Have you ever quit your coffee habit? Or wanted to? It's really hard, right? That dark roasty flavor, the warmth in your hands, the precious ritual as you pour your morning cup. The rocking chair on the porch as you drink it; or the daily drive made bearable by your travel mug, holding the magic elixir. Sometimes, even if we want to quit the coffee, we don't want to quit the ritual.
Nevertheless, sometimes we must. Coffee, despite it's seductive richness, can be taxing. It drains our organic energy, replacing it with a meager, synthesized high. Our adrenals get worn out from the buzz. We become irritable, snapping easily at those who we love most—our children and our partners. I've had moments where the minute my coffee is down the hatch, I begin to feel impatient with those around me. This is when I know: it's time. Coffee may be good, but it's not as good as my relationship to my family.
Sometimes I quit for a long time, sometimes I just take a break. I've never loved coffee as much as some people, so I have it a little easier. I love the robust roasted flavor, the sweet honey I put into it, and the creamy half + half that brings it all together. I'm a born tea-lover, so I'm nearly satisfied with that alternative, but even black tea doesn't pack the deep, earthy feel of coffee. And herbal tea pales in comparison.
The bottom line is that if you want to take a break from coffee, that's a sign that you should. Any addiction limits us and curtails our freedom. Yep, it's that powerful. I've heard that the first thing to do if you want to achieve your dreams is quit coffee. I think this can be true in many cases, especially for women. Women and mothers are already so taxed in our nervous systems and organs; the coffee makes it worse, and what it gives to us in pleasure, it takes away three-fold in health, wellness, clarity, and energy.
If you can enjoy coffee without being enslaved, do it. But if you can't, consider letting it go. Here are a few tips that will help you get there:
- Transition to Yerba Mate as a Caffeine Crutch— Although Yerba Mate still has caffeine, it has other xanthines in it as well, and is supposed to be a “cleaner” buzz than that from coffee (less jittery, etc.).
According to Wikipedia, “Mate contains three xanthines: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, the main xanthine being caffeine. Caffeine content varies between 0.7% and 1.7% of dry weight (compared with 0.3–0.9% for tea leaves, 2.5-7.5% in guarana, and up to 3.2% for ground coffee); A substance previously called "mateine" is a synonym for caffeine (like theine and guaranine). Studies of mate, though very limited, have shown preliminary evidence that the mate xanthine cocktail is different from other plants containing caffeine most significantly in its effects on muscle tissue, as opposed to those on the central nervous system, which are similar to those of other natural stimulants. The three xanthines present in mate have been shown to have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissue, and a stimulating effect on myocardial (heart) tissue.”
The Mate buzz is great. However, the taste of Mate is acquired (at best). Sometimes it's just plain gross. My favorite way to prepare Yerba Mate is to brew the tea and then stir in a teaspoon of cacao powder. Add your choice of sweetener and your choice of milk, and voila! A delicious morning concoction. The chocolate makes all the difference for me. (I used the Yerba Mate as an in-between zone before I completely phased out the caffeine).
- Notice Your Cravings— Pay close attention to your cravings and where/when they are strongest. Usually the cravings will be tied to a situation (ritual!). For me, this meant noticing the moment that I wanted coffee, and talking myself through it. Not surprisingly, as I worked through the cravings, they tended to last for only a few minutes, and were much more easily surmountable than they had been initially.
- Substitute with Barley Coffee/DandyBlend— My favorite tool when I quit coffee was DandyBlend—a healthy, herbal-based coffee substitute. There are a few different barley coffees on the market, but Dandy Blend is the only one that incorporates dandelion root for added health benefits. This stuff is delicious. And best of all, it is deep brown in color and robust in flavor—just like coffee. So aside from having something warm to drink, it also satisfied my associative cravings for that deep earthy darkness. I brew it hot and add a bit of sweetener and milk. (Dandelion root is used in various forms for health support, particularly in liver cleansing and detox. You can read a little bit about the benefits here).
- Drink More Water— When you are quitting coffee, drink more water than you usually do. This helps fill you up, flush your system, and remind your body what it feels like to drink something that is truly nourishing. For me, water helped curb cravings, and it connected me to my awareness of health and how I was feeling.
- Drink Tea— If you aren't trying to cut out caffeine altogether, black tea is a marvelous substitute for coffee. I adore black tea (Earl Grey is my favorite; and I also love basic British blacks like PG Tips). There are also lots of delicious, easy Chai teas that satisfy the morning ritual quite well. However, if you are trying to get off caffeine as well as coffee, this option won't work for you. I think for the tea drinkers, quitting coffee is much easier, but I suppose it's different for everyone.
How about you? Do you have tips for quitting coffee? Experiences to share? How did you replace your beloved ritual? We often get questions about this, so please share your ideas or lessons in the comments below.
About Sadie Rose Casey
Sadie Rose is a mother, writer and creative professional living in the foothills Northern California. She works with a growing network of other women to produce truth and beauty through creative conception and collaboration. In alignment with this vision, she is currently the creative director and course manager at Annapurna Living.