coffee cup on beans

No caffeine

I’m not sure that caffeine actually affects me all that much. I never really notice the difference, anyway. I don’t get any particular buzz, or sense of energy, or lose sleep, even after drinking quite strong coffee or a tank of Coke.

Is how I was going to start this entry. I usually decide on a resolution for the week, and scribble some initial notes, then write it up properly once I’ve finished. This time around I wrote that opening sentence. But the other night I went for dinner at the house of some friends, and had two teeny tiny espressos (Nespressos, if we’re being brand specific) before leaving at around 7:30pm. I didn’t fall asleep as quickly as I usually do, I woke up several times in the night, and I dozed the rest of the time with dreams I still remember (a sign of shallow sleep, I think). So I guess I was wrong about that.

I’m not actually a big coffee drinker. A while back I discovered that coffee was doing things to my insides that I don’t want to talk about. I’ve experimented on myself over the years and discovered that while a few brands are OK – specifically a Starbucks latte is totally fine – everything else, including very similar lattes from other chains, quality coffees from independent coffee houses, and all vending machine coffee, basically makes me seriously I don’t want to talk about it. All over the place. I’ve developed quite a Starbucks habit these days, partly due to the I’m not messing around would you leave it alone, but also because I work from home, and I find sitting in Starbucks in the afternoon ploughing through emails remarkably productive and a nice opportunity to spend time amongst other human people.

I’m a big tea drinker too. My wife and I start every weekend morning with a cup of tea, in bed, with our toddler watching trash truck videos on a tablet between us. It’s a little moment of Britishness we cling to now we live in the USA. Generally it’s extremely difficult to get good tea here, which probably explains why Americans don’t particularly want it. The main brand is Lipton, which is to tea what Bud Light is to beer, and would put anyone off. When you order “hot tea” (because iced tea is the default, in Califiornia at least) in a nice place, you tend to get organic tea in artisanal tea-bags served with a little pot of honey and a slice of fresh lemon, and no milk, and – this is the kicker – luke-warm water. Even when the tea is good, the water is rarely hot enough for it to brew properly, and grey disappointment prevails.

So, I drink British tea imported via friends once or twice a day, and hit up Starbucks maybe three times a week, and that’s my caffeine intake. Oh, and the Diet Coke. Lots of Diet Coke. Thinking about it, I do drink quite a lot of caffeine. So let’s quit it for a week and see what happens.


Not much happened. I kept all my habits intact, just swapping in decaffeinated tea and coffee as required. Dropped Coke because the caffeine free variety is fairly hard to come by. But I don’t think I noticed any difference. This either means that my original supposition, that caffeine doesn’t really affect me, was correct, or that, as I’m getting increasing suspicious, there’s a placebo effect from drinking the decaf version.

I’m going to speculate here and say that many people probably drink more caffeine than me, and that this is still a worthwhile thing to do, particularly for those many people. If you’re one of the people I’ve seen drinking energy drinks on the way to work in the morning, maybe you could stand to give it a little break. As for me, well, no great benefits to report, and only mild inconvenience to suffer through.

Hey ho, on to the next thing.

  • Difficulty: Easy, unless you’re a heavy caffeine drinker
  • Worthwhiliness: Low, unless you’re a heavy caffeine drinker

Header image, which makes me immediately crave coffee, is by jlhopgood

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