There’s a stretch of time in the afternoon when you want a little something, and that something is probably caffeine. That is not, however, what your body needs. Reaching for a second latte might feel good in the moment, but it leads to crashes and sleeplessness only a few hours later. We’re looking to feel good for the rest of our lives, not for the next forty-five minutes. That’s why we take a different approach to an afternoon pick-me-up -- and we don’t mean hitting the bar early!
You could pay eight dollars for a “wellness latte” at your local health-conscious coffee shop, or you can get creative and make your own colorful caffeine-free creation. Most of those frothy, rainbow-colored drinks you see on social media are actually pretty simple to construct on your own, no fancy equipment needed.
Like mixology, the making of caffeine-free lattes is an art. There are tons of recipes that dig into the details of a “unicorn latte” or “lavender moon milk,” and you can Google them, but we’d rather teach you the fundamentals and let you have, well, fun with it.
Choosing Your Base
To start, you’ll need something creamy for the base. If you’re not dairy-averse, organic whole milk works fine, but there’s a huge benefit to choosing an alternative milk: flavor. Using coconut milk as a base will lend vacation vibes to your beverage, while oat milk will keep things neutral and smooth. If you don’t want something super creamy, coconut water will keep things on the lighter side.
Add Some Color
The whole point of the afternoon pick-me-up is that it should give a lift to your mood and productivity, or help you unwind and recover from a workout. While it can be tempting to choose active ingredients based on aesthetics alone, we’re looking to increase our mental and physical performance here. If you need a jolt of energy, maca, matcha, and raw cacao should be your go-tos. For more of a wind-down effect, choose something with soothing properties like turmeric, rose, or lavender. Spirulina and chlorella will give you extra protein and lend a mermaid blue hue, while beet powder is loaded with vitamins and makes a perfect pink drink.
Give it a Boost
Now that you have the foundations, it’s time to give your beverage a boost. A spoonful of nut butter can turn your drink into a snack, and we love effective multitasking. Tocos adds a touch of creamy sweetness to any beverage, and will enhance your skin and hair health to boot. If you’re into medicinal mushrooms, go for Lion’s Mane or Chaga if you want to get your creative juices flowing. Adaptogens like Ashwagandha and Schizandra are said to adapt to the needs of your body to help balance things out. There are tons of options out there, so be sure to do a little research before you start incorporating any supplements into your regular routine.
The Sweet Spot
Some ingredients used in these drinks have a slightly bitter flavor, so you’ll want to add a little something sweet. Stay away from plain white sugar or simple syrup and choose something with more staying power. Date syrup, agave, and monk fruit sweeteners make you less prone to jumps and dips in your blood sugar without the weird flavor of artificial sweeteners. You can also make a syrup from equal parts coconut sugar and water, or use raw local honey, which may help strengthen your immune system and reduce your response to allergens.
Now you’re armed with the basics, so get creative and take your next caffeine-free latte to an EleVen. You’ll impress your friends with your newfound barista knowledge, and feel better to boot.
Written by Carina Finn