My first thought was Chicory since it is a coffee substitute. And yes it grows in Indiana, so you might be able to find some growing wild.
Purdue University list of Herb, Aromatic, Medicinal, Bioactive Crops
Here are some comments when I tried to search for what plants have caffeine:
Caffeine isn't a primary compound in plants. It doesn't serve a function that a plant naturally needs to live. Therefore you will be hard pressed to find many plants that contain caffeine in the wild. Almost all caffeine comes from either seeds or leaves. Only about 100 plants contain some form of caffeine, most being minimal. Probably people with expertise locally with edible plants could help you more, I just know caffeine isn't primarily found in a lot of North American plants.
The plant with the most caffeine in North America is the Ilex vomitoria and various varieties of said. It's the North American equivalent of Yerba Mate. Don't let the name bother you. The Indians made an extra strong brew for ceremonies to induce vomiting. In every day use they made a milder brew with steamed green leaves and lightly roasted leaves. Details are on my website.
Three common commercial varieties of Ilex vomitoria are Ilex nana and Ilex schiller (female and male dwarf versions for hedging) and Ilex vomitoria var. pendula (an ornamental which if fed nitrogen has more caffeine than any plant.)
According to Jim Pojar, in his book "Plants Of The Pacific Northwest Coast," The dried ground up seeds of Scotchbroom (classified invasive in Oregon, don't know about your part of the region) can be used as a coffee substitute.
After many years at this it has been my experience that nothing is a substitute for coffee. One plant, goosegrass, hmmm, Galium aparine, comes close in flavor but no caffeine. It is in the same family as coffee, oddly, and its roasted seeds are coffeesque. Add some Ilex vomitoria leaves and you might have a famine coffee substitute with caffeine. But it ain't coffee. Close, but no cigar.
Brooms, which a non-native, are usually listed as toxic.
We used to roast barley then grind it to mix with our coffee, it lowers the caffeine and greatly reduces the price of your coffee.
My parents roasted barley during the Great Depression as a coffee substitute.
Today we buy roasted barley at the grocery store. Mix it 50/50 with coffee grounds. It costs $1.29/pound.
We have been growing mint for years, which we harvest and dry. We use mint in our teas and many cooking recipes.
This year we planted chamomile and tea-trees. So we hope to produce them both in the future.
Nancy Reading wrote:There seems to be some disagreement as to whether cleavers does contain caffiene: https://www.wildwalks-southwest.co.uk/how-to-make-wild-cleaver-coffee/ Rachel Lambert says it does.
http://www.eattheweeds.com/galium-aparine-goosegrass-on-the-loose-2/ eat the weeds says it doesn't.
PFAF doesn't mention caffiene, so the jury's out at the moment.
My first thought was that an Ilex would probably be your best bet - it's cool to know that there is one!
There seems to be some disagreement as to whether cleavers does contain caffiene:
Bedstraw, also known as cleavers (Latin name Galium aparine), seeds have caffeine in them and have a nice enough flavor. They grow as a weed in most of the US and are extremely easy to cultivate
I’m sure if the Brits hadn’t colonised much of Asia, and there hadn’t been a tea party in Boston, then North Carolina would be covered in tea plantations! I think they make nice house plants so definitely an option or in a future greenhouse. Thanks Greg.
i grow true tea (Camellia sinensis), but i suppose that would be a real challenge in zone 5. interested to learn that there are some annual sources!
And unless you want deer as high as kites stop them from eating the berries.
Edward Norton wrote:
Thanks Jen - bedstraw! No research needed. I’ve definitely seen it here but not in the huge hedgerow swamping swathes I’ve seen in the UK, which is why I thought it was a different plant. I’m thinking, if it’s called bedstraw, then there must be a reason, so back to researching . . . Already thinking about it holistically and potential textile BB’s
You can also use it to make cheese (rennet substitute) or to stop bleeding.
K Kaba wrote: Here I thought it was just one more "eh I suppose I can throw it in a salad" weed!
Anne Miller wrote:I wonder has anyone here actually tried making coffee from cleaver or yaupon?
Before I would go out and plant a bunch I would want to know what it tastes like.
I know for a fact the chicory tastes good and is relatively easy to roast the root then dry the root and grind it because I mix it with coffee to make coffee go farther.
I have cleaves by the hundreds but have really no desire to try them as coffee. Picking them does not appeal to me as I would rather smoother them with cardboard.
I have been around yaupon all my life. They have small leaves that a person would need to pick a lot of to make much coffee.
It is a nice topic to talk about.
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