When you're travelling for races, morning caffeine is a necessity, not a choice. So I've found some alternatives:
1. Cold brew with a French press
If you prep your coffee 24 hours in advance, you can have a delicious cup of cold brew from tap water. I've found it to be not as strong as hot brew, but it's a decent substitute and is perfect for tropical vacations and hot training trips.
- Starbucks and Peets will grind their beans for you in store, so you can get them ground for a French press
- Look for sources of hot water—many hotels have microwaves or hot water for tea
- You can use the press to brew loose leaf tea as well!
- There are also travel mug french presses. (It's on my birthday wish list.)
2. Go out for coffee
I know this one is obvious, but I always forget it on road trips until we're already out the door. Hotel and gas station coffee is generally horrendous. Instead, check out local places on Yelp (or just find your nearest chain coffee shop) and make a date of it.
- For race mornings, I put my coffee into a travel coffee mug (the Contigo autoseal mug is awesome) so I can drink it hot after weigh-ins
- If you don't plan to drink it right away, iced coffee is much better at room temperature than hot coffee
3. Califia iced coffee
The price of this stuff was a bit off-putting, but when my only alternative was to go out on the daily, it became pretty economical. It's a pre-brewed, pre-sweetened iced coffee made with almond milk. The double espresso packs a mighty punch and is also delicious!
- Make sure you have a refrigerated storage option for this stuff.
- Pour it into a small re-usable bottle (or one of the hotel coffee cups!) and bring it with you
4. Trader Joe's cold brew concentrate
This definitely wasn't my favorite coffee, but they sell a decent size bottle of concentrate for about $8, which makes this one of the least expensive options.
- Dilute it with sweetened non-dairy milk
5. Caffeinated Clif bars and nuun tabs
When you're on a road trip, or about to launch your boat for a race, you really don't want to worry about bathroom breaks every 30 minutes. Coffee has a knack for running through your system and hitting your bladder hard. The Clif bar/nuun tab combination is great for combatting this!
- My favorites are the chocolate mint bar and the lemon-lime energy tab—but they admittedly don't go very well together.
- There are a lot of other caffeinated sport foods if you don't like Clif bars or nuun
6. Chocolate covered espresso beans
I have yet to find a vegan version of these in stores, but they're pretty easy to make. Mix melted chocolate with espresso beans and let cool. These are also excellent for bladder management, and an AWESOME excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast.
- Add them to yogurt, granola or trail mix to prevent over-caffeination
- Use a hair dryer to melt the chocolate—your hotel room should have one
7. Unsweetened iced tea
Most grocery stores carry bottled unsweetened black iced tea. I don't think there's anything wrong with sweetened iced tea, or the green stuff, but for purely caffeine purposes, the unsweetened black stuff is the best. You can drink more of it and there's more caffeine per ounce than green tea. Win-win. (Or at least as win as you can get without a hot cuppa joe.)
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