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How is that as Americans, we spend more than $1,000 a year on coffee? That sounds like a huge number (and it is), but it’s more than coffee that we’re spending money on — it’s a relationship.

Coffee is a friend that weathers the storms of life with us. When we have a long night with sick kids, we wake up to a fresh cup of coffee and everything is better. When we’re sitting in the hospital with an unplanned visit, there’s something about having a cup of coffee to help us hold it all together. Or when we simply stay up too late, coffee is our drink that gets us through the next day.

And it’s not just about us — friends gather together around coffee. Coffee shops were born for relationships and community. While the world changes around us, a familiar cup of coffee helps us feel peace. When differences abound between us, we can share a cup of coffee together.

So when someone asks, “What is it about coffee?”, the answer is much more complicated than it may appear on the surface. It’s not just a warm drink we have in the mornings — it’s a friend. Coming to this realization helps on the day we’re told that coffee is having an inflammatory affect on our bodies. Those are not exactly the words we’d like to hear. How is it that coffee could be considered inflammatory? Hasn’t everyone been saying that coffee is full of anti-inflammatory properties? Yes, they have, and the short answer is that it’s complicated. In basic terms, those of us who have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, coffee serves as an inflammation producer in our bodies. So if you’re unlucky like me, there is a decision to make. Keep drinking coffee, and keep the inflammation, or find an alternative.

The trouble is that most of us have been drinking coffee since we were young. It’s a part of us now. Breaking up with coffee isn’t easy — breaking up with anything never is. For me, it has been a couple of years, and I’m still enjoying a cup of coffee every once in a while because for me, there’s just something special about it. Tea just isn’t the same. I might pay the price and feel some body aches, but overall, inflammation is down when I don’t drink coffee.

So how have I been able to gradually break up with coffee? I have found a friend in my Dandelion “Coffee”. It’s a combination of dandelion root, chicory, carob, and cinnamon. It’s full of good things for my body that actually help me fight off inflammation instead of cause it. It has taken a while to find the “just right” combination of flavors so that it mostly resembles a cup of coffee. And I don’t drink it black, but with my coconut cream and sweetener of choice, it smells and tastes incredibly similar to coffee.

So for you, if you’ve been told that you need to break up with coffee, I would encourage you to give either one of these coffee alternatives a try. Now I have to admit, it has taken me time to adjust my tastebuds, but it has been worth it.

What’s the take-away? If you’re facing inflammation in your body like so many others, take a hard look at coffee. Don’t let your relationship with coffee take control of your body. Thankfully there are some alternatives to coffee — and more are coming. Giving up coffee isn’t easy, but if you’re willing to find a new friend, there is one to be found. You just have to be willing to go and look for it.

DANDELION COFFEE

2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Cup Dandelion Root
1 Cup Dried Chicory
3 Tbsp Carob or Caco Powder

1. Mix ingredients together in a jar.
2. Add 4 tbsp “coffee” to 4 cups hot water
3. Steep and strain
4. Store remaining “coffee” in a cool, dry place.