First, let me be 100% clear- I am not anti-coffee. In fact, by the end of this post you will realize I am in love with coffee. Actually, almost all of this post, written over the course of several days, was written under the influence of coffee.
So why did I quit it? Well, it all started when a friend got confused and thought I was giving up coffee for lent. I had a bit of a severe reaction. It went something like, "H*ll no, I'm never giving up coffee!" And in my head I began the process of rationalizing all of the reasons I did not need to give up coffee:
- "But I only have a couple cups a day."
- "I'm not addicted! Why give it up?"
- "It's actually healthy in the amount that I drink it! I need the anti-oxidants."
- "It will affect my productivity – it's not good for business."
Somewhere around "I'm not addicted," I realized it was something I needed to do. I was too emotionally invested in coffee.
To replace coffee I alternated between drinking matcha and black tea. The deets:
- I used Vital Proteins Matcha Collagen*. Sometimes I made a Bulletproof version, adding Brain Octane Oil and unsweetened almond milk. But most of the time I just added a bit of raw honey to eliminate the bitterness. If you want more information on collagen, I wrote a post about it a few months ago.
- I used a variety of brands of black tea depending of where I was. I mostly drank English Breakfast. Sometimes Earl Grey. Sometimes Chai. Always with unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Never any added sugar.
I did enjoy the flavor and taste of both options. They were warming, and gave me a dose of caffeine to start my day. It definitely helped with the morning ritual component for sure.
Despite having good substitutes on hand, the first day was rough. Physically, I did not have as much energy as usual. Mentally, it was challenging. It was harder getting up in the morning without my morning cuppa to look forward to.
After the first day, I didn't notice a difference in my energy levels. This is probably because I was still getting my caffeine, just in lower doses. My body adjusted quickly to the lower amount of caffeine. I also think it's possible that I was not physically addicted to the caffeine, but emotionally.
Caffeine Average Per 8oz Serving
What I did notice was that I truly felt like a less happy person. FOR ALMOST THE ENTIRE TIME. It was very noticeable. I didn't quite have the "joie de vivre" that I typically experience in my day to day life. Apparently, I source great amounts of joy from my coffee in the morning. You would think that having a warm cup of tea in the morning would replace the ritual, but for me, it wasn't enough. I proceeded with my life. I did my work. I continued with my social commitments, but I found I did it all without any pep in my step. It was fine, but I missed my upbeat self.
This led me to do some research- is there actually a correlation between coffee and mood? Well, some studies say yes! The findings of one study show an association between coffee and mood — researchers know that caffeine works by binding to receptors for brain chemicals associated with mood. This particular study even determined that 2-4 cups of coffee a day lowered risk in women for depression. A good summary article is here if you would like more information. Bottom line: I was not imagining a decrease in my mood, cuz science.
My First Cup... A Cheat Day
My birthday is always during lent, so I always grant myself dispensation from lenten resolutions on that day. I was staying in a lovely hotel in London, with a fabulous cafe. Every day I smelled the delicious scent of roasted beans, and on the morning of my birthday I was able to enjoy my very own almond milk latte. It was sheer perfection. The coffee was sublime. Have you ever heard of the "point of diminishing return"? It basically is a concept that says after the first bite or sip of something, generally speaking, enjoyment of whatever it is goes down dramatically. I can tell you with 100% confidence that every sip of that latte brought me LIFE. I loved every second of it. But I kept it to one cup for the day and that was perfect.
Any side effects? I definitely had a bit of a caffeine high. But no jitters, or tenseness. No anxiety. No stomach troubles. I knew I had a strong constitution for coffee, but I did think I would experience some adverse reaction after being off it for so long (this was day 34). I was pumped there wasn't!
I went back on coffee at Easter (Holy Saturday when lent is over actually), and it was in the midst of chaos. I was helping my mom prepare for 30 guests, AND we were cooking (love my large Italian clan!). I ended up drinking A LOT of coffee. I'm not even sure how many cups because we kept pouring into unfinished cups. I fully admit this was not the best idea after being off it for so long.
I could definitely feel the effects. I was tense, a bit on edge, and had a stomach ache. I 100% overdid it. It was good reality check for me. While coffee is wonderful in moderation – that doesn't mean to drink bottomless cups. After the first day of overdoing it, I have tried to go back to my one cup in the morning, sometimes venturing for a second. I haven't experienced the negative side effects since.
Another noticeable difference in myself is that my palate has become more discerning. While before this experiment I was coffee "snobbish," I used to be able to get away with buying a big tub of beans at Trader Joe's. Right now, it is not doing it for me. I'm really into a more robust roast like Intelligentsia or Dark Matter.
My mood has returned to it's normal sunny disposition. :) For the record, it's fine to not feel happy all of the time, but my normal self is set on default to "upbeat". While I have learned this is definitely partially induced by my coffee consumption, I didn't care for the "new normal" I was experiencing.
I clearly have not broken my emotional attachment to those lovely beans, but I do know I can exist in a life without coffee. :)
An unbiased bit of education
While this post is about my own personal experience, I want to make sure that y'all know about all the awesome benefits coffee can bring, and the drawbacks. There are quite a few reasons to drink coffee, and quite a few reasons not to. Every person is different and can process coffee and caffeine differently. While I often sound like a coffee spokesperson, I really want you to do what feels right for your body. Have a read below to decide if you want caffeine as a part of your routine – and as always, listen to your body!
My Key Takeaways
I know relying on any substance for happiness is not healthy. While 45 days without coffee did not seem to break my emotional tie with it, I do know that the world will not end if I ever decide we need some time apart. While I won't be giving up coffee permanently, I will definitely try to change things up every once in a while. I've learned my lesson, 2 cups a day is my limit! And I will definitely will keep my matcha and black tea in the rotation!
Do you drink coffee? Have you ever tried giving it up? I would love to hear if you had a similar experience. Leave a comment below or tell me on the 'gram!
*Vital Proteins provided the Matcha Collagen. If you purchase through the links in the post, I will earn a commission at no cost to you. But to be clear, this post was not paid for by Vital Proteins and my opinions are all my own.