Nothing banishes the doldrums of a sticky, sluggish summer afternoon like an iced, blended coffee beverage. The jolt of cool caffeine in “frappacinos” and similar coffeehouse concoctions can power you through the heat and post-lunch lethargy. Problem is, while coffee itself has some health benefits, the dairy and sweeteners used in such drinks can pack in empty calories and spike blood sugar—which, along with the potent caffeine dose, can set you up for an even worse energy crash later on. Instead, try these refreshing iced coffee alternatives for a healthier way to beat the heat.
Iced Matcha Latte
Matcha, made from finely ground green tea leaves, is super rich in nutrients. A single serving of the grassy brew delivers the same amount of antioxidants as 10 cups of green tea. Plus, thanks to the calming effects of the amino acid L-theanine, you can caffeinate without the coffee jitters. Bonus: the catechins in matcha help protect skin from harmful UV rays of summer.
Make: To whip up an iced matcha latte, add 1/2 cup hot water to a Mason jar along with 1 teaspoon unsweetened matcha powder. Cover the jar and shake well. Then add ½ cup organic unsweetened coconut milk, 1 teaspoon raw organic honey, and ice cubes.
Energy without caffeine? Hello, maca. The root, a relative of the radish family, originates from the Andean mountains of Peru. High in B vitamins, essential minerals, and fiber, maca has been revered by the Inca culture for thousands of years as a folk remedy for everything from boosting stamina to increasing fertility, and experimental research has confirmed its energizing and fertility-enhancing benefits. Maca’s earthy, butterscotch-like flavor makes it a great stand-in for coffee.
Make: To have an iced maca beverage, combine 1 teaspoon unsweetened maca powder with 1 cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk and 1 teaspoon raw organic honey in a blender and pour over ice.
Iced Dandelion Coffee
You won’t believe that this herbal, caffeine-free drink is not actually coffee—it’s made from roasted dandelion root. The dark brew is slightly (naturally) sweet, without the bitterness of coffee. Though research on the benefits of consuming dandelion root is limited, preliminary evidence suggests it promotes healthy digestion and liver/gallbladder function.
Make: Try an instant, unsweetened blend from Traditional Medicinals—just add hot water according to package instructions, ice it, and you’re done!
Iced Yerba Mate
Consumed in South America for centuries, yerba mate is a healthy pick-me-up. One cup delivers 80 mg of caffeine (compared to 100-200 in a cup of coffee) along with many health benefits. Yerba mate boasts higher levels of polyphenols and antioxidants than both green and black tea. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties and has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol.
Make: Brew a mate tea bag (or loose leaf mate) in hot water by steeping for 5-6 minutes. Sweeten if desired with stevia or a teaspoon of raw organic honey. Pour over ice and enjoy!