I gave up coffee for 90 days. Here’s what happened.

Last year, I found myself drinking a lot of coffee. Sometimes up to the equivalent of 6-8 cups per day.

I’d discovered the most delicious way to make coffee using an AeroPress and was taking advantage of it. The AeroPress really does deliver on its inventor’s promise to make a delightful cup of coffee without bitterness.

I became rather enthusiastic about AeroPress. I even spent over an hour of my time watching a documentary about the invention and obsession of AeroPress.

A documentary on the AeroPress

The inventor is a toymaker, who had a problem with making a single cup of drip coffee. It never turned out very good and was always bitter. He found that if he heated the water to only 180 degrees Fahrenheit and pushed water over the ground beans for just 30-60 seconds, the coffee would not taste bitter. You get all the delicious chocolate and floral notes, but no bitterness.

AeroPress coffee being made
AeroPress in action

While the AeroPress founder insists that the perfect temperature of water is 180 degrees Fahrenheit (or even just 165!), I tend to go for around 190. It seems to extract more floral notes, but that’s just me.

The need to cut back on caffeine

I noticed I wasn’t sleeping that great and was concerned that I was using coffee as a crutch to assuage any hint of boredom during the day. Instead of forcing myself to focus on a task, I’d just make another cup of AeroPress coffee. Or, better yet, make it double or triple strength!

A boring meeting to go to? Better have a cup of coffee. Got some important tasks to get done? Better have another.

I also noticed I wasn’t very hungry throughout the day. Instead of fueling my body with nourishing foods, I’d been fueling it with caffeine. I had been doing more weight lifting, wanting to build muscle, but it wasn’t working as well as I’d hoped.

If I were a prohibitionist, I’d probably say that this ingenious device needs to be outlawed. But, I am in favor of freedom and personal responsibility. I decided to try cutting back and see the effects.

Cutting Back on Caffeine

I slowly started cutting back on the amount of coffee I’d drink in a day. Day by day I cut out one cup. Over the course of a week, I cut out one additional cup per day. By the end of the week, I’d cut out coffee!

For the first two weeks without coffee, I noticed that I was extremely tired by the end of the day. I slept like a rock. It was amazing.

For over 20 years I couldn’t remember a day without this powerful stimulant. It really made me wonder how much of my life was lived through a sort of stimulant-fueled frenzy. It made me think more about whether my views on various drugs were merely socially constructed.

I realized how much I’d been using caffeine just to get through the mundane tasks of daily life.

The Benefits of Giving up Caffeine

I slept way better. I didn’t have any trouble getting to sleep, nor did I wake up in the middle of the night. I slept like a baby.

I was much calmer during the day. I felt less anxious.

I had to force myself to be more focused. The more I practiced focusing, the better I became at it. Things that I previously found difficult without coffee, became manageable.

I also started to gain more muscle. I noticed my appetite increased. I had to fuel my body with nourishing foods instead of just coffee! For years, I skipped breakfast, but now I was actually hungry and eating breakfast as well as more food in general.

I’d been weight lifting, but not seeing the benefits I wanted. After giving up on coffee, I slowly went from around 165 to 180 pounds. I’m just shy of 6ft. Most of the weight I gained seemed to be muscle. I didn’t realize how much coffee was suppressing my appetite and destroying my gains!

Finding a Middle Ground

After about three months, I decided to have a half-cup of coffee again. It was amazing. It gave me the jolt of energy I wanted.

I’m not against using stimulants to enhance one’s life. I’m glad I did the experiment to see how coffee affected me.

I now drink 1/2 to 1 cup of coffee in the morning. It seems to give me a delightful boost without too many drawbacks.

What about you? What has your experience been with coffee? Have you ever tried giving it up? Let me know in the comments.

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