Some time ago, my brother told me he went a day without drinking coffee and was vomiting by the evening. I felt scared and fascinated. I then felt a bit of dread. I knew that eventually I’d talk myself into taking a day off of coffee, too. I’d tell myself that being addicted to drugs was bad or that foregoing comforts is necessary to appreciate how luxurious my life is or that too much coffee may be contributing to feelings of anxiety or that I needed to exercise discipline for the sake of exercising discipline or that this was just like the time I saw a recipe for a Mississippi roast and it looked so disgusting I couldn’t get it out of my head until I made it for my wife and me and I didn’t tell her I was making it because I thought it looked terrible.
For whatever virtuous reason I had in my head, I picked a Saturday that my wife would be out of town and marked it on my calendar as the day I would go without coffee. I told my wife and my brother what day it was, so that on that day they’d ask me how it was going and I’d feel ashamed if I backed out. My wife asked me if I knew where our Tylenol was. I laughed. She said she wasn’t joking and that I didn’t know what having a caffeine headache was like.
I think of coffee as a hobby. I pay for a monthly subscription service. I typically spend at least 15 minutes each morning making coffee, normally with a Chemex, but I have small collection of equipment with which to brew coffee. I only drink 2 to 3 cups a day, but I use a 15:1 coffee ratio and I assume that results in more caffeine per cup than what the ‘average American thinks of as a cup of coffee.’
On the Thursday and Friday before the Saturday I took off, I just drank one cup. By the end of work on both days, I had a very light and manageable headache and my thinking felt a bit foggy. On Friday night, with my wife out of town, I brought home sushi and a chocolate bar and beer for that night and a kombucha for the next day. The kombucha listed black tea as one of its ingredients, but I didn’t feel like kombucha with an unspecified amount of black tea would be violating the spirit of the agreement that I had made with myself.
I woke up on Saturday morning and made a rooibos tea that I had bought because the package said it was caffeine free and it seemed like it was in a similar flavor profile as coffee. My wife called me late in the morning and commented that I sounded tired, but I didn’t feel particularly tired. I drank the kombucha at lunch, but I don’t think I consumed anything else with caffeine that day.
I went about my day as normal, and felt nothing abnormal. I didn’t get any headaches. I didn’t crash and take a nap in the afternoon. I was up until midnight with no problem (I think I woke up by 8:00 a.m.).
On Sunday, I drank one cup of coffee. Since then, I’ve been drinking somewhere between one to two cups. It’s made no noticeable difference in my life. Maybe the process has helped me appreciate that my life is filled with imaginary problems, such as me imagining what life would be like if my flow of high quality was disrupted. Maybe.