Whether you’re very reluctant or enthusiastic about the challenge, the decision to eliminate coffee is no easy task. But if you do decide to give it a try, there are a few things to consider on your coffee-free journey.
Some background: Coffee has over 800 compounds, but we hear the most about its stimulant caffeine. Because caffeine is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, it gives us that morning boost of energy and alertness we love. Your body breaks it down within four to six hours, contributing to the midday slump. Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is the equivalent of about three to four cups of coffee, is considered safe for most adults.
Beyond the energy boost, research shows that drinking coffee has many potential benefits, such as a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, a reduced risk of liver disease, and reduced inflammation. But it also comes with potential risks, like increased high blood pressure. High levels of caffeine have been linked to anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia. It may be worth taking a break from caffeine to see how it affects your body so you can recalibrate if needed.
caffeine in the body
Caffeine affects many physiological functions: mood and alertness, blood pressure and heart function, respiratory and kidney function, immune and gut activity, exercise performance, and the sleep-wake cycle. It does this by binding to specific receptors throughout the body, including stimulating dopamine in the prefrontal cortex (an area in the front of the brain important for making decisions based on reward or whether something feels good) and the caudate nucleus (a part of the brain that helps regulate motor activity and the sleep-wake cycle). When caffeine is eliminated from the diet, these functions are also impaired. And that often manifests itself in withdrawal symptoms.
If you’ve ever detoxed from coffee, you’ve probably experienced at least one of these mild withdrawal symptoms: headache, fatigue, muscle fatigue, decreased alertness, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, upset stomach, cravings, or bowel irregularity. Sometimes people experience more serious ones, such as changes in blood pressure, vomiting, muscle stiffness, abdominal pain, and indigestion. Typically, symptoms begin twelve to twenty-four hours after the last cup of coffee, peak about twenty to fifty-one hours afterward, and last two to nine days. To prevent or limit symptoms, especially severe ones, gradually reducing caffeine consumption can help.
Whether you choose to go cold turkey or wean, decaffeinated and low-caffeine coffee alternatives can help ease the process.
A note about decaffeinated coffee: It’s not always decaffeinated — it often contains two to fifteen milligrams of caffeine per cup, according to the FDA. Brands aren’t required to tell consumers how much caffeine is in their decaf coffee, but FDA regulations require that at least 97 percent of the caffeine be removed from the original coffee bean (caffeine levels vary by coffee bean).
THE HERBAL COFFEE
wooden spoon herbs
Even after you’ve cut the caffeine (for now), sipping on a coffee-like beverage can remain a part of your morning routine. Wooden Spoon Herbs Herbal Coffee Alternative contains a blend of roots and herbs: roasted chicory root, dandelion root, maca root, burdock root, mesquite pod, and cinnamon bark. Stir 1 tablespoon of the powdered mixture into hot water or your choice of alternative milk. Sip.
For some people, it’s best to gradually eliminate caffeine — it can help limit or prevent withdrawal symptoms. A supply of tea with varying amounts of caffeine can help: Black has about fifty milligrams of caffeine per cup (compared to ninety-five milligrams of coffee), green has about thirty milligrams, and herbal teas are caffeine-free.
THE REVITALIZING BLACK TEA
Invigorating black tea blend
For a pleasantly bitter, coffee-like taste, Equitea’s black tea blend combines loose Indian Darjeeling tea with roasted dandelion root and cocoa for an energizing coffee alternative (and mixes well with milk and honey).
THE HERB CHAI
Comfort herbal chai blend
And if you’re looking for a caffeine-free option, Comfort Herbal Chai is a delicious blend of our favorite chai flavors (minus the black tea): red rooibos, cinnamon, clove, allspice, cardamom, and nutmeg.
THE SIGNATURE TEA BAG SET
Steep & Soft
The hippie package
If you prefer a tea bag to loose leaf, Steep & Mellow’s signature tea set is expertly blended and delicately balanced. For a bold, sweet blend, sip Flow: a black tea with tulsi, goji, juniper, schisandra, eleuthero and dried strawberry pieces. If you’re looking for a cool, fresh vibe, Groove Green Tea is blended with ginger, peppermint, licorice, spearmint, orange peel and adaptogens like eleuthero and cordyceps. And for a caffeine-free herbal option, turn to Dream’s blend: a gentle chamomile blended with cherry, rose, lemon balm, lemongrass, lavender, valerian, reishi, and ashwagandha.
If you’re looking to upgrade your kitchen accessories, here are a few stylish additions to help elevate your new decaf routine.
Clyde stove top tea kettle
This stovetop kettle has a wide spout that opens automatically when you start pouring, a quiet whistle and a generous size.
The seven day reset
Caffeine is one of the potential dietary triggers that is removed during our annual detox to help our bodies recalibrate. This year we’re using our G.Tox 7-Day Reset Kit for a week-long elimination program. Our plan features a filling superfood granola mix, plant-based protein powder, and recipe guide to take the guesswork out of the process. You’ll get added support from daily super powders formulated to boost the body’s natural detoxification system and promote digestive health.* And an easy-to-follow schedule will help you experiment with new eating habits and an intermittent fasting protocol.
G.Tox 7 Day Reset Kit
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never be relied upon as specific medical advice. To the extent that this article contains advice from physicians or alternative practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and not necessarily the views of goop.