Why would I drink less coffee?
A few years ago I drank liters -you could say more than a gallon- of coffee every day. And I’m not exaggerating here. I could easily drink the office coffee pitcher alone before noon just to have another one after lunch.
And that was when I wasn’t traveling for work. Sure, the pandemics have made us reconsider business travel, but I kind of miss it (insert sarcasm here).
My body was in pain because of my coffee intake. I wasn’t enjoying coffee at all. Instead, I was abusing coffee, just as any other substance like alcohol, sugar, or illegal drugs. At that time I smoked like crazy as well. I am ashamed of the way I treated my body back then.
I felt tired, weak, and moody, and my stomach wasn’t having a good time.
Then, a few things made me look at things different:
- I got married
- A scary diagnosis woke me up
- I discovered Specialty Coffee
As a result, I knew that I had to make radical changes. So, although I quit coffee for a while, I didn’t want to leave it out of my life. Coffee means a lot to me and it wasn’t the problem. The real issue was my mindless joe binging along with smoking, which was a more toxic habit by far.
In short, I enjoy my coffee a lot more now. I have been drinking two cups of coffee a day on average for the last 3 years. And I think that you could learn a few of the tricks I used to enjoy coffee, as well as drinking it more mindfully.
Please don’t take my advice as a medical expert, because I’m just a coffee lover. If you feel emotional or physical distress, I strongly suggest you look for professional help.
Get a Water Bottle
Let’s start easy and pragmatic.
Mindless coffee drinking can mean that your body is asking for water. It happened to me.
I got a water bottle so I could keep hydrated easily at the office, and my coffee intake halved almost immediately. Unsurprisingly, a lot of my coffee drinking didn’t come from enjoying coffee. It was a way to get water, caffeine, and warmth inside my body.
Other hot beverages like infusions can be helpful, but try stimulant-free ones like chamomile, hibiscus, or mint. I suggest you avoid green, red, and black tea while reducing your caffeine intake. You could easily get a caffeine overdose. Tea infusions contain other stimulants along with a lower caffeine dose themselves.
Watch hidden caffeine sources like sodas and desserts. If you are addicted to caffeine you might easily be tempted by them. The worst bit about them is that they tend to be a lot more damaging to your health than a good mug of black coffee without sugar. This takes me to the next point.
Drink black coffee without sugar
I learned to drink sugarless black coffee thanks to a dietitian. It all started as a way to avoid whole milk and sugar. Fortunately, I ended enjoying a good cup of black coffee.
Now and then I indulge with a good cappuccino, don’t get me wrong. But drinking sweet, savory, fatty, coffee drinks regularly isn’t healthy. Furthermore, it helps you drink a lot more coffee than you can actually enjoy.
A few years ago, Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato was my favorite. I could drink the largest size, which is almost outrageous. All that caffeine, fats, and sugar would give me a huge energy boost for a while, but it wasn’t that healthy anyway.
Today, I enjoy a good cup of Specialty Coffee a lot more. Almost no calories and sugar, for a lower price, and a lot more value.
Can I still enjoy a Starbucks’ Caramel Macchiato? Of course. My favorite coffee, not anymore!
Grind Coffee Manually On Demand
If you are a scoop and a button away from making enough coffee for 6 people, it will be harder to reduce your coffee intake.
I still get a bit frustrated when I spend a few minutes grinding my coffee, but it helps a lot. It has boosted my self-control, and it taught me to appreciate the fragrance of freshly ground coffee.
Additionally, you’ll learn more easily about the difference between coffee roasts. You’ll feel with your own hands the difference between light, medium, and dark roasts. And that’s the less obvious. The difference between the different roasts’ colors, flavors, and smells will be quite evident quickly.
Coffee processing will be more evident for you as well. If you haven’t ground your coffee with a manual grinder you might not believe me. But, if you try it you’ll notice differences between natural, honey, and washed by their fragrances while grinding.
Buy Pricey Coffee
Animal-processed snobby non-sense ‘poop coffee’ won’t do. I’m talking freshly roasted, specialty, high-quality coffee beans here.
Great roasters will include good technical and relevant information. Learn from that. Some beans from the same origin share flavors and aromas that you value. You’ll learn about coffee processing as well. Natural, honey, and washed will adopt a completely different meaning for you.
Do you prefer to indulge your need for instant coffee now and then? Be my guest. I’m not trying to become a tyrant of Specialty Coffee here.
My logic is simple. If you pay more for your coffee, you’ll be more mindful of it. Moreover, you’ll feel different about it and you’ll pay more attention to its taste and aroma.
We’re used to buying extremely cheap coffee, which makes us underestimate its value and drink it carelessly.
In my experience, if I drank poor-quality coffee it didn’t matter as long as it provided a caffeine shot. And that sucks.
Learn and Experiment with Coffee Brewing Methods
Online training is a great option. Personally, I quite liked Blue Bottle’s online course at Skillshare. I liked it so much I am writing a piece about it.
After checking these resources you might want to have more serious, in-depth training. In my opinion, SCA Introduction to Coffee and Brewing Methods Certifications are the best out there for that. The whole SCA Coffee Skills Training Program might seem intimidating, but you don’t need to take all of the courses. That’s one of the things I like the most about the new SCA learning approach.
If you check the training programs available, you might ask why I recommend learning brewing methods instead of acquiring barista skills.
I think that brewing methods are better for beginners based on my personal experience. Here are my reasons:
- Economy: brewing devices like the Chemex, Aeropress, V60, and the French Press are more affordable than a decent espresso machine
- Versatility: barista skills are great but learning brewing methods enable you to make coffee with more devices and it’s quite an eye-opener.
- Practicality: to achieve great results with an espresso machine you’ll need a great coffee grinder, along with a set of tools like a tamper, a milk jug, and a knock box, just to start. If you learn to brew with an Aeropress, a V60, or a French Press you’ll be able to apply all the techniques and principles without breaking the bank.
Sensory training sounds like I’m going a bit too far here because it can be horribly expensive and sounds a bit too snobby.
Still, I need to argue against that chain of thoughts. First, there are tons of high-quality resources available online for free or even at affordable prices. Second, sensory training is like upgrading your palate software. There’s nothing snobby about it unless you behave like an arrogant idiot.
Another great way to improve sensory skills is going to cupping sessions. This is a lot more common in Australia, Europe, and the United States. However, I know of several places in Asia and Latin America that offer such sessions as well. It’s a matter of finding a good local roaster near you. If they aren’t still offering cupping sessions, you might even suggest it to them.
And how this helps to drink less coffee you ask? Well, I honestly believe that appreciating quality helps to be more mindful about any experience. It happens with traveling, food, wine, and coffee -of course- among many other things.
Personally, I started drinking only two cups of coffee a day after learning sensory skills. Before that, I could still drink more coffee than I could possibly enjoy.
Worth the try?
If you want to drink less coffee so you can cut your caffeine intake, I believe my tips above are worth trying. Remember, I can’t offer an appropriate substitute for sound medical advice.
Still, I hope these tips are useful for you and help you enjoy coffee mindfully. If you want to learn a few more beginner tips, I wrote another piece for you.