Why I Gave Up Coffee Yesterday

Yesterday, I did not have my usual afternoon coffee.

Two days ago, I had decided to give up coffee (for at least two or three weeks). My final cup of espresso made at work:

Cup of espresso at work

I found a surprising variety of reasons to quit coffee.

Prelude: my history of coffee drinking

I was not always a coffee drinker. I almost never drank coffee in my life until less than a year ago, in July 2011, by accident when someone at work found a discarded cheap espresso machine in the hallway and we managed to get it working. It did not produce anything resembling real espresso, apparently, but it worked to make coffee that was better than the standard drip coffee that I always found disgusting (one reason I was never a coffee drinker).

The old “espresso” machine leaked water, however, so my boss bought a new machine that was far better, although still low end (about $150). This functioned well enough that I decided to start buying coffee beans and grinding them and making one small cup of espresso for myself each day at work.

I set a policy of only having this one cup on weekdays and being coffee-free at home on weekends.

A general reason: to change my routine

Sometimes I like to change my routine for no particular reason other than change. From experience, I have learned that often, changing something for no reason at all can be beneficial. I then wait to be surprised by what I learn, what I observe, and I always have the option of noting that the change was for the worse and therefore returning to my routine.

I’ve done these kinds of changes when it comes to my exercise routines, my music practice, my use of computer programming languages and tools, etc. Through experimentation, I improve my routines and keep my mind and body fresh.

Decreased appreciation

After months of regularly making espresso at work, I realized suddenly that it had become a mindless habit I “depended” on, rather than a special treat that I savored for itself. I used to take a few minutes away from the computer at work to enjoy my espresso, but apparently at some point I just started sipping it absent-mindedly while continuing to do work.

It seems a waste to do something mindlessly that I might as well not do at all. Even worse, had I become caffeine-dependent or something?

Health concerns

It was not clear to me whether my mild coffee habit has real benefits or drawbacks, but I have been worrying about possible drawbacks.

I do know that when I have too much coffee, I get “wired” and that does not help my mental or physical state. So the question is, have I been getting “wired” and not realizing it all these months?

Sometimes I get headaches, and wonder whether coffee is increasing my blood pressure.

Also, there is the matter of coffee being acidic and possibly nutrient-leaching.

In addition, I’ve been having some problems keeping weight on. Coffee seems to make me lose weight. I already weigh less than I did 24 years ago in college. I don’t need to lose weight. My body goal is to gain strength and flexibility and muscle mass, not lose weight.

Finally, how does my afternoon coffee affect my sleep quality?

Observations after one day

Yesterday at my “usual” coffee time, I noticed a feeling of lack as I bypassed my usual cup. Perhaps I really did become dependent on coffee as a way to boost my alertness in the afternoon.

Also, I got sleepier and earlier last night. Again, was the day simply unusual for me, or has it been the case that coffee has artificially interfered with my “natural” body signals to go to sleep?


I am quitting coffee as an experiment to see what happens as a result. I hope to learn something about how dependent I have become on it (psychologically or physically), and monitor changes in my health. I am by no means arbitrarily giving up coffee forever. I expect that two or three weeks will be enough for me to learn something useful. Then I can choose whether to reintroduce coffee into my life, and at what level. Certainly I cannot imagine any harm from drinking a cup every week, but the 5-day-a-week habit has raised suspicions.

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