Coffee-Free Experiment

I stopped drinking coffee for a week. Here is what happened

Contents of this article:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why I started the coffee-free experiment
  3. How will I do it?
  4. Withdrawal symptoms
  5. My daily log with 8 and 14 days recap
  6. Signs you will benefit from abstaining from coffee.
“Coffee, we need to talk. It’s not you, it’s me…”
Coffee is the most widely used drug, and may I say, the most loved drug. Just like any food, we drink coffee for many reasons that are not always obvious.
I decided to abstain from coffee because I have been drinking it for years and that suggested to me I drink it out of habit. I wanted to get more mindful about my coffee drinking habit and since caffeine has stimulating effects, I was wondering how it would affect me physically and mentally.
I’ve heard horror stories about people who stopped drinking coffee so that was a bit scary but I also knew I don’t drink that much of it, so I suppose the withdrawal symptoms would be mild.
Some of the negatives that many people don’t know about is that coffee can suppress appetite. This can result in irregular eating patterns and lack of eating routine. Misuse of coffee has an energy-lowering effect rather than energy boosting effect.
The goal of my experiment is to create a better relationship with “black gold”, appreciate quality coffee and enjoy it mindfully.

Why I started coffee-free experiment

  • Coffee masks hunger signals. In my pursue to be more in tune with my body, I will abstain from coffee.
  • I used coffee for several reasons. One of the negatives was to procrastinate. Instead of doing the hard thing I turned to coffee, which made me feel good but I would not help me get the task done.
  • The positive use: I used it as a reward to create new habits.

How will I do it?

  • I will not buy nor keep coffee at home.
  • I am not forbidding myself from having coffee. I am allowing myself to have as much or as little coffee as I want, but I also know I will have coffee when opportunity presents itself.
  • Practicing mindfulness. By being aware when I want coffee and writing my observations down I will create space between a trigger and action (having coffee).
  • Habit jar – I will put a symbolic 1 cent in a jar for each successful day.
  • I already don’t buy coffee when I know I will not enjoy its taste.
Looking back, if I tried in the past and failed, what prevented me from succeeding and sticking with the change?
  • I tried to replace coffee with iced tea, water, orzo coffee. I realized I need to replace coffee with something that I enjoy just as much, but don’t trade one mindless pattern for another! Mindfulness practice.
  • When I was working in the coffee industry with coffee being all around me, it made it nearly impossible to abstain from it.


Day 1

Did I have coffee? Yes, one shot in the morning.


I decided I would finish the coffee I have to remove all the temptations.

I noticed I got tired in the afternoon, maybe because I did not sleep well the night before. Mild headache.

I still have one shot of espresso worth of coffee.

Day 2

Did I have coffee? No

Notes: I exercised at 11 a.m. and I am tired at 4 p.m. The coffee is on my mind. I could really use a shot of espresso strategically to be productive.

Day 3

Did I have coffee? No

Notes: The coffee is on my mind at about 3 p.m. I have hard time focusing on mental work because I am thinking about having coffee and have very mild headache.

Day 4

Did I have coffee? No

Notes: Same as day three.

Day 5

Did I have coffee? No

Notes: Off-day (no training). No headache at all. I don’t experience lowered energy and I slept fast all night for about seven hours.

Day 6

Did I have coffee? No

Notes: I woke up a little tired after sleeping for 8 hours. I also experienced early afternoon dip in energy, maybe after a workout and postworkout meal. Instead of coffee I opted for 20 minutes nap. It worked!

Day 7

Did I have coffee? No

Notes: I found roibos tea in my pantry so I replaced drinking water with cooled tea. I did not miss coffee probably because of the tea. I also did not have energy dip in the afternoon and no coffee craving in the afternoon, maybe because I put workout at that time, which also distracted me.

Day 8

Did I have coffee? Yes

Notes: I am on my way to a fitness centre and I am thinking about coffee. Why? Because normally when I come I make myself a shot of espresso and also on the way out. I am wondering how I will react now that I have coffee in my environment.

I believe this is the point where many people “fail” or at least they think they failed. They are trying to use willpower to overcome cravings instead of acknowledging it. I acknowledged it and gave myself permission to drink coffee if I desire it, which removed tension. Being indecisive creates tension and keeps draining your energy. Once I decided on the course of action I would take, there was no longer tension.

In the end I made coffee before leaving the gym. More in the 8 days recap.


What I noticed:

  • I sleep an hour longer;
  • My relationship with coffee has changed. Before I would have coffee at every opportunity because back in my mind it was “scarce” for some reason. My new relationship with coffee is that I still enjoy it, but I enjoy it mindfully, for example when I meet with friends or family over a cup of good espresso (if I want to).
  • My energy levels dip in the early afternoon without coffee. This could be due to the training schedule. On the off day and on the afternoon workout day I did not experience the dips.

Day 9

Did I have coffee? No

Notes: N/A a normal day

Day 10

Did I have coffee? Yes

Notes: When I was leaving gym I wanted to make myself an espresso for the taste but I was in a hurry and so I decided not to. Before starting this experiment, I would have made it and drink it fast just to have it. This behaviour does not suffice any more.

I made coffee at home (the last espresso I had) and I noticed tones and flavours I did not notice before. I am putting all my attention to it. The very first sip satisfies my wants. I am putting the rest of the coffee into the fridge for later (Please, don’t beat me!)

Day 11

Did I have coffee? Yes

Notes: I made myself coffee in the gym and took it with me. Now I only make coffee there as a take-out and enjoy it when I can fully commit to it with all my senses.

At home I had cold rooibos from the previous day, which I enjoyed when I cam back from training.

In the afternoon I was not certain I wanted coffee and so I explored my urges. Was it coffee that I wanted or something else? I drunk water first and I still wanted to coffee so I took a sip from the espresso I made earlier, which satisfied me.

Day 12

Did I have coffee? Yes

Notes: The coffee I used to drink became bland to me. During this experiment, I found out I can enjoy it once again, just like when I drank it for the first time! Besides that, even a little coffee energizes me.

Day 13

Did I have coffee? Yes

Notes: I had on full espresso in the gym, which I drank before and during my workout. I could feel how it improved my workout. On the bike, I was able to ride twice as much at the same perceived effort.

In the afternoon I had a sip from the coffee I keep in the fridge, which satisfied me, and then I chose to drink water.

Day 14

Did I have coffee? Yes

Notes: I had coffee before training, which once again proved to increase my performance. I will not be using it before every workout as I want to be sensitive to caffeine.

Signs you will benefit from abstaining from coffee:

  • You drink coffee, eat sweets, drink energy drinks, and chew energy bars several times a day to get energy.
  • You are unable to feel energetic without the substances mentioned above.
  • You have a race coming up and you want to use caffeine to enhance your performance (link to caffeine article)
  • You enjoy coffee and you want to enjoy it even more (mindful drinking)
  • You drink Coffee because you have access to it, it is time for coffee, or because someone else is drinking coffee and you want to sip on something during your meeting.
  • It affects your sleep.