Most of the actions I've made in my life fall in the grey area somewhere between “I’ve made a huge mistake” and “Boy, do I hate being right all the time.” So, I shouldn’t have been that surprised to find that giving up coffee for a week would produce less than desirable results. To be more specific, giving up coffee was a totally awful, no good, super cruddy, stupid idea. I've been drinking coffee every day for seven years straight. No particular brand or style, just two to three of cups. Every day. I love coffee. I need coffee. But when the idea of replacing my morning cup with an assortment of coffee substitutes, pills, candies, and energy shots came to me, I knew the idea had to be pursued. I knew my reaction would be something I’d feel and feel in the worst way. Seven days and seven different coffee substitutes later, here’s what happened when I tried to kick coffee for a week.
Monday — Irish Tea
I knew I had to start small, so what better way to kick off a week without coffee than with coffee’s wimpy little cousin, tea. What drew me to Twining’s Irish tea was the indicator on the front of the box that this particular blend was loaded with caffeine. It’s because of this that I chose my first day to drink Irish Tea instead of the cup of my typical cup of Cafe Bustelo.
The results were… well, real bad. After remaining groggy and tired from my first cup, I made another. Nothing. Then another. No energy, no caffeine-induced euphoria, just fatigue, a void in my soul, and a pounding headache. I deduced my pain to be psychosomatic. Technically, I consumed caffeine… but because it wasn’t in coffee form, so my brain fooled my body in believing I’d gone cold turkey.
Tuesday — Go Cubes
I should point out that I wasn't paid to endorse any of these products. I did get a few of them for free, but I assume that's because I'm charming via email. However, Go Cubes work. They were actually one of the products I was most skeptical of, leaving me with a complete sense of wonder and surprise when I felt a caffeine surge roll across my limbs. Four of these little fuckers contain a total of 200 mg of caffeine—the equivalent of about two cups of coffee—and gave me a kind of full body caffeine kick without that jittery feeling you get from overcaffeination.
Wednesday — Cafix
Have you ever heard of Cafix? It’s an all-natural caffeine-free coffee substitute that’s made from barley, chicory, malted barley, figs, and red beet extract. My Wednesday started badly—thanks to another persistent headache—and ended badly, thanks to my cup of Cafix. While it may smell pleasant, the taste of Cafix leaves nothing to the imagination. It tastes like hot dirt water… as if someone threw a couple of rocks into a pot, boiled them up, and drained the pot into my cup. My Wednesday sucked hard.
Thursday — Gin
In an attempt to “shake things up,” I put my faith into a bottle of Hendricks gin and tested the hypothesis that one could get through their morning with straight alcohol. This hypothesis came from me about ten minutes before drinking gin.
I wasn’t right, but I wasn’t not right. While the potent combination of one parts tonic water to two (or three-ish) parts gin didn’t get me energized, it certainly helped me stop caring about the lack of coffee in my house. While I was happy to spend the morning sprawled out on my living room rug, I found the alcohol to have the exact opposite effect as coffee. Boy, do I love being unemployed.
Friday — Java Monster
I should’ve let my last memory of seeing Java Monster being consumed influence my decision a bit more. It was the day after Halloween and a good friend, still speckled with glitter from the drunken night before, popped one open and drank it to combat his hangover. I remember him saying something along the lines of “I wish I didn’t do that,” before plopping himself down on the curb. I found my experience to be quite similar: simultaneously debilitating and energizing. Not the good kind of energy, though; the kind you get after someone mugs you: a mixture of adrenaline, nerves, and hives. The drink left me with a stomachache and a case of the poops.
Saturday — Beyond Coffee
Pros: Easy to brew, looks like coffee, smells like coffee.
Cons: Tastes like moss.
Sunday — Red Thai Snuff
I don’t condone buying and consuming foreign brown powder from the internet, but I’ve only heard good things about this stuff. I don’t know what’s in it, I don’t know who makes it, and I don’t really even know if it’s legitimately Thai. I will tell you this, I loved it. It smells like cherries and cleared my sinuses. While the level of energy given to me wasn’t on par with what a cup of coffee will give me, this managed to hold me over.
By the end of the week, I felt like I had been run over by two-ton truck hauling bricks and covered in bees. My decade-long caffeine habit had been rudely interrupted by a silly experiment that proved what I already knew: I am addicted to coffee and nothing will ever change that.