How I Cut Back on Coffee


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I’m not going to lie this post is kinda sorta sad for me to write. I’m a coffee lover and it pains me to give it up… hence why the title is how I cut back on coffee rather than how I quit coffee completely. 😉


It seems like very couple months there is a new study released either touting the benefits of coffee or suggesting it’s horrible for us. I’ve always been in the “everything in moderation” camp and think that 1-2 cups of coffee a day is NBD. That said, coffee can affect hormonal function and definitely increases cortisol. And with my recent blood work showing high cortisol levels I decided it was time to give my body a break from caffeine.

I don’t drink soda or eat much chocolate and most of the teas I drink are caffeine-free so the main thing I needed to cut back on was my 2-3 cups of coffee a day. If you’re not sure if you should decrease your coffee consumption, read this article. It might help you decide.

My effort to balance my hormones was a big motivator in this decision and I don’t know if I could have followed through with cutting back if that wasn’t in the back of my mind. Just throwing it out there that you might also need to find “your why” before you start on this journey because if you’re a coffee addict, it’s probably not going to be an easy task. If you drink more than a couple cups of coffee a day it’s recommended that you start slowing cutting back rather than going cold-turkey to decrease the likelihood of experiencing withdrawal symptoms like crazy headaches.

I’ve been on this little journey of cutting back on coffee for about two weeks now. Here are some tips I’ve used along the way:

1. Swap coffee for tea or other fun beverages. Drinks like green juice, kombucha, coconut water and iced tea are all great options and almost all of them will give you a energy boost without caffeine. If it were winter I’m sure I’d be drinking hot tea, but since it’s blazing hot out right now I’ve been making iced tea. I usually brew 1-2 cups at a time, let it chill, put it in the fridge and then put it over ice. Sometimes I’ll brew it the night before so it’s cold and ready to drink the next morning. I have a huge stash of different teas, but I’ve found that I love those with a more robust flavor. Here are my two caffeine-free favorites at the moment: Yogi Kava Stress Relief Tea and Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Lane Green Tea. I only had a few bags of the candy cane lane leftover from last year so I’m currently on the market for a mint green tea to try.

Most teas are lower in caffeine than coffee or completely caffeine free. Just make sure to check out the package so you know what you’re drinking!

2. Drink More water. I’ve noticed that as soon as I cut back on coffee I started drinking way more water, which is awesome because staying hydrated has so many health benefits. I’ve always been a big fan of sparkling water and having that on hand has helped as well. Drinking enough water is especially important if you’re used to using coffee as an appetite suppressant or to boost your metabolism. Staying hydrated will keep you from feeling hungry when you’re really just thirsty and can help boost your metabolism too!

3. Find a coffee alternative like Teeccino. This stuff, along with tea, has been lifesaver over these past few weeks. I’m not sure I would have survived without it. It’s a caffeine-free coffee substitute made primarily from chicory root. I was first introduced to Teeccino at Rancho La Puerta and have been a fan ever since. They have a variety of flavors and you can buy it in ground form (which you can brew in a french press) or tea bags. The tea bags are really convenient, but I think the grounds have a bit more body. I’m a big fan of the French Roast Dark Roast and the Vanilla Nut. Note that the regular blend does have barley so it’s not gluten-free. The Dandelion Blend is gluten-free though! There are other coffee alternatives out there as well like Dandy Blend and Yogi Roasted Dandelion Spice Tea. I haven’t tried either of these but I’ve heard good things about them from friends.

4. Order decaf. This is no-brainer, but most coffee shops offer decaf coffee and you can easily buy decaf coffee to brew at home. If I’m out at a coffee shop and craving a cold brew coffee I’ll order a decaf iced americano, which is made with decaf espresso. I know decaf espresso sounds like an oxymoron, but it tastes just like coffee and totally cures my craving. Just a note though, most decaf varieties still have a little caffeine, about a 10th of what’s in a regular cup.

5. Indulge a little, but be careful. I’ve had cold-brew coffee twice over these past two weeks. Both times were at the farmers market where it’s hard to find decaf coffee. Surprise, no one wants decaf this early in the morning except me and the pregnant ladies. 😉 One morning I had a few sips of Isaac’s cold-brew coffee and last Saturday I ended up ordering a cold-brew coffee for myself. It was crazy how quickly I felt the affects! I honestly didn’t think coffee affected me that much, but after having been off it for a while I could tell I was a little wired and talking really fast. I will say that giving myself that treat on Saturday made it really hard to be without coffee on Monday morning. It’s kind of like giving into a sugar craving. Sometimes it’s better just to skip it because otherwise you keep craving it.

6. Take naps. The first two days without coffee were interesting. I didn’t get crazy headaches, but I was totally exhausted even after getting plenty of sleep. I ended up taking an afternoon nap two days in a row, which is really unlike me. I was also ravenous. I’m sure the exhaustion and hunger go hand and hand. My body didn’t have extra energy from the caffeine so I needed extra energy from food. With this in mind, I’d probably recommend starting your journey into less caffeine over the weekend rather than trying to start on a Monday morning. That way, you’ll be at home and able to nap if needed.

7. Go for a walk, stretch or mediate. Instead of waking up and heading straight to the coffee pot, I’ve been drinking a big glass of water and heading out the door for a quick walk or doing some light stretching or a quick meditation. This is the perfect way to get energized for the day.

Overall, the experience of cutting back on coffee has been pretty good. The first two days were the hardest and it’s been must easier since. I’ve had a ton of energy, I don’t feel the urge to drink coffee as soon as I wake up anymore and added bonus, I’m saving a good chunk of money. There are definitely days where I wish I could grab a cold-brew coffee, but I think it’s more out of the habit or the experience that goes along with it, like going to get coffee with Isaac on a Saturday morning. Luckily we can still go out on a Saturday morning and have fun together… it doesn’t have to revolve around getting coffee. I don’t know if I’ll ever cut out coffee completely, but I like being able to make the choice rather than feeling like I’m addicted to it and HAVE to have it to function.

Have you ever tried to decrease or completely cut out caffeine or coffee? How did it go? 

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
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  1. I have so much respect for anyone who is cutting back on coffee! I have my one caffeinated cup in the morning, and try to either go decaf of half-caff if I need another. I had a splitting headache once, from having multiple cups then cutting back down, which scared (and scarred) me, ha!

  2. Certainly, everyone is different in terms of how they respond to caffeine and coffee. That’s why our industry labels caffeine content on our products, so consumers can make informed choices. With that said, caffeine and coffee are deemed safe in moderation, and numerous studies have highlighted the potential health benefits of this beverage and ingredient.

  3. Coffee is full of health benefits. It is beneficial for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementia. It helps with cognitive function, athletic performance, etc. The studies (more recently) have all come out with the fact that the more we drink, the better we are…(Obviously no need to be excessive). Here is just one link, but there are MANY more:
    I hate to say it, but not having coffee will not get you your period back. I went off coffee for three years…and nope. (And yes, I suffer the same issues as you).
    The best thing to do, if you love coffee, is to get organic coffee. Organic, mold-free, toxin-free coffee has a lower caffeine content and higher polyphenol content, so healthier…

    How Can You Find Mycotoxin-Free Coffee?

    1. Drink coffee that has been made via wet processing. Because mycotoxins often form during the drying process, wet beans are much less likely to contain them than dry beans.

    2. Do not drink decaffeinated coffee. Caffeine actually protects coffee beans from the growth of mold and can prevent large amounts of mycotoxins from growing.

    3. Choose arabica beans over robusta beans. Though robusta varieties do have higher levels of caffeine, they also contain more mycotoxins.

    4. Consider the environment in which your beans are grown. Because mold is less apt to grow at higher elevations, buying beans that have been harvested in the mountains of Central America is a great way to decrease the amount of toxins in your coffee.

    5. Stay away from blends. Though blended coffees may taste good, there really is no way of telling where the different bean varieties have come from. Try to stick to single estate products rather than the major brand names.

    6. Steam is an agent that can help break down toxins, so if all else fails, order an Americano.

    Is Drinking Coffee Worth the Risk?

    Yes, mycotoxins can have some adverse health effects, but the health benefits of coffee are certainly worth ensuring that you keep it in your daily diet. The trick is to find coffee that makes you feel great, rather than coffee that brings you down. It will take a bit of research on your part to pick the coffee beans and local coffee shop that are right for you, but the research will be more than worth it when you notice a difference in how you feel.

    To many people, drinking coffee is something that is an important part of the day, for a variety of reasons. From boosting health to sparking energy, coffee can be a key component of their daily routine. But as explained above, organic coffee doesn’t necessarily mean the healthiest coffee. By drinking coffee low in mycotoxins, you can be sure that your coffee habit is one that enhances, rather than detracts from, your health.

  4. *the one caveat is with people who have VERY sensitive central nervous systems. However, even they can usually tolerate coffee IF it’s properly sourced and does not contain HIGH levels of caffeine…

  5. Coffee also has a high level of antioxidants…provided the coffee is good.
    I don’t know why people kill themselves to get off coffee when it’s full of benefits…

    If you have high cortisol. Try HOLY BASIL. Emotional freedom technique.
    Sitting by the water. or in the forest.
    Try yoga nidra.
    Try colouring.
    READING is a bigger stress reliever that massage therapy (this according to studies)
    …but massage is still good.
    Call a friend.
    Try BHRT.
    Try laughing.
    Try seeing a funny movie.
    Try getting out of your own head and doing something for others.

    🙂 I wish you all the best in the journey.

  6. I try to not have coffee (at least caffeinated) every day so I don’t become addicted. Also, another easy to get substitute is celestial seasonings roastaroma tea. It tastes pretty similar to coffee and has no caffeine. I also like toasted brown rice green tea for the roasted flavor (gen Mai cha – Eden makes one that you can get at whole foods).

  7. I have been off coffee for 2 months now… I felt like drug addict the first week but now I feel great. Much more energy… however, I have noticed I crave sugar which I never did… I hope that will regularly soon.

    1. Wow! That’s really interesting. I bet your body is just craving more energy, which sugar provides. The first couple weeks I definitely felt hungrier too!

  8. I always cut out caffeine completely when we’re trying to get pregnant. It definitely effects me a LOT and I feel so much better when I’m functioning on natural energy instead of a caffeine buzz. However, I l-o-v-e my coffee, so I do still brew decaf (or some days half-calf) if I really am craving it. I always let myself have some on Saturday! 🙂

  9. I’ve been cutting back on caffeine as well, but I love my cold brew coffee. So, I’ve been making cold brew decaf coffee instead and I really like it. Miss the extra energy, but I don’t miss the headaches that came with it. I also love the Teeccino “coffees”! A friend made a yummy iced drink with teeccino and coconut milk. So good!

  10. I cut down on coffee over the last month, until I’m now down from my 12-15 cups a day (Yep, that many :), to just one in the morning. And I’m fine with that.

    Now I just drink mainly water, with the occasional cup of herbal tea.

    And one thing I noticed quickly is how much weight I lost not drinking coffee. Now that I wasn’t consuming about 1,000 calories a day from rice milk (I’m vegan) and sugar in my coffee.

    I primarily quit, though, because I have always noticed my best friend (who is Thai) has the most amazing skin. Perfectly clear and so incredibly soft. She drinks nothing but water, with the occasional fruit juice or hot chocolate. But has never drunk coffee.

    I noticed within a couple of weeks of drinking mostly water, my skin was heading in the same direction as hers. WELL worth quitting the coffee for that 🙂

    And nice blog. Haven’t come across you before, but have you bookmarked now!

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