I was in Arizona, and I felt like crap after skipping coffee for a day. I had a headache, I couldn’t concentrate, and I was in a bad mood. The dependence made me feel vulnerable, so I decided it was time to break my caffeine addiction. I initially thought I would go 30 days without coffee, but it has since turned into a year.
I used to geek out on coffee. In college, I had six different methods in my dorm room for brewing it, plus enough scales and thermometers to make it look like a chemistry lab. I judged a latte art competition, and planned road trip stops based on which shops used La Marzocco Strada machines. I worked in so many cafes that I was on a first-name basis at three different coffee shops. After college, I introduced a Chemex and a coffee grinder to OpenDNS, and eventually set up a coffee bar at Staffjoy (where Caffeinated Capital funded us).
So, quitting coffee was tough. I felt more tired than usual for a couple of weeks, but afterward, my energy returned. I felt more calm and patient. Communication with other people seemed more relaxed, and my work felt more focused because I wasn’t on a stimulant. I became more conscious of the natural changes in my energy levels throughout a day.
I didn't omit caffeine entirely, though. I continued working out of cafes and visiting new ones as I traveleled, so tea became my go-to drink. I drank a lot of matcha and London Fog lattes. However, my daily caffeine consumption was much lower, and often zero.
“A year without coffee” is a slight exaggeration - I have had three cups of coffee in the last year (two at Cafe Curado in Mexico City, and one at Intelligentsia in Venice Beach). Testing it out those few times made me more conscious of how coffee affects me: I would feel overstimulated, anxious, and didn’t take as much time to listen to the environment and people around me. However, I perceived that I was getting more work done. I realized that consistent daily coffee usage makes it a dependency for me, rather than an occasional mental boost.
I miss the ritual and craft of coffee. But, I also like how I feel more in control of my mood and communication style without the constant reliance on a stimulant. It makes me realize how challenging assumptions and changing routines can help to find more simplicity and focus on the things that matter. Plus, it has made travel more enjoyable because I don't rely on a morning drug hit to get my day started.
“What’s the world’s greatest lie?”, the boy asked, completely surprised.
“It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”
The Alchemist (Page 20)