Every morning at 7 a.m. for 2 years I pulled into the McDonald’s drive-thru with sweat-filled hair post-Crossfit, paid $1.07 and grabbed my small black coffee from the same friendly employee.

But First Coffee Sleeve

While preparing quinoa egg scramble at home, I scooped one teaspoon of coconut oil into the coffee which melted as I set the table. Once seated I would take the first sip of coffee, enjoying the light buttery taste of the oil and swearing the caffeine instantly gave me superpowers to conquer any morning tasks or annoyances.

Those few minutes are what I traditionally described as “the best part of my day.”

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What Happened Next?

“Do you drink coffee?” the doctor always asks.

“Yes.”

“How often?”

“Um, you know, like once a day,” I reply back due to denial. It’s like asking a girl how many times she checks Instagram before noon. Take the answer times 5.

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For many people that question doesn’t matter much, but it kind of does when the reason for your visit is anxiety medication, i.e. the stuff I’m prescribed but never end up taking because I think I’m more fun less sedated.

Besides, coffee has been my way of self-medicating. In Stuff You Should Know’s “The Duality of Caffeine” podcast, they state that caffeine speeds your brain up, causing blood vessels to constrict and allowing you to avoid things like hangover-induced headaches. Additionally, it keeps dopamine from being released as quickly which causes an elated feeling longer.

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Every cup indeed produced a temporary high. For this reason, I believe it’s one of God’s greatest calorie-free gifts alongside cinnamon and sex.

5 Things That Happened When I Gave Up Coffee for a Month

While I crave that slightly cracked out feeling from Nordstrom coffee while prowling mall sales, I do not enjoy the level of anxiety I face as a result of my coffee habit. Therefore, I finally asked myself a scary question: Does coffee work for me?

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It felt like asking if you and your significant other are really meant to be.

To answer the question, I gave up coffee for the month of January (and half of February until succumbing to espresso to bridge day-drinking and nighttime activities). This is what happened.

1. My anxiety significantly decreased

Not everyone is affected by caffeine the same. Your genetic disposition could mean that you’re a chill person who doesn’t easily get anxious from it. Plus, people metabolize coffee differently. However, for me, it meant no more clenching my jaw and debilitating ADD that crushed productiveness with neurotic Facebook checking. And I didn’t feel like I was going to cry in every parking lot. My anxiety has decreased by approximately 75% as a result with a rise in productivity.

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2. I saved money

While I wish I had the attention span even sans-coffee to tally up bank statements over the past year to sum up how much I’ve saved, I can tell you this: I haven’t stepped in a Starbucks since 2015.

My coffee-related costs would include:

  • $1 morning coffee
  • $3 mid-morning coffee
  • $3 afternoon coffee
  • $5 food that I believe ‘absorbed’ the caffeine, i.e. coffee munchies, like those darn protein boxes

Total: $12

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My non-coffee coffee shop costs:

  • $3 refillable tea

Total Savings: $9/day

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3. I smell better

“No one wants to feel like they’re rolling up to a Starbucks drive-thru down there,” I was quoted saying across Phoenix Twitter feeds several years ago when I gave a talk on female hygiene at a local nightclub. My purse doesn’t contain a month’s supply of Altoids anymore and extra melon is no longer necessary to consume to balance things out.

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4. I fall asleep easily

According to “The Duality of Caffeine,” caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours, meaning if you drink a cup of coffee at noon then at 6 p.m. you will still have 100 mg of caffeine in your system. Without those extra 100 mg I haven’t been reliant on wine or reading for hours until I can fall asleep.

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5. I lost weight

Though black coffee is calorie-free, I realized that the repercussions of it is the source of the extra calories for me. Regularly I felt like I was counteracting the effects of caffeine with alcohol or food. Cycling between coffee and beer is all fun and games until pants don’t fit well anymore. Without coffee munchies or chasers, I was able to drop a few pounds.

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But most importantly…

My day no longer peaks at 7 a.m. like a hot high school football player who traded sports for a beer gut at age 19.

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What I’ve realized is that drinking coffee regularly doesn’t work for me. The caffeine is too much, and I don’t know when to stop. In place of coffee I began drinking tea – first decaf and then caffeinated which contains 26 mg of caffeine. And at the end of the month, I started drinking decaf coffee occasionally.

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NOTE: I never thought I would drink decaf coffee. I often compared it to non-alcoholic beer, i.e. pointless. But with 12 mg of caffeine, it works for me.


Location: Alfred Coffee {Silverlake}