In my past two years of college, I have learned that a lot of people have these two things: an unhealthy relationship with both coffee and anxiety. It makes perfect sense that these two would go hand in hand; we use coffee to cope with the copious amounts of homework that make us anxious, and at the price of feeling wired enough to finish a problem set instead of Chegging it, we are left with a racing heart and gut wrenching anxiety. Then at night our heads are bursting with worrisome thoughts (DID I add plus C to my answer?) and a wildly beating heart, so we find ourselves falling asleep much later than anticipated. And when we wake up, coffee is our only hope at a productive day. It is a vicious cycle, and one I find myself in way too often. After a particularly troublesome cup of Joe this past weekend, I decided to see if there was any hope of lessening my coffee dependence with some caffeine alternatives.

Meg Wynne

On a usual day, I wake up and make a double shot iced almond milk latte and then come home around 4:30p to make a single shot latte or a strong tea latte. On average, I am knocking back around 240mg of caffeine per day, and we aren’t even talking midterm szn. In these next three days, I am going to try three caffeine alternatives to see if making a switch away from coffee is really worth it.  

Day 1: Matcha

Meg Wynne

Overall Value: 8/10

Caffeine Consumed: Approximately 80mg in the course of two lattes

Pros:  Woke me up, stomach did not hurt, no anxiety, alleged health benefits

Cons: Very expensive if you do not make your own

Additional Comments:  I love matcha and would drink it a lot more if I did not have to remember to order it on Amazon so frequently.  It definitely does not give an early morning wired feeling, which I missed, but because of that there was no crash. 

Day 2: Caffeinated Chocolate 

Meg Wynne

Overall Value: 5/10

Caffeine Consumed: 120mg in a chocolate bar and a half

Pros: Tastes sweeter than coffee for my soft boys out there that can't knock back black coffee yet, could still sleep after taking at 8pm, no anxiety

Cons: Never really felt more energized, needed a nap, stomach hurt due to eating an entire chocolate bar first thing in the morning.

Additional Comments: I like chocolate probably more than next guy but taking a milk chocolate bar to the face at 8am was absolutely brutal.  Allegedly Ugo's on North sells dark chocolate bars and that would certainly be a step up. Also, the full bar which guarantees a standard coffee cup's worth of caffeine is $2.35 while two half bars which would have the same amount of caffeine cost $1.98 together. Buying the entire bar is a scam. 

Day 3: Yerba Mate      

Meg Wynne

Overall Value: 8.5/10

Caffeine Consumption: 170mg in a can

Pros: Felt absolutely wired, never crashed, still experienced hunger, stomach did not hurt

Cons: Can't make your own, costs $3.90, absurd amount of sugar, palms very sweaty, absolutely not pleasant to sip, struggled to fall asleep

Additional Comments:  I was definitely suspect about drinking something that seemed more similar to a Monster energy drink than to a tea latte, but I am totally sold after trying one.  For the steep price, I now only buy them when I am pretty pressed, but these really give you pretty wired energy all day without a crash.  If you like sweet drinks, you may not have to choke down this massive beverage, but I always dread the drinking process. 

All in All  

At the end of the three days, these trials gave me some hope. I think matcha would work if I had two matcha lattes a day because they definitely give you energy, just not in the intense way coffee overloads your system. Maybe I should learn to appreciate that sort of feeling. The chocolate needs to be kickstarted with actual coffee. Absolutely not worth knocking back bars of milk chocolate to kind of feel something. I would eat half a bar if I wanted just a little kick in the evening, but that will not be replacing coffee for me anytime soon. The Yerba was the biggest game changer, but I didn’t like starting my mornings with something so sweet. Truth be told, I needed coffee to write this article so some things may never change.