How I Gave Up Coffee and Increased My Relaxation

Years ago, my typical morning meal consisted of espresso and a donut or pastry.  I didn’t have the time or inclination to make a proper breakfast before going in to work, and a brief stop at the coffee shop was quick and easy.

At that time, I was practicing taijiquan and meditation 2-3 hours per day, and the coffee seemed to be hindering my ability to relax. Although I had read articles claiming that moderate coffee consumption is good for health, my own experience suggested otherwise.  So I devised a simple experiment, to help me decide whether I should quit:

  1. Give up coffee completely for two weeks.  One week wouldn’t be long enough to eliminate the caffeine from my body, and observe the effect of its absence.  More than two weeks, and I would start to forget the caffeinated feeling, and therefore lose the ability to compare it with the caffeine-free state.
  2. Resume drinking coffee, every day, for two weeks. 
  3. Use the data to make a decision: continue drinking coffee, cut back, or stop altogether.  I expected I would decide to cut back, maybe to 2-3 days per week.

During the initial caffeine-free period, I did feel somewhat more relaxed, but not conclusively so.  It was during step 2 of the experiment that I really noticed a difference.  The espresso tasted toxic, absolutely terrible!  (No, it wasn’t from Starbucks.)  I quit step 2 after only 4 days.

Now I am strictly a social drinker, and rarely have more than one coffee per month.  In place of a daily mocha, I usually enjoy a Chai tea.

My Chai Recipe

Makes 10 cups 


  • 10 cups water
  • 2 inches fresh ginger
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp peppercorns
  • 3 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fennel
  • 3 allspice berries
  • A pinch of fennugreek
  • 2 1/2 tsp loose Darjeeling tea
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Sugar


  1. Peel the ginger, and chop it into pieces.
  2. Bring the water, ginger, and spices to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add tea leaves, and steep for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Use a strainer to remove the spices and tea leaves.
  6. Add milk, and sugar to taste.  Simmer for 5 minutes before serving.

If this is too much trouble for a simple cup of tea, there is one (and only one) Chai mix I can recommend.  It’s made by Seattle’s Tenzing Momo, and served at Mr. Spot’s Chai House.


  1. I’m a huge fan of Chai! Thanks for the recipe.

    I must admit, I have once again fallen on the coffee habit.. before, it used to only be like 1 cup/week socially, but now it’s a cup every morning on the drive into work. Things changed after the birth of my son (over 2 yrs ago) and I really need to cut back again..

  2. I used to be a big coffee drinker. Several pots a day. Now, after a couple of pots in the morning, I turn to tea.

    I especially like green tea in the afternoon, as it has a very clean taste, and provides me with a boost of energy as well.

  3. I also avoid green tea in the morning, because it doesn’t go well with a donut. Other varieties do though (hoji and pu-erh, for example).

  4. I want to quit coffee (I drink about 3 cups a day) but I get such horrible headaches. How did you cope with that? Aspirin doesn’t seem to help…more likely I’m just a big wuss.

  5. Liz: I know you have had a good long time to stop drink coffe by now 😉 but I handled my headakes diffrently: I stopped drinking habitually and only made myself coffee when I felt a headake coming. And then I only drank a small cup. My coffedrinking spaced out and after a while I didn’t feel coffeheadakes anymore and had stopped drinking almost without noticing.

  6. Well, I still drink coffee now and then. Mostly when I’m drunk. 😉

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