Quitting coffee ☕

The last coffee I had was a strong decaf cappuccino on Monday January 13th of this year, or 123 days ago (to 2020-05-15).

Before that I had a regular coffee mocha on January 6th. Not that I'm counting.

Over the last 4 years I've slowly been eliminating the drug Caffeine from my life. Like any addiction it's been a tough uphill struggle. For me that struggle was not so much the caffeine itself, more so the coffee that the caffeine hitched a ride with.

My morning ritual when I sat at whatever customer or office desk I happened to be at was the same: take a quick overview of the world through my RSS feeds across various categories from cloud to Chelsea FC and everything in between. All the while enjoying a small cup of paradise. I did heart coffee for the taste considerably more so than the neurological effects. Though I admit I used caffeine as a means to kick start my day for more than a decade.

With every cup came short term gains back to a baseline I made up for myself of a normal state of being. This short term thinking lead to long term problems- namely migraines.

So, from around 18 to around 30 coffee fuelled my social life and professional life. I started a daily ritual around coffee. I often consumed numerous cups per day without thinking of the consequences.

I sound like the average person. That's probably why you dear reader have gotten this far. You're an average person, drinking coffee, but also considering some of your choices.

I made some choices sometime in the spring of 2016. After going on a health cleanse of epic proportions (due to a health scare) I ate nothing but vegetables and fruit (only!) for a couple of months straight. I drank only water and kombucha (at the time, it was not my own home brew).

For that 8-9 weeks following the diagnosis I followed the strict diet. That also included going cold turkey on coffee. Though, me and old mate were not quite done yet.

That is to say, giving up a ritual or an addiction that's gone on for over a decade can't be as easy as that. Cold turkey as a means to quit anything is not only flawed, there's ample Google-able articles that state willpower can only go so far.

So when asked recently what I did–

–I quickly answered, but have since felt that this needed some more wordage to articulate properly. So, @JesseLoudon this ones for you.

The last coffee I had was a strong decaf cappuccino on Monday January 13th of this year, or 123 days ago (to 2020-05-15).

I don't recall the exact day or date I started drinking de-caf, but it was for sure around late 2016. However, lets round it to September 2016, it's been 3 and half years of back and forth with drinking de-caf to not drinking any coffee. The current run from Jan 13th until now is the longest I've gone without coffee since I was 18. That's a weird thing to think about.

In my case cold turkey, but with a shift to de-caf to continue the ritual, was the means to an end that made the overall process easier. I honestly think if anyone's considering a pivot in such polar opposite directions, there is no “do X, Y and Z” process. It's a matter of ripping off the band aid and making that paradigm shift a reality.

My goal was never to “quit coffee”. The smell of a freshly brewed cup still brings a smile to my face. I think for sure I'll drink coffee again in the future. However, now that it's not part of any routine, I'm no longer dependant on it, I think I'll have a different relationship with coffee.

Moreover, when I think about the following, there's some significant changes that won't have me running back to that cup of java anytime soon:

  • Migraines: after such an extended period of my life consuming caffeine, the reduction and even severity of migraines or any headache is amazing. What I'd previously consider a level 3 (1 to 3 was my scale) headache or migraine is now a 1 maybe 1.5 when I on occasion still get them. While the severity has certainly decreased, the frequency has also reduced. This is likely a combination of other health benefits but having 1 minimum to 2 or 3 (on average) cups a day for 5 working days straight, and then missing that first caffeine hit after sleeping in on a Saturday morning would make me spiral into a wasted weekend.
  • Diuretic: caffeine is a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluids than if you weren't consuming any form of caffeine. Coffee also tends to dry out your mouth because of the tannins in coffee as well as the caffeine. Being on the run, busy, working away, water and having a drink weren't always a priority. That lead to dry mouth and oral health issues. In the last 3 years my oral health has improved night/day with the reduction in coffee. I've also started to increase my water intake. It's an interesting side effect.
  • Energy: I can only speak for myself here and say that it's a misconception that life without caffeine/coffee in the morning is harder. I'm no more tired than I was before. If i had a bad nights sleep, I'm going to be tired. However, if I had a great nights sleep, I feel just fine in the morning. There's not been a single day that after a good night sleep I felt the need for any stimulant to kick me into gear to get going.
  • Money: Quitting coffee isn't going to make anyone rich. Sure, not spending anywhere from $3.70 to ~$12 a weekday on coffee will have a positive benefit in weighing down your wallet. This for me is another positive side effect, but it's not going to help me retire at 40 and spend my newly found free time on the various hobbies I want to take up. If you're wanting to use that as a justification, sure, it'll help, but there's far better conversations to be had and actions taken to improve on financial matters than quitting coffee.

Look, I don't hate coffee now that I don't consider myself a drinker. This also isn't a ‘stop drinking coffee because of x, y and z reasons’ kind of a blog. I just wanted to go more in depth on this than 280 Twitter characters would allow. However, how much can I put into a blog post about quitting coffee? How long is a piece of string? How annoying is answering a question with a question?

My experience here is limited to one example to kick coffee. So, with that said, there's only one important piece of advice on quitting coffee that I can say would achieve success if that's what you want: you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.


Discussion 💬