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

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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Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

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

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

  • george

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

  • denise

    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

    I didnt know that people had a problem qutting 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

      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

    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

    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

      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

    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.

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

  • not 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

    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

      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

    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

    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

    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.