: an assortment of focus-sharpening, energy-enhancing, coffee-less supplemental alternatives collecting dust in the northwest corner of my desk. (If you've ever seen a beauty editor's desk, you know it basically requires a metal detector, safety goggles, and a magic compass to navigate your way home, or to any particular product you're looking for.)
So in a moment of boldness, I swept all of the powders, oils, gummies, and shots (yes, really) into the depths of my purse and vowed to use one per day in lieu of my normal cup of coffee. That was last week, and considering I'm alive, well, and composing this current piece of literature, I clearly survived. I definitely missed my coffee, and I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments in which I had some serious misgivings and resentment regarding my coffee strike, but all in all, my collection of alternative supplements served me well. In fact, even though I'm now back on the coffee train (I'm weak), I've still continued to find ways to strategically incorporate the majority of my new finds into my daily routine. Ahead, the seven supplement alternatives to coffee I tried and now gratefully approve of. Keep scrolling for my experience and thoughts on each!
I love Moon Juice. I religiously dump two spoonfuls of its Vanilla Mushroom Adaptogenic Protein ($50) in my smoothie each morning. I swear the Pearl Powder ($52) has given me more glowing skin, and the Dream Dust ($38) is one of my all-time favorite ways to soothe a racing mind before bed. Oh, and the SuperYou Supplement is pretty great too. Thus, I was fairly certain I would love this new, decadent addition to the cult-favorite brand's collection of adaptogenic potions.
One of the reasons I feel like I absolutely need coffee in the morning is the pure comfort factor of the sipping ritual itself. While Cosmic Cocoa isn't necessarily formulated to send your energy into overdrive, it does contain cacao, which is a natural (non-aggressive) source of caffeine, not to mention antioxidants aplenty. To round the formula out, there's also a strategic hit of tocos, goji berry, reishi, ashwagandha, shilajit, horny goat weed, shatavari, maca, Schisandra berry, astragalus root, silk tree bark, longan berry, and red rooted sage. Whew!
The formula's true purpose is to balance and enhance mood, sexual health (it contains multiple aphrodisiacs—do what you want with that information), energy, and immune response. So while I definitely didn't get the jittery surge of caffeine I do from my normal cup of joe, I did reap the lush and velvety blanket of coziness (I blended it up warmed almond milk as the brand suggests) and felt calm, focused, and sustainably energized throughout the day and into the early evening, when my daily resilience starts to feel a little, uh, floppy.
Out of all the different supplements I tried in lieu of coffee, these brand-new focus shots from Four Sigmatic (the mavens and masters of all things chicly mushroom) were one of the most effective. Why, you ask? Well, after downing an entire shot (the brand says you can either go halfsies or whole-hog, depending on the lift you crave), my fingers and mind felt ignited. Even though there are only 40 milligrams of caffeine in each 2.5-ounce shot, which is comparably less than my normal morning quota, I still received a noticeable improvement in my energy and productivity. Plus, thanks to the yummy melding of pineapple and lime juice, my passionate chug made me feel as if I was partaking in the most delicious and tropical of happy hours, even though that couldn't have been further from the truth.
That said, alongside that fruity goodness lies the real magic behind the elixir's focus prowess—a hearty helping of lion's mane, rose hips, Rhodiola, and guayusa (the caffeine culprit). All in all, I was completely sold with this one, and I appreciated the sunny kick of productivity I experienced without the jitters, crash, or general 3 p.m. helplessness I normally feel from my daily coffee habit.
Despite the fact I did, indeed, miss my morning coffee, I'm eternally grateful to this experiment for forcing me to open this tub of magic which I had woefully left untouched in my pantry for months. It's formulated by one of the best dermatologists in the business, Ronald Moy, and was essentially composed with the idea of consuming your skincare. Filled with hyaluronic acid and countless greens powders—everything from chlorella to blue-green algae to broccoli to spirulina to barley grass—it's like a Midas-touched kitchen sink of ingredient goodness. It's one of those wellness products that just kind of make you feel healthier, prettier, and more whole the second you consume them, and I've been scooping a tablespoon into my morning smoothie ever since my initial day of experimentation.
In addition to the impressive array of superfoods, the mix also has green tea and green coffee, which, while more minimal in their energizing effects, help me feel awake, stable, and ready to take on the day from the get-go. As I said, I like to sip it by way of a smoothie during my morning commute.
After Four Sigmatic's Focus Shots, I would say this powerhouse elixir from The Nue Co. is the best vehicle for achieving an actual caffeine high. (Mistakenly, I paired it with my normal dose of coffee the weekend prior to my experiment, and I was pretty much coffee-high out of my mind the remainder of my waking hours. Thus, I knew this baby would have my back midweek when my coffee withdrawal felt the worst. It contains guarana seed powder (which supplies a hearty 71 milligrams of caffeine—roughly similar to one cup of black coffee), in addition to organic maca and goji berry powder.
The maca helps improve endurance and stabilize any residual jitters from the guarana-induced flood of caffeine. Thus, I experienced a handy uptick in perkiness without feeling like my energy levels were about to fly out of my body, taking my soul with them. (Despite my addiction, I'm intensely sensitive to caffeine and have experienced some absurdly ridiculous coffee highs in my lifetime.) Oh, and if you're curious about the goji berry, that's added to aid digestion! The brand recommends sticking to a half teaspoon of the powder and adding it to your milk of choice or morning smoothie. I've been adding it to the latter and wouldn't recommend straying from the suggested dosage.
I recently discovered the already quite popular concept of dripping CBD into my morning coffee, and my life (or at least my coffee high) will never be the same. Known for its ability to calm and reduce anxiety, I've found that adding it to my cup of jet fuel each day has smoothed out any jagged jitters I get from said fuel so I'm left with a pure high that feels a little less jumpy and destined for impending doom (this is how I would describe my 3 p.m. crash). Another perk? A dropper full of cannabis oil helps me concentrate a hell of a lot better on my to-do list straight away each morning and even into the early afternoon. So as you might imagine, I was interested to see how my CBD habit would fare sans coffee.
I'm obsessed with the hemp extract oils from Charlotte's Web—this mint-chip iteration in particular. I mean, how brilliant, right? Anyway, normally, I'll add it to an iced latte or cold brew–spiked coffee, so I was pleasantly surprised to find supplementing my now coffee-devoid smoothie still calmed my nerves, soothed my soul, amped up my concentration, and made me feel like a million bucks at 8 a.m. on a Monday.
When it comes to supplements, I'm all about a good gummy. However, "good" is typically where the catch-22 comes in. While most formulas I've tried are addictingly poppable and yummy, they're often laden with excess sugars, artificial ingredients, the like—all things I try to steer clear of in my daily diet and collection of vitamins and supplements. However, I've always been a fan of Olly (its Sleep Gummies are Team Byrdie's collective lifeblood), and I trust the brand and nutritional integrity. So when our editorial director, Faith Xue, suggested I give its newest berry-flavored gummies, Laser Focus, a shot, I was all for it.
I didn't reap any kind of caffeine kick from these (they're not formulated for that), but with the help of their strategic mix of ginseng, alpha-GPC, and B vitamins (plus a large-ass mug of green tea on the side), I was able to efficiently muddle my way through my morning to-dos without missing my morning coffee too much.
I'm a huge fan of Sakara Life. In fact, after recently committing to its two-week plant challenge, in which I went 100% plant-based for the first time ever, I've now adopted a fresh 80/20 vegan mindset my body has been thriving on (something I never would have believed if you had asked me a few months ago). Therefore, I couldn't wait to try the brand's Life Source Super Powder, a still relatively new launch from the brand.
The powder comes in handy packets which are perfect for enhancing a morning smoothie, and according to the brand, the green-tinged supplement is specifically formulated to improve energy (thanks to B12 and L-theanine), relieve bloating (digestive enzymes), and improve the skin's natural glow (phytoceramides and a blend of daily greens). It also boasts 12 grams of satiating plant protein, and like everything from Sakara Life, it's dairy-, gluten-, and soy-free.
Since the powder's energy-enhancing nature isn't necessarily rich in caffeine, I didn't experience any crazy differences in my energy levels, but I did feel productive and focused throughout my morning and didn't have my normal hankering for our office's on-tap cold brew—the ultimate temptation. It's also worth commending the powder's overall taste and texture. Unlike other plant-based formulas I've tried, the mill wasn't chalky or overly botanical or earthy. Instead, the supplement tasted healthy and a bit "green" but in a deliciously nutty and subtly sweet kind of way. (There's just a wee bit of coconut sugar within its ingredient makeup.) Plus, it blended up beautifully into my morning smoothie—my go-to concoction of Malk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, coconut water, frozen banana and avocado, spinach, ice, maca, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pink salt—so good.