Why I’m loving not giving into my coffee love

It was 10:45 am on Thursday, fog swirling outside, a gentle, relentless rain saturating the almost white world beyond the window. My colleague and I were engaging on the topic of the UK’s upcoming referendum. Or at least he was engaging me. I was watching his mouth move, his comical giddy facial expressions and the strand of soaked hair repeatedly falling into his eye. But my mind was hard at work fighting off the relentless 3 second audio drumming on repeat like a meditation gong — coffee, coffee, coffee.

That was the agony of day 3 off the good stuff — the liquid kick that switched my body from sleepy and useless to productive and likeable.

Thirty days ago I was still thick in the throws of my passionate romance with coffee. Diligently grinding fresh beans in an inherited, rickety, manual grinder. Tenderly easing the grinds into a smooth, compacted mass inside the aluminium chamber of my moka pot, fingering any excess grinds off the rubber rim so the pot sealed well and then looking on eagerly, usually in a towel post shower (I was that excited), as the creamy, dark syrup bubbled up through the centre spout, filling the top compartment with my muddy elixir.

If you can’t relate to any of this, you should probably stop reading now — because you won’t get it. You’ll think, “Jeez this chick is practically hot to trot for her morning cuppa”. And you’ll think, “If it’s so good, why give it up in the first place?”

Your second question is the right one.

And as I sat there, on that murky Monday, not cupping a piping hot cup of silky espresso laced with micro foam, that is the question I answered for myself again and again.

My initial motivation to axe coffee for 21 days was spurred on by vanity, I guess you could say. Having returned from 3 weeks in Vietnam with glowing skin — a country that didn’t really incorporate much dairy into its cuisine — I followed the bread crumb conclusion that my much loved milky flat whites might be the primary culprit of all my pasteurised, homogenised hormone laden milk intake and that perhaps keeping milk out of my diet would keep my skin Vietnam-esquly clear and lovely feeling. But after a rabbit hole of research, I found some persuasive argument for coffee actually being the main culprit. Imagine my disdain.

Since flat whites were also my only real large quantity milk intake — I suddenly found myself the begrudging victim of a self-imposed 21 day coffee detox, in constant bickering with my inner addict about this stupid and foolish decision. In fact this was me on day 2:

Inner addict:What’s the big deal? So you get the occasional break out? That’s what make-up is for. Now, give me my coffee, you crazy-health-freak hippie. Give-me-it.’

Health-freak hippie:Now now, it’s only 21 days — we can do this, I’m in this with you and if it doesn’t show a noticeable difference in our skin, we can go back to drinking the good stuff, no harm done.’

I didn’t leave myself totally in the lurch though. Instead of the orgasmic experience of home brewed coffee, my daily detox routine now consisted of forty minutes of sweaty-making yoga and a strong cup of ginger infused green tea — another habit picked up in Vietnam, one which I thankfully retained an appreciation for.

And here is where the answer to your second question and the surprising reason why I’m enjoying the sabbatical from coffee creeps in surreptitiously through the back door of vanity.

Control. It may not have been the reason I chose to detox from coffee, but it’s most certainly proving to be the most rewarding reason to commit to the intentional respite.

For every moment I am overcome with desire and impulse, desperate to satiate the yearning, give into the craving, get my fix, I stop. I take a deep inhale — maybe of someone’s freshly made coffee near by — and allow that to be enough. I remind myself that by committing to this 21 day leave of caffeinated absence I am accomplishing something every day. Something small. But something significant. Each day of not giving in is a powerful practice in exercising choice over dependance.

And in a strange turn or events, the yoga and green tea routine rouses me to the waking world in a kinder, gentler way than coffee ever did.

It’s 13:54 on Sunday afternoon, fog swirling outside, a gentle, relentless rain saturating the almost white world beyond the window. The pile of ramshackle logs hiss and snap tirelessly, flickering hot and feverish for a section of dry, untouched wood. My mug of steaming chamomile tea waiting in the wings, being the unassuming, non-addictive cup of tea I need it to be.

This is the sweet release of day 6 off the okay-stuff.

They say 21 repetitions breaks a bad habit or forms a new one. I wonder when I’ll stop counting?

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