In 2017, I spent 9 months without drinking coffee.
I admit that I cheated a little bit in the title, since 9 months is not a year, but 2017 felt like the year without coffee for me. During Lent, I abstained myself from coffee as a form of penance; and a few months later I chose to stay coffee-free for the rest of the year as part of a religious promise.
Before starting to write this post, I saw that there are a lot of texts in the Internet with identical titles and themes. I chose not to read any of them; what follows are simply my impressions.
Drinking coffee is a habit
This may sound obvious, but my strongest impression is this: what I missed the most was not the taste of coffee, but the ritual of drinking it.
I quickly got used to drinking a cup of tea in the morning and right after lunch. But this was when I was by myself; it was particularly hard to watch my family drink the usual espresso after our meals, or to not join my wife for a nice warm coffee in Copenhagen cafés.
From what I read about habits and addictions, dealing with these triggers is the first step in managing good and bad habits, and my experiene proves this.
Coffee ≠ caffein
The worst side effect I expected was worsening my ability to focus, or feeling drowsy all the time. I was particularly worried about this because I started this experiment right before going to Denmark for my PhD external stay. However, by drinking black tea regularly (in its various forms, like English Breakfast and Earl Grey), I managed to feel almost the same stimulating effects as regular coffee would provide me.
As I said in previous posts, my period in Danish land was very productive. Abstaining from coffee did not affect this, nor did it affect my sleep. I don’t usually sleep very well, mainly because of anxiety issues, and trading coffee for tea did not change anything.
Religion is a great motivation
During preparation for going to Denmark, many things started to go wrong, and I became pretty desperate; I then prayed and prayed and promised that, if God provided myself with the solution to my problems, I would stop drinking coffee for the whole year. Because of His Infinite Grace, He came to my rescue, and so I kept my promise.
Every time I felt the urge to drink coffee I reminded myself of my motivation, and the desire quickly vanished. This was not a game bet or some joke; this was a minuscule action to thank God for the incredible experience He provided me.
And for Him, I would do it again.