In University several of my guy friends attempted a “Coffee Challenge”. The basic premise based off of an episode of Futurama, where Fry uses his tax refund to purchase and then drink 100 cups of coffee. The guys set themselves 3 days in which to accomplish this in. Subsequently they had to abandon their quest after some serious side effects from drinking mass amounts of coffee in such a short time period.
A seasoned coffee drinker by that time, I remember being pretty impressed and bemused by their attempt. Death Before Decaf seemed quite appropriate had they continued.
My relationship with coffee (ha, yes!) started slowly in my early 20’s. I’m embarrassed to admit now that it wasn’t a glamorous one. Visions of sitting outside a Parisian cafe reading the paper and sipping on an espresso in the morning sunlight were far from reality.
The actual scene: I was working a 40+ hour week at a financial office in the heart of London, commuting daily from Brighton. My days started early and ended late. I wore ill fitting “professional” clothes that felt awkward on me and devoid of personality. My existence was one of data entry and document management, which coupled with the early commute and my night owl tendencies made for one bleary eyed girl.
So on one particular sleep deprived day at work, making myself yet another cup of tea, I dared to try something with more kick than my usual cuppa.
The instant coffee.
Told you it wasn’t pretty.
From instant grinds I graduated to Starbucks (which had recently opened in the UK). When everyone else at work was slipping out for a sly cigarette my friend Jenny & I were rolling into the Starbucks next to the office for Lattes and Mochas.
I began to acquire a respect and love for beautiful well-made coffee. My Dad delighted at this on a visit home, teaching me how to make incredible Lebanese Coffee and Italian Espresso. Back in London I frequented Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden & the Borough before the bespoke coffee crazy really hit the city. And during university I worked as a Barista. With a perk of free coffee on shift and beans to bring home to make my own they were heady caffeinated times.
I was hooked.
At the time I was drinking almost 2 pots of coffee a day. It wasn’t healthy and I knew it. My friends Natalie and Joe helped me slowly cut back my caffeine intake to 2 cups a day and I was great. Their trick when cutting back – apple juice first thing in the morning to help replace that kick and rush you’d get from caffeine.
This time, I decided to just cut it out all together for a month. Which may not be the brightest idea but all or nothing eh.
CAFFEINE WITHDRAWL – THE FIRST 11 DAYS
Day 1 – Bit sleepy, not so bad. I can totally do this.
Day 2 – Hella sleepy but ok, don’t see what all the fuss is about quitting caffeine cold turkey.
Day 3 – Mrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…..I will cut you.
Day 4 – The headaches. Like someone is drilling into the back of my neck and skull.
Day 5 – WTF. I feel dizzy and weak, everything feels like it’s spinning and like I’m going to fall over. Oh wait, yes, I did indeed just fall over.
Day 6 – I sleep for a million hours.
Day 7 – Continuing to pop headache tablets as soon as I wake up and before I go to bed. Seized by the urge to make coffee at midnight. Must. Resist. Darkside.
Day 8 – I don’t look like the Lizard Queen anymore. My skin is soft, clear and has ceased to resemble a dry lake bed.
Day 9 – I will still cut you.
Day 10 – Headaches abating, not experiencing that afternoon energy crash anymore, no longer a cranky Gremlin upon waking.
Day 11 – When the hell is this over?
So I’m finally coming to the end of my month without coffee.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
- I really like coffee. But I don’t *need* it.
- I feel a million times better in the morning having a proper breakfast. (Dammit Mom was right!)
- For excessive coffee drinkers, it’s not just the initial 5 days but the first two week without caffeine that seriously suck.
- Even though I know coffee is dehydrating, actually seeing the difference is incredible.
So now that I’ve broken free of the caffeine devil, would I go back to drinking coffee?
The short answer – Yes.
But that doesn’t mean I’m going to resurrect bad habits. Here are a few things I’m going to keep in mind as I rejoin the coffee drinking world.
- For ever cup of coffee balance with drinking a glass of water.
- Always have breakfast or some food before drinking any coffee.
- Invest in good quality beans – don’t just drink swill.
- View it as something to be enjoyed, and not all consuming life blood – no coffee vampire’ing out on anyone.
And the first cup after a month?
Absolutely going to be brewed from David Lynch’s blend. “Damn fine cup of coffee.“