Quitting Caffeine Cold Turkey: The first 7 days without caffeine (hint: it sucked)

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Man drinking from a massive cup of coffee that is larger than him

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Quick Tip: Quitting caffeine cold turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches and irritability, but offers benefits like better sleep and improved concentration.

Seems like everyone I know regularly drinks coffee or another form of caffeine. Since everyone is doing it, it must be ok, right?

Maybe not…

In this guide to beating your caffeine dependency, you will find:

  • Common side effects of caffeine
  • Why I quit coffee cold turkey
  • Day-by-day analysis of the first 7 days without caffeine (coffee withdrawal timeline)
  • Benefits of 21 days without caffeine
  • How to best handle caffeine withdrawal symptoms
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Alternatives to coffee

Like many people with demanding jobs, I used caffeine as a crutch. Also, I truly love the taste of coffee. Nothing better than waking up early on a Saturday, turning on some good tunes, cooking a nice breakfast, and then enjoying a home-brewed cup of perfection.

For the past 5-6 years I’ve been drinking between 300-500mg of caffeine per day (standard 8oz coffee has ~100mg). My typical workday would be a medium cold press from Caribou Coffee (or home-brewed) and then a small coffee/tea in the afternoon to ‘keep productivity high.’

Prefer video? Here’s one about quitting coffee cold turkey:


Common side effects of drinking too much coffee:

  • Stomach ulcers
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Poor digestion
  • Decreased bone density
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Man drinking from a massive cup of coffee that is larger than him

Why did I quit coffee?

I have trouble sleeping and I carry on a lot of tension in my middle upper back and neck – I was curious if caffeine could be my culprit.

Coffee is an expensive habit – especially if you’re buying Starbucks every day. A single $3 coffee per day costs you $1,095 per year. I can think of a few ways I’d rather spend that money…

Anne and I were about to take off on a 15-month trip around the world. Who knows if I could find coffee every day? I’m no fun before my morning coffee, hopefully quitting coffee will help! (you’re welcome Anne!)

In the meantime, a friend of mine works a stressful job and the amount of coffee he has been drinking was starting to affect his health. His doctor said he either needed to quit his job or quit coffee immediately. Yikes.

Lastly, I think like an engineer and need to constantly be tinkering with something. I love experiments especially revolving around my health and productivity.

Why quit now?

Before quitting my desk job at Oracle, I decided to take a 2-week vacation and burn all my remaining vacation days! Since I didn’t need to be productive at work for 2 weeks, I figured that would be a perfect time to ditch caffeine.

Vacation timing worked out so I could spend time with my family for the holidays before heading to Asia for some extended travel. This takes me to Minnesota, Colorado, and Arizona. Let’s call it the TOUR DE FAMILY.

As a bonus – I always have a little extra energy while traveling and getting out of my daily routine should help me beat the brown devil!

Cold Turkey or slowly wean off?

Some people say it’s better to slowly cut your caffeine consumption down each week until you are fully weaned off – easier on your body and fewer headaches. I’ve tried the “slowly weening off coffee” method and it worked great for a few days… until I had a bad night’s sleep before a long day at work… bring on the extra caffeine to compensate, ugh.

Also – I’m impatient by nature and get WAY more excited by big huge goals. So I decided it was all or nothing.

The next question becomes how long does it take to get off coffee. Am I going to be suffering for a month? Am I cut out for this?

How I Quit Coffee Cold Turkey

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The first 7 days after quitting caffeine cold turkey…

Here’s my daily journal. Obviously, each person’s quitting coffee timeline will vary based on a bunch of variables. However, the journal is helpful if you have ever asked yourself any of these questions…

  • How long does it take to detox from coffee?
  • How bad are the quitting coffee side effects?
  • Is my headache after quitting coffee normal?

Day 0: Typical day (12/21/13)

Medium cold press from Caribou (my standard morning fix), hot cacao drink, and an afternoon coffee to keep me going.

Estimated Caffeine: 450mg
Hours of sleep: 8hrs

Day 1: Here goes nothing (12/22/13)

Foggy, mild headache started by about 3:00 PM. I was irritable, unable to focus, slow-moving, and had trouble making routine decisions effectively. Went to bed 3 hours earlier than normal (9:30 PM) and didn’t fall asleep until around 4:00 AM.  Sleep was restless, uncomfortable, and half asleep the whole time. The more I thought about it, the less I could relax. Very frustrating.

Woke up at 730AM for a full day of work on day 2.

Estimated Caffeine: 0mg
Hours of sleep: 3.5hrs

Day 2: Feeling withdrawal effects: annoying, but not unbearable (12/23/13)

Woke up for work feeling pretty sluggish but not any worse than a mild hangover. I was completely sober the night before.

Thinking to myself – is this really it? Not so bad…!! I can do this! Little did I know, that seductive she-devil had much more in store for me. I was being punished for almost 6 years of daily coffee.  Work was a constant battle to stay awake and push through the pain. I couldn’t believe how one minute I felt fine, and the next my head nodded down right in the middle of an email.

WTF?! Then the fun part was that I left work at 4 PM to embark on an 8.5-hour travel day from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Keystone, Colorado. Train, Plane, Shuttle van. Headaches and randomly dozing off the whole way.  Woke up in the middle of the night sweating profusely, Get these covers off me. Then woke up a couple of hours after freezing! Where did I put those covers!? 600mg of Ibuprofen at 1 PM and 8 PM to take the edge off the headache.

Estimated Caffeine: 10mg (small piece of dark chocolate)
Estimated Sleep: 3hrs in about 7 tiny chunks

Day 3: Everywhere I look, people are enjoying coffee. But not me. (12/24/13)

Worst day. Getting out of bed was a chore, wanted to nap constantly, headaches in FULL FORCE. 600mg of ibuprofen every 5 hours barely kept the headache manageable. Very irritable, and impatient, mind was dull. Luckily I was on the go all day long to keep me from randomly falling asleep.

Any time I sat down I was done for. Everywhere I looked it seemed as though people were enjoying a hot cup of java, I wanted to quit and put this headache behind me!! My family and I stopped at a local coffee shop in Keystone before heading to lunch; A place I would have drooled over just one week earlier.

Everyone ordered their coffee drinks, and then I asked “do you have anything without caffeine? Ugh. The whole day I was off, moody, run-down, and mentally dull.

Estimated Caffeine: 20mg (Medium piece of dark chocolate)
Estimated sleep: 5hrs

Goblin looking angry and annoyed, added as a usual human expression on day 3 of quitting caffeine cold turkey

Day 4: Glorious workout saves the day? (12/25/13)

Woke up feeling slightly more alert and energetic than day 3. Did just answer “How long to break coffee addiction?” I sure hope so.  After breakfast, I crashed hard and battled between taking a nap or going to workout. Luckily, I found myself heading to the gym with my dad for a little Christmas workout.

Mom stayed back and did hotel room yoga. The workout started out rocky and almost quit after a gnarly headache set in. Turns out this workout was the best decision I’d made since starting this experiment. Well, my endorphins helped a fair amount but they only lasted an hour or so. Then it was back to hell.

After the workout, we took a drive to the top of the continental divide and really got a taste of Mother Nature. Wow is all I can say. Next was a Christmas feast (bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, shrimp, salad, and some local beers). After I got 2 beers in me I felt a little better but only temporarily.

Estimated Caffeine: 0mg
Estimated sleep: 5hrs

Day 5: Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? (12/26/13)

Woke up feeling decent thanks to chugging copious amounts of water the night before. Had another nice breakfast, packed up, and said goodbye to my wonderful parents. Christmas in Colorado was a success.

On to the most dreaded task of the trip… finalizing my Indian Visa and sending it off. I’ve already spent 25+ hours dealing with this crap and now I have to finish it without caffeine?! What a struggle. Luckily Fedex has workstations with soundproof walls so the staff cannot hear me cussing and sputtering out sentence fragments.

3 hours later I’m out of there. Snag lunch at Chimayo (Chipotle knockoff) and a Kombucha before writing this post. No chance I could have attempted writing until today. Not easy but I didn’t get distracted like I often do. Could this be a sign of what’s to come? Wrapped up the night at a lovely Sushi Restaurant with my little sister who just finished a 12-hour day at the River Run Keystone rental shop.

Estimated Caffeine: 0mg
Estimated sleep: 7.5hrs

Day 6: Definitely on the upswing (12/27/13)

Woke up feeling refreshed. Every morning seems to be easier than the last. Took a hot vinyasa yoga class at Summit Hot Yoga in Frisco, CO. Felt great when I was finished, but breathing was a challenge at 10,000 feet.  Couldn’t believe all the energy I had! I was even tired at normal times (10-11 PM). Strange for me since I haven’t been tired before 12 AM in years. I could get used to this!

Estimated Caffeine: 0mg
Estimated sleep: 5hrs

Day 7: More in tune with my body (12/28/13)

Didn’t sleep well the night before and I am blaming myself for forgetting to take melatonin before bed. Still woke up feeling alright. After breakfast and rooibos tea, went to the rec center for a full body lift and a nice soak in the hot tub. Started to notice how my energy revolves around food like clockwork (this was not the case with excessive caffeine).

After eating I was sluggish for an hour, followed by 3-4 hours of steadily increasing brain power and energy. After the 4-hour mark I would get slightly irritable and blood sugar would drop signaling time to eat! Makes me feel as though I wasn’t taking good care of my body all those years…

Estimated Caffeine: 0mg
Estimated sleep: 5hrs

21-days without coffee – realized benefits:

  • No headaches
  • No tension in my upper middle back
  • Improved concentration
  • Better sleep and feel more alert in the morning
  • More regular and healthy bowel movements
  • Tired at more normal times (can fall asleep by 11 PM instead of 1AM)
  • Increased awareness of the messages my body is sending – for example: I’m hungry at normal times and I notice increased effects of food choices (both healthy and unhealthy).
  • Crazy to think I didn’t notice the extreme effects of caffeine affecting my stomach and hunger schedule for so long.
  • More patient/relaxed when decision making
Penguin jumping and happy to reflect an human emotion on day 21 of Quitting caffeine cold turkey

Caffeine intake since day 1:

Day 16: Small green tea – 30mg of caffeine. Mild caffeine affects, but very manageable, interesting to identify the affects on such a low does as I was taking 10-15x that amount every day for 5+ years.

Day 21: Medium Cacao drink – contains theobromine, guessing to be the equivalent of 50mg of caffeine although it is much more calm and focused instead of speedy caffeine feelings. I recommend Organic Raw Cacao by Heathworks. PS: I was drinking Cacao while I wrote the majority of this post!

How to Survive Caffeine Withdrawal

  • Drink tons of water
  • Warm lemon water first thing in the morning (half a lemon)
  • Ibprofen 2x daily during days 2-5 (600mg took the edge off significantly)
  • Chewable Melatonin 40 minutes before desired bedtime (helps you sleep by resetting your circadian rhythm)
  • Positive attitude – it won’t be fun, you will have coffee detox symptoms, and you may notice your normal upbeat personality dulled for the first 5 days. Don’t worry it will pass and you will feel better than ever soon
  • Tell your friends/family/etc – let them know what you’re going with, they will take it easier on you and support your challenge.
  • Eat lots of fruit! Apples and oranges were perfect
  • Meditate before bed
  • WORK OUT – you won’t feel like it, but after the first 10mins of warming up, you’ll hit auto pilot and feel infinitely better when you’re done (my workouts were around 10k feet above sea level in Keystone, Colorado which added the challenge of thin air)
  • If possible, pick a start date where your routine is already going to be mixed up a bit (for example: planned days off work, camping trip, vacation)

Random thoughts after beating caffeine dependency…

After finally beating my caffeine dependency, I have had some random thoughts about my journey to give up caffeine. It’s amazing to think about how much caffeine I used to consume on a daily basis, especially in the form of my morning cup of coffee.

Going cold turkey was definitely tough, as I experienced withdrawal headaches and difficulty concentrating without my usual caffeine fix. I now realize just how dependent I was on caffeine as a central nervous system stimulant. Caffeine may have helped me concentrate and feel energized, but it also caused me to be reliant on it to function properly.

Now that I have cut back on my caffeine intake, I have noticed a lack of caffeine-induced jitters and withdrawal headaches. It’s interesting to see how my body has adjusted to a lower amount of caffeine and how I no longer feel the need to drink caffeine throughout the day. I have also learned that caffeine withdrawal can last for days or even weeks, depending on the level of dependence one has on caffeine.

If you’re thinking about giving it a shot, you have my support! I sincerely wish I would’ve conquered this sooner. If you’re still on the fence, here are 10 more reasons to quit coffee.

Without caffeine, I actually feel more alert during the day, especially in the morning. I haven’t experienced the dreaded “2PM crash” either. I can also hear what my body is telling me without caffeine interfering – this has led to an increase in the desire to eat healthy, as I’m more sensitive to both good and bad foods.

Factors Affecting Caffeine Withdrawal

Your History of Caffeine Intake

The intensity of withdrawal symptoms can be influenced by the amount and duration of caffeine consumption. If you have been a heavy coffee consumer for an extended period, anticipate more severe symptoms. Your body has developed a strong reliance on caffeine, making it challenging to break that habit.

Genetic Aspects

Surprisingly, your genetic makeup plays a role in how you respond to caffeine withdrawal. Some individuals metabolize caffeine at a faster rate than others. If you metabolize caffeine slowly, you may experience withdrawal effects more prominently. This is due to the prolonged presence of caffeine in your system, causing a more noticeable decline.

Lifestyle and Stress Levels

Your daily habits and stress levels can also affect how you experience withdrawal. High stress situations can worsen symptoms such as irritability and headaches. Conversely, leading a relaxed lifestyle may facilitate a smoother transition. Engaging in stress relieving activities like yoga or meditation can help alleviate these effects.

Diet and Hydration

Your dietary choices and hydration status can impact your withdrawal symptoms. A well rounded diet comprising fruits, vegetables and lean proteins can assist your body in adapting more comfortably. Maintaining proper hydration is essential; water aids in eliminating toxins and can relieve certain withdrawal symptoms like headaches and fatigue. 

Before giving up caffeine, the way you sleep can impact how you feel during withdrawal. If you relied on caffeine to cope with bad sleep, adjusting may be tough. But enhancing your sleep habits can help a lot. Try to stick to a regular bedtime and set up a peaceful sleep environment to make the change smoother.

Knowing these aspects can assist in getting ready to quit caffeine suddenly. Adapting your strategy according to your individual circumstances can simplify the process.

Genetics Influence on Coping with Caffeine Withdrawal

Genetic Factors Affecting Response to Caffeine

Were you aware that your genetic makeup can impact how your body responds to caffeine? Some individuals process caffeine quickly, while others do so at a slower rate. This genetic diversity plays a role in the intensity of withdrawal symptoms experienced. For those with a genetic inclination towards sensitivity to caffeine, abruptly stopping its consumption may have more pronounced effects compared to those who metabolize caffeine efficiently.

Determining Your Genetic Sensitivity

You can assess your genetic sensitivity to caffeine by utilizing DNA testing kits accessible online. These tests examine specific genes associated with the metabolism of caffeine. Understanding your genetic predisposition can assist you in preparing for the withdrawal process and deciding on the most suitable approach for quitting caffeine – whether it be immediate cessation or gradual reduction.

Personal Encounter with Genetic Testing

I opted for a DNA test to gain insights into my own response to caffeine better. The results indicated that I have a slow metabolism of caffeine, which explained why I faced severe withdrawal symptoms when I abruptly stopped consuming it. With this newfound awareness, I could customize my strategy for giving up caffeine, making the transition smoother.

Practical Suggestions Based on Genetic Sensitivity

If you come to discover that you are genetically inclined towards being sensitive to caffeine, contemplate adopting a gradual reduction strategy. Begin by decreasing your daily intake of caffeine by 25% every week.
This approach may reduce the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, paying attention to staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can assist your body during this adjustment period.

Recognizing the impact of genetics on caffeine withdrawal can offer valuable perspectives and facilitate a more seamless transition to a life without caffeine.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How long to detox from coffee?

Most people see detox symptom relief starting around days 3-4

How long does it take to quit coffee?

The first 3 days coming off coffee is the hardest. Stay mentally tough through the beginning and then it gets much easier!

Is there a standard quitting coffee timeline?

Everybody is unique and thus breaking caffeine will be different for everyone. That being said, most people who report their experience to me share a similar timeline as I posted above.

What are the side effects of quitting coffee?

Everyone reacts differently, however, most people have trouble sleeping, feel dull and irritable, hard to focus, and sometimes have sluggish bowels.

Not sure I can quit cold turkey, how long does it take to wean off coffee?

I have never successfully weaned off coffee slowly. It starts out great but at the first sign of “needing energy” I jump right back on the train. This is why I decided cold turkey was the way for me.

Alternatives to Coffee

Alternatives to Coffee: a green drink in a white mug shown on table top

I’m proud to say that it’s been over 4 years since I quit coffee! During this time, I got very into tea. I’ve found that tea fulfills the same desire that coffee did, however, tea is a superior alternative to coffee for 2 reasons…

  1. Tea is not acidic like coffee – no stomach issues!
  2. Tea has much less caffeine than coffee – no sleep problems and no muscle tension!

Here are my favorite brands & types of tea

Links take you to Amazon which is where I buy my tea.

  • Puerh Tea – My go-to black tea. Mild and earthy taste.
  • Organic Raw Cacao – that’s right, I’m talking about the base ingredient for chocolate! Raw Cacao powder is a powerful antioxidant, stimulant, and quite bitter. The Aztecs loved Cacao so much they called it the “food of the gods.” Perfect in smoothies, or you can prepare it like hot chocolate with a little honey or agave to sweeten it up.
  • Yerba Mate – A tea traditionally enjoyed by gathering in a circle with your friends and drinking out of a gourd. The tradition was started in South America, however Yerba Mate is regularly available all over the world. Get a combo pack with Gourd.
  • Black Tea – my favorite type is Earl Grey. Here’s a cheap option & a mid-range option.
  • Matcha green tea – a high-end type of green tea that comes in a finely ground powder form. The tea dissolves into your hot water which increases the health benefits because you ingest the tea. Full flavor. Also works great in smoothies. I’m just getting into Matcha, don’t have a favorite brand yet.

Tea accessories I love

  • French Press – the most efficient way to make loose tea. Love this one by Kona.
  • Tea Pot – some like stainless steel others prefer cast iron
  • Combined Tea Pot + Steeper – The all-in-one tea machine.
  • Tea infuser – works for a single cup of tea. My least favorite way to make tea.

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Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you learn how to get rid of coffee addiction in your life!

Do you know anyone addicted to caffeine that might benefit from a break? Please share 🙂

Pop quiz! 🧘🤔

Quitting caffeine cold turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and irritability.

Drinking tea is not a good alternative to coffee because it has the same amount of caffeine.

It is impossible to quit caffeine without experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.

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About Brandon

Former corporate sales rep turned nomadic entrepreneurial yogi. Street food ninja, avid outdoorsman, craft beer geek, and live music junkie. Co-founder of The Yoga Nomads.

56 thoughts on “Quitting Caffeine Cold Turkey: The first 7 days without caffeine (hint: it sucked)”

  1. Brandon you made such a convincing argument that I quit caffeing 7 days ago. I’m 1 week sober. ha. I didn’t drink quite as much as you, but I drank coffee every morning religously. Also, I would usually drink coke or redbull on the weekends filled with cancer causing aspertame. I’ve been thinking about making changes in my routine for a while mostly due to cost. I drank coffee from Starbucks every morning which is like burning money in a fire pit every day, but I never really got motivated about making the change until reading your post so thank you. I didn’t get headaches but have gotten them before from not drinking coffee so I guess I just got lucky this time. I still need something warm in the morning so I’m drinking lemon water. I had read it’s good for you in many places before, so I figured if the idea kept coming up everywhere I’d try it out. It was also a routine my grandmother had and she was a health nut so I’m sure she was onto something there..
    I have so much energy now it’s ridiculous. For the last few days I’ve been so sharpe and on top of things someone actually came up to me at work yesterday and said “you look really focused.” During my yoga sessions I find it easier to focus and I feel STRONG, really strong. Definately liking the positive changes so far and going to continue a caffeine free routine. Take care.

    • Congrats Rachel! Amazing to hear how much energy you have now! I know what you mean about gaining focus in your yoga practice – amazing feeling 🙂

      PS: sounds like your grandmother was a smart lady – lemon water is amazing!!

  2. That was a fun read. I have gone through caffeine withdrawals before but never really paid too much attention to the withdrawal symptons. It was a hoot to hear your positive attitude. I do enjoy drinking tea and often force myself to drink it instead of reaching for a fourth cup of coffee. I don’t know if I will ever give up coffee but kudos to you for surviving the withdrawals.

    • Thanks Mark. Sounds like we had a similar relationship to caffeine. I also never thought I would get rid of coffee – it felt like a pillar of my mornings for 5+ years (and I love the taste). If you ever experiment with cutting caffeine out – I’d be really curious to hear the results!

  3. Hi Brandon,

    Those withdrawal days sound pretty un-fun, but kudos for pushing through. You make a great case for cutting it out! I especially like the part about being in better tune with your body now.

    I keep telling myself I’ll quit coffee when I’m out of the office job – but then I think of all the chai in India!

    • Hey Jamie – you’re right, days 2-4 without caffeine were especially rough (but worth it).

      Haha funny. I went through the exact same thing. I divorced caffeine when I was on a 2-week break from work which I think made it much easier. Getting out of the daily work routine and not feeling the need to be “on” all day helped. Maybe quitting coffee will make sense a few weeks before you head to Kyrgyzstan.

      I wouldn’t worry about the chai in India. Although it is made a million ways, it’s often made without much caffeine at all.

  4. Ok ok. I CAN do this. I have a few questions. How long did it take to get your intestines working normally again? I work with teenagers i have not quit yet because I do not want to be a jerk. I have a vacation coming. How long before I am not a jerk (assuming quitting coffee will help that)?
    Thanks for the inspirtion

    • Hey Matt – the first few days will not be fun, but you absolutely can. I think my intestines started improving after day 3 or 4, and continued to improve for a couple weeks after.

      Depending on how much coffee you drink I’d say by day 4 or day 5 you won’t be a jerk. Drinking lots of water, healthy food, and light workouts should help a bit.

      Also, the teenagers should thank you for waiting until vacation.

  5. I will certainly give this one a try. The first four days without caffeine was horrible then I succumb to caffeine and drank today. But I’m going to try this and go without caffeine for a month! Wish me luck! 🙂

    • Hey Mimah – nice work getting to four days! Another day or two and you would have been “in the clear.”

      Good luck with your caffeine free month. Let me know how it goes for you. And who knows, you may feel so good you never go back to coffee 🙂

  6. Hi Brandon,
    thanks for posting this. I’ve ‘quit’ numerous times before, but your 7-day journal was a helpful reminder of what to expect. I definitely relate to your picture of Golem 🙂

    In my experience, day three is also the worst. It seems to get worse before it gets better.

    Eliminating coffee makes your body feel a lot better, but also your mind! I have a word document where I paste encouraging words from people getting off coffee. Here are some I found particularly inspiring/hopeful:

    “I feel more peaceful, more connected to my true being”

    “I feel like I’m constantly embracing all corners of my intelligence.”

    “Going on my first month with no caffeine after a long term dysfunctional love affair with the stuff. I just feel an amazing sense of peace and more energy.”

    “I finally got my brain back – yayy. Much more creative, much more logical and practical in thought.”

    “After two months, I started to wake up hungry. Not ravenous, but genuinely, normally, happily hungry. Good lord, I haven’t woken up hungry since 1994.”

    I hope this is helpful to anyone considering quitting.

    have a good one,

    • Hey Tim –

      Thanks for the helpful comment. These quotes are fantastic and a great reminder of how harmful caffeine can be!

      I cannot believe it’s already been 6 months since my last coffee!

    • Tim accurate timeline. Thanks. After first week mental clarity then exercise &water helps also. Good article Brandon.

  7. Brandon,

    I appreciate your format and day-to-day journaling of your coffee kick! This was a very entertaining and enjoyable read.

    I found your article at the right time in my life. My wife and I are buying our first house and get the keys this afternoon. Anxious for the big day, I’ve found myself waking up every morning at 5:00am instead of my usual 7:30am. Waking up early has been bittersweet. On one hand, I love having the peace and quiet to read blogs, books, and plan my day–all with a delicious, energy-providing coffee by my side. On the other, I hate feeling the need to brew and begin drinking a cup of the stuff within 5 minutes of waking in order to not feel physically ill. I’m a creature of habit and love the tradition of brewing, but lately it has seemed as if the can of coffee grounds is commanding me at gunpoint! What started out as a nice morning process has morphed into a beast of an addiction.

    Anyway, the move has encouraged us to each examine our lives and to make some pretty significant changes in the way we do things. We have tried to eliminate as many bad habits and non-essentials as possible so that they don’t follow us into the new house. It only makes sense to reduce, and eventually eliminate, coffee/caffeine from our lives as well. Thanks for the encouragement–your article has definitely turned this idea into a goal for me!

    I quit caffeine cold-turkey about 4 or 5 months ago, only to find myself back on the 3-4 cups per day regimen after 2 weeks. This time, I think the weaning will need to be more gradual and planned. You mention eating lots of fruit and drinking tons of water during this process. This inspired me to whip out the old juicer once the move is final and make some vitamin-packed beverages throughout the day. I guess it’s better to be addicted to this than coffee, right? Whatever helps smooth out the transition. Hats-off to you for going cold turkey with it. My big mistake was going cold-turkey without the headache management regimen. I learned at that time what a migraine felt like.

    I’m glad to hear your break from coffee is a lasting success. Thanks for the good read–I think I’ll dump the rest of today’s coffee down the sink right now. 🙂

  8. Hey Nick,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Congrats on the new house! Love your idea of ditching old habits so they don’t follow you to the new house.

    I can relate with loving the morning coffee habit/taste. But you’re right, it’s no fun feeling like a slave to caffeine. I actually found myself enjoying reading even more after I got past the first week or two without caffeine – noticed my comprehension and critical thinking improved as well.

    Juicing would be a PERFECT substitute for morning caffeine… especially if you pair that with light workouts and lots of water. And honestly I think being mentally tough and actually committed to ditching caffeine is what will make or break it. Sounds like you’re pretty motivated, I wish you the best!! And please update me with your progress!

    PS: It’s been 6+ months since my last cup, and messages like this keep me motivated to stay off it! So, thanks!

  9. Found your blog today – so glad I did!
    Today is day 3 of no coffee for me. Starting to feel the headache and nausea today. Felt calmer though by the end of day one.
    I quit coffee in 2013 for 10 months – not sure why I started back. I think it was cold and dreary and winter was coming so the coffee seemed like a nice warm thing to drink. I really did regret jumping back on that bandwagon. I quit for health reasons and believe I can do this again. This time around I really noticed the many adverse effects that coffee has on me (it seems different for everyone): jumpy, irritable, inability to concentrate, poor sleep, weight gain, the crash after (hate that!), stomach aches. I’ve just made quite a list on paper of all the reasons why I am quitting – I was surprised at the $$ I spent each month – so that will come in handy! Good luck to everyone else!

    • Hey Sandra – welcome aboard!

      Congrats on day 3, hopefully you’re almost over the hump. What works for you to curb the symptoms? Sounds like light exercise, lots of water, and fresh juice seem to work best for most people.

      As for a warm winter drink… I understand that desire completely. Coffee just felt right on a cold morning. I’ve since switched to tea and find that it fills the void pretty well! As a bonus, there are so many types of tea and I have a blast trying out new ones.

      Great idea to write down all the negatives, I’m assuming that was a pretty convincing exercise! Sounds like we share similar side effects of too much caffeine.

      Enjoy your new savings and best of luck beating coffee! I’m sure you can do it!

      PS: I’m curious to hear how ‘quitting’ the second time goes compared to the first time.

  10. I am quitting coffee cold turkey this week & I have had any caffeine since Sunday. I’ve been REALLY HUNGRY since yesterday. Is this normal? Were you more hungry when you first quit?

    • Hey Jessa – good for you! Yes, it’s a pretty weird feeling, but as far as I know it’s completely normal. I started to actually notice I was hungry. The caffeine seemed to have been masking my hunger. Good luck to you!

  11. Thanks for this Brandon. I’ve been a tea drinker for 28 years and I feel like crap most of the time. I was up to about 4 cups per day of black tea so it’s not like kicking coffee but a challenge nonetheless. At 43 I’m fit and eat organic, unprocessed foods/gluten free yet I still lack energy. I think my adrenals are shot after spending most of my adult life in stressful jobs. Today I woke up, felt like crap again and said “no more”. I’m improving the way I eat even more so this is one part of a more rigorous lifestyle change.

    I’m going cold turkey and I’m already experiencing headaches/fatigue on day 1 but I’m committed. I’m a teacher so I told my students what I was doing and apologized ahead of time if I’m a bit cranky. I’ve been thirsty as hell all day but I feel confident I’ll start feeling better by Friday or so. Again, thanks for the boost with a positive attitude and a bit of humor. I’ll kick this for sure but its’ nice to get some support. Peace.

    • Hey Scott – thanks for sharing your story. You’re not alone! Lots of people are/have been a in your situation. Congrats on the healthy lifestyle, no easy feat. I don’t know much about adrenal fatigue – maybe something I should research?

      Have you tried meditation? It really helps me stay alert during the day. Even 5-10 minutes per day helps.

      Sounds like you’re have a good plan in place, and I’m sure the kids understand! I would love to hear how things are going for you now. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I just finished my caffein detox after drinking coffee and diet cokes for more years than I care to remember. It got to the point that I had to have coffee and or diet coke several times a day or I would have a Migraine , I couldn’t drink a beer or 2 without a Migraine . It took me close to 4 weeks to get over the headaches , Migraine strength
    Eccecedrin was the only thing I found to knock the headaches down I will not drink Coffee or Sodas ever again.I am 63 and am an addict……………….

    • Hey Jolten – 4 weeks with heads sounds rough, but glad to hear you already got through the worst of it! Caffeine has serious affects on the body and yet overconsumption is still seen as normal in our society. How do you feel now? I would love to learn about the changes you’ve noticed!

  13. Trying to quit caffeine after it sent me to the psych ward. I was taking no doze with mountain dew shots(6 times a day) 6 days sober 3 without hallucinations. I am still tired all day slept in until 2 pm in light chunks nodding in and out. My daily vitamins do a lot more for me then they used to. Food cravings have picked up as well for mixtures of protein and carbs. i have yet to feel cravings for vegetables but consider them around the corner.

    • Hey Michael – thanks for sharing your story and congrats on day 3! From my experience you have already passed the worst of it. Interesting to see how fast your food cravings came back, hopefully that’s a good sign. I can’t recommend exercise enough. Good luck Michael!

  14. Your picture of Gollum made me laugh SO hard; that was the perfect image! I gave up coffee/caffiene about a week ago because I was drinking so much of it that I would get severely dehydrated at least once a month…not fun. You’re description is amazingly accurate! I get the foggy headaches, it’s difficult to concentrate, my sleep schedule is all over the place. I’ve been drinking tons of water & started a daily workout regimen. I want to start drinking caffeine free green tea now! I loved how you said you’re more in tune with your body now… that’s my goal! I’m aiming for a more natural lifestyle, which is why I gave coffee up (it’s been hard…I love everything about coffee!) I went organic with skin care and cleaning supplies too

    • Hey Kristi!
      I absolutely LOVE coffee too, the smell, the taste, the ritual, everything… Glad you enjoyed Gollum ha ha! Congrats on quitting coffee/caffeine!! Well done with the water and workouts, you should be over the hump soon (if not already). Green tea should fulfill the habit of hot drinks. I usually have some green/black tea now while writing – seems to be a very manageable amount of caffeine for me.

      Best of luck to you with shifting to a more natural lifestyle and getting in tune with your body! I imagine you will realize benefits for months to come.

  15. Hey Brandon,
    I also suffer from tension headaches, with a lot of tension in my neck, and shoulders. I’ve tried quitting before and I only made it a couple of weeks. During that time, my neck and shoulders got EVEN WORSE. Is it possible I just didn’t give it enough time? Thanks for your story. I’m really encouraged to give it another go. I’ve been weening down off of coffee for the past 2 weeks. I only have a half cup a day for the past 2 weeks. Still, obviously, have headaches that start from my shoulders and neck. Take care.. Let me know what your thoughts are if you can.

    • Hey Tom,
      Thanks for sharing your story and nice work getting down to 1/2 cup per day! I can definitely relate with you on the headaches, no bueno. How much coffee were you previously consuming? From my experience 2 weeks was enough time to start noticing the positive effects, however others have said it took months to get back to “normal.” Every person is going to react differently – age, diet, exercise routine, water consumption, etc will play a huge part. If you’re committed to giving it another go (sounds like you are) I would recommend 1) doubling your normal water consumption + drink the juice of 1 large lemon per day, 2) 30 minutes of exercise per day, 3) cutting out sugar except for in fruit, 4) incorporate 20 minutes of meditation/yoga each day, 5) if you work at a desk (like I did), get up every 30minutes to talk a walk a do some stretching. Let me know how it goes, best of luck to you Tom!!

      Another thing to remember, I’m not an expert here so if it feels like something is really off consult the appropriate parties 🙂

      • Brandon,
        I was drinking about 4 cups of coffee per day, with sometimes a few diet cokes, or regular cokes to add to that. Also, many sweets/chocolate during the day. Thanks for the tips on how to get through them easier. I have a question for you. Did your neck tension lead to headaches usually? What was the like for you? Was it chronic? Just curious. Thanks.

  16. Hey all,
    I’m on day 10 of basically no caffeine. I’m hanging in there. Honestly, days 8 and 9 have been the hardest for me. Absolutely NO energy, and the tension in my neck, and head has gotten way worse. (I’ve had daily headaches/neck pain for over 2 years now, so that’s what convinced me that maybe coffee is not helping me in this area.) I also heard that you can get rebound headaches, or medication overuse headaches from using caffeine everyday. I guess it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I’m never going back to caffeine no matter what. I’ve been dreaming more, and I can wake up easier. Oh, and I’ve developed a sore throat over the past few days also. So, I will keep you all updated on my progress.

  17. Hi Brandon,

    I drink coffee like i drink water…i used to drink like 1.5litres of coffee every single day, that was like few years back. Now i consume atleast half a litre of coffee every day. I put milk and sugar in my coffee so that’s a lot in terms of calories…have tried many times to quit but in vain…now was looking for an article on quitting coffee just to give me motivation. Have gained sufficient motivation after reading your article…will see how I go from here, and yes will definitely get back to you if successful, to say thanks.

    • Hey Deepak,
      Whoa, 1.5L per day is a ton! Nice working getting down to .5L 🙂
      Glad to hear you’re ready to give it another shot! We’ve got your back. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  18. great article Brandon. I just finished 3 days without coffee but I gave in on day 4 and had a cup this morn . the reason, I’m 62 yrs. old and ride my bike on average of 15 miles a day. The last 2 days I could barely make it 12 miles. I was physically exhausted and almost called my wife to pick me up. Could this be due to quitting coffee.
    Also I believe I found a way to seriously reduce the headaches. It’s water, However much you weigh, divide it by 2, example : If you weigh 200 #s divide by 2 which is 100, drink 100 ounces of water a day. I had only a slight headache using this formula.

    • Hey Gregg,

      The physical exhaustion could definitely be a side affect of quitting coffee/caffeine. If/when you try again, I would recommend continuing an exercise routine. However, next time don’t worry about your 12 mile days, you’ll be back to “normal” soon 🙂

      Happy to hear your water formula is working for you! I would even say we should be drinking at least 100oz of water every day. I find that my body/mind run best with at least 1 gallon per day (128oz).

  19. Hey Brandon-
    Just found your article after looking up caffeine/ coffee withdrawal. I’m in my early 40s and have been hooked on coffee on & off for the past 20+ years (since college). It’s my last vice, besides chocolate (haha). The past 10 years or so have been particularly bad. 2 extra large DD coffees a day bad, if not more.

    This is day 6, and I’m starting to feel better. The first 5 days of withdrawal were headaches, irritability, weepiness and stomach/ digestive issues. I’ve been substituting Inka, a coffee substitute from Poland that I used to drink in college, and maybe that upset my stomach? Not sure. I’m not off of caffeine completely, because I’m now drinking green tea or matcha green tea (a weak cup) in the mornings, but I’m starting to feel better. More “normal”. Like in childhood, when you just went along in your day without the feeling of being addicted to anything. Haven’t felt that freeing “normal” feeling in ages. Looking forward to seeing how it feels as more time passes without coffee.

    Thanks for the blog, it was great to read it, as well as all of the responses. Knowing others can relate and hearing how they got off of coffee helps.

    • Hey Lenora,
      Thanks for sharing your story! Really happy to hear you’re starting to feel better. I imagine each day from now on will get a little better. For some people they notice positive changes from up to 2 months since they quit coffee!

      Thanks for bringing Inka to my attention! I’ve never heard of it, but it looks promising for those who have issues giving up the “hot warm beverage in the morning.”

      Good luck and can’t wait to hear an update from you!

  20. Hi Brandon!

    I just wanted to thank you for making such a detailed post on this subject. It’s helped me know vaguely what to expect, quitting out of nowhere – I felt better late in day 3 when I quit cigarettes, so knowing that wasn’t going to be the case this time around was a great help in terms of gritting my teeth and getting through the initial blah. You’re the best! I truly appreciate it.

    I’m currently halfway through day 4 and although I still feel like sleeping every couple hours it honestly seems as though I’m beginning to “come up” into my natural mind. The effects of meditating have already started changing, I’ve noticed: for one, I can’t really meditate after a meal anymore, because I become aware of an organic urge to relax and take a nap to allow my food to digest! So that’s new. I also have started to become much more creative in the mid-morning and throughout the day because my cognition is no longer bottlenecked by a stimulant (I’m an artistic person so this is especially good news!). Also, my social anxiety is a shadow of what it used to be, and when I spot hang-ups in my thought processes I know for certain that caffeine has nothing to do with it; just pure, homegrown, self-limitation! Hahahaha. 😛 Seriously though, the clouds are clearing and you were very helpful in that. Thanks again, and best wishes to you in your travels!


  21. Thanks Brandon!
    You did a great public service here. I am a huge coffee addict (3 large coffees a day with sugar for 25 years) and I am trying to quit for my physical (High BP and bad stomach) and mental (it really causes me to stress out and have bad anxiety). I have tried before but the withdrawal for me has been bad, so I start using again to stop the multiple symptoms. I am in day 3 of my current attempt and feeling like hell – no energy, depressed/anxious, nauseous, headache, etc. Your story has inspired me to hang in there and fight through to the finish.
    The other part is, it is good to hear that your life after caffeine has been better. I would hate to go through this suffering and not find the reward worth it. I feel re energized hearing how well you are doing long term. It inspires me to stay the course.


  22. i don’t normally comment on posts BUT 1 week ago i cut out coffee cold turkey after 16 years. I had IBS and constantly had stomach issues (severe gas, bloating, un-normal bowl habbits) I had reached my limit on not being able to figure out what was bothering me, dr. after dr. The stress of eating was really getting to me b/c i didnt know what was going to bother me. I’m 5’3″ and 110 lbs and 5 out of 7 days a week i looked 6 months pregnant. I was at my witts end. I came across a post that said caffeine/coffee was the worst thing for digestion issues. SO, i decided to give it one last fair shot and quick this addiction of 16 years….My story
    Day 1: this isnt hard whatsoever! slight headache and lethargic but nothing intolerable
    Day 2: stomach was NOT bloated, i was feeling mentally positive. withdraws really kicked in! massive headache and constantly tired, felt for about 17 hours of the day. nap after nap after nap
    Day 3: just kill me…insanely hurtful headache, body aches, nauseous/vomiting & chills/shaking
    slept again for the majority of the day
    Day 4: headache not AS bad and not sick to my stomach anymore. MY lower back/joints hurts which made it hard to sit still. Took some Advil to ease that pain
    Day 5: faint headache but compared to the last 4 days, nothing i cant easily deal with – still a little tired
    Day 6: headache gone, more in tune with my body, my hunger, my feelings, got more energy and overall felt SO MUCH BETTER
    Day 7: ALL my symptoms were gone and i felt GREAT.

    Overall: the withdraws are very hard and physically painful. At times i said i cant do this! i cant do this and wanted to go make coffee. I didnt though b/c i was so far into it i didnt want to go back. BUT in the end, SO worth it!
    My stomach for 7 weeks now straight has NOT been bloated what so ever! I had not 1 bit of bloating, not 1 gas pain, no stomach pains/cramps, it was incredible & a miracle. I have more energy, i sleep better and longer at night & my mood has overall just been relaxed & my anxiety has decreased significantly.

  23. Oh my I am on day 2 of no coffee. Attempting to break my drink coffee all day long habit. I am exhausted. I slept sitting hunched over half upright in my recliner off and on all afternoon. I could barely stay focused at Sunday school today. I know I have been a “jerk” to my family just a wee bit. I just want to say I’m done and grab a hot one. After reading your article though I know I would be better off if I could push through. Ugh I am sooo tired.

  24. Thanks for the detailed article on your journey! I think you’ve done pretty well for breaking a 5 year streak. It’s certainly a tough one…I had to reduce my intake due to eczema and also found the energy crashes were worse than if i didn’t have coffee at all.

    I think it was very much a mental/mindset thing to break the habit and it also lead me to create a herbal tea blend without the caffeine yet had slight coffee tones in it. That way it felt like I was drinking it without suffering the pain & helped with digestion + prebiotics. I also thought tapering down helped heaps.

    If you wanted to add it to your list, it’s over at :

  25. Thank you for this informative and inspiring article. I am in the process of giving up coffee (I am cutting down, in the sense that I have just cut down to 2-3 cups of tea per day). I am hoping to go completely caffeine-free this coming weekend. I feel a lot calmer already, and I feel that my creativity and focus will probably be more sustained after going caffeine-free. I love that instant buzz you get with caffeine, especially for motivation and creativity, but it is just so short-lived – I felt like I was always ‘waiting’ for the next high. Again, thanks for the inspiration to finally quit 🙂

  26. Brandon, You are impressive of quitting coffee. I try quitting but didn’t it didn’t happen.I have bad side affect.I should quit because I have aniexty.Caffeine of any kind causes chest pain and insomnia also sever pain in my neck. What do you suggest?

  27. Thanks for your blog, Brandon!

    I have been drinking coffee for the last 13 years. Tried to quit multiple times but never successfully. I feel so DONE with this addiction! TODAY was my day one! Proud! ❤️

    Thank you – for sharing your personal experience.

    Hug, Laïla

  28. I just quit caffeine and am on day 9. I echo all the symptoms you faced. I found this great caffeine free chai called Chai Lords and highly recommend it. Combine it with a decaf black tea bag and you wouldn’t notice the diff (that there’s no caffeine!)

  29. Day 13 with no coffee (caffeine). I planned it during a time that would be outside of my usual routine. For background, I was raised by a French stepmother who gave us coffee for breakfast as early as 8 years of age. I have been drinking it for decades and was up to 3-4 cups per day. I tried slowly weaning off coffee a couple of times but that was like prolonged agony. Things I’ve noticed so far:
    * Days 2-4, I had excruciating leg pains. I thought it was coincidental, but after some research and talking with a former neurology nurse, I’ve learned that this can be a caffeine withdrawal symptom. I also took several micro naps on these 3 days and had a dull headache (nothing compared to the leg pain).
    * Another odd withdrawal symptom has been a feeling of indigestion which is something I normally never struggle with.
    * Since day 4, I feel like I have much more stable energy during the day and I haven’t had any issues getting up in the morning or working out.
    * No improvements to sleep yet, but I understand that can take up to 30 days to correct itself.
    * My morning routine now consists of Celestial Seasonings Fireside Vanilla Spice herbal tea (caffeine free), and I’m really not missing the coffee as much as I thought I would. I was so scared to try cutting coffee out of my life and now I feel pretty good about it.

    Thank you for writing about your experience and giving me the courage to try.

  30. Dear Brandon,
    Thank you for the detailed detox journal. It is exactly what I needed. I am thinking about quitting coffee for quite sometime now. I suspect that coffee is a migraine inducer form me, and definitely need to try and see if I have less migraine attacks without it. I am totally addicted to coffee and dreading the cold turkey. On the other hand, maybe migraine days, in which I am good for nothing anyway, are the best ones to try it.
    Your journal is beautifully written and convincing.


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