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Secret Ingredients Coffee Substitute

Coffee substitute

Coffee, you either love it or you can’t take it! Many people get the jitters, personally, with menopause, I get an instantaneous hot flash so I have been looking for alternatives. But truth be told, I am a total tea lover! Black, Chai, green, Matcha, Roibos, jasmine, Thai, and every herbal combination there is… I love them all! But every now and then, I love a good cup of coffee. The aroma is a big part of the experience but I don’t like the bitterness of coffee because I have to add milk and sweetener to make it palatable, a lot of it!

I remember when I was growing up, my dad had coffee for breakfast as most French people do! But he switched his morning routine later on in life to a product that was mostly made with chicory (60%) and 40% coffee. I think that it was called Ricore. Turns out it is made by Nestle so I had to check out the ingredients. Lo and behold in addition to coffee extract and chicory, it contains magnesium sulphate, in order words, my dad was drinking Epsom salt in his morning coffee!  Call me old fashioned but I was adding it to my baths and to the garden but never thought to put it into hot drinks!

But I digress, the powder looked like coffee and tasted like mild coffee but with little bitterness! Unfortunately, the product is only sold in France. So it got me thinking… I should try making something like that at home. Problem is, we don’t grow chicory and good luck finding it in grocery stores! So my quest for finding another alternative started.

A little online research yielded interesting possibilities, some stranger than others but I was game to give them a try. I narrowed it down to 2 unlikely ingredients for a couple of reasons. First, I always have them in our pantry, second they fit perfectly with my zero waste philosophy and third, they are so good for our health. What’s not to like?

The secret ingredients

Ok, drum roll please… you are going to use first date pits and second, dried chickpeas! What?? Well, I wouldn’t suggest trying to eat date pits as you pull them out of the dates but with a little roasting, you will transform these pits (which are essentially seeds that end up in the garbage!) into a whole new ingredient.

Same with chickpeas. Buying them dry is cheaper and it is so easy to cook them in an instant pot (in less than 20 minutes, and no soaking time). Sure it is practical to buy cans of cooked garbanzo beans, but unless you are collecting tin cans, cooking them yourself, one large batch at a time is our new jam!  All you have to do is fill resealable bags and freeze for later use. It is so much more ecological and kind of fun! It is also a great way to discover new beans that can only be found in dried form!


How many pits should be used? This isn’t a perfect science! I had about 20+ dates so that is what I harvested. I had plenty of dried chickpeas, and used only 1 cup. You need both because the dates add a deeper color and roasted flavor while the chickpea powder adds body to the drink.
TIP: Next time you buy dates, make sure to keep all the pits (you can freeze them) until you have at least 1/4 cup to 1 cup to make this recipe.

3-Step process to making coffee substitute

It couldn’t be simpler: roast, grind, and filter. Pretty straight forward. You can get it done in less than 20 minutes and 10 of them are just for cooling them down! You can use a coffee grinder or any blender will do. Grind until you obtain a fine powder.
Even though I really I though I had a thin powder, there were tiny pieces that remained. It always happens but don’t worry because you will be filtering your coffee.

coffee substitute


The Roasting Process

You can use a cast iron pan but a good clean frying pan will work just as good and will be easier and lighter to shake. Medium heat is what you need. The first 3 minutes, not much is happening, so you can do other things, but keep an eye on the clock. After about the 4th or 5th minute, things start to happen quickly. The pan may lightly smoke signaling you that it is time to gently shake the pan more frequently. Just shake sideway and front and back. No need to use any utensils, let the pan do the work. After about 6 minutes, the peas will start to take on a darker shade, and the roasting aroma will be released turning your kitchen into a coffee house! Keep shaking that pan!

coffee substitute

roasted chickpeas

Date pits and chickpeas will roast at the same speed so you could do both at the same time. However, it is best to separate them, either before or after roasting so that you can control the flavor of your coffee powder. Keep on shaking the pan the last few minutes until all peas and pits look roasted. Take off the stove and pour on a plate to let it cool down for 5-10 minutes or until you can touch them without burning your fingers.

Tasting results

taste coffee substitute

I first tasted each separately without any milk or sweetener to really get the flavors. The date powder is on the left, the chickpea powder on the right and the middle cup has both.

Date coffee:
Ratio: 1 heaping tablespoon of powder to 3/4 cup boiling water.
Looks:  nice dark color, sediments will go to the bottom so it needs to be stirred before drinking.
Taste: Nice roasted flavor, mild taste, cannot detect that it comes from dates. Nutty.

Chickpea coffee:
Ratio:1 heaping tablespoon of powder to 3/4 cup boiling water.
Looks: Light blond colored, doesn’t separate.
Tastes: mildly nutty, cannot taste chickpeas at all!

Date + chickpea coffee:
Ratio:1-2 heaping tablespoon of date powder + 1 heaping tablespoon of chickpea powder to 1 cup boiling water.
Looks: Perfect, little darker
Tastes: Richer, roasted and nutty.
Added a little plant-based milk and 1/2 tsp of agave and it was lovely.

Want a stronger cup?
Use more date powder than chickpea powder or add some coffee extract (liquid or powder) if you really want deeper coffee notes.

Recipe yields 28 servings (1 heaping tablespoon)

Are there good brands of coffee substitutes?

For years we used Caffix (nice instant blend of roasted barley, chicory, barley malt, figs and extract of red beet). Then Teecino came out with one. Now with the discovery of the health benefits of adaptogenic mushrooms (like Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Turkey Tail, cordyceps etc.), all the newer products are including a proprietary blend of them. You can’t taste them but they are so good for you on so many levels.

Joey coffee alternative
Jooey is a good one. Ryze has a coffee one too (I drink their Ryze Matcha almost every day), Mud/Wtr is another great alternative.

Will you fool a coffee drinker with this substitute? No, it isn’t designed to but it makes a pleasant, hot beverage with a nice roasted aroma that you can consume upon rising or before going to bed. So promise me one thing, next time you are buying dates, keep the pits until you have enough to make 1/2 cup or roasted powder. No more throwing them away in the garbage! You will be surprised by the result!

Coffee substitute

Secret Ingredients Coffee Substitute

This coffee alternative uses 2 ingredients that can be found in most kitchens and can be made in less than 30 minutes. It has a comforting rich roasted aroma.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine European
Servings 18


  • Blender or coffee grinder
  • small strainer


  • 1 cup Medjool date pits (about 40)
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas


Make the date powder

  • Cut each date to remove the pit. Run the pits under water to remove any string or extra material. Pat dry.
  • Put the date pits into a heated clean wide frying pan on medium heat. Make sure that they don't overlap.
  • The first 3 minutes, not much is happening. Shake the pan a few times.
  • After the 4th or 5th minute, start shaking the pan more frequently sideways and front to back.
  • After about 6 minutes, the pits will start to take on a darker shade and release their roasted aroma.
  • Remove from stove and pan and set aside to cool down for 5-8 minutes, or until you can touch them without burning your fingers.

Make the chickpea powder

  • Place the cup of dried chickpeas into a frying pan on medium heat. Make sure that they don't overlap.
  • The first 3 minutes, not much is happening. Shake the pan a few times sideways and front to back.
  • Start shaking the pan more frequently after the 4th or 5th minute,
  • After about 6 minutes, the chickpeas will start to get darker shade and release a roasted aroma.
  • Remove from stove and pan and set aside to cool down for 5-8 minutes, or until you can touch them without burning your fingers.


  • Using a coffee grinder or a blender, pulse the roasted date pits until you obtain a very fine powder. Pour into a sealable container.
  • Repeat with the roasted chickpeas.


  • Boil filtered hot water.
  • Pour 1 cup of boiled water over 1-2 tbsp date pit powder and 1-2 tbsp chickpea powder. Stir.
  • Pour through a fine strainer and serve with some non-dairy milk and a little sweetener.
Keyword hot beverage

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