I love drinking coffee. When my workweek alarm rings, my sole motivator for rolling out of bed is knowing that in a few hours I can drink a cup of coffee.
And after the long run, morning chores and commuting to work, I have a moment of peace holding my mug of coffee. The steamy aroma of java, the gentle heat pressing upon my palms, the taste of coconut milk creamer swirling in my brew—it’s my reward for all that I accomplish before 7AM.
If I love coffee so much, why would I give it up?
I don’t enjoy relying on others—be it people, objects or even concepts. I feel a spectrum of negative emotions whenever I must lean on others: resentment, annoyance, ineptness, disappointment—you get the idea.
Was I relying on coffee too much to get through my day?
It was a question I was too apprehensive to analyze. It was just easier to continue my habit of drinking coffee every morning. Once this realization hit me—that drinking coffee is a habit—I pushed myself to put my hypothesis to the test.
When summer hit its peak in heat, the last thing I wanted was a hot cup of liquid sloshing around in my stomach. So I started my experiment on June 1 and carried it through July 31.
That was not my initial plan. I wanted at first to see if I could survive not drinking coffee for a week. When that week passed, I decided to keep extending that timeline until I committed to a coffee-free lifestyle for two months.
Please note that I didn’t say caffeine-free. I drank tea every morning in its place, waiting for the boiling water to cool down to room temperature before sipping.
Life Without Coffee
My assumptions on what I would experience were both spot-on and made-up, a discovery that brought more self-reflection thane expected in my life.
“I can’t imagine my life not drinking coffee,” I always said. “I don’t know if I could do it.”
But guess what? I did. And I didn’t crumble. Life went on. The worst didn’t happen when I gave up coffee.
Yes, I can be melodramatic in the morning while the java buzz is pulsating my every thought. But I truly thought that, like a machine, I would malfunction and break down without coffee as my fuel—even though I spent most of my life as a tea drinker.
Facing a fear and seeing it through—talk about a confidence booster.
I Was Super Sleepy
Just because I survived doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult. I had to adjust to a new daily habit of not getting the jolt of energy I needed launch into my day.
My weekday alarm still went off at 5AM. In my pre-experiment days, I had no problem waking up. I was usually out of bed by 4:30AM, restless to jumpstart my day. Without coffee, it was rare to be up before my alarm. If I opened my eyes before 5AM, I instantly closed them in hopes of getting more shuteye.
As a coffee drinker, I could use a cup of joe as motivation for getting my day rolling (since I didn’t drink my coffee until a few hours later). Knowing that tea wasn’t going to have the same impact as coffee, I valued every minute of sleep and didn’t want to part myself from my pillow.
With coffee, I found myself alert and my spunky self by 8AM. With tea, I drank it continuously all day with a slight perk by 2PM, forever daydreaming about going back to sleep.
Weekends, in theory, were magical because I could sleep in as long as I wanted. But even after a decent night’s sleep—and some accidental naps—I still never felt well rested.
I Was Physically Beat
I did not alter my fitness schedule in any way to accommodate this experiment. The reason why my weekday alarm went off at 5AM was so that I could snag a long run in before my workday.
I took coffee for granted in this aspect of my life. I always wondered why I still had energy to carry on the rest of my day without missing a beat after so much physical exertion. I just assumed it was because I had been a runner most of my life, so my body was accustomed to bouncing back.
Well, there was no bouncing back without coffee. I felt exhausted during the post-run part of my day. Recovering quickly was out of the question and, while I didn’t lose my walking pace in between meetings, it was a struggle to maintain. I endured the constant feeling of needing to take a slow, deep breath.
I must say that I didn’t notice any difference during my run. I kept my normal pace and felt strong throughout the course. It was the only part of my day where I didn’t crave to tumble back into sleep.
Life with Coffee Again
Yes, I was impressed with myself that I could live without coffee. But I had a countdown as early as 10 days out for when I could drink coffee again.
I Still Enjoy the Taste
Coffee for me, like most, was an acquired taste. I started with the sugary drinks and slowly evolved to drip coffee (with a dollop of coconut milk creamer). I never enjoyed drinking flavored coffee because it masked the robust coffee bean flavors.
Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Without that taste on my tongue, I imagined it as I drank my chai tea every morning. But as the day drew nearer that coffee and I would be reunited, a thought crossed my mind: what if I don’t enjoy the taste of it anymore?
When it was time on August 1 to take that first sip, I hesitated, hoping that my coffee drinking days haven’t reached an end. But the taste was as delightful as before.
I Lost the Habit of Coffee Prep
I was surprised by how much time it took for me to make my own pot of coffee again. By not needing to set up my coffee maker, I gained extra minutes in the morning to clean up my apartment or simply start my commute sooner. Now that I was adding coffee back into the routine, I perceived this time bonus time as lost.
Let’s just say that my apartment isn’t as tidy as before.
Being so out of practice, I keep forgetting to make it. After a few days of “oh, shoot!” I now set reminders to turn on the coffeemaker.
I Lost the Perk of Coffee
What I was eager for the most on August 1 was the jolt that coffee would bring back into my life. I couldn’t wait for that pick-me-up boost of energy to surge through my veins and revive my alertness back to life.
But that didn’t happen.
While coffee tasted just as delicious as before, I didn’t feel any change. I felt just as tired as before. I thought my cup of coffee was defunct, so I tried again the next day. Same results.
Was that magical feeling gone?
I sit here now in a café sipping a flat white, hoping this double shot would do the trick. Still nothing.
Was coffee always a perceived source of energy? Am I just another victim of the placebo effect?
Final Experiment Analysis
I am confident to say that I won’t collapse without coffee, just fondly miss its flavor. And while it no longer gives me the jumpstart I crave, I plan to save it for days when I want to enjoy sipping it.
Now I have another assignment: discover a healthy, stronger source of energy to weave into my daily diet. Stay tuned!