What inspired me to embark on this project was when I saw a before-after photo comparison of a Refinery29 writer who had successfully fasted from coffee for a whole week. She looked noticeably radiant, and she added that her skin seemed less dry or pigmented in some areas. She did not give up coffee despite those findings, and I fully understand.
I simply wanted to know how weaning off the mandatory Cuppa Joe would do for me. Perhaps your curiosity by the end of this article might be impetus enough to fast from coffee – sure, roll your eyes now – but just you wait.
Before: Long Black, Piccolo Latte and Kopi-C-Kosong (coffee with evaporated milk and no sugar) were my go-to’s, and the average was 3-7 cups a week depending on how intensive work was, and consequently how much I slept.
Here’s a summary of how my 74-day stint went down.I embarked on this on New Year’s Eve (total coincidence!) and set a personal goal of one week’s abstinence. By Day Two I was already struggling with intense cravings and lethargy that could only be blamed on this lifestyle change, so I drank several cups of tea everyday to get by. It never quite hit the spot.
But but but, note Day Five. Things took a turnaround as I stayed patient through readjustment. Turns out the good outweighed the bad! I was consistently awake and alert despite only getting three hours of sleep the night before. My resolution, which appears ridiculous in retrospect, was fuelled by a realisation that the body is more than capable of running itself, sans the chemicals and misery anticipated. My mood and diet decisions were better. I loved being without the quick-fix bursts of energy and subsequent caffeine crashes.
By Day 70, apart from a few lapses (and then relapses) (no shame), I had better sleeping habits, wore much less makeup and far exceeded my initial goal of one week.
Day 74’s conclusion is only half-surprising: The coffree life didn’t work out for me.
This long-drawn plot twist was for three main reasons:
Traveling was tough. No matter where I went, I wanted to try new things, and by that I mean the universal elixir of hyperproductivity but in a completely different environment.
Occasional social pressures. Hanging out over coffee is a norm for fellow caffeine junkies – I can’t begin to describe the looks on their faces each time I told them I was going to give it a miss.
The place was good / famous for its coffee. In such cases it just seems ridiculous and impossible to not order one.
A good coffee is tremendously gratifying. Need I say more?
Coffee may well be the most debatable beverage on the planet. Nobody wants to hear bad news about coffee. We love the anti-oxidising, fat-burning, mood-boosting, dopamine-inducing beverage so much, it makes us overlook her dehydrating, blood sugar dipping, stress hormone inducing dark side.
But if we want coffee at her best, we will love her at her worst.
So here I am, chugging an iced Long Black in my hideout. I don’t count this experiment a complete failure, because now I have a better gauge of how much (if any) coffee I really need to function. I no longer order coffee out of habit or need, but because I would like to enjoy it from time to time and in moderation. It’s rather liberating, which is why I’d urge any coffee-dependent person to try going without for a week. You’d be surprised by your own strength.
Header Image via The Awkward Yeti