How Do I Give Up Drinking Coffee?

Most of us have a morning routine that goes something like this — put your feet on the floor, make the bed, and rush for the coffee machine. Coffee is a daily ritual for many people worldwide — we use it to wake us up, to give us an energy boost, or just because we like the flavor.

And with the availability of so many different kinds of coffee, be it iced coffee, a plain cup of black java, or one of the many trendy drinks at coffee bars, the choices seem endless. However, coffee contains high amounts of sugar and caffeine — substances not known for their health benefits.

You may be wondering: “How do I give up drinking coffee?” Perhaps you want to lower your sugar intake, or get rid of your coffee breath, or avoid caffeine. Whatever the reason, giving up coffee is not nearly as difficult as it may seem. Here are a few tips.

Quitting Coffee Cold Turkey

Some of us have the willpower to simply put down a substance and walk away. For people addicted to caffeine (the source of the wakeup effect of coffee) the cold turkey method may be difficult, but if you have the ability, simply ceasing to drink coffee for good is the easiest method to quitting. It is not as difficult to give up as narcotics or cigarettes, but something about the ritual of brewing, pouring, and sipping coffee can be extremely addictive. Knowing that most of us can’t kick the coffee habit on our own, here are a few other ways.

Coffee to Tea Switch

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By switching to tea, you won’t feel the negative side effects of caffeine withdrawal, such as headaches and nausea. You still get caffeine from tea, but not nearly as much as you do with coffee. Try enjoy some good quality teas — these can be found at almost any retail store, and even some popular coffee shops. There are as many teas as there are taste preferences — from green tea with its earthy soothing flavor, to rich and robust rooibos (or red) teas from Africa. Many teas also have fruit or herbal infusions. My personal favorite is red tea flavored with rosewater . . . a delicious and soothing alternative to morning coffee. You may find it too hard to switch to tea abruptly, so try to make the transition over a period of weeks equal to the number of cups of coffee you drink each day, like stepping down. For example, if you drink 4 cups of coffee a day, then switch to 3 cups of coffee and 1 cup of tea for the first week, then go 2 and 2 for the second week, then 1 and 3 for the third week, etc. Eventually, you’ll have dumped coffee entirely in favor of the much healthier and more flavorful tea alternative.

Once you’ve gotten the taste for tea, you should consider switching again — to caffeine-free tea. Technically, these teas (called “Herbal tea”) aren’t really tea, but a blend of herbs and flavors that still provide that hot drink you crave without the nasty addictive addition of caffeine. I would recommend purchasing a variety pack of herbal teas, available in supermarkets, to see which kind of herbal tea you like. Pretty soon, you’ll be caffeine free, without having to give up the hot drink you so desperately crave.

Coffee to Grain Coffee Switch

If you aren’t a tea drinker, but still want that coffee flavor and warm feeling in the morning, you can switch from coffee to “grain coffee”. Grain coffee is to coffee as herbal tea is to tea — meaning it isn’t technically “coffee”. Grain coffee is naturally caffeine-free, another bonus. Grain coffee is a ground mixture of ingredients like grains, nuts, dried fruit, and natural flavors that you can put into a regular drip coffee maker and make something that looks and tastes similar to coffee. All the benefits of caffeine free coffee without having to purchase any new appliances or get used to a new flavor profile. You’ll have to experiment, as many grain coffees won’t appeal to your average coffee drinker. I suggest you try one of the following varities — they are my favorites: vanilla nut, java, hazelnut, chocolate mint, and almond amaretto. If you’re into variety, you can even mix different flavors together to make your own interesting brews. Another benefit is that grain coffee is not acidic like coffee is, and will be easier on your stomach.

A great way to transition to grain coffee is to mix a bit of grain coffee in with your regular coffee as you scoop the dry grounds into your coffee filter. Start with one scoop of grain, then gradually move your way up until you’re drinking straight grain coffee. Your body will thank you.

Beware of Decaffeinated Coffee and Tea

I don’t recommend you switch to decaffeinated coffee or tea because they contain many known carcinogens — ingredients which have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. These carcinogens are used in the decaffeination process, and besides, decaffeinated drinks are still highly acidic and bad for your digestive system.

Side Effects From Giving Up Coffee

It is important for you to accept that there will be some side effects from kicking the coffee habit. Embrace these, and realize that they will pass with time. The discomfort you feel now will be worth it once you’ve given up the coffee habit, and the side effects don’t last for more than a few days. When you give up caffeine, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.

So, how do you give up drinking coffee? Remember, no one is telling you to give up coffee entirely, but caffeine is a legitimate addiction, and as such is to be avoided. If you find it becoming an addiction, try one of the methods above to transition to a coffee substitute like herbal tea or grain coffee. Then you still get to enjoy a warm beverage without any negative side effects. Remember that you don’t have to go cold turkey, and that you can still enjoy a cup or two from time to time — but the health benefits from drinking less coffee far outweigh any benefit you get from it. And good luck.