Giving Up Coffee Forever

So. I made it 30 days with no caffeine. Well, except on Half-Marathon day when I had about 6 ounces but you best forgive me for that or else we can’t be friends. For real, okay. No one enjoys a stickler for the rules. Seriously. NOBODY.

Anyway. How did I celebrate that accomplishment this morning?


With a giant cup of fully leaded Peet’s Holiday Blend. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

I have more to say about the entire Great Skin Care Experiment (A’Dell, put the Clarisonic back on your Christmas List!) but obviously giving up my morning coffee was the biggest damn deal of them all so I want to talk about that separately.

Despite my sensationalized title: I’m just not giving up coffee forever. Not gonna happen.

That said, I found this month so super refreshing that I really took pause for a moment and thought about it. I was far less irritable, my mood swings noticeably decreased, my morning appetite came back so I was up eating breakfast at a decent hour, I slept LIKE THE DEAD, and honestly after the first 4 days (which were totally rough) I felt like a rock star every morning: no caffeine required. These things? These are things one can not ignore.

The Real Deal

But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. The thing about coffee is that I REALLY enjoy it. And when I say coffee, I mean just that. Black coffee — no cream, no sugar, not fun coffee-infused beverages. I really REALLY love coffee. Part of that comes from the fact that I worked in the Specialty Coffee Industry for over 10 years. The tasting ritual and subsequent rabbit holes of information that you can dive down based on origins and brewing are similar to wine. And I really enjoy that in my life. Not having a connection to that for an entire month really felt like a loss for me. I know that sounds stupid, but it is 100% true. I gave it up, and I survived, but there was never a morning where I didn’t really miss my morning cup. I missed tasting the variations in my beans. I missed switching it up to an Americano once in a while. I MISSED MY COFFEE! And the thing that really underscored that for me was it still felt like a loss even after I had gotten over missing my caffeine.

So how did I respond to all of that missing of my coffee? Well since I felt punished and like my last holdout vice was being taken away from me, I really let myself indulge in other things. Treats, baked goods, sugar, gluten, Halloween Candy — whatever. If it was a forbidden vice, I let myself have it! And in the end, I was NOT better for it. Mentally and emotionally I just felt so DOWN. But I wouldn’t stop trying to fill the hole. That space for that delicious pleasure in my life was empty and so I did my best to make sure if it wasn’t going to be filled with caffeine it would be filled with frosting of some sort. And seriously? It was gross.



I don’t want use my consequent poor nutrition as a reason to dive right back into my prior habits. The good parts of giving up caffeine are just too much too overlook (though ironically, my skin didn’t dramatically improve. BOO. But more on that later.) My sleep and appetite and overall function was so much better without daily caffeine imbibing for 5 hours a day. My hydration improved ten fold. All of these things I would like to keep around with maybe a few little tweaks.

So here’s what I decided I can manage:

*I’m going to have a cup of coffee at home in the morning and I’m ONLY going to have one. Yum. I can’t wait to get back to that. Before I was drinking 2-2.5. Garrett and I are also going to move in the direction of making that daily pot a half caf pot.

*I’m going to continue drinking herbal tea at work instead of coming into the office and brewing another cup or two. I think drinking tea at work all day long has been the biggest contributor to my overall feelings of good hydration. I want to keep up that good habit that I’ve put into place over the last 30 days.

*I’m going to start treating coffee like wine. I really enjoy it, and don’t want to give it up. But if I feel like a part of my health is suffering because of it, or if my consumption is increasing I’m going to just STOP drinking it for a bit. My biggest fear when I embarked on this was that I was totally nursing a coffee addiction. But now I KNOW I can go 30 days without it, so if I need to rein it in in the future, I plan on doing it.

All of these things mean that I need be observant about my consumption. I am not great at moderation, and I’m usually not a big advocate for it. But I think with coffee, I need to LEARN how to moderate. So I’m willing to try. It seems sort of hard to me, but even harder is giving up something that I just really get great pleasure from. If it doesn’t work, I’ll rethink it, but for now I’m so happy to be back enjoying a cup of Joe!

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27 comments to Giving Up Coffee Forever

  • Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie
    October 31, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I’m one of the rare folks who not only never got into the habit of drinking coffee, but generally dislikes the taste. My mom and I are both tea drinkers and I really think green tea is one of the greatest things out there (if I believed in superfoods – it would be top 3!)

    Glad to hear you’re planning to savor and indulge your love for coffee going forward!

    • Holly
      November 1, 2012 at 8:26 am

      Green Tea *is* delicious. It’s just not the same for me, but I do like it. Speaking of super foods, I was just saying this weekend that if *I* believed in superfoods, burritos would be on that list. :)

  • Kristabella
    October 31, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Good job!

    I find this super interesting. I’ve been thinking about giving up coffee and moving just to tea. I recently stopped adding creamer to my coffee and amazingly, I like it better. (Still need the sweet, though.)

    But there are so many good teas out there that I think I could definitely switch to that and do without the sugar in the mornings.

    Thankfully I’m only one medium a day drinker, so it shouldn’t be TOO hard.

  • AndreAnna
    October 31, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I have up coffee (and all caffeine) for a couple months once because of postpartum thyroid issues that caused arrhythmia for a few months and was super scary and all of that.

    Basically? I hated life. For me, coffee was routine, comfort, something that meant something to me no matter how stupid it sounded.

    I just couldn’t find a suitable replacement anywhere.

    I mean, I like herbal teas and water and all that jazz but it was NOT MY COFFEE.

    I’m glad you did this though and am anxious to hear your results on the face experiment! :)

    • Holly
      November 1, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Right? I mean tea is delicious. I get it. I enjoy it. So is broccoli, but if you tried to stick a candle in it and tell me to call it a birthday cake I would tell you that you are ridiculous. So back to drinking coffee it is!

  • Jillian
    October 31, 2012 at 10:38 am

    I’ve been really interested in how you’ve fared with this goal. I’ve managed to give up or significantly reduce many foods as a part of trying to go primal/paleo. After developing an eye twitch over the summer from what I believe was too much caffeine, I reduced my intake to one cup of good French press per day with half and half. The twitch went away, and I started to feel better overall. But, I have this nagging idea that it isn’t healthy to have be overly dependent on any food group, so I’m going to try to reduce it even further. I want to be able to wake up every morning and not immediately start thinking about coffee and to approach it, as you said, much like I approach wine – a treat or reward and not a must-have for survival.

    • Holly
      November 1, 2012 at 8:24 am

      Hey Jillian! You know, that was kind of what motivated me — the fact that I was legit TERRIFIED to give it up. I hate when things have that much control over me, so getting that in perspective alone was well worth the effort. But I’m hoping I can move forward and just keep it as a treat instead of the driving force behind my existance — which, while melodramatic, was not that far off back in September. :)

  • Jacki
    October 31, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Congrats and I love your management plan. I just came off of 30 days without sugar and it was soooo hard (I allowed fructose, but nothing else). Now it is time to decide how I will handle sugar in the future. Perhaps having Halloween and a treat table in my office was not the best way to start that plan…

  • Rose-Anne
    October 31, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Interesting! It sounds like you learned a lot about the role that coffee plays in your life–the good and the bad.

    You know what this post reminds me of? Mormons. I have a Mormon friend who didn’t drink, smoke, caffeinate, etc. and he had a wicked sweet tooth. And on the television show Big Love, you often see the characters eating crazy sweet things, like butterscotch sundaes with a Sprite on the side. Me? I would much rather have a black coffee with dessert. I like the balance of bitter and sweet. Too much sweet bores me.

  • sizzle
    October 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    I remember giving up coffee- it was HARD. But now, despite missing the taste, I feel better without it. It makes me sleepy and sick when I drink it. How sad is that? I think you’ve got the right plan for you and that’s key.

  • Stephanie
    October 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Great post, but now I am feeling a bit indulgent as I wind down the night with my 4th cup of coffee of the day. :)

    • Holly
      November 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

      haha! You have two very adorable excuses to be chugging 4 cups a day though lady. When I have kids, I make no promises.

  • Cami Sebern
    October 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Another challenge conquered! Now if you could only get a pedicure I think you would get the gold medal.

  • Amanda
    October 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Wello done! I’m like you – I enjoy good coffee because of the flavour/ritual not because I’m chasing a caffeine hit. I’ve been trying to cut back as well and found that having hot cocoa helps take the edge off, but as I dont add cream or sugar it can be a bit ‘raw’ (my friend referred to it as stodge). I’ve played around adding other ingredients and my present “recipe” is 1 tsp cocoa + 1/2 tsp coconut oil + 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. It’s definitely not the same as coffee (or even hot choc) but I’ve found it to be a reasonable alternative. Good luck :)

    • Holly
      November 1, 2012 at 8:21 am

      You know, a lot of people have recommended coconut oil so I may have to switch it up and try that once in a while. Sounds kinda nutty, but then again *I’m* kinda nutty, so it would probably all work out in the end. :)

  • San
    October 31, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    You had me worried there for a second when I read the title of your post 😉 I couldn’t imagine that you, a coffee lover, would be ready to give it up completely after only 30 days! 😉

  • Casey P
    November 1, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Good for you, Holly. I’ve enjoyed finding and reading your blog these last few weeks. And I can totally relate to you…if you truly enjoy a cup of coffee, then why give it up? I get not adding sugar and creamer (something I had to learn to do and I still add a splash of whole milk every now and then)…butI can’t take EVERYTHING away. Otherwise, I’d go crazy. I’m not super learned on all things coffee like you are, but I do enjoy the ritual. The brewing, the smell, the sipping, and even holding something warm every morning. If it brings you happiness and isn’t harming you (and it doesn’t seem like it is!), then I say enjoy it sister!

    • Holly
      November 1, 2012 at 8:20 am

      Thanks Casey! Glad you are enjoying the blog — and that’s kind of what I’m thinking. If this is my only vice, and I make a marked effort to keep it under control, what’s the harm???

  • mellissa@ibreatheimhungry
    November 1, 2012 at 5:49 am

    I’ve given up coffee more times than I can count but I always go back to it because I just love it – and this time of year when it gets chilly is when I look forward to cradling that hot mug of deliciousness even more than usual. Moderation is the way to go for me too. I love reading your posts! Can’t wait to hear more about the skin care experiment!

  • Mariah B
    November 1, 2012 at 6:34 am

    I was really looking forward to how the coffee portion of this experiment went… glad to hear your results! I only have one cup a day of fair trade/organic/specialty coffee that I grind fresh beans for every morning. The grinding and pour-over process I use makes me put a little more work into my daily one-cup-in-the-morning. I think it makes me appreciate it a little more.. and I know I’m not motivated enough to go through all that work (cleaning out a coffee grinder. Ugh!) for another cup. :)

    I also like putting about a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee. The benefits of coconut oil are a whole different story, but I love it that way!

  • Mariah B
    November 1, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Ps. The Bulletproof Exec says (good) coffee is good for you. And this is where I got the idea for the coconut oil. The two times I’ve tried fasting, I’ve done it his way with the coffee/fats and had great success.

  • Ideas for Moving Toward More Natural Body Care
    November 2, 2012 at 10:18 am

    […] Facebook Page. One of the easiest parts of The Great Skincare Experiment (at least MUCH easier than giving up caffeine) was beginning to transition to more natural body care. I say “more natural” but like […]

  • rockermocking
    November 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

    have you ever tried coffee substitutes to go half ‘n half with regular or decaf coffee, like chicory (New Orleans style) or Teeccino? I volunteer in a food co-op with a guy who’s sworn off coffee for years (for health reasons) and he recommended Teeccino specifically. While most folks agree it doesn’t come close to real coffee (and with Teeccino, it’s just as expensive as good coffee), the substitutes are not only caffeine free but also lack the high acid content in coffee that affects a lot of people. As someone who should cut down on caffeine as I am quite the stressy bessy, I am going to be trying a coffee substitute to brew with my regular coffee.

    • Holly
      November 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      You know, I’ve thought about it, I’ve just never quite taken the plunge. I’ve also got a bunch of recommendations for Dandy Blend??? I may try them one of these days just for giggles. But I can’t imagine it ever taking the place of my true love cup. But who knows…I’m open to it!

  • October Progress + November Intentions
    November 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    […] I would call going without caffeine a success. It sure was informative though. If you missed it, here were my thoughts on that. Sadly this past Saturday morning I woke up and had 2 whole cups of coffee throughout the morning […]





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