In Part 1 of this 2 post series, we discussed all the ways coffee is detrimental to your skin and a few ways it can affect your overall health as well. I know there have been studies done on how coffee provides antioxidants, and how it can help prevent Alzheimers, but to me personally, the detriments far outweigh the benefits (see Part 1)
Yet, I LOVE the stuff. Definitely a huge weakness for me. I love the taste, and I use coffee behaviorally to cope with stress, anxiety, boredom, etc. I want to share with you what personally works for me and share some other options for you.
Disclaimer: We are all individual and unique and we will each have different skin, coffee tolerances and coffee dependencies. So what works for me might not be good for you.
Herbal Coffee Substitutes
I used to drink regular ol coffee (ok, I liked the good stuff – dark roast, fair trade, organic, shade grown too!) with half and half. Multiple cups a day. My skin wasn’t happy but it wasn’t like coffee was the ONE cause of all my acne. I think the worst thing was the dehydration and resulting congestion. But, I really needed coffee emotionally and made the conscious decision to drink it.
Until one day my body decided my bladder was going to become incredibly sensitive to acid/caffeine and hurt like hell. Well, avoiding intense pain quickly became a stronger motivator than managing emotions/stress and I managed to quit coffee for a fairly long time, maybe 5 months.
Instead I tried a bunch of different herbal substitutes and brands. My personal requirements were that they had to be:
- Caffeine free
- Low acid
- Gluten free
- Flavor/sugar free
- Taste as much like coffee as possible
Here they are if you want to look into them:
My favorites were Dandyblend and Teeccino, specifically the Dandelion Dark Roast. (Teeccino has tons of options but many are flavored, have added sugar, or contain gluten, so be careful navigating the options) I would actually mix these 2 in a big pitcher of pre-made “coffugh” and then warm it in the microwave cup by cup.
I also tried a substitute made from chocolate. Two brands – Choffy and Crio Bru. While this might make an interesting substitution for hot chocolate, I found both of these to taste basically the same to each other and both were waaaayyy too acidic (tasting) and would need to have added TONS of sugar and cream to make it drinkable – for me. At the time, the Candida Cleanse group had several people who loved it, so worth a try.
Another option I never check out because it had gluten and flavoring was Ayurvedic Roast, but that could be an option.
So that was about 5 months and it was tolerable. Was it perfect? Nope. The downsides:
I will say the Teeccino was very expensive (although the Dandyblend was very reasonable). In general, these herbal substitutes are priced about the same to slightly above coffee costs. You can make your own although not sure how good it will be…
It was also way annoying to make the coffugh since I was making this concoction that involved steeping, measuring, stirring, etc multiple ingredients instead of throwing some grinds in a french press.
Lastly, getting it to taste consistent was also a huge pain. Sometimes it was weirdly strong and bitter, sometimes too weak…coffee was way more consistent.
Low acid and Decaf Options
Towards the end, I started buying low acid and decaf coffee and adding tiny amounts to the “coffugh.” My problem was I could not find low acid AND decaf together. It was one or the other. Plus all the low acid coffees I tried didn’t taste great, but then again, I was mixing them with all kinds of herbal coffee.
I tried Puroast (my local WF didn’t have their decaf, but it turns out they DO have a low-acid AND decaf option). I was attracted to them b/c they boast they have more antioxidants than green tea and 70% less acid than regular coffee. You should try them and I might try again too. My only concern is that there will still be too much acid.
I also tried WF’s cinnamon roast – it doesn’t actually have the acid removed, it’s just roasted in a way that makes it less acidic. I think the best one I found was the low-acid from Trader Joe’s. And the best decaf I found was also Trader Joe’s. Not that those are the BEST but they were convenient and quite decent.
What to get at Starbucks
At some point I started trying to go to Starbucks again. I used to get the Americano, with whole milk or half and half. That turned out to still be too acidic, so I switched to ristretto shots (what they use in the Flat White). That worked so well I just started getting the Flat White.
To minimize your exposure to acidity and caffeine to a maximum while still drinking good coffee, get your drink with decaf ristretto shots. I’m not sure why my body likes the ristretto shots better, but they taste smoother and less bitter/acidic and I think that’s because the extraction process (it uses 1/2 the water of a normal shot) is 2x as fast.
Dairy-wise be aware the soy, coconut and the other dairy alternatives Starbucks uses all have sugar added. I always go with whole milk (if it’s a latte or flat white sitch) or 1/2 and 1/2 (if it’s an adding creamer sitch).
My personal philosophy is that I know dairy is bad for acne, but I hate all the alternatives. They just don’t taste right.
If you are into the alternatives, check for added sugar, emulsifiers and stabilizers and try to get the brand that has the least amount of crap added.
You can also make your own nut milks – it’s surprisingly easy but still labor intensive…
You can also buy pure coconut cream and/or milk in cans.
With dairy, you have some options – you can go the bulletproof route and add grassfed butter.
Side note: why is grassfed/organic so EXTREMELY important when it comes to dairy? Because what cows put in their bodies they put in their milk. Have you ever heard the saying: It’s not “you are what you eat.” It’s “You are what you eat ate.”
Did you know that both grassfed meat and dairy have completely different fats in them than conventional/grainfed? Yep. Grassfed has up to 5 times more good-for-you omega 3s, while grainfed has only bad inflammatory omega 6s and basically no omega 3s to speak of. You might as well be drinking/eating a completely different product. (Just FYI, same situation with wild caught vs. farmed salmon – farmed salmon does NOT have the omega 3s you think it does). With our typical western diet, most people eat too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3. Internally, omega 3s are SO important for helping calm acne.
Organic milk keeps toxins at bay and has higher nutritional value.
The BEST milk? RAW and grassfed.
Not everyone has access to raw milk, but if you do check it out. It’s usually at natural grocers and farmer’s markets. It is more expensive and spoils much faster. BUT – while pasteurized milk is inflammatory, raw milk is the opposite and some studies have actually shown it is BENEFICIAL for people with acne. Again, has to be RAW.
Another thing to consider with milk is fat %. Generally, the higher the fat %, the less room for all the inflammatory milk proteins and hormones that give acne sufferers so much trouble. Skim milk will be the most aggravating for acne, while butter will be the least.
I personally drink my coffee now with the highest fat % milk product I can. At home I use organic heavy whipping cream (and sometimes splurge on raw grassfed cream). The good news is, it’s so rich you can put in way less than if you were using regular milk. Plus, if you’re concerned with weight gain, we now know that carbs and sugars are the real issue. At coffee houses, I reach for 1/2 and 1/2.
I do not take sugar, but for those who do, there’s always stevia or what I prefer, monk fruit extract. These are both still very sharp and “high” in taste, so I think they are best mixed with a more traditional sweetener, like coconut sugar or honey. Coconut sugar is supposed to good – it tastes very similar but doesn’t have the glycemic load (or something similar – must do more research). I avoid agave because it is taxing to the liver. Coconut cream and heavy cream will also add sweetness and if you pay close attention to the roast plus the brewing process you might get the coffee to taste significantly less bitter/acidic.
Well, eventually my bladder was well enough and my tastebuds frustrated enough, that I decided I’d had enough of the herbal substitutes (b/c honestly, as much as they all claim to taste just like coffee…they don’t) and enough of the grocery store limited options and it was 2016 and SURELY someone was making good low acid, decaf REAL coffee. So I turned to the internet. And I found two brands that I am quite happy with: Mommee coffee and Euromild.
Mommee coffee is awesome – not only are they low acid but they have 4 levels of caffeine – decaf, 1/4 caf, 1/2 caf and regular. Their coffee is made low acid by a “proprietary roasting process” and then is tested to make sure the acids are truly gone.
The coffee is organic and the decaffeination process is water-based, so no chemicals are used.
A little spendy, but worth it. A subscription for 1 bag/month is $19 or you can just use Amazon Prime.
Euromild is the other brand that I found and like. It uses a special process developed in Germany to extract acid and is also available in a decaf version. Unfortunately, it’s not organic, but I think I prefer the taste just slightly to Mommee and I think my bladder prefers it just slightly. It’s also a tad cheaper.
That being said, it is hard to get and research. I get mine from here. After realizing it’s not organic (at first I was just happy to find a low-acid + decaf coffee) I think Mommee might be what I will go with when I run out.
Also, I’m just now realizing, I think you can only get Euromild ground, but you can get Mommee whole bean or ground (I prefer to grind my own beans).
Is this better for your skin?
Heck yeah, it is. Ok, just to recap: I’m drinking low-acid, decaf coffee with heavy whipping cream. I drink 2-3 cups (I KNOW. Judge not…) before switching to mineral water or herbal tea. I’m drinking lots of mineral water and taking a zinc supplement 1-2x per week.
Regular coffee does all this (more details in part 1):
- #ONE – trips your body’s hormones OUT thx to caffeine
- #TWO – messes up your gut flora thx to acidity
- #THREE – makes you crave sweets
- #FOUR – begs for milk/sugar
- #FIVE – interferes with mineral absorption
- #SIX – has mycotoxin contamination
- #SEVEN – causes insulin resistance
- #EIGHT – dehydrates you
Let’s see how many of these things we avoid with my set-up:
#ONE – trips your body’s HORMONES out thx to caffeinenope, no caffeine #TWO – messes up your gut flora thx to aciditynope, low acid #THREE – makes you crave sweetsnope, no stress response, since decaf #FOUR – begs for milk/sugarwell, we are using heavy cream, which is relatively low in harmful proteins and hormones #FIVE – interferes with mineral absorptionnot sure if this is caffeine related or not, but either way, supplementing with mineral water + zinc #SIX – has mycotoxin contaminationgood quality coffees do not have contamination issues that are severe enough to give cause for alarm #SEVEN – causes insulin resistancenope, since no caffeine #EIGHT – dehydrates youcaffeine is the main diuretic in coffee, and we’re decaffing it – but we’re also drinking herbal tisanes and water in large quantities
Quitting coffee: impossible (at least for me).
Quitting caffeine: hard, but doable and so worth it! (at least for me).
Here’s some tricks. If you go cold turkey, expect 3-6 days of headaches and fuzziness. For some people, the dependency is so bad that you may experience more severe withdrawal – like migraines and nausea. So if possible, plan the week to be pretty easy – no crazy deadlines or immense shows of intelligence if possible. As you quit coffee, you can also supplement with the amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine to prevent withdrawal headaches and mood symptoms. Try taking 500mg of each in the morning (when you’d normally have coffee), and then again at lunch if you’re experiencing symptoms, and then again at dinner if headaches, etc. are persisting. Whatever you do, do not drink or eat anything with caffeine while taking these supplements. More info.
All the times I’ve quit coffee, I’ve just toughed it out. I find that the symptoms are less severe the cleaner I’m eating and the more sleep I’m getting, BUT don’t change your diet just to quit coffee – that will actually INCREASE detox symptoms and difficulty.
You can also go the gradual route, and get some regular coffee and decaf coffee and mix them in a ratio that starts with a lot of regular, and then every day or every few days, replaces it with more and more decaf. Slowly wean yourself off the regular till you’re just drinking decaf.
Every person has their own personal limit of how much caffeine they can handle, but honestly, the more stressed and tired you are, the LESS you need it.
These days, when I feel like I need caffeine, I will go 1/2 caff (50% decaf and 50% regular) and I will try not to do it more than a few days in a row so as not to get dependent on caffeine again.
Hope this was helpful! xoxox