I went off coffee for 3 months. Here is what happened…

By March 6, 2018 Cycling

This blog has been a while ´brewing´ but I wanted to see for certain whether abstaining from drinking coffee in Girona for three months throughout winter would make any difference to my life, hence waiting a month to write anything.

So, the idea was to completely go off coffee from November 1st, 2017 until January 31st, 2018 and compare my mood, concentration, behaviour and performance (sporting!) from before to after. 

Briefly, I´ve been drinking coffee solid ever since I first sipped a mug of that magic juice in summer of 2005 while living in the US.

At my best/worst I would have five cups a day, that period of excess coming during my years working a night shift in a newspaper between 2010-2014.

I guess you could say I was addicted because I couldn´t start the day without coffee and I fell into an all-too-lazy attitude of believing if I wasn´t productive or useful I could gulp coffee and everything would be okay.

I think we´ve all been guilty of saying “I neeeeed a coffee” on more than a thousand occasions.

So, for this abstention, I wanted a challenge as much as anything and going off the stuff when the finest coffee I´ve ever tasted is brewed across the street from us (at Espresso Mafia) in Girona, was a fair enough test.

So on November 1st I quit. Period. I didn´t even drink decaf because I´ve been suspicious about that in the past and when I discovered the process of how beans are decaffeinated I swayed further away from it and went back to my roots, tea.

Initially, the hardest thing to get used to was the actual ritual involved with making coffee. I liked setting the alarm a little earlier, I enjoyed grinding the beans and I even revelled in the high-pitched crashing and crunching sound the grinder makes.

I thrived in the whole process of brewing coffee from a French cafetiere; listening to the water bubble up from below, through the percolator and into the holding area above which the most wonderful scent filled the crisp morning air.

Coffee is a love affair, and I´m no different, but we went on a break for three months and here is what happened.

The big thing I learned was that I don´t “have to have coffee”. I just let the moment pass and when I came through the craving or the tiredness, I was okay. My brain wasn´t being fooled into thinking I´m not tired by a quick blast of caffeine. No, I just slept if I was tired.

Gradually, the cravings and tiredness subsided and before I knew it, they were a thing of the past.

I worked long days up to 16 hours on 5-6 hours of sleep. This was longer than I´ve ever done before.

I sometimes stayed up until 3am answering emails or writing a blog or speaking on the phone to someone in a different time zone.

I didn´t have spikes or dips in energy during the day and aside from the first week to 10 days, I did not have any headache during the afternoon.

I saved around €250 over the three months which went on the most beautiful Specialized cycling shoes you´ve ever seen.

And that´s pretty much it. It was a LOT easier than  I thought it would be and now, four weeks into returning to coffee, I feel indifferent towards it. I don´t need it, but I enjoy it. I´ve found it´s not necessary AT ALL to be productive.

However, in the last month I discovered just how powerful coffee is and for the first couple of weeks I was struggling to sleep at night and this was probably down to the coffee I had during the day.

I now drink one a day and I think that is how it will stay for the foreseeable future. Coffee is fun, it´s trendy, it´s a sociable drink…but so is tea!

Now, sporting performance? Well, I had hoped to be race fit come February 1st but a combination of a hectic winter and not enough time to train meant any perceived benefits would be negligible.

So we´ll have to adjourn the verdict on that.

And for my next challenge? I´m going off ALL chocolate until June 1st! Yep, dark chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate ice-cream, chocolate croissants…the lot!!!

Now THIS will be a real test!


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