When it comes to your morning cup, coffee’s so often your first true love. But recently, the matcha craze has caused more and more of people to cheat on their Starbucks or cold brew. And now there’s another new drink in town garnering plenty of (caffeine-free) buzz: herbal coffee.
The trending drink is made with dandelion root, which is an Eastern medicine mainstay that’s won over former coffee-lovers like wellness expert and nutritionist Robyn Youkilis. She cut out caffeine after she noticed feeling even more tired once the initial hit of adrenaline from her morning cup wore off.
“It was a signal that my body was saying ‘no,’ this isn’t working,” Youkilis says. Unwilling to give up her coffee-sipping mornings, she switched to an herbal dandelion coffee and has been sipping it ever since.
That was the same motivation behind Corrina Becker-Wayman decision to add dandelion coffee to the menu at Amara Kitchen, her cafe in super-hip Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. “As a coffee-lover, I was looking for something as comforting, warming, and delicious as coffee but without caffeine,” she says. “Dandelion coffee lets me keep my nice morning and afternoon ritual without drinking something that’s taxing on my adrenal system,” she explains.
Caffeine, by nature, can cause dehydration, which makes you feel sluggish and can cause headaches, anxiety, restlessness, and fitful sleep. But dandelion coffee—which is an instant-coffee-like blend of dandelion root, roasted barley, rye, chicory root, and sugar beet—goes further than just being caffeine-free. It actually has some medicinal benefits, too.
“My favorite ingredient [in herbal coffee] is dandelion root because it’s great for cleansing your liver and balancing pH levels in your body,” says Youkilis. Plus, there are no artificial additives, preservatives, and it’s GMO-free and gluten-free. Not a bad health lineup for before 7:00 a.m.
Dr. Jennifer Canfield, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist at Santa Monica-based TCM Healing Center also vouches for the super-ingredient. “Dandelion, known as Pu Gong Ying in Chinese medicine, is used—now and historically—in combination with other herbs to clear heat from the body, to release toxins from the liver, for inflammation, and, in some cases, to treat urinary tract infections,” she says.
Most importantly, though, it’s delicious, and tastes so close to the bean-based coffee that many people can’t distinguish between the two. It does have a hint of naturally occurring glucose from the dandelion and chicory root, which can make even a plain cup taste sweet without the acidity and bitterness of traditional coffee.
You can put the dandelion variety to use in any type of coffee beverage you can imagine. Amara Kitchen uses dandelion coffee in its tasty mochas and coconut-milk-sweetened lattes, charging $2.45 for a basic cup, and up to $4.25 for a fancier beverage.
It’s super easy to make at home, too. It comes in instant-coffee form, so you just add water, stir, and go. I take mine black, and it gives me an energy boost without the crash. Good morning, indeed. —Diana Ryu
Amara Kitchen, 519 North Avenue, Highland Park, Los Angeles, 90042, (323) 255-2220, amarakitchen.com
(Photos: Corrina Becker-Wayman: Instagram/amarakitchen; Dandy Blend: Dandy Blend)