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Coffee substitute facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
JJ Darboven Koff
A pack of coffee substitute Koff by J.J. Darboven (mid 20th century)

Coffee substitutes are non-coffee products, usually without caffeine, that are used to imitate coffee. Coffee substitutes can be used for medical, economic and religious reasons, or simply because coffee is not readily available. Roasted grain beverages are common substitutes for coffee.

In World War II, acorns were used to make coffee, as were roasted chicory and grain. During the American Civil War coffee was also scarce in the South:

For the stimulating property to which both tea and coffee owe their chief value, there is unfortunately no substitute; the best we can do is to dilute the little stocks which still remain, and cheat the palate, if we cannot deceive the nerves.

—"Substitutes for Coffee", The Southern Banner, 1865

Coffee substitutes are sometimes used in preparing foods served to children or to people who avoid caffeine, or in the belief that they are healthier than coffee.

Some culinary traditions, like that of Korea, include beverages made from roasted grain instead of coffee or tea (including boricha, oksusu cha, and hyeonmi cha). These do not substitute for coffee but fill its niche as a hot drink (optionally sweetened).


Grain coffee and other substitutes can be made by roasting or decocting various organic substances.

Some ingredients used include: almond, acorn, asparagus, barley and malt, beech nut, beetroot, carrot, chicory root, corn, cotton seed, dandelion root, fig, boiled-down molasses, okra seed, pea, persimmon seed, potato peel, rye, sassafras nut, sweet potato.

Chicory has been sold commercially on a large scale since around 1970, and it has become a mainstream product. It was widely used during the American Civil War on both sides.

Postum is an instant type beverage used in place of coffee. It reached the height of its popularity during World War II.


East German coffee mix, consisting of 51% coffee, produced due to shortages
  • Barleycup is a similar product sold in the UK.
  • Camp Coffee is a mix of chicory and coffee from the UK, sold since 1876.
  • Nestlé Caro is made of roasted barley, malted barley, chicory, and rye and is used as a coffee substitute. The German-made Pero is another drink made of these same ingredients.
  • There are many dandelion (or chicory) based powdered coffee substitutes known as dandelion coffee.
  • Inka is a Polish drink made of rye, barley, chicory, and sugar beet, produced since 1971.
  • Ayurvedic Roast is a coffee substitute which borrows from both the American tradition of using roasted barley, rye, and chicory, and the Indian Ayurvedic system of health by adding the traditional herbs of ashwagandha, shatavari, and brahmi.
  • Ersatz is made of roasted rice, roasted peas, and roasted chicory.
  • New Life Coffee produces a caffeine-free coffee substitute from roasted soybeans.
  • Ricoré is a mix of chicory and coffee from France created in 1953, now produced by Nestlé.
  • Teeccino Caffé produces blends of coffee substitute from a variety of ingredients such as carob, chicory, and dandelion roots.
  • Postum, once popular among Mormons, is made from roasted wheat bran, wheat and molasses. In the late 1970s, "Sip 'N' Savor," a now-defunct coffee substitute that was made from extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory, and sugar beets, competed with it.
  • Choffy is a recent substitute made from cacao and brewed like coffee.
  • Roasted chickpeas were noted as a coffee substitute as early as the 18th century. Modern brands include Bueno Coffee Substitute in the continental United States and Machotes in Puerto Rico.


  • Some commercially available preparations are finely powdered and dissolve instantly in hot water.
  • Some coffee substitutes, like chicory, are ground and brewed like coffee.
  • Some coffee substitutes, like roasted barley grains, are left whole to be boiled and steeped like tea.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sucedáneo de café para niños

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