The Coffee Project

August 19th, 2009


I’ve got to stop drinking coffee.

Coffee makes me anxious.  Coffee plus the Internet makes me downright livid.  It gives me apocalyptic moods.  Surely, the world is not going to end just because Fox news is lying this morning.  But don’t try to tell me that after a cup of coffee.  This morning was awful … visions of wing nuts screaming bloody revolution because the president is trying to improve my health care.  I could scream.

Coffee messes with my head.  I think it drives me toward short-term thinking, crisis-mode planning, seeing trees instead of forests.  I am distractable, irritable, easily offended.  I lose track of what I’m doing, and bounce around the house like a pinball.

Coffee interferes with my digestion in interesting ways.  It can make me nauseous, give me headaches, put me to sleep instead of waking me up, makes me binge on over-large lunches.  And when evening comes, coffee makes me drink.  Alcohol is a reliable exit-ramp from the coffee speedway.

But is it really the coffee?  Maybe it’s just me.  Perhaps it’s simply my nature to be anxious, grumpy, nauseous, irritable, over-quick, twitchy, impulsive … it’s really hard for me to know the difference between coffee and myself.  I’ve been a daily caffeine consumer for the last 27 years.  How about you?  Is there any other drug that so many ingest so regularly?

I’d rather blame coffee for my problems.  I think it’s what’s wrong with me.  How can I test this theory?  Self-experimentation, like self-diagnosis, is hard.  For a consciousness to observe itself without altering itself is probably impossible.  Nevertheless, now that the family are out of town for a few days, safe from any severe outbursts of withdrawal I might exhibit … I think it’s time to go cold turkey on the coffee.

I will document my experience without coffee here in these pages.  I expect my updates will be somewhat terse, since coffee makes me loquacious.  They may even seem kind of dumb, since coffee makes me smart.  We’ll see.

But first, one last cup of coffee.  Mmmmmmmm ….

9 Responses to “The Coffee Project”

  1. raquel Says:

    i quit it in installments. first i went down to one cup per day, at morning only. then i started having black tea instead of the one cup of coffee. then i stopped tea. and now i am a free woman!!!! yay!

  2. raquel Says:

    sorry, i forgot to say, there was a phase where i would drink one cappuccino on weekends only. that was during and after the black tea phase. oh boy, how much i enjoyed my weekend cappuccino!

  3. Glendene Says:

    Oh coffee. I love coffee, but I hear you. Really Michael, the only way to know if you’re the crazy man you make yourself out to be by drinking coffee or if it’s just your nature is to stop drinking coffee, which is the conclusion you’ve come to on your own. Good luck my friend. My experience of going off coffee cold turkey was comparable to the flu. Not fun, but an experience for sure.

  4. nate beaty Says:

    i absolutely adore coffee and every molecule of its delicious, tantalizing, brainsexual smell .. but i haven’t drank a drop in almost four years and i don’t miss the stomach rot or anxiety or exit ramp to booze at night one bit. damn good green tea is the cure imo. unfortunately, i haven’t been able to find any outside of LA’s chinatown, wherein lies the mecca of tea nerds and admirers of cute asian girls in uniform who brew up perfect samples of perfect tea.

    good luck fellow Grumpy Little Man.

  5. steev Says:

    Mykle you’re so inspiring. But in this case the inspiration is for reinforcement because I stopped drinking coffee this week too, on Monday! Well, sort of. I stopped drinking it as my waking-up drink, but I agreed with myself to allow a latte in the afternoon if I feel like it.

    I’ve had a long and varied relationship with caffeine for 22 years. I’ve switched back and forth between coffee, decaf, black tea, green tea, no caffeine, replacements like yerba mate, and various combinations of all those. Caffeine, even small amounts, has at times been super bad for my nerves, usually in times that are dark and hard already – and definitely there are physiological effects. I’ve been drinking mostly decaf for a few years but lately feel like effects even of that (on bladder, digestion, etc) are something to be concerned about. we’ll see how my new regimen goes.

    good luck!

  6. Mr DeJerk Says:

    Yeah, I quit coffee twice. Cold turkey both times, and both times I had the worst pains all over my body. For at least a week. If you have ever quit smoking cigarettes, know that craving cigarettes is a carnival ride compared to the need for coffee.
    I did it because I was going crazy, because I couldn’t really sleep at night, because I was addicted. Now, I drink teas everyday, and a cup or two of a fancy drink on the weekends, just like raquel did.
    That has been working just fine.
    But, I still share those visions about the world that you have. We live in fucked up times, and I don’t think that’s the coffee (or tea) talking. FOX lies, crazy people from one side bring guns to town hall meetings, and crazy people from the other side believe the president has good intentions. We’d be doomed, but we can still rely on smaller communities, and that, my friend, is the only thing that keeps me sane nowadays. Goo luck with your withdraws.

  7. Michael Richards Says:

    I’m with Nate. Expensive green tea is really yummy, has sane levels of caffiene, plus those fantastic antioxidants that are supposedly going to make me live 200 years. I’m lucky to have a great Chinese tea shop near my office, but you can order from them online

    Like all addictions, the trick with coffee is not quitting but staying off. When you’re sitting in a cafe with your laptop on a cold rainy Portland day, the urge is going to hit real hard. Bite on a spoon or something.

  8. nate beaty Says:

    working from home i drink a LOT of green tea. i went through a 2lb bag of Fuji Sencha in a few months, ordered from here for $45:

    which was quite tasty. i still need to explore chicago’s chinatown.

    @michael: is there a specific tea you’d recommend from red blossom?

  9. steev Says:

    i’ve had a long varied relationship with caffeine. it just so happens i stopped coffee this week too. kind of.

    i wrote a long comment about it yesterday but it still hasnt shown up, for some reason. maybe caught in spam filter or something. hmm.

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