How I Quit Drinking Coffee and the Benefits I’ve Experienced

by Henrik Edberg

How to Quit Coffee.Today I have gone without coffee for 30 days.

It’s been an interesting experiment.

I started drinking coffee at a pretty late age, probably around 22 or 23.

Since then I’ve consumed three cups or more every day.

Lately I’ve become more interested in my own personal energy. And being hooked on coffee is a bit like the curve above. :)

So I wanted to see how getting rid of the coffee would affect my energy, mood and effectiveness.

I know that some get off coffee by slowly decreasing the amount of coffee they consume each week and perhaps by replacing it with tea or non-caffeinated alternatives.

I took another approach.

30 days ago I came down with a bad cold and pretty much knew that I would spend a few days in bed doing nothing more than reading and watching some TV.

I also knew that going without coffee would make me very sleepy.

So I combined the two things. I stopped drinking coffee and then I was sleeping a lot the next few days.

This made it easier to get through the most unpleasant days of sneezing and having a fever. And since I wasn’t doing anything special anyway it was OK to feel drowsy and sleep a lot.

Towards the end of that week my cold had decreased in power and so had my sleepiness.

Since then it’s been no problem to not drink coffee and I have experienced some positive benefits. The big one is that my ability to focus has improved. That has affected my life in a few ways:

  • It has become easier to focus just on the task in front of me and shut out the rest of the distractions.
  • I’m less prone to procrastination. I didn’t really notice it while I was drinking coffee but my mind seemed to wander off in all kinds of ways a lot of the time. Now it’s easier to single-task and focus on one thing and I don’t feel the same need to check email or other distracting stuff.
  • I’m calmer. I’m a calm person to begin with but getting off coffee calmed and slowed my brain down. So I feel more relaxed more of the time. And it’s easier to think with clarity.

Getting of coffee has been a positive experience for me. It’s actually had more of a positive effect than I would have expected. I thought I would feel a little less stressed overall but it has made a significant dent in my ability to focus and concentrate. I also used to feel tired after a meal and used coffee immediately after the meal to boost my energy levels. Now I have a much more even energy-curve throughout the day.

So I’ll continue to stay coffee free and perhaps sprinkle in a cup of green tea or two once in while. I would recommend trying to go coffee free for 30 days and see how it affects your mind, body and life.

One way is do it like I did and go cold-turkey (perhaps the next time you’re ill or during some vacation days over the holidays). Another way is the one where you slowly decrease the amount of coffee you consume each week. And perhaps replace some of the coffee with less caffeinated teas or a couple of cups of decaf. If you get bad withdrawal symptoms then the second method may be the most useful one.

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{ 87 comments }

Jena January 30, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I went cold turkey and gave up coffee for lent one year. I never missed or yearned for it but when lent was over I started up again. I only have one cup in the morning. I´m thinking of getting off it again to see how it affects my mood and energy.

Jenn March 23, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I supervised a Tim Hortons for a yar (this is what I blame for my coffee addiction) I was drinking 8 Extra larges a day, ended up with massive anxiety attacks but could always sleep/ My doctor suggested I cut out as much coffee as possible and for a while I did. then i got this desk job… nothing like a never ending cup of coffee while you are workign away. Then I had a really bad flu about 3 weeks ago, and did not eat or drink much at all except tea.
After recovery I tried to drink coffee but it was not good tasted so bitter and the smell of it rewing(which used to smell soo dang good to me) was nauseating, so I have stopped tryingto drink it. Now I loves me some tea and am not into even the smell of coffee.
I have notives;
Calmness, better attention span, more energy (I used to nap in the afternoons when I wasnt working or after work when I was working), weightloss, I don’t snack on junk all day nor do I want to and I generally am just trying to be healthy

John March 24, 2009 at 3:53 pm

When I was younger, in my 20′s and 30′s and drank 4 or 5 cups a day. I liked the lift I got and it seemed to make my mind sharper and definitely helped me feel more alert. I tend to be sleepy by nature and the coffee helped.
Now I’m in my 40′s and I was suffering from torpidness and fuzzy-head in the mornings and just couldn’t drag myself out of bed unless I got at least 8 hours of sleep. I’ve also been put on medication for hypertension. I found myself being easily distracted and unable to slow down and focus on details.
One day about a month ago I decided not to drink coffee. The torpidness has disappeared completely and it’s so much easier to get out of bed in the mornings, even with less sleep than before. I fall asleep more easily and don’t wake up during the night with my head racing. My blood pressure has lowered some and I find I can still concentrate without the caffeine.
I’ll say that caffeine used in moderation is a great cognitive stimulant, but used to excess its detrimental and has quite the opposite affect.

Fish March 25, 2009 at 7:50 am

If there is one thing that I know for sure,is that everything we hold dear would be felt and the life most people know would vanish and the life that was meant to be, would appear and we would all be in love if all of us were sober. Caffeine is pushing us all around and I think it’s time we take our lives back from this pesticide. Caffeine is just another one of the drugs that future generations will have to memorize on some test that polluted their people and to marvel at how much farther they have come then there past peoples. Well at least I hope they’ll have the chance. Oh ya the power I feel is even stronger felt as I am surrounded by those addicted to it. At this moment I could thank them for the high,but I would rather listen and give them inspiration. For all of you that want to quit, it’s time and you’re not alone and any pain you feel you will overcome and become the person you’ve always dreamed of. I promise..

Chrissy December 3, 2009 at 11:42 pm

I’ve always somehow believed that deep down, but never truly made the attempt to quit altogether. Thank you for giving me the much needed push.

FISH December 15, 2009 at 10:11 am

Every day I use to struggle with justiying something that truly felt bad to do. Any time anybody would make a negative comment about it I would have to justify it, deep down I knew they were right and that made me feel weak. I was stronger then that and I wanted to live without it. I stopped using it as a crutch whenever I got nervous or scared to do something that required me to sweat a liitle bit. I got so much stronger without it and finally found myself. You have alway’s been and will alway’s be as strong as you need to be to be free of this. Your welcome…. and good for you!!!

Holly April 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I’m trying to quit coffee right now because I’m sick of what it’s doing to my teeth (and oh yeah, my doctor’s been begging me to).

For me, the ritual of drinking coffee is a huge part of the compulsion, so what I’ve done is quit coffee completely, but take caffeine pills in the morning and replace the coffee with an herbal tea so I can still enjoy the ritual.

For two days I took Vivarin – 200 mg of caffeine. On days 3 and 4 (today), I’ve cut those pills in half. After maybe a week of this, I’m going to quarter them. And hopefully after a week or two of that, I can get rid of them completely. It’s kind of like nicorette for coffee – kill the ritual, taper off the drug.

Anyone else try this? I’m hoping it works because I want better health, better focus, whiter teeth and more money in my pocket, but I don’t want those cold turkey headaches!

Karen April 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I have found an excellent alternative for coffee. Teeccino. Try it. It tastes a little like coffee but it is not. Different flavors.. Very good and you can make it just like you make coffee. It has been a great replacement. I notice that it does not stain my teeth like coffee did.

Good Luck!

Pinuccio April 10, 2009 at 7:21 pm

“Today I have gone without coffee for 30 days.”

That must have been a very long day.

Otherwise, I am about to try kicking the habit starting tomorrow morning, good think I am mildly under the weather, so I can stay in bed…
Thanks for sharing though!

pronoun May 22, 2009 at 2:47 pm

swift….. stop drinking coffee

xoxo June 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm

For a long time I had quit coffee until I returned back to college.. urrrrggh! Now it’s time for me to quit again and so far I have been able to for a week now, but it’s hard.
The last time I quit, I was drinking three triple shot espresso drinks a day. I was the biggest b##ch ever, extremely irritable, never had a nice solid #2, was taking #2 at least 5x a day, always had terrible stomach pain, and was a walking wreck. Before I quit, I would even get pre-symptoms just thinking of drinking coffee. My mouth would get very dry , the stomach pains would start, and the feeling of a liquid #2 would come on. My family and I were vacationing in NY city. One day I just felt so horrible that I quit right then and there. For the next two weeks I was like a junk yard dog just snapping at people. After about 4 weeks things began to get better. I felt happier, less irritable, able to take a solid #2, healthier, and just like me again!
Quitting this time is definitely harder. My body and mind don’t feel as horrible as the last time I quit, and I was only drink 1-3 cups a day of regular coffee or just one espresso drink. Plus, I became so dependent on caffeine for school.
But it’s the summer time right now which is the best time to quit! I am not taking any classes, it’s too hot for coffee, I don’t need anything comforting to manage the cold, I feel the need to drink a lot more water, and I can keep a lot more busy.
The only way I’ve been able to quit is cold turkey!!! Trying decaf, reducing espresso in a latter, switching to decaf free herbal teas, and anything else never helped.
There are ways to help you quit cold turkey. Pick a week well in advance that you know you have less obligations and will be able to handle the withdrawal. Throw out any coffee, chocolate, and sodas and make sure the trash is long gone otherwise you’ll be tempted to dig through it. Make it your goal to pee clear every two hours or even every hour. Carry water bottles where ever you go. Feel free to add a hint of sugar for taste if you don’t like the plain taste. Keep active with walking, going outside, stretching, and other activities not associated with caffeine. Move your body at least every hour even if you only have a minute. LEAVE YOUR WALLET BEHIND!!! This will prevent you from buying any coffee or junk since you don’t have the money with you. If you have to buy something, make sure you bring the exact amount. This also helps in not buying other random things. Read inspirational things everyday like this blog! Write a big sign for you self that says NO! Tell your self outloud NO if you feel you’re about to go for a cup.
Well good luck!

csiman69 June 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Today is the day, I go cold-turkey. My focus and concentration are not good and I know coffee and caffeine pills are the problem. My mind does not rest and constantly waunders. Back in 1995, I enlisted in the Air Force and did my four years. I also became addicted to caffeine pills and more and more coffee. Now for almost 15 years, I have averaged at leasr 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day as well as at least 2 pills a day. I turn 40 on my next birthday and I want to be coffee and pill free.

csiman69 June 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I am willing to go through any and all withdrawals and make this happen. Good luck to everybody else who is going through this.

Ricardo July 30, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Wow “I don’t feel the same need to check email”, I didn’t expect to find someone else with this habit! haha

george September 11, 2009 at 12:44 am

Green Tea has caffeine about 40 mg. a cup. It comes from the same plant as regular tea.

denise September 12, 2009 at 9:46 pm

I’m so glad I found this…I am on my fourth day of no coffee. I came down with strep throat on Tuesday night and haven’t wanted coffee since then…and frankly I’ve had suspicions that I needed to free myself of this drug. I decided to use this “opportunity” to quit coffee. I totally didn’t think of the water. I’m going to drink some now. Thank you everybody and good luck!

denis September 22, 2009 at 9:12 am

I didnt know that people had a problem qutting coffe.lol.Such a dramatic situation for a mild drug like coffe.Come on people you are not fighting against heroin,nicotine or Mdma its just “fresh Coffe”.

June May 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm

It can be a big deal for some people. I get extreme headaches that I feel like I am going to pass out and I have even vomited. Any movement and I feel like my head is going to explode, and I am in constant tears.

blue September 22, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Thank your every body. Amazing web site. Just by reading every body’s views I got motivated enough to stop drinking coffee. It has been a month. I am very, very happy man.
The benefits I felt are :
1. Good night sleep.
2. Less wastage of time /money
3. It has become easier to focus
4. I am a milder / calmer person
5. Teeth are no more going yellow
6. Breath not stinking any more

One thing I recommend to every coffee drinker is try to cope with out and see the difference and what is the worst that can happen. You can always go back.

All the best to every body, please keep writing

Gene December 20, 2009 at 6:18 pm

I’ve quit caffeine before and it is a very good experience not to have that rollercoaster of energy. The other morning I was in the gas station to get my large coffee. Looking around I suddenly felt like an addict as I was among a throng of 15 huddled around the little coffee desk. Some were stirring, some mechanically shaking and opening sugar packages, some pouring, some putting on lids. I was totally aware that all these people was hooked on caffeine.

FISH December 22, 2009 at 6:42 am

I use to get that feeling at fast food restuarants when everyone was standing around the soda station, trying to be patient to get their fix. I wonder how many of them( me at the time ), were really thirsty. Caffeine is a worry people induce in themselves. To me, thats nuts, and I’ll have no part of that. My life and everyone elses is way to important to waste on this drug. It stops you from growing, maybe physically, but that’s not what I’m refering to here. It feels like my mind isn’t growing anymore when I have it in me. I’m just out of control and out of touch with my life. The happiest times when I was drinking caffeine was when I was coming down from it. It wasn’t that I was feeling good from it’s effects, I was feeling good because the effects were diminishing and I was starting to regain control of my life again. That was a really important concept for me to grasp to overcome my addiction. I did’nt feel part of the crowd when I did it, I really just felt like a slave.

ben scott January 4, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Today I read these emails with help from my son. I will try to go 30 days with it.I maintaining your teeth less yellow and fresh breath is also an encouragement.

Prague May 7, 2010 at 11:37 pm

Thanks, I found this useful, including the comments above!

not denis May 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm

denis,

You’re part of the uneducated crowd that doesn’t realize that caffeine is a drug just like other drugs and produces withdrawal symptoms directly related to consumption. Why don’t you try drinking coffee for 3 years (or even 3 months) and then quit cold turkey? Good luck.

Mark May 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I believe that drinking coffee in small doses/moderation can be ok, but at the same time I think that drinking a substantial amount of coffee daily to the level of dependence can be very detrimental to mood.

I honestly think that caffeine is an underestimated drug. I have been trying to quit it for about 5 days now after having consumed a consistent amount of about two Starbucks tall coffees (apparently 270mgs per cup each) a day for 7 years. I have cut down on the amount but it has probably wavered around 300/400mgs a day, and I read somewhere that the recommended healthy dosage is 300mgs.

After 5 days I have been suffering horrible side-effects which include an inability to concentrate, severe headaches with a “hot head” (excessive blood concentration in the head perhaps according to online literature), fatigue, weakness, anxiety, depression, and incessant worrying about everything, especially the symptoms. I worry about the symptoms because looking back over the past couple of years I realize that I have been experiencing them to a lesser extent while cutting down on coffee slowly. The symptoms are so severe that I worry that they are resulting from some other disorder. I have myself worried to the point that I’m rendered non-functional in society (and a lot of this I would say is caffeine withdrawal).

Fortunately I’m at a point in my life where I have nothing going on for a few weeks. Hopefully in a month or so this will all subside, as many others have said it has for them. But where I stand now with the headaches being erratic and unpredictable, I feel as though there really might be something wrong with me besides caffeine withdrawal. I hope that it is just caffeine withdrawal but if it is, it’s absolutely HORRIBLE and no one should have to go through with this. I would be of no use to an employer in my current state. I’m of no use to anyone especially myself.

If I remember I’ll report back to let anyone interested know if these symptoms subside. Remember I’ve only been wavering around 300mgs to 400mgs of caffeine per day…that’s essentially within the recommended dosage. My chronic worrying and suspicion over my coffee habit sounds entirely bizarre to just about all my friends (and I don’t blame them really, they don’t know what it’s like). It took 7 years to get to the point where caffeine seemed to be robbing me on a daily basis but I’m happy to say I’m finally giving it up.

Of course, in the distant future maybe after a month I might indulge in the odd coffee, but I will be extremely careful and restrictive. This withdrawal is horrible.

FISH May 19, 2010 at 5:22 am

From my personal experience, it’s a daily battle, the more you stay away from it, the stronger you will get. The more you give in to it, the weaker you will feel about your personal strength. These are extremely important points in your battle against this drug. Expect to feel different when not on the drug. Most likely the length and severity of your withdrawal will be a personalized situation, but to give you hope, I did get to the point where I hardly craved caffeine anymore( a month or two I was getting a pretty good hold on my cravings) You see, by then I had built up my confidence, I had gone awhile without caffeine and that was an acomplishement. It’s all about your confidence. There were probabaly years as a child you didnt consume caffeine or at least even think about it and you were alive and ready to conquer the world all you have to do is challenge yourself and stay away from the caffeine. If things seem different you’re right, they are, you just have to start believing inyourself again as we did when we were children. The botom line for me was I was sick and tired of being pushed around by caffeine. I wanted to be incontrol of myself no matter who or what I had become. If you want to quit don’t let others fears of your strength get in the way of your ultimate goal. If you do you’ll never be truly happy. You’ll always be you, and your gonna be fine. Hang in there, take it a day at a time and what ever you do enjoy something completley different every day. Fill your head with new things and one day coffee will be a thing of your past just like a nightmare you had when you were a kid that years later you remember and think to yourself, WOW was I really scared of that. I hope this helps at least a little. Try to have fun with the new (Old) you!!!

Nathan May 14, 2010 at 1:28 am

I decided to quit caffeine after a few events occurred simultaneously.
I went on a camping trip where it was impossible to make coffee during the day. All I could think about is where my next cup was coming from. Thinking back on it caffeine withdrawl ruined my trip. I then came home and had a dental check up. My dentist told me that my plaque levels were high and I am at risk to develop gingivitus so I should cut down on sugar in my diet. I always drank coffee with sugar and cream, six times a day. My teeth are still healthy but what about ten years from now? My dependency was having real consequences on my life.

Now I am one week in to no caffeine and I am still feeling withdrawal symptoms. I don’t know myself off coffee after over ten years of consumption. One thing I do know is that occasional use is unacceptable. If you are going to quit it has to be permanent.

JohnD May 18, 2010 at 10:00 pm

You know, I started thinking about quitting coffee today. I’ve toyed with the idea from time to time, but never took it too seriously because I’ve never considered my habit as an addiction, until recently. I only drink 1-2 cups per day, and my coffee is high quality. I roast it at home, and have an exceptional coffee bar for brewing it in so many methods (drip, press, espresso, turkish, etc.). Most friends and family see that as part of who I am, since I often share stories of how I sought to become a connoisseur many years ago, and have quite reached that level. What’s the problem, you may ask? When I really think about it, and reflect on it, I can almost say I’m just a high-maintenance addict, and this is why. Often enough, I get bent of shape if I go on a trip or camp-out, and forget to pack coffee. It tends to ruin my attitude. Or, I’ll make myself late for work, because I ‘must’ have that one, delectable cup of java before I leave. Making a latte from start to finish, including clean-up, takes about 15 minutes, so it can really be a time-expense. Even more recently, the last few batches of green coffee beans that I’ve roasted, just didn’t taste good, and I’m sort of tired of trying to figure out, by reading a review, what beans I should buy to roast, and finding out it my taste buds didn’t agree. I’m getting tired of attributing so much value to some event, only by the presence of good coffee. I’m wondering if it’s now time to move on and leave behind the shackles of this coffee hobby/addiction, and prove that there’s more to me than my coffee.

jakpot May 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Coffee is making me sick, has really impacted my mentl an physical well-being. Have been off for a few days now and I already notice the improvements in productivity and sense of well-being.

Can’t touch it……although I love.

Brandon May 28, 2010 at 7:00 am

I went from 4-5 cups/day down to 1 (three days ago)…and the withdrawal is killing me – I didn’t even quit completely! moods have been quickly oscillating between irritable and depressed, and the headaches aren’t all that fun either.

FISH June 3, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Hang in there! this is the roughest time and going from about 4 to 500 milligrams down to a hundred is a tremendous drop. Reduce your intake more gradually, this will help with the headaches and depression. I would always wait at least a day before reducing the amount again. This gave my body a break from continuously reducing all the time and a chance to build up my confidence.

Aaron July 9, 2010 at 2:22 am

WOW…
Great sight….
I am looking at giving it up to…
how ever, I’m going one step further..
No smoking as well

Aaron July 9, 2010 at 2:35 am

Well, Ill go in to a little more detail.

I like to but my coffee, and I am spending at minimum, about $60 between pay day’s on my habit.

I feel blurry and moody before my first sip, but when I consume that first coffee, I get a buz, coffee can make even the more clynical work environments feel warm and bubbly. How ever, this one purchase is not doing it any more. I now need to have, two, even three a day..
Not to mention my scattered mind from all this. I do sleep fine, but it’s just bad through out the day.
I wanna feel normal, and leveled.
Plus, smoking the ciggys, this just add’s to feeling of being edgy, and not really feeling good all round.

FISH July 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Hey way to go! I smoked about five years and when I quit I almost got my whole life back ( caffeine was still in the way at the time). I told myself I was not gonna let not doing something be so difficult and control my life. We can do anything we want, even if that anything means not doing something (caffeine,tobacco). If you don’t want to drink caffeine then it’s already to late for the drug to hold you down. It’s then your choice to whether to move forward or to let the drug completely destroy your confidence in your abilities. It’s just a plant don’t let a plant take your life away from you ( caffeine and tobacco). Lifes better with out the addictions, I know that first hand. Have a good time with your new life. Do something crazy if you have too. Just don’t do the things you hate.

Lauro August 3, 2010 at 7:50 am

I have only recently realized how important is my quitting coffee. It is truly holding me back from accomplishing some of the things that I want to accomplish in life, such as gaining perfect control over my own mind thereby increasing my access to higher thought patterns. This is important for work, continuing education and life success, the ability to maintain that constancy of creativity on a natural footing.

Coffee is a sham. You wake up in the morning, take a shower, put on a pot of that Mexican or South American Organic from Starbucks – a truly delectable flavor – and go to work; or, if it’s a weekend, sit down with your delightful cup o’ joe with cinnamon, bring up the Wall Street Journal on the internet, catch up on international affairs or the business world. After twenty minutes you get up and get that second cup. Have you ever noticed that the second cup is never as good as the first?

Here’s the problem with this fairy tale – FOCUS. Accomplishment generally comes from single-minded focus on a particular act, or toward wherever there is the desire for a particular accomplishment. Strong coffee works for the extremes, i.e. there is either too much or too little focus. There is never just that proper amount that could be the difference between true accomplishment and perpetual mediocrity. Coffee is a sham.

The mind’s natural creative talents appear to be stifled by habitual caffeine intake. In almost every one of the above accounts from people whose lives have been affected by this drug their mental functioning has INCREASED in the long run, and they have returned to that primal ease of normality in life. Let us not be stunted anymore! Let us walk boldly, soberly through those DOORS of accomplishment.

FISH August 9, 2010 at 11:39 pm

What a beautiful comment, absolutely and most definitely true. It’s got a really big hold on society and I feal it’s devouring one of our greatest qualities …potential. Keep up the posts and keep up the spirit everyone!

Rob August 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I have given up coffee…for good this time. Day 4 without a cup of joe and I feel great. I have given up coffee before, only to start up again months later. I now realize why it has pulled me back time and time again. When I first start drinking coffee after a period of abstinence, it gives me an incredible high. I feel like I can accomplish anything, and for the first little while, I have extraordinary energy. However, as the days pass, this energy quickly evaporates and I fall into a perpetual state of fatigue. Every morning I wake up feeling drained, and only after the first few cups of joe do the withdrawal symptoms dissappear. At this point, I feel somewhat functional, but still nowhere near normal. Throughout the day I feel the need to constantly reach for another cup to sustain this functionality. I think psychologically, I feel another cup of coffee will recharge the batteries and give me a boost, but it never really does.

MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, COFFEE IS A DEBILITATING DRUG. There may be some legitimate health benefits, but not nearly enough to make a person want to live in an energy-deprived, nervous and scatter-brained state, every day of their life. I realize now that the energy highs, although they are incredible, are only fleeting. This tempts you into a destructive habit, as you strive to relive the initial high.

I truly believe that coffee will be considered as socially acceptable as cigarettes are in a few decades time. I only hope that regular coffee drinkers get this message sooner rather than later. I like the idea of the 30 day challenge of going without coffee. This will be more convincing than anything I can write here. See for yourself the positive change this will have in your life.

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