Coffee is a drug,
am was an addict.
It took me 22 years to join the rest of you coffee addicts; which is impressive since cafés are where I get the majority of my work done. The bait was cast when I moved to Portland in 2013. The quality craft of local coffee roasters like Stumptown, and talented friends who warmly accepted me into the coffee-lovin community, made it impossible not to appreciate a fresh brew. The ritualistic vibe with the java jolt and laser-like focus had me hooked. What started as an appreciation, soon became a habit, then unknowingly an addiction. It only took a couple months until I relied on it daily for efficient productivity.
Coffee, Because Crack is Bad for You
Cocaine, cannabis, alcohol, crack, coffee … they’re all drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. It’s no wonder Mormons and other religions/cultures frown upon its use. After moving to San Fransisco, things got real. My roommates, a café scout expert and an ice-coffee expert, warmly showed me the lay of the SF caffeine land.
Then I noticed something. I began to rely on coffee as a vice to perform “normal”. So I knew it was time to do without.
The Challenge: No Coffee for a Month
The biggest problem with my challenge is I was surrounded by other addicts. Quality coffee is available on every block in San Fransisco and that wasn’t going to change. I knew if I was to successfully give up coffee for a month, I would need to replace it with something that’s just as readily available and has similar mind altering qualities.
My Strategy: Replace One Addition With Another
Helloooo Tea! Oh and I got serious with my teas.
I always thought tea was only for old people with thick English accents, but once I delved into the vast world of tea I was quickly fascinated with how I could strategically consume various strains to my advantage.
It became a hobby to try new and exotic teas then trying to recreate favorites at home as a part of my staple go-tos. A simple one that anyone could replicate would be the “Get Cozy” tea I discovered at Café St. Jorge. It’s still my favorite morning drink because the lemon lubricates your insides while the ginger fires up your digestive system and blood flow—plus it tastes amazing!
Get Cozy Tea:
- Brew half of a sliced lemon in hot water
- Add a heaping tablespoon of chopped ginger
- In goes a dollop of raw honey
- Then sprinkle on some cayenne pepper
- Brew it up for 5-10 minutes and get cozy!
Tip: Use half the ginger, if you prefer leaving the guts in while drinking, or it will quickly overpower the other flavors.
The Post-30 Day Verdict
30 days came and went and coffee no longer controlled my life. I was shocked by my lack of coffee craving, though I found certain teas to have comparable levels of increased alertness. For me, the key to replacing coffee with tea is to enjoy to process of experimenting. From health benefits, to altering your state of mind, to a vast selections and various concoctions, there’s a lot to get obsessed about with tea. Watch this old video my bro made for a hilarious list of tea benefits.
My two-month no coffee streak ended during a coffee tour in Costa Rica. It’s hard to turn down a freshly picked, roasted and brewed cup when Don Juan himself (3rd-generation farm owner) is pouring and drinking it with you. And boy could I feel it!
With long term consistent use of coffee, like any drug, it requires more and more to elicit the same effects. So even though I’m back to drinking coffee, as I drink more sparingly and intentionally rather than habitually, it makes for a much more efficient substance when I need a solid java jolt! Finding the tea/coffee balance is my current experiment.
Tips for Reducing or Eliminate Coffee Consumption:
- Write down what triggers you to habitually reach for coffee, (eg. social environments, certain foods or time of day, etc) then review your list of triggers and find the commonalities.
- Mitigate the influence of your coffee habit triggers by being prepared with alternatives ready to fall back on.
- Gradually wean and substitute coffee with caffeinated alternatives like matcha, maté or black teas.
- Pre-decide when you’re allowed to drink coffee so you’re not tempted when unexpected opportunities arise (because they will).
- The more you learn how coffee affects your brain easier it is to tweak your daily habits to help do without.
- Get a friend to join! Community engagement is one of main reasons why Alcohol Anonymous is so effective.
- Take a deep breath, it gets easier each day. The more you go without, the less you crave it.
What’s Your Relationship with Coffee?
Do you prefer coffee enemas or just inject it straight into your veins? Share your tips, wisdom or experience in the comments below!