no more coffee

I gave up coffee 3 years ago. It was a brutal transition, but I’m happy to report that I survived it and filled the void with tea successfully. So successfully that I have only had 3 cups of coffee in the last 3 years.

Cup #1: July 2009 on a camping trip with a few of my closest gal friends. I gulped down espresso made over the campfire because I knew it would taste good and I was constipated.* If you are a coffee drinker, you probably know that coffee is an excellent diarrheic. It worked like a charm.

Cup #2: August 2010 on vacation with my family in Maine. I drank it because, once again, I was constipated from traveling. And once again, it worked.

Cup #3: last week, while at Javas, I decided I should try a latte with almond milk, just because I had never had one and it felt right. It was delish.

I gave up coffee because my acupuncturist insisted that I give it up. I was a solid year into horrible digestive issues and two semesters into my Ph.D. and I couldn’t eat a thing without sh*^ing it out within hours. So, I went on an extremely limited diet under the guidance of my acupuncturist and medical doctor. Coffee was at the top of the list because coffee made me sick. Really sick. Immediately sick. Leave class because I think I’m gonna die sick. I know now that drinking coffee was just exacerbating my digestive issues, but because we didn’t know what those digestive issues were, it was simply a guessing game: eliminate anything hard to digest and see what happens. (The elimination included coffee, beans, alcohol, anything raw and a host of other things I’ll fill you in on later.)

I’m a former barista. I supported myself through my master’s degree by working at Starbucks, where I fell in love with working the espresso bar (I still miss is) and realized that there were fewer holiday drinks lovelier than a peppermint mocha. When I started teaching, I picked up a part-time summer job at a local coffee shop so I could hang with my friends who also worked there part time. When I started my PhD, I realized that coffee had become not only one of my main “energy sources” but also a large part of my social life. I was close friends with people who own cafes in the city. A regular part of my day was seeing them, sitting in their cafes, chatting with the baristas, and drinking a lot of coffee. This is still true.

I went off coffee the way you’d wean yourself from a medication: slowly, deliberately, and with lots of headaches and cravings. It took 3 weeks for me to stop drinking it. It took a year for me to stop craving it. Now, I hardly think about it. I’ve become completely obsessed with tea. I’ve become as snobby about good tea as I was about good coffee. Only with tea, I never get a stomachache, I rarely get hyper or shaky, and unless it’s green tea, I don’t notice any negative (or positive) effect on digestive track.

When I tell people I don’t drink coffee, I usually get a “how are you surviving life” comment. Like anything you eliminate from your life, the less you have it, the less you realize it was ever there in the first place. Now I only crave coffee on random occasions, and I rarely give in to those cravings simply because I like tea so much more now.

I’m going to do an iced-tea round-up later today or tomorrow, highlighting my favorite places for iced tea in Rochester and how I make it at home. If you love iced tea as much as I do, check back.

*Don’t be fooled: if you have celiac or other digestive issues, constipation is a huge indication there’s a problem. It can be just as bad as having the opposite problem.


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