Once upon I time I found myself in Missoula, Montana. The year was 2005 and I was a freshman at the University of Montana. I was the archetype of a typical freshman at an out-of-state school: An 18 year-old recently liberated from his parents. I was shy, self conscious, and awkward because I didn’t know many people.
This phase of my emerging adulthood could have been described as dorm-life because I shared a room with a guy named Jordan and a narrow two-foot walkway separated our beds. A more important marker for this phase of my life would be that I spent most mornings in a heavy curtain of mental fog. Caffeine was a foreign word to me at this time and the mere thought of consuming it didn’t make sense. I had grown accustomed to groggy mornings with a bagel and orange juice.
Part 1: The First Taste
On a chilly fall morning my wakeup ritual would be turned upside down. On this particular day I was groggier than usual, so cloudy in my mind that I felt delirious. Desperation for a jolt of alertness ensued. In a deep stupor of fatigue I lurched my away through campus like a sluggish lemur and regained some form of focus upon arrival to a cafe called Just Chillin’. I needed a shortcut to waking up so I ordered a double shot mocha, my first ever espresso drink.
The first sip was an invasion of flavors; chocolate, coffee, sweetness, slight bitterness. My heart started to pump a little faster and a rush of caffeine hit my brain. I felt alive. How the heck had been sleeping on coffee all this time?, I wondered. I was flying through campus, adrenaline pumped into my veins and I was living high in the mountains. At this moment I didn’t want to start the day with coffee, I needed it. Little did I know but this would be the beginning of a fifteen year steady relationship of coffee meets mouth.
Part 2: The Loyal Dark Goddess
The love for coffee was so strong that it became part of my daily routine for years. The morning wouldn’t start until I drank my morning mocha. After a few years I replaced the rich whip cream and chocolate syrup for the bitterness of pure espresso. Americanos became the drink of choice and they fueled my inspiration on more than one occasion.
My devotion to coffee transcended the act of drinking it. I dedicated blog articles and social media content to my affliction to the liquid goddess. I’d plan vacations on where I could drink this comforting black gold. As my dedication to this power liquid force grew stronger, so did my dependancy. The honeymoon with coffee reached its peak a couple years ago when I was averaging three or four shots of espresso in the morning (before 9am). The buzz wasn’t high anymore, it was necessary. I couldn’t face the world until I had consumed a few cups.
Part Three: The Broken Heart
One morning I woke up exhausted. The fatigue was so heavy that I raced to the kitchen and started to boil some water in preparation of a french press. This was a habit that I started doing without thinking each morning. I drank a cup and nothing happened. I downed a second and nothing happened. I felt a dizziness from the caffeine but still was tired. This was a fluke I told myself and figured that I was simply in a temporary rut, until I took note over the next few months that indeed my body wasn’t favoring coffee like it used to. I noticed that the lows lasted longer and the highs weren’t fulfilling. Despite my continued fidelity to coffee I was mentally hoping for an escape. The dance between coffee and me was boiling over in my heart and I began to resent my need for this dark vice to fill my body in order to function. I was looking for my moment to jump ship.
Part Four: The Breakup
Months later, I was on vacation with my girlfriend and her roommate in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I faced particularly difficult morning during this trip because once again the effects of a coffee buzz was absent even after a few cups from a French press. I was officially heartbroken by coffee. This cemented the desire to quit my coffee drinking habit.
Two days later I found my window of escape. The three of us headed north to the Umpqua National Forest to camp for two days. This was it, I told myself, hold on to your boots. I decided to not pack any instant coffee or drink anything with caffeine during the camping trip. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone two days without coffee so I was already trembling just thinking about the withdrawals.
I was suffering, but two days in the woods, a hot springs, and topped off by a day in Crater Lake helped keep the urge to guzzle brown liquid at bay. Being in nature was very healing for my head and it served as a proper environment for recovery from coffee. Fortunately, no one was hurt during this process and I didn’t scream in yearning for coffee.
Part Five: Freedom
It was only two days without coffee, but if I could go 48 hours without caffeine then I’d keep going. The momentum had started and with each passing day I felt more inspired to say goodbye to coffee. After only a few days my urges started to dissipate. My grogginess didn’t go away but the fatigue wasn’t as severe compared to when I was dependent on coffee.
I realized that I was trying to mask my natural sleepiness in the morning with too much stimulation. I decided that from that moment forward I’d embrace being sleepy. This last dance with coffee happened in early July so now it’s been two months without a craving. This was something that I never dreamed could happen, nor did I ever picture myself a non-coffee drinker.
I’m not totally free from caffeine: I’ve been converted into a matcha tea drinker and so far the relationship is very balanced with neither side becoming overly dependent on the other.
Part Six: You Can Too!
The purpose of this article is not to bash on coffee. I still love it and have lots of fond memories from drinking it. I just know that I became too dependent on it and eventually I fell out of love for it.
If you feel the same way but don’t think you can quit, let me assure you that it is possible! I highly recommend starting your escape in nature and or among people who don’t drink coffee. My girlfriend and roommate are tea drinkers so this helped me a lot. The first two days will be a challenge but if you can do that then the rest is a piece of cake. You might feel a sudden desire for coffee, but try to remember why you want to quit. I kept reminding myself this.
Try writing down why you’re leaving it and keeping the reasons on your phone, easy to access, so you can read them each time a craving arises. Finally, try to find something else that brings you that fulfillment. For example, the bitterness of matcha leaves has replaced the bitterness of a black coffee and this is a sensation that I enjoy savoring. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Coffee is a wonderful elixir and I happily drank it for many years, but I am really happy to not need it in my life anymore.
Thanks for reading this blog post! Are you a recovering coffee drinker? How was the experience for you and how did you quit? I’d love to hear your comments!
Have a nice day,
7 thoughts on “The Recovering Coffee Drinker”
I love coffee. Not sure if I can quit at this point in time. It is some kind of ritual I have fabricated in my head.
I hear you! Coffee has lots of benefits. If you’re happy then that’s great Peter. Breaking the ritual is tough. I think if we leave our normal environment it’s easier to break the ritual, if that’s something you feel like doing. Thanks for the comment!
Regrettably, I’ve merely reduced my intake to one cup, and sometimes just a few sips each day. More of a nod to the acid effects on the stomach rather than a desire to quit. I accept Earl Grey with open arms.
Hi Josef! You know one cup is a great achievement. If you’ve managed to lower your intake then that is a victory in itself. I like Earl Grey too. I agree that the acid effects played a role in my decision to make a change.
French press coffee contains the highest caffeine content of all the methods (maybe cold brew has more, I am not sure). Espresso contains the lowest amount. Everyone has to find their comfort zone, but “all things in moderation” is a great theme to live by. If one is drinking coffee only for the caffeine maybe that is not good. But the flavor of a well-brewed quality roast is one of life’s pleasures! I enjoyed reading your post– my husband grew up in Whitefish, and my college roommate lives in Klamath Falls.
I completely agree, life in moderation is a good ethos to live by. I do miss quality roasts! Thanks for reading! Whitefish is a lovely part of MT. If you go to Missoula there are some really good places to enjoy coffee!
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We love coffee !
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