Three Organic, Fair-Trade Alternatives to Coffee

I moved on to the company that produces drinks with moringa, a leafy green that grows across the tropics. It’s praised for being nutritionally dense—particularly rich in calcium, vitamins, iron, and antioxidants. Kuli Kuli’s products can be found in about 3,000 stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Safeway. The company produces moringa bars, powder, tea, and green energy shots—my focus. A sampler six pack costs $15.95 online.

“Personally, I can’t drink coffee; it just doesn’t agree with my system,” says founder Lisa Curtis. “Our energy shots are great for people like me, or for people who have already had their daily cup of coffee and need a more gentle boost for their afternoon pick-me-up.”

Kuli Kuli sources its moringa from Ghana, Haiti, and Nicaragua. In many nations, those included, the green-leafed plant is considered a weed, only eaten by those occupying the poorest societal rung. Curtis hopes to change that by making the crop more valuable by empowering female farmers through Kuli Kuli’s support for women-led cooperatives, and through the company’s efforts to raise awareness around deforestation. Compared to coffee, the caffeinated green smoothies are dense, carrying an earthy taste. One shot contains 95 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of a cup of coffee. But because it’s from green tea, it doesn’t “spike your body” quite the way coffee can, Curtis notes.

As someone who loves to cradle a warm mug and savor that cup of joe, I struggled with the drink’s on-the-go presentation. There’s a reason the Kuli Kuli green energy shot (35 calories) is packaged in such a small, condensed container; it’s not meant for slowly sipping. Of the three flavors (ginger lemon, coconut lime, and raspberry), I gravitated toward the ginger lemon, thanks to its zesty citrus tones.