Why I Quit Coffee

This picture is so out of line.

Because I could.

The end.

Just kidding. It’s obviously not that simple.

Here’s the slightly more complex version of how I came to quit coffee*

*As I started to write this, Leo** began making coffee for the first time in weeks, ironically tempting me in a way that hasn’t happened inโ€ฆweeks. How fitting.

(**Another vice of mine is continuing to live with my ex after the break up. That’s next on my listโ€ฆ)

Like most other people, I got roped into the coffee drinking scheme somewhere in my life, though I don’t remember when or how I started doing it. But I liked it (or maybe I worked up to that point) and it had its place in my life. Mostly, I used it for writing and working out. With either one, I would time it so that I could get the most writing or working out done, while I was still on the mental and physical high. It was like surfing a wave. If I missed it, I just had to wait till the next buzz, usually the next morning. (Real bummer.) However, eventually my tolerance increased, so the more I drank the less effect it had on me. Sometimes drinking more would actually make me tired. That was fairly annoying.

I took it black, and preferred it on an empty stomach. Any additives only seemed to dilute the effect. Once in awhile I’d make it a “meal” by adding cream or milk and a sweetener. It would help keep me full and sometimes helped with cravings. It also helped keep me regular, which I know is important to a lot of people, though I’ve never had too much trouble in that area (or maybe I just don’t pay enough attention to that area of my life).

There are some other good things about coffee, too. I like the smell of it in the morning, afternoon, and evening. The smell of coffee is one of my favorite things in the world. I’ve always loved it, long before I ever wanted a taste. In fact, I think it smells a million times better than it tastes.

But besides those things, I appreciate the tradition of coffee. Like being in a yoga pose, you can literally feel the history, thousands of years (?? I’m shooting in the dark here) of people bonding over cups of hot brown stuff that promised to lift their spirits and give them a momentary boost of energy.

Additionally, I never fully bought the idea that coffee is unhealthy. In fact, the research is so mixed, as often it is, that I don’t think anyone knows for sure whether coffee has an overall positive or negative effect on our physiology. I’ve heard so many conflicting stories, I finally ear-muffed myself on the subject. Not to mention, we often don’t give enough credit to direct observation and experience. More likely, we find ourselves googling strangers’ perspectives on the very thing we are, or should be, the best expert in the world on: our body, how it feels, and what works best for it.

Lastly, it provides some sort of pleasure, or it wouldn’t be such a popular form of socially-acceptable crack (by the way, I still think it’s light-years better for you than sugar). Like those people who see someone smoking in a movie and it makes them want to light up, that’s how I was with coffee. It just made me feel like a part of humanity. Unlike going out for lunch, dreaming of my wedding day, working at a corporation, getting my nails done, living in a big city, binge drinking on weekends, watching Honey Boo Boo, Jersey Shore or the Kardashians (I just don’t understand) it was something I could actually be “in on” with the “normal” people.

“Want to go out for coffee sometime?”

“Love to! It’s already a habit plus I can actually afford it!”

It was my one widely-accepted vice. Meanwhile, riding my bike everywhere, waking up early, preferring solitude and fresh air to parties and air conditioning, and not wearing shoes unless absolutely necessary, these other vices I had were not always widely embraced.

By the way, are those vices? I think they must be. ๐Ÿ˜‰

When it came down to it, I never felt extremely motivated to quit coffee (and thereby cut my single last tie to all of humanity). So why did I bother? (Good question. And thanks for asking, or this whole post would have been for naught…)

There were a few reasons, the first being I was finally starting to take my spiritual practice seriously. And I wasn’t sure why, but I’d heard through the grapevine that coffee could interfere with your ability to listen to your inner guidance, and that it strengthened the ego. It seemed to me most spiritual leaders weren’t downing cups of joe. And it also made sense; I’d witnessed my “monkey brain” on coffee, and without, and it was always much more active when I was drinking the brown stuff. That could only interfere with meditation, and I’d learned through experience I felt much happier the less thinking I did (yeah, I realize that’s not something you usually want to say to a group of strangers). So although I’m usually an advocate of not watching what other people are doing, and just doing what’s best for you, it seemed like there could be something to it, in terms of a spiritual link and helping my practice.

Perhaps an even bigger reason than that, however, was this:

Because I could.

It was helpful that I never felt much of a physical addiction to coffee. I liked it, and I had a bit of a habit with it, but it wasn’t like I was getting headaches or any of the other strong withdraw symptoms when I didn’t drink it. Maybe I was more tired for a day or two, but it wasn’t anything I had to rearrange my life around. Mine was more of a mental, emotional addiction, so it mostly required a change of perspective. And that’s just what I did. I realized I wanted to quit because it seemed like the logical next step toward gaining a bit of freedom back. I knew I could do it, so why not, then? It would be one less thing to worry about.

And when I think about it, that just might be the single reason to quit something: just because you can! If it’s something you can quit, it means it doesn’t need to be there. It means you can exist, and probably have existed, without it before. And it means that to do so, will simplify your life.

Because in the end for me, it comes down to the concept of freedom. To being tied down to a substance–or not. My life right now is about gaining space and freedom, and I didn’t see being tied down to any substance on a habitual basis, as helping my cause.

So if you have the choice, wouldn’t you choose to be free? If you know you can quit, why not do it? You really can feel good without coffee. Seriously, kids have been doing it for years. And they can still run circles around most coffee drinkers. The biggest difference is that instead of highs and lows, you feel more stable all throughout the day. You don’t come up, so you can’t crash. It’s actually pretty nice. And oh yeah, you feel good because you don’t have to think about making or obtaining coffee first thing upon waking. You can even go on a week-long hike in the woods and pack a pound of pot instead of a pound of coffee. Just kidding.

When it came down to it, it wasn’t about coffee or whether I drank it or not. It was about undoing a tie I saw no need for in my life. We so often throw around the word “freedom” like it’s something that we want. And most people, if not all people, do. But what they don’t always realize is that oftentimes they’re slaves to their own creations. They have so many chances each day to expand their freedom, but it’s easier in the short-term to focus on something that someone else “did to you” or an excuse as to why you can’t be fully free.

The simplest way I know to become free in your life, to really experience freedom, is to give up all your addictions. If you think it’s impossible, well I don’t know what to tell you except, if it’s something you have ever lived a day in your life without, you can probably get back to that place. I’m not saying it’s always as easy as how I quit coffee (cold turkey, by the way), but I know it can be done.

The greater the hold a thing (cup of coffee, toxic relationship, poor spending habit, whatever) has on you, the greater the incentive to give it up. In fact, I’d venture to say that the only better reason to quit something than “just because you can”, is “just because you can’t”. If you think you can’t quit something, then you have even more to lose by not quitting and much more to gain by doing it. If you honestly undertake that task (and please believe I know it’s not easy– I’m in the process of quitting sugar, which is my own personal kryptonite) then when you succeed, you will experience freedom way beyond the physical space created in your life. You will know what it truly feels like to be in charge and responsible for your body, your thoughts, your decisions. It’s a feeling of peace you can’t put a price on, not even for all the Starbucks in the world. (I know that’s a lofty statement, but I stand behind it).

So ultimately, it all comes down to the fact that I quit coffee because I could. Ohโ€ฆ So I guess it really was that simple all along.

111 comments

  1. i am not finding the process of quitting simple. 10 hours a day at a job sucking the life out of me, and coffee IS the one freedom I feel that i have to get through the day (they don’t allow pot, lol!) i am pretty sure i wouldn’t be able to do my job without it, and oh, then they would fire me. Can you believe i asked for a “walking” break instead of a coffee break, and the answer was, “i don’t think so.” Great post though and different perspective. I am happy you were able to cut the cord in pursuit of you spiritual growth. i wish i was “there”. Now off to make my coffee, so i can get through another day

  2. as long as you won’t get too attached to idea of NOT drinking coffee…
    freedom is not about drinking or not drinking coffee, freedom is about choice here and now
    if I feel like drinking it-great, I go with it
    if I feel like not drinking it- cool, I don’t have to
    and I think drinking coffee is much healthier than living with ex anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰
    congratulations on being freshly pressed ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I got in the habit at college many years ago. I am now down to one cup of pleasure in the morning. Coffee at night keeps me up. And at my age I need my beauty rest.

  4. I’m only 15, and I’m almost into the habit since coffee keeps me awake when I have tons of assignments to do and can silence a growling, empty stomach. I can really relate to this article.

  5. after farming coffee in chiapas, mexico and researching the origins of coffee in ethiopia, i find the coffee consumption (huge cups of low-grade too many times a day) to be outrageous. i too got nervous and had lots of highs and lows until i began to drink ecologically produced cafรฉ whose origins can be traced to one farm, and i won’t drink anything else (unless i’m farming it). otherwise, coffee becomes a drug. and the rich agricultural and sociological history can’t be tasted or absorbed.

    its good to leave things behind because you can. but its even better, truly, if you can later come back to it as a more balanced person who can enjoy the richness of what you take into your body and the social pleasure it brings – and not abuse it.

  6. I just came across your blog, and I love your take on quitting coffee. I am a pretty avid coffee/tea drinker, but I am also in the beginning stages of practicing meditation, and after reading your post, I’m not so sure that I want to continue on with the caffeine. Thanks for the insight, I will definitely be reading more!

  7. Reblogged this on Unlimited Limitation and commented:
    Bismillahirohmanirohim,
    actually this was a great reblogged post from freshly pressed. It blow your mind to do a great things because you could. You don’t need to worry because the reason why you do something is tend to addictive things like coffee for example. The writter prove that you can do a lot of things and get a truly freedom inside passion in working by himself. Nice to enjot this my favorite reblogged post. May Alloh always bless us with His mercy and you get a lot of benefits after read this article. Jazakumullohu khoir.amin

  8. Ah yes. I just debated with myself if I needed coffee to finish a paper I’m working on. You touched on a lot of things I pondered. I shall quit soon, too, even though I just got my coffee machine several months ago.

    1. Are we twins? Every time I buy something in bulk (like I just did with coffee a couple of months ago…) is when I happen to decide to give it up or realize it isn’t as good for me as I thought it was. (Hello, soy milk maker…) In fact, if I want to quit something, I should just buy it in bulk or buy an appliance for it. Habit kicked within a week, guaranteed!

      If you do give it up, try Craigslist. I’m sure someone would want it. Or keep it and enjoy it guilt-free! Guilt’s gotta be way worse than coffee.

      1. …at the end of the day…when everyone spends soo much money for all those ‘fancy boy’ coffee’s. I STILL think the best brew is a cup of Maxwell House in the morning. (no, I don’t work for the company) lol….

  9. Well one study found that caffeine doesn’t actually give you a boost. All it does is relieve the withdrawal symptoms that regular coffee drinkers have so that they can feel normal. But they say that that is how non-coffee-drinkers feel all the time so essentially it’s pointless.

    This is why I only ever drink coffee for the taste and I’m sure to never make a regular habit of it.

    1. That’s interesting! Thanks for your comment! Nice you drink it for the taste. For me black coffee was awesome but not so much because of the taste. But eventually I came to love the taste because of the associated effects… Like sipping scotch (I don’t do that either…)

  10. A refreshing perspective! I loved that catchy phrase that you used ” I quit coffee”. That was an attention grabber that lead me to read your entry.

  11. As you can see by my moniker, it’s a tad bit more than a habit, or an addiction for me; it’s a lifestyle choice. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    On a serious note, I do understand your words and can appreciate them. I’ve given coffee up, twice, while pregnant with both of my girls. Perhaps that is the reason I also went right back to it. There’s nothing more exhausting than childbirth and child rearing.

    I am in the process of giving up sugar, but flour still consumes me.

    1. Yeah, if I ever had kids, I’m sure I’d change the name of the post to Why I’m a Hardcore Coffee Addict (don’t question me!!) ๐Ÿ™‚

      I respect your lifestyle choice. I will always love coffee… There really is nothing like it in the world. Tea will never compare in my heart of hearts…

      Enjoy your cup of joe.

      xo em

  12. I appreciate your reflections on coffee and some of the reasons that you gave it up. When I first read the title of this post I thought it was going to be filled with scientific information on why it is more beneficial in life not drink coffee as opposed to drinking coffee, like the physical effects and whatnot. I was very pleased when I realized that this was a post that was more about life and how we choose to live our lives and what we allow to control the direction of our lives, whether they be subtle or more direct.

    Congratulations for being able to give up coffee regardless of those who say it is good or bad, I think you have inspired me to start thinking of things that I can give up, and then starting to give up those things to allow myself freedom from those things.

    Have a great day and thanks again! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks, Green Butterfly! (love your icon pic, by the way). Your comment is much appreciated. At this point in life, I’ve found giving things up to be a great way to increase my freedom (and happiness) :). I hope you find that works for you too. The smallest things can add up to huge change (perhaps mostly mental/emotional) when you realize how capable and strong you are without any “additives”.

      And leave it to me to steer clear of scientific facts…Haha!

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment. Wishing you all the best.

      em

  13. Coffee I can (and have) quit, but sugar? Sugar has had a hold on me since I was a child, and I am totally powerless to it. I cut it out cold turkey, and then caught myself digging the baker’s chocolates out of the cupboard! There is much work to be done on my sugar addiction. Excellent post- thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks Amanda. I am with you totally, sugar is way more difficult for me than coffee was. Problem with sugar is that people don’t realize how much of a vice-gripping addiction it really can be. I’ll be doing a post on going sugar-free soon… If you ever decide to try it again, it’s worth it! (At least, it has been for me– I’m one week and a day in and I already feel so much better).

      Best to you,

      xo
      em

      1. I will be on the look-out for that post! I know I’m losing my battle against sugar when I down an entire pack of orange tic tacs on the drive home, where my body knows it will be receiving no sugar. Congrats on making it that long!

  14. Very inspiring post! I’m stuck in coffee drinking at work, it’s often a social break, and the moment to connect briefly with colleagues in other teams than my own, But obviously, I would also get that break with tea (which some say is equally addictive as coffee, basically). I was not planning on stopping with coffee, but the way you describe the benefits, I may reconsider, or at least reduce it to a minimum, one daily treat in the morning only. Morning coffee is a bit sacred, still. It’s all about habits. Congrats to being Freshly Pressed, well deserved!

    1. I hear you about it being a ritual. That’s what always got me! (And the smell…and the buzz…) ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you for your comment. Best to you!

      xo em

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