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Five Coffee Alternatives for Studying

Theresa Schempp
By Theresa Schempp

Whether you don’t enjoy the taste of coffee or the caffeine jitters that it can bring, you may be looking for an alternative to coffee while you’re studying. Here are some coffee alternatives to consider that can help get you through your online class readings and assignments. Be sure to consult your doctor or physician before making any changes to your diet.

Green Tea/Matcha

A variety of caffeinated teas, including the popular black tea, can help you stay energized. Another tea option is green tea, which also contains antioxidants. Green tea has lower caffeine content than coffee to help you avoid those jitters that can make your studying more stressful than beneficial. Green tea has about 28mg of caffeine per cup, while brewed coffee has about 96mg per cup.1 If you study later in the evening, the lower caffeine content may enable you to fall asleep faster after your session rather than keep you up all night.

If you want more caffeine, matcha is another coffee alternative. Matcha is a finely ground powder of green tea leaves which can hold up to 40mg of caffeine per serving. To prepare, you whisk one gram of the matcha powder into some hot water until it’s dissolved, then you can serve it hot, iced, or over milk. Matcha is a great alternative to coffee if you enjoy the process of making a latte, and you can sweeten it with sugar or honey.

Mushroom Coffee

If you enjoy the taste of coffee but want something milder, mushroom coffee could be a great substitute. It contains less caffeine than traditional coffee and can provide you with some added nutrients.2 The reduced caffeine in each cup could lead to sustained energy levels without spiking caffeine in your body, reducing the chance of that mid-afternoon crash some people may experience when they drink traditional coffee. Some popular mushroom coffees include chaga, lion’s mane, reishi, and cordyceps.

Yerba Mate

For those who want the higher caffeine content of coffee but prefer a different taste, yerba mate tea could be right for you. Yerba mate is made from the leaves and twigs of the mate plant that is native to South American countries including Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay.3 The tea can be enjoyed brewed in hot water or served over ice. It has a slightly bitter taste comparable to green tea. Yerba mate contains about 70 mg of caffeine per serving, a coffee alternative which can give you that higher boost of energy to help you study or prepare for an exam.

Chicory Root

For some people, the taste of coffee can have a placebo effect that can help them focus without the added caffeine.4 For a completely caffeine-free option, chicory root has a similar taste to coffee and can be prepared the same way, such as in a French press or even in an espresso machine. In Italy, some people order chicory root at cafés instead of espresso, and it can even be served to children since it contains no caffeine. 

Peppermint Tea

Another caffeine-free option is peppermint tea, an herbal tea whose refreshing flavor and smell can help wake you up and boost your focus as you study. Some studies have shown peppermint to aid in cognition and headaches, which can occur if you are staring at your studies for too long.5

Other Energy-Boosting Alternatives to Coffee

To keep yourself energized during a study session, there are other things you can do besides choosing which beverage is right for you. Listening to specific genres of music can help with focus, as well as splitting up your studies into measurable time blocks, also known as the pomodoro method. Taking small breaks to move your body can also help you stay energized.

At University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), we’re dedicated to helping you succeed in your classes so you can earn your degree or certificate. UMGC offers multiple learning and wellness resources to students to help them succeed in all of their classes. UMGC’s success coaches also help students by providing study tips, helping with time management, and offering support throughout their academic journey.

1How Much Caffeine Is in Your Cup?” Mayo Clinic, April 26, 2022.
2 Ajmera, Rachael. “Mushroom Coffee: Benefits, Side Effects and Expert-Recommended Brands.” Forbes, September 21, 2023.
3 Gawron-Gzella, Anna, Justyna Chanaj-Kaczmarek, and Judyta Cielecka-Piontek. “Yerba Mate-A Long but Current History.” Nutrients, November 21, 2021.
4 Thomson, Jess. “Your Morning Coffee May Be a Placebo, Neuropsychologists Find.” Newsweek, June 28, 2023.
5 Meyer, Megan. “Science-Backed Benefits of Peppermint Tea and Extracts.” Forbes, August 9, 2023.

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