Is this the secret to a caffeine hit without the jitters?

Is this the secret to a caffeine hit without the jitters? GIULIA CROUCH tests the new drinks billed as healthy alternatives to coffee

  • Experts found people who drank between three and five espresso-based coffees each day were significantly more likely to have higher levels of cholesterol
  • New ‘functional drinks’ promise to focus your thoughts, enhance performance or reduce stress are a growing part of the booming wellness industry
  • Giulia Crouch puts the new plant-based drinks to the test to see if they really can put a spring in your step

Are you a slave to your morning latte? Making a cup is the first thing I do in the morning and I can’t really function until I’ve drunk the lot. Yet I can’t deny I’m sometimes wired after one cappuccino too many, or up all night if I drink too much coffee before bed. 

The news this month that my coffee habit could be boosting my cholesterol made me pause, too. Experts found people who drank between three and five espresso-based coffees each day, like my favourite latte, were significantly more likely to have higher levels of cholesterol. 

So I’m intrigued by the growing trend for ‘natural’ drinks that offer a caffeine energy boost — but claim actually to be good for your health. These ‘functional drinks’ that promise to focus your thoughts, enhance performance or reduce stress are a growing part of the booming wellness industry. 

Packed with multi-tasking plant extracts that each contribute to a different aspect of wellbeing — such as ‘nootropics’ to improve brain performance, adaptogens said to help with stress and antioxidants to protect against disease — these cans of calm are suddenly big business. 

Experts found people who drank between three and five espresso-based coffees each day were significantly more likely to have higher levels of cholesterol. New ‘functional drinks’ promise to focus your thoughts, enhance performance or reduce stress are a growing part of the booming wellness industry

One of the appeals is the promise of better focus, but without any adverse effects. Promising a soft, ‘natural caffeine’ boost, they’re aimed at people who like the buzz coffee gives them but may feel jittery afterwards. 

Of course, coffee beans contain ‘natural’ caffeine, too, as do tea and chocolate. However, some sources of caffeine are said to produce fewer spikes and crashes than others. An espresso will produce a sharper caffeine spike than a cup of tea, for example. 

But will the gentler hit of these new drinks still keep me awake all day? And will you actually feel any happier or less stressed after drinking them? I see if they really can put a spring in your step.

ZINGY GRAPEFRUIT GIDDY-UP TO GET GOING 

Peak Rise Pink Grapefruit Mint Tonic, £1.99, planetorganic.com 

Peak Rise Pink Grapefruit Mint Tonic, £1.99, planetorganic.com. Giulia said there’s a hint of sharp, refreshing grapefruit, followed by a strange, grass-like aftertaste

Peak Rise promises to ‘help you feel more positive, focused and motivated throughout the whole day’. And it’s no wonder because, advertised as a coffee replacement, it is packed with a high hit of natural caffeine. The drink also contains ashwagandha, a root said to help you feel calm, turmeric for cognition and repair, and black pepper to activate the turmeric. 

VERDICT: On my first sip, I am disgruntled. There’s a hint of sharp, refreshing grapefruit, followed by a strange, grass-like aftertaste that makes me want to abandon the can and put the kettle on. 

However, I persevere and I’m glad I did. Having woken up groggy and grumpy, within ten minutes of this drink I felt more alert, clearer and perkier. 

I didn’t bother with my usual morning coffee and felt great — alive, awake and, yes, more positive. I gave one to a friend, who texted me after drinking it: ‘That drink has worked. Mental clarity!’ 4/5 

FLAT COMPARED TO A FLAT WHITE 

Brite For Better Focus Pineapple Mango Drink, £2, sainsburys.co.uk 

Brite For Better Focus Pineapple Mango Drink, £2, sainsburys.co.uk. This drink’s makers promise ‘a long-lasting boost in focus and productivity’ 

This drink’s makers promise ‘a long-lasting boost in focus and productivity’ and the drink contains ingredients such as green tea — a natural source of caffeine, more ashwagandha, vitamin C and L-theanine, an amino acid found in some mushrooms that’s supposed to ease stress.

VERDICT: The taste is great. It’s juicy, sweet, refreshing and comes in a glass bottle for those who are environmentally conscious. But the energy boost? I have to say I didn’t feel it. Maybe a little uplift, but nothing compared to a shot of espresso. 

The ashwagandha did seem to have a pleasant relaxing effect. But combined with the natural caffeine, it might leave you feeling confused — as it did my flatmate who, after drinking one on an empty stomach, felt as if she was either going to ‘have a heart attack or fall asleep’. Like with coffee, it’s a reminder that these drinks aren’t for everyone. 3/5

SPICY SHOT THAT HITS THE SPOT 

Unrooted Good Energy Shots, £12 for four, unrootedrinks.com 

Unrooted Good Energy Shots, £12 for four, unrootedrinks.com. Along with the star ingredient, each Baobab Boost drink contains apple juice, passion fruit juice, coconut syrup and pink salt

Baobab is a nutrient-dense fruit found in Africa that contains five times more fibre than oats and ten times more vitamin C than oranges. In this case, it’s ground down to a powder and added to a fruity, zesty shot. Along with the star ingredient, each Baobab Boost drink contains apple juice, passion fruit juice, coconut syrup and pink salt — all for flavour.

VERDICT: It’s delicious and very drinkable, even without any health benefits. 

But it’s not just my palate that’s invigorated, I also feel an instant lift. Although it doesn’t last long — maybe half an hour — it does seem to work straight away. 

My favourite of the flavours is the Mighty Ginger, which includes ginger juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, scotch bonnet chilli extract, turmeric extract and black pepper extract. It’s super spicy and invigorating and would wake up even the sleepiest of humans. 5/5 

SUPERFOOD CUPPA MISSES THE MARK 

Bird & Blend Morning Kick Tea, £5.90 for 15 bags, birdandblendtea.com 

Bird & Blend Morning Kick Tea, £5.90 for 15 bags, birdandblendtea.comz, Giulia says it lacked the caffeine boost she needs

Yerba Mate, popular in South America, is a plant used to make a tea with a whole range of supposed health benefits, from improving the immune system and boosting the metabolism to helping slow ageing. 

It’s also a potent source of natural caffeine, and Bird & Blend claim this is a great alternative to coffee. The tea also contains calming lemongrass, lemon verbena and antioxidantpacked ginger which is good for digestion. 

VERDICT: This is a nice enough green tea with a bright taste and an invigorating zing of lemon, but as a pick-me-up it doesn’t quite hit the spot. I could have it in the afternoon, say after lunch, but it lacked the caffeinated boost I need in the morning. 2/5

INNER PEACE BUT PALATE PAIN 

London Nootropics Zen Coffee, £15 for 12 sachets, londonnootropics.com 

London Nootropics Zen Coffee, £15 for 12 sachets, londonnootropics.com. Giulia says it was foul-tasting 

A coffee designed to help you unwind may sound like a contradiction in terms. But these little sachets are said to not only help you feel alert and focused but also ‘promote a sense of peace’. 

They contain barista-style coffee to help wake you up, more organic ashwagandha root extract to help chill you out, and CBD, which is said to reduce anxiety and stress. 

VERDICT: I do not feel peaceful, relaxed or alert …mostly because I couldn’t drink the stuff. As much as I tried to sip the hot brown liquid, I just could not manage it. It’s truly foul-tasting and drinking it felt like a punishment, so I had to tip it down the sink and make a proper coffee instead. I’ll give it one point for nice packaging. 1/5 

Source: Read Full Article