It turns out that caffeine only appears to give us energy
July 11, 2021 7:45 PM   Subscribe

The invisible addiction: is it time to give up caffeine? Walker explained that, for most people, the “quarter life” of caffeine is usually about 12 hours, meaning that 25% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee consumed at noon is still circulating in your brain when you go to bed at midnight. That could well be enough to completely wreck your deep sleep.


[R]esearch suggests that insufficient sleep may be a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, arteriosclerosis, stroke, heart failure, depression, anxiety, suicide and obesity.

“How many times a night do you wake up?” he asked. I’m up three or four times a night (usually to pee), but I almost always fall right back to sleep.

He nodded gravely. “That’s really not good, all those interruptions. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity.” The interruptions were undermining the amount of “deep” or “slow wave” sleep I was getting, something above and beyond the REM sleep I had always thought was the measure of a good night’s rest. But it seems that deep sleep is just as important to our health, and the amount we get tends to decline with age.
posted by mecran01 (232 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sure, and what am I supposed to spend $6 on in the mornings? Saving for a house?

Although, I did know the "no coffee after midday" rule, and I abide by it. I don't understand people who get afternoon coffees and I look upon them with disdain and bemusement. Coffee as an after-dinner thing, as occurs in some places, is just mad.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:56 PM on July 11 [19 favorites]


Yeah, I'll give up caffeine when the world stops requiring me to wake up and do things at a particular time. I think the world blew past that goalpost in the Industrial Revolution. My body demands that I nap after lunchtime, and if I don't want to do that, it is caffeine time.

Seriously, it's not great. I do have a tendency to mistake caffeine for a drug that will make me interested in something, rather than one that will simulate wakefulness. (I wonder sometimes if I have undiagnosed ADHD and self-medicate with caffeine.) If we can't give up caffeine -- and we can't, at least most of us* -- we should at least all understand what it does to us and give ourselves allowances.

----
* I quit energy drinks and no longer consume more than one Diet Mountain Dew in a day. Best I can do.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:05 PM on July 11 [51 favorites]


Just add lots of sugar... problem solved!
posted by smidgen at 8:05 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I am a three or four cups a day coffee drinker, and a few years ago I tried giving up cold turkey. The splitting headache I got by evening on the first day stayed with me all night and into the morning. I got sweats and nausea--went to puke but was able to calm down my stomach. I had withdrawal, basically. After about two days of this I finally caved, drank some coffee, and within 15 minutes or so was feeling fine.

I am addicted to the stuff. Which is not good, and I need wean myself off it, but damn it ain't easy. Quitting cigarettes was maybe easier.
posted by zardoz at 8:06 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Is Coffee Good for You? slnyt
coffee is associated with a lower risk of mortality
In moderate amounts, coffee provides some protection from dementia, stroke, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and promotes liver health. Also, I'm less likely to be stabby if I've had my 1st cup.

Is it just me, or does the article have a faintly moralizing tone?
posted by theora55 at 8:10 PM on July 11 [65 favorites]


Counterpoint: What *other* socially-acceptable recreational stimulant is there?
(no really, I'd love to be able to swap between caffeine & other things. Not "this is caffeine, but from a different plant so we're going to market it differently")
posted by CrystalDave at 8:17 PM on July 11 [17 favorites]


I think the world blew past that goalpost in the Industrial Revolution.

The world blew past that goalpost a long, long time before that if you were someone who had to tend animals or someone who had to regularly work, gather, or harvest in locations where the optimal time to get anything done was well before the sun was high in the sky.
posted by tclark at 8:17 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Michael Pollan is always moralizing - but he makes some good points.

I had not quite realised how sleep deficits and caffeine intertwine, so it was a good reminder for me to monitor my caffeine habits a bit more.

Generally, I try and not have coffee over the weekend, so that the Monday morning boost is there with vigour.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 8:18 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


Forbid myself the sacrament in my morning ritual? Blasphemy!
posted by fairmettle at 8:18 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


I'm going to magically hand wave the science with my high metabolism.
posted by clavdivs at 8:24 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


I was lucky when my state passed a smoking ban around 2005 or so.

I had always deeply associated coffee and cigarettes and sitting in a diner drinking too much coffee, smoking strings of cigarettes and drawing or writing was definitely my weird go-to for a long-time.

Suddenly, not being able to sit inside a diner and consume both, I stopped sitting inside diners and I stopped consuming both. God damn I'm so glad I did.

People always ask me how I get by without coffee, and I honestly have always felt the answer was that I didn't get addicted to coffee for the purpose of staying awake at work to begin with (I have always struggled with sleep and staying awake often isn't that difficult for me). Since I never got hooked on coffee to begin with, I never got into this cycle where it actually disrupts my sleep, leading me to... need more coffee. Which seems like a vicious horrible cycle, for sure.

Anyway, it's nice to have some science to back up how I've felt about it.
posted by deadaluspark at 8:29 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]


On the other hand: Coffee: The Greatest Addiction Ever

The implied link to Alzheimer's by a single doctor raised my eyebrows, especially since rather the opposite has been shown more than once, and--given my family history--I also value coffee for its (possible, not conclusively shown) beneficial protection against diabetes. And indeed, Finland, the highest per capita drinker of coffee on the planet does have also the highest dementia rate on Earth. Oh noes!

But not so fast! The other contenders for top coffee drinkers, Denmark, Iceland, and the Netherlands seem to have much lower rates than the rest of the world, and the Finnish rates appear to be likely linked to some pretty gnarly environmental factors. So it would appear by my random-guy-on-the-internet [Me, in case my snark overshot] armchair metrics I might just as easily manage to put together a result showing caffeine's beneficial effects against dementia and Alzheimer's are keeping Finland's dementia issue from being even worse. (This site is where I grabbed my quick-and-dirty country ranking, and is a handy way of looking these up if you too have suddenly become curious.)

This article once again looks to be nothing more than the latest spin on massaging coffee studies to fit whatever axe you have to grind. Yawn. Forgive me if I don't lend too much credence to breathless pearl-clutching in a newspaper science puff piece.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 8:31 PM on July 11 [53 favorites]


I used to drink 3-4 mugs of black unsweetened coffee a day; making and consuming it was literally the first thing I had to do when I got up in the morning (well, second, after a brief bathroom visit). I never had trouble sleeping. Over the years, without intentionally meaning to, my coffee consumption tapered off and by about 10 years ago I didn't even drink it every day anymore - now I have maybe one mug every 2-3 days, and usually not before mid-morning. Yet in recent years (I'm pretty sure due to age) I've had to start getting up to pee at least once a night. And I sometimes just wake up around 3am and can't get back to sleep for a while. Gosh, it must be all that coffee from years ago finally catching up with me....

Besides, if I gave it up completely I'd have to get rid of one of my favorite shirts!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:33 PM on July 11 [11 favorites]


I’ve long stopped reading “this not that” kinds of food articles, and I love coffee with wild abandon*, but it’s also true that as a culture we are crazily, dangerously underslept. Don’t know if it’s just an aging thing but my best gift to myself this year was switching to decaf in the afternoons and going to bed a half hour earlier.

*also definitely fit into the “self-medicating ADHD with caffeine” category, still processing that one
posted by q*ben at 8:35 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


I am a three or four cups a day coffee drinker, and a few years ago I tried giving up cold turkey. The splitting headache I got by evening on the first day stayed with me all night and into the morning.... I am addicted to the stuff. Which is not good, and I need wean myself off it, but damn it ain't easy. Quitting cigarettes was maybe easier.

I once quit in my twenties. The headaches last maybe a week and get milder each day. I would never deny it's an addiction -- it is -- but it really is, for most people, substantially easier than most addictive substances to quit, and certainly no comparison with nicotine.
posted by escabeche at 8:36 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


Counterpoint: What *other* socially-acceptable recreational stimulant is there?

Betel? Khat? Tobacco? Molly? Probably depends on the social circles you travel in.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:37 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


Hmm. I don't drink a lot of coffee, but I do drink a lot of tea, so I'm probably addicted to caffeine to some extent, and I definitely get a headache if for some reason i don't drink my several (about 10) cups a day. I used to work with a guy who was a coffee drinker and called the withdrawal effects a "Yom Kippur headache". He said it was worth a headache once a year, and I agree. You will have to prise my cup of tea from my cold, dead, British hands.
posted by Fuchsoid at 8:41 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


"[R]esearch suggests that insufficient sleep may be a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease...."

I'm always suspicious of theories like this that are based on indirect connections - A might cause B; B is kind of associated with C; C is bad for you so you'd better avoid A.

Especially when there are more direct studies that suggest the exact opposite of your indirect-theory's conclusions. I've run across lots of studies about the health benefits of coffee-drinking, but here's a random sampling from a very quick search.

"researchers found that women age 65 and older who drank two to three cups of coffee a day were less likely to develop dementia in general"

"Caffeine is not only linked to a lower chance of developing Parkinson's disease, but it may also help those with the condition better control their movements."

"Recent studies found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from some of the leading causes of death in women: coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and kidney disease."



https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/9-reasons-why-the-right-amount-of-coffee-is-good-for-you


(Also I've found the Guardian's science coverage to be rather poor in general.)
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:42 PM on July 11 [17 favorites]


I just remembered I have like two or three Pepsi Maxes (Pepsis Max?) when I get home from work so uhhh, disregard all the above.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:43 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


I gave up caffeine (tapering down) when I was put on an incredibly restrictive diet, and lived without it for about five months. My mental recall and nimbleness of mind plummeted (yes, I actually have statistical proof of this). My depression increased. My sleep did not improve. My boring repetitive job was even more soul-crushing. The very first thing I went back on when I decided to quit the diet was caffeine (like, I chose it before actual food), and the difference was like night and day.

Believe me, my life is one thousand percent better with a mild dose of stimulant.

"Oh Hypatia you could just go get a prescription for an antidepressant! You could get tested for ADHD and get a mild stimulant in pill form" fuck. that. No. I could put a plant in some hot water and drink this, like people have done for a thousand years, at a cost of literally pennies, for a pleasant little break in my day, for olfactory and gustatory pleasure, without dealing with the medical establishment.

Are we literally DARE-ing, straight-edging caffeine now? My one 4 oz of coffee a few times a week, my small cup of green tea the other days? Just because Michael Fucking Pollan drinks several cups and thinks it's an "addiction?" Oh, Michael Pollan got a headache and was cranky when he cut down, because he had a physical dependency? No... an addiction. Is he breaking into cars to feed his flat white habit? Is his boss having to call him into the office for a serious talk about how his work is slipping, how he can't be trusted around the Keurig anymore? Do his children weep sadly because Daddy is not there to pick them up from Little League, he's snuck off to that garden center for "just one more espresso"? Have his family and friends staged an intervention, "You say it's just green tea, Michael, but you drink several glasses a day."
posted by Hypatia at 8:45 PM on July 11 [341 favorites]


Good decaf may be hard to find, but it does exist. I like Taylor Lane In Sonoma.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:48 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]




I used to drink a pot or two of tea a day but I've had to give it up. No more green tea even. Thankfully you can get decent decaf tea these days which is my substitute. My problems wasn't being able to fall asleep, it was being able to stay asleep - I'd wake up at 2 or 4 AM and just sort of half-sleep for the rest of the night and feel like shit. So I had to just totally give it up. And honestly, for me, it's been fine. I still have a diet coke or some real tea if I need to really get going for something, but there's always a cost to pay. My caffeine "hangovers" are worse than drinking too much these days.
posted by GuyZero at 8:53 PM on July 11 [3 favorites]


If anything this article/excerpt could have talked about the social construction of dependency/addiction. Like, we all agree nicotine is really addictive. We all realize, now, that when people smoke they cause some harm to themselves and those around them via secondhand smoke. And yet, for some reason, in the mid-20th century when so many people smoked all the time and everywhere, they weren't breaking into cars and causing mayhem. They weren't going on nicotine-fueled violence sprees (I mean, maybe they were but we don't have records). There was no "Daddy's smoked a whole pack today, run off to your aunt's house till he sobers up." They weren't considered different from the rest of us, like Pollan considers the caffeine-slurping zombies at his local coffee shop who aren't having his cool, smug, reset "experience".

Like srsly dude if you have to pee that much every night maybe you should see a doctor about your kidneys and junk maybe it's not the coffee! Or, maybe caffeine no longer agrees with you because the vagaries of time and health happen to us all. I have so many foods disagree with me now as I advance into stately middle age, but I'm not going to write an essay on why our culture's dependence on, say, orange juice is stopping us from reaching our fullest human potential.

Five bucks says the part on mescaline's gonne be like, "It's good actually, unlike caffeine which gives you the jitters".
posted by Hypatia at 8:57 PM on July 11 [56 favorites]


Are we literally DARE-ing, straight-edging caffeine now? My one 4 oz of coffee a few times a week, my small cup of green tea the other days? Just because Michael Fucking Pollan drinks several cups and thinks it's an "addiction?" Oh, Michael Pollan got a headache and was cranky when he cut down, because he had a physical dependency? No... an addiction. Is he breaking into cars to feed his flat white habit? Is his boss having to call him into the office for a serious talk about how his work is slipping, how he can't be trusted around the Keurig anymore? Do his children weep sadly because Daddy is not there to pick them up from Little League, he's snuck off to that garden center for "just one more espresso"? Have his family and friends staged an intervention, "You say it's just green tea, Michael, but you drink several glasses a day."

I regret that I have but one favorite to give to this comment.
posted by corey flood at 9:04 PM on July 11 [66 favorites]


Fuck it, I'll drink what I want.*

* Disclaimer: I actually can't stand coffee, just drink the occasional soda and consume Excedrin for headaches, which I frequently have in the morning due to glare.

But seriously, even without any caffeine in the day, my sleep is still weird and I wake up too early for no good reason semi-frequently, so what's the point?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:11 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


I drink a lot of coffee most days, but some days I don't drink any coffee (or other caffeinated beverages) at all. I don't notice anything different about the days I don't. I find this mildly disconcerting since by all accounts I'm massively addicted to caffeine.
posted by borges at 9:11 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Relevant trivia: smoking induces the metabolism of caffeine, so people who smoke require more coffee/tea/whatever to maintain the same level of caffeine in their bodies. It's not just cigarettes; other things with smoke, like barbecue food can do the same thing to some extent, but I can't imagine eating enough barbecue to mimic smoking cigarettes regularly.

I am thoroughly addicted to caffeine, and I am entirely precomtemplative about changing my consumption. Cold turkey would land me in the emergency room with a migraine at least, and tapering vs. temptation to return to wakefulness is no fun at all. I am aware that caffeine merely returns me to baseline.
posted by sillyman at 9:16 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Consuming even small amounts of caffeine gives me

- headaches/migraines
- overactive bladder
- anxiety
- irritability
- jaw clenching
- acid reflux

... so I don't consume it (except on my birthday). Clearly it seems to work for a lot of people, but I am definitely not one of them.

Perhaps, like so many things, caffeine has different effects on different bodies.
posted by aniola at 9:24 PM on July 11 [17 favorites]


Reading this article is like reading that old piece where there's one reason or another to not consume just about everything but kale. I mean, sure, there's an argument for moderation of caffeine intake, which is why I generally try to keep mine down to a pot of coffee a day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:31 PM on July 11 [9 favorites]


The idea that regular caffeine consumption doesn’t actually “work” due to tolerance/rebound effect would seem to coexist uneasily with the idea that regular caffeine consumption is ruining our sleep.
posted by atoxyl at 9:32 PM on July 11 [38 favorites]


I've found at certain combinations of missed sleep & stimulant tends to just knock me out - like a circuit breaker tripping - around the early evening or so. I don't always notice it - for example, I might be deep in the middle of something dicking around on the internet, taking note of time at around 4PM and then I suddenly jerk awake, shirt covered in drool, at 5:35.

The past few years have mostly been caffeine free due to the medications I'm on, but recently I've I've been toying with the idea of hyperdosing (30+ cups) like some 19th century wanker like Balzac, among others as a means to productivity. Presently I get very little done - to the point I worry my day job might be in peril - even though I'm on 56mg of Concerta and have recently began drinking about 3-4 diet cokes throughout the day.
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 9:34 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Everyone needs a vice.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:36 PM on July 11 [10 favorites]


The idea that regular caffeine consumption doesn’t actually “work” due to tolerance/rebound effect would seem to coexist uneasily with the idea that regular caffeine consumption is ruining our sleep.

I think the likely truth is that both are partly true. If you consume a lot of caffeine it works less, and more briefly, but still a little bit. And if you drink it too late in the day it keeps you up, but also less if you are more tolerant to it. But come on, we knew that, right?
posted by atoxyl at 9:37 PM on July 11 [6 favorites]


Sure, and what am I supposed to spend $6 on in the mornings? Saving for a house?

Maybe avocado toast is the way to go.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:39 PM on July 11 [27 favorites]


As someone who has always enjoyed coffee in all its forms, has maintained a 4 espresso a day diet (one after each meal and one just before bed), and now found out I will live a longer healthier life because of it, albeit with extra early dementia, I'll just leave the two marginally related, but highly entertaining recommendations below:

- Come True (2020) with a fantastic performance by Julia Sarah Stone, about the dangers of trying to cure sleep deprivation by going to a sleep clinic run by Cronenbergian evil scientists. Seriously, though, this is a fantastic, if flawed movie with a killer soundtrack, like a sleep-deprived version of Beyond the Black Rainbow.

- The Nightmare (2015), a fictional pseudo-documentary about night terrors and sleep paralysis by the director of Room 237, Rodney Ascher.

Seriously, though, the problem is one of tradeoffs: Be healthier and sleep better, but without delicious coffee. Kind of like the people who think they will live 10 years longer if they cut calories in half, live on Soylent and juices, give up butter, burgers, insert your own delicious poison here.... A first world problem for sure.
posted by Bigbootay. Tay! Tay! Blam! Aargh... at 9:40 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Is it just me, or does the article have a faintly moralizing tone?

Michael Pollan? Faintly moralizing? You astonish me.
posted by Orlop at 9:46 PM on July 11 [29 favorites]


Like srsly dude if you have to pee that much every night maybe you should see a doctor about your kidneys and junk

I have mentioned to my GP once or twice that my sleep pattern is pretty irregular and minimal and it has been thus for decades. At some point he steered me to a specialist, who quizzed me:

“How often do you sleep through the night?”

“With no waking up at all? Less than one percent of the time, I am sure.”

“So any idea what wakes you up?”

“Usually the need to empty my bladder.”

“And this happens once a night?”

“Usually. Sometimes twice.”

Twice?!? You wake up twice a night sometimes?

“Er, yeah... maybe one night in twenty...”

I was astonished that he, a man fifteen years or so my elder, thought that waking up twice in a night on occasion seemed to be a foreboding warning sign. I was living in a fifty-year-old body, but perhaps all of my contemporaries retain the cast iron bladder they had at seventeen.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:48 PM on July 11 [20 favorites]


I can't imagine eating enough barbecue to mimic smoking cigarettes regularly.

I'm not a cigarette smoker, but I am totally willing to give massive BBQ a shot - for Science, of course.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:52 PM on July 11 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: deep in the middle of something dicking around on the internet
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:52 PM on July 11 [11 favorites]


listen I got the adhd and I have done several months of no-caffeine as an adult and my brain did not work good. it doesn't work amazingly well now, but it isn't as bad as decaf brain, which is like an ennui machine with most of the RAM physically removed.

I have dealt with the medical establishment and done the whole Controlled Stimulant song-and-dance multiple times and they were all like caffeine, if caffeine wore off faster and was vastly more expensive and had miscellaneous worse side effects.

Michael Pollan ought to be hurled into a slimy, algae-filled lake on a warm day, fully-dressed, preferably while carrying all of his personal electronic devices. everything he says gives me the yeet-in-lake urges.
posted by All Might Be Well at 10:01 PM on July 11 [50 favorites]


A couple of years ago or so, I was surprised to read that orange blossom nectar contains quite a bit of caffeine, about as much proportionally as a cup of strong coffee (that factoid doesn't appear in the linked article as far as I know):
The allocation of purine alkaloids within citrus flowers was studied and found to be linked to anthesis, with 99% of the total flower caffeine confined to the androecium. The main alkaloid is caffeine accompanied by considerable (up to 30% of caffeine) concentrations of theophylline. In the anther, these purine alkaloids reach altogether a concentration of 0.9% dry wt which is close to the caffeine content of the Arabica coffee bean. The pollen alkaloid concentration is in the same range. Much lower but still marked concentrations were found in the nectar. A considerable breakdown of alkaloids during honey production is assumed. The biological significance of this particular secondary compound allocation as well as possible effects on the key pollinator, the honey-bee, are discussed.
But almost none of that caffeine makes it into the juice, which again surprised me because I would have expected the same genetic and metabolic machinery which produced the sweet nectar to also be active in producing the juice in the fruit.

Which gives OJ's ubiquitous presence on the breakfast table (and lesser presence elsewhere, I'd say) the status of a tantalizing coincidence. The only thing I could think of which might account for it is that the biosynthetic pathways which lead to caffeine are complex and feature many precursors, so maybe some of those do get through and have some degree of similar effect to caffeine. But I haven't gotten around to pursuing that.
posted by jamjam at 10:02 PM on July 11 [8 favorites]


But I do expect any day now to read that someone has figured out a way to make caffeine production continue in the fruit, and that the resulting juice is headed to cafes and supermarkets near you.
posted by jamjam at 10:07 PM on July 11 [5 favorites]


Everyone needs a vice

When I was just out of Uni I got a job where I had to outfit a new lab, spent a day wandering around hardware stores asking "do you have any small vices" took until the end of the day before I realised why they were all sniggering at me ...
posted by mbo at 10:36 PM on July 11 [26 favorites]


I used to drink two pots of coffee a day when I was programming in an office all by myself.

Then I lost that job, and stopped doing that. Still had a cup or two in the morning, religiously. Then recently I picked up a tremor. Can't get the sugar in my coffee without spilling it all over. Hmmm. Realized caffeine made it much worse. So I now only am drinking decaf. Which sucks, because my decaf options do not mimic the awesome blend of dark, darker, medium roast blend I made. Didn't get the headaches though, so that was nice. Still, going to have to see a doctor about the tremor, which clearly isn't all about the caffeine.
posted by Windopaene at 10:57 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


Jesus Christ. The world is on fire, we've got a plague going, and whatever else is the misery of the moment, and someone has decided that the moment is right to lecture us all on the hidden epidemic of fucking caffeine addiction in the Guardian.

Surely he has a podcast he can use for this sort of malarky.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:23 PM on July 11 [65 favorites]


The splitting headache I got by evening on the first day stayed with me all night and into the morning. I got sweats and nausea.--zardoz

I originally never liked coffee (maybe it was tasting cold cups of coffee as a kid the morning after my parents had a party they were too tired to clean up afterwards). And when I first started work, seeing coworkers who couldn't function until they had their coffee scared me off.

But then I had a roommate who'd lived in Italy for a year and had an espresso machine and convinced me to try it.

So now I occasionally have an espresso, but it is still only a couple of times a week at most.

Even so, every now and then I, too, might get those headaches the day after I had my one cup, and that's enough to scare me off from trying to increase drinking it more than twice a week (though I really like the taste of espresso).

(I had a summer job in the Netherlands, and the office would have a morning coffee money collection. I'd tell them no thanks, I don't drink coffee, and they'd stand there for a bit in complete shock, then finally walk away to check the next person. The concept was so foreign to them that they asked me about the coffee every single day. It just could not enter their heads that a person could exist who didn't drink coffee. Better ask him again just in case.)
posted by eye of newt at 12:26 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


Now whenever life is looking dark and mean
I have myself an espresso.
And then I kinda sit back and like dig the scene
And maybe have myself another espresso.
And there's a chick in the coffee shop who's caught my eye
But she never talks to me when I walk by
So I sit there and I cool it and I'm oh so sly
And I have myself another espresso.
Well last night I decided to do the thing
As I had myself another espresso.
So I asked that chick, would she care to swing
As I had myself another espresso.
And she said, "Baby, that's uh cool with me
But like I can't split until half past three
So why don't you just sit there and cool it and like wait for me
And maybe have yourself another espresso."
Well I never cared much for formal dates,
I just sit and have myself an espresso.
Man ya know but when a chick is a groove like baby you've gotta wait
And maybe have yourself another espresso.
So I took off my coat and I hung up my hat
And for the next five hours right there I sat.
You know that chick went home with some other cat,
And so I had myself another espresso.
The moral of the story I will tell you then
As I have myself another espresso,
Is always follow the ways of Zen
And maybe have yourself another espresso.
And whenever the world has got you way uptight
Why baby you just sit there and cool it until everything's right
'Cause you know I met another chick that very night
And we -- uh -- we --
Well we just sat around and had us an espresso.
posted by chavenet at 12:29 AM on July 12 [19 favorites]


My special was unbelievably good, a ringing reminder of what a poor counterfeit decaf is; here were whole dimensions and depths of flavour that I had completely forgotten about. Everything in my visual field seemed pleasantly italicised, filmic,
...
When I got home I tackled my to-do list with unaccustomed fervour, harnessing the surge of energy – of focus! – coursing through me, and put it to good use. I compulsively cleared and decluttered – on the computer, in my closet, in the garden and the shed. I raked, I weeded, I put things in order, as if I were possessed. Whatever I focused on, I focused on zealously and single-mindedly.


I enjoy a coffee every now and again, and I would really like to experience it like this some day.

I imagine like any drug there is a genetic tolerance level and I seem to have not gotten whatever receptor caffeine works on.

My spouse is one of those that can't have coffee or tea after noon, whereas I can drink a 4 shot mocha and sleep the entire night through.
I'm not sure who has it better.
posted by madajb at 1:11 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


The invisible addiction: is it time to give up clickbait?

Clickbait makes revenue and pages views more efficient and faster. But we have become so dependent that we need it just to get to our baseline

by geoff.

After years of starting the day with an article on You'll Never Believe Which Swimsuit is Getting All Five Star Reviews!, followed by several articles asking the reader to guess how old Friends stars are now, and the occasional comparison to J-Low and Blanche from the Golden Girls are the same age after lunch, I quit clickbait, cold turkey. t was not something that I particularly wanted to do, but I had come to the reluctant conclusion that the story I was writing demanded it. Several of the experts I was interviewing had suggested that I really couldn’t understand the role of clickbait in my life – its invisible yet pervasive power – without getting off it and then, presumably, getting back on. Ronan Farrow, one of the world’s only actual journalists, and the man that didn't rely on parent's connections to get an internship at the Daily Mail and later an opinion writer at The Guardian, told me he hadn’t begun to understand his own relationship with clickbait until he stopped using an adblocker and conducted a series of self-experiments. He urged me to do the same.
posted by geoff. at 1:12 AM on July 12 [80 favorites]


There seem to be perpetual studies trying to find that coffee is bad for you but the studies always come back saying that it's actually fine and in fact pretty good for you.

It's wierd that people are so keen for coffee to be bad for you.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:42 AM on July 12 [24 favorites]


A few years ago I was anxious and waking early and sad and angry and unable to concentrate and some nights I was awake all night for no reason.... eventually, I figured out it was the coffee. I hadn't originally suspected it because I had no trouble falling asleep (in the beginning), only in staying asleep later. And while my consumption was high, it had crept up gradually.

(I did once have the interesting experience of getting decaf by mistake and 15 minutes later having a MASSIVE headache as the taste stimulated my brain to do whatever it does to compensate for incoming caffeine without actually getting the caffeine).

I went cold turkey. It was ok. I didn't have headaches. It was just like moving through treacle. I felt dull.

After about three weeks, I allowed myself an espresso, double shot, every day, and I've titrated the dose carefully, and I now know that my safe limit is three double shots a day, last one before 3pm, and I'm fine.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:52 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Caffeine has always had very little effect on me that I can detect, in both directions. That is, I don't get much of a boost from it even if I've gone without for months beforehand, but I can also literally just forget to drink it for a few days and barely notice. (I always have a headache anyway, so the little extra headache isn't a clue.) In the interest of sleep hygiene I try to avoid having any after lunch. If it weren't for the way it helps with migraines and focus/ADD, I'd probably just scratch it off the list entirely. My spouse has done that, but mostly because they never liked coffee and basically only got caffeine from Diet Coke and then Diet Coke started giving them horrendous acid reflux and gastro issues so they had to stop it, too. They do sleep better than I do, but that's not saying much. I've had insomnia, sleepwalking, and apnea for a lot longer than I've had caffeine.

I need something carbonated when I'm driving, though. That's not negotiable. Carbolic acid is one of the very few reasons I get up in the mornings.
posted by Scattercat at 2:29 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I won't lie: I do miss the coffee/cigarette/pastry (or dry biscuit) breakfasts of my relative youth. I understood why they were bad for me, but all my personal pleasure centres were made bright by that early morning combination of caffeine, nicotine and sugar served by a brusque waiter, leisurely consumed standing up at a marble countertop while everyone else in the cafe started their day in similar toxic meditation. It was delicious, I was alive, things were precarious but good.

Now I've only held on to the caffeine, switching out the fags and croissants for bran flakes and oat milk. I try to be careful when I drink it as coffee after noon wrecks my sleep with terrible, vivid dreams, though even without it I still get up at least once a night to wee. But I'm just old? This guy needs a better hobby.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 2:40 AM on July 12 [14 favorites]


Caffeine has always had very little effect on me that I can detect, in both directions. That is, I don't get much of a boost from it even if I've gone without for months beforehand, but I can also literally just forget to drink it for a few days and barely notice.

Mostly with you here. I never drink coffee, rarely tea, and while I don’t avoid cola, really, I do not seek it out. I’m sure there have been stretches of months where I have had no caffeine beyond the trace amounts in other foodstuffs.

As to very little effect? Well... when I was 23 I was moving to a different city. I had the notion that I would pack a bit every day for a month and on the final day, I’d be done. Just toss my bedding and my toothbrush into the last box and away we go.

Naturally that plan did not survive contact with my work schedule and my apathy. I wound up coming home at 11:00 PM on the 31st, looking at an apartment that was half-packed, and knowing I had a van arriving in nine hours.

I walked around thinking how I was going to deal with the situation. I noticed in the bathroom cabinet that my roommate who had moved out a year earlier, leaving me sole occupant, had left behind a souvenir of his summer gig as a security guard: a bottle of caffeine tablets. I reckoned these would keep me awake to get everything squared away.

I had a look at the bottle: the directions read, “Take one or two tablets,” a dosage I suspect was calculated for people who actually had some regular intake of and tolerance for caffeine, which I did not.

I took eight.

I do recall sitting down at about 4:30 AM with a drink of water and seeing the water slop over the top of glass because of how badly my hands were shaking. But I got it all packed (and stayed up for two nights).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:12 AM on July 12 [20 favorites]


As someone who's always had a strong "say 'perhaps' to drugs" streak, I must admit that I found it deeply weird, particularly in early adulthood, that it was totally socially acceptable for most adults (at least most of the ones I work with) to be functionally dependent on this one stimulant, to openly acknowledge and joke about its consumption, make a lifestyle out of the rituals around its consumption, wear clothing that advertises their love of its consumption etc. when treating most other mind-altering substances that way would have been social & career suicide.

I feel pretty fortunate that I've never really liked coffee or the caffeinated types of tea; tea registers as neither a treat nor a pleasure for me and I find coffee pretty actively revolting. Like most former teenagers/young adults with eating disorders, I had a heavy diet coke phase that has mostly mellowed into a can or bottle of coke zero every 2-3 days. I get intermittently really caffeine sensitive (anxiety/palpitations), which rules out consuming it any more often. I've also been wrestling with some gnarly fatigue issues recently, and, depressingly, my one coke zero every 2-3 days doesn't seem to have a meaningful impact on my energy or mental clarity in spite of me hoping every time that it will.

Something else that's depressing is the fact that no matter how much I steer my life towards the "healthy ideal" that's promoted by the media - eating better (more plants/less sugar), no alcohol, sleeping plenty, hydrating plenty, exercising more, limiting my caffeine intake - I just don't feel that much better for doing it. Certainly not consistently better enough to balance out the sense of loss of a more hedonistic lifestyle. I already do many things better than many adults around me, particularly sleep and hydration, and don't feel the amazing benefits I'm supposed to feel from having those parts of my life in order. It's depressing to live near-perfectly without either the benefits of doing so or the upsides of not having done so. I'd be inclined to backslide on some of it, particularly sleep, except I know I feel worse if I do. But the idea that I need to live in ways that would make an average person feel pretty healthy just to feel maybe-okay most of the time...really sucks.

I just want some reward! Either the reward I've been conditioned to expect for making good choices, or the reward that also comes with a side of bad things from saying 'screw it' and doing all the stuff I'm not supposed to do, rather than the cycle of "meh if you do, double meh if you don't" that I feel stuck in.
posted by terretu at 3:29 AM on July 12 [27 favorites]


Eponysterical: "I now know that my safe limit is three double shots a day, last one before 3pm, and I'm fine.” - i_am_joe's_spleen
posted by PhineasGage at 3:29 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I really like Foil Arms and Hog's take on tea addiction: https://youtu.be/eIk7S-ChBI0
posted by freethefeet at 3:34 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


ahahahahah you mortal fools who do not worship the roasted grounds of the coffee gods! I mostly now drink french-press with pre-ground coffee as on balance, the fastest and cheapest way to get my necessary blood/coffee ratio.

I used to drink 7+ strong coffees throughout the day. I cut down very unwillingly and although it is nice to not have hand shakes, I do miss the rush. My children say I am much nicer and prefer me before coffee because I will agree to just about anything in the blurred haze before I get my first cup. I am well aware that I am reliant on caffeine to manage my headaches and ADHD, but I take so many medications anyway and this is the one that I can actively enjoy.

I think it really is a shifting snobbery about food that gets tinged with clean eating and other morality orthorexia. We get it, Pollan, you're superior. That just means more delicious coffee for the rest of us me ME MEEEEE.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:43 AM on July 12 [21 favorites]


The number one thing that makes my sleep worse is stress and anxiety, which coffee actually helps to prevent by giving me a small good thing to look forward to every morning. In fact I started drinking it at a particularly shitty time in my life because I consciously decided if I was going to go through bad times I might as well have a mild and mostly healthy addictive high to distract me.

Pre-pandemic I was drinking multiple cups of strong stuff a day thanks to my university's excellent coffee shop and sleeping just fine, because I was also doing things like socialising, living my life, etc. During the pandemic I've actually tapered back on coffee, drinking lots of crappy decaf and none after 3pm, and during bad weeks it still takes me an hour to get to sleep and I wake up every couple of hours after that. If I were to map it on a graph, weltschmerz overtakes caffeine every time.

Food/drink snobbery and moralising is bs. Let people enjoy the things that make their days easier to get through, whether that's coffee or toaster strudels. Life is short.
posted by fight or flight at 3:49 AM on July 12 [19 favorites]


But almost none of that caffeine makes it into the juice, which again surprised me because I would have expected the same genetic and metabolic machinery which produced the sweet nectar to also be active in producing the juice in the fruit.

Caffeinated orange juice may be only a modicum of selective breeding and/or genetic engineering away.
posted by acb at 3:55 AM on July 12


I just knew this would be a great thread when I saw the FPP. Here is anger! Jokes! Personal anecdotes! Links! Everything that makes a good thread. I think we should thank Pollan and the OP for it all.

Mostly, I agree with this comment: It's weird that people are so keen for coffee to be bad for you.

That said, I stopped drinking coffee or tea after lunch quite a while ago, and since then, I can easily go several days without either without any bad effects. Also, I have actually become more discerning in my tastes. I will drink bad coffee if it is socially beneficial, but I won't buy a latte for myself at Starbucks anymore.
posted by mumimor at 4:03 AM on July 12 [16 favorites]


looks to be nothing more than the latest spin on massaging coffee studies to fit whatever axe beans you have to grind.

It had to be done
posted by oulipian at 4:04 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


Anything can mess up your sleep. Well, just about anything. I've been working a physical, mostly outdoors job at a bougie garden center. So it's often a very hot, sweaty eight hours for me on my feet, interspersed with lifting things, shoving stuff, moving large objects and lots of fast walking and thinking and talking all day. Plus I generally sweat like a racehorse even in cooler, calmer conditions. So I drink a huge amount of water. All day. A large, large amount of water, sometimes with an electrolyte packet dissolved in it for a thrill.

I have to really remember to taper down my water consumption when I get home and into the evenings, because drinking large containers of water has become a habit. Because I will habitually, ritualistically, addictively refill my large plastic tumbler with water and a few ice cubes and gulp it down, even at home. I am not exaggerating any of this. If I don't really, really remember to cut back by 8pm or so, I will indeed be awakened at least twice a night to get up to pee.

What d'ya have to say about that, Pollan?
posted by SoberHighland at 4:35 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I seem to be pretty sensitive to caffeine, a fact I did not discover until during/after college. Every time I went home to visit my parents, I would get these awful headaches and I could not figure out why. I actually thought maybe it was the sun (they had moved to Texas from Buffalo and the heat/sun was a level of intensity I had not previously experienced) or offgassing from materials in their newly built house. I don't know when exactly I figured out it was that every day in college I would get a large Coke from the dining hall with lunch but my parents were not big soda or coffee drinkers so it just naturally wasn't around the house.

Later, I was working at Starbucks in my 20s and wondering why I would wake up in the middle of the night with my breath feeling like fire. When I went to a doctor about it he looked at me like I had three heads and was like, "duh, that's heartburn?" I mostly worked opens so there were a few shots of espresso at 5 am but it's not like I was drinking any later in the day. Oh, and that's also when my jaw was constantly aching from clenching my teeth all day and night.

Since then I've gone through phases of tapering off and going without caffeine for long periods of time due to the reflux and jaw clenching, but I always end up going back to it. Mostly because I just really like the taste and the ritual. I tried becoming a tea person and I do enjoy a good tea but it's just not the same. Thankfully, I pretty naturally settle on one, maybe one and a half cups in the morning and that's it. I don't see myself giving that up at this point.

The nice thing about being sensitive to it is that I can leverage my sensitivity for focus (or managing undiagnosed ADHD, you decide) when I have days where I really need to get some shit done but am struggling. Just one extra cup or even half cup in the afternoon and things become sharper and procrastination is more easily overcome. Or I'll drink a Coke if I want to go out for the evening but am already tired enough for bedtime. But I do that maybe a handful of times a year because it definitely interrupts my sleep.

I honestly feel like as I get older, the side effects of caffeine have diminished, but the side effects of alcohol have increased significantly. Want to talk about disturbed sleep and acid reflux? That's me after a few beers at age 45.
posted by misskaz at 4:40 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


Ugh, I hope the coffee moralizing doesn't catch on any more than it already has. It's already very trendy to drink lemon water or green juice or whatever instead, and, just, no. I gave up coffee for a long stretch before and early in the pandemic because we were trying for a baby, and when that turned out to be much harder than anticipated, went back because I have so few vices, my god, let me enjoy this one thing. Plus I am also among the ranks of people self-medicating ADHD and I am noticeably worse at my job without my coffee. Just the smell of a coffee shop makes me feel better about life. I sat in one for the first time since COVID hit recently and it was magical being surrounded by that happy roasted air. Something's got to kill me and at least I'll enjoy myself more on the way there.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 4:47 AM on July 12 [13 favorites]


It's already very trendy to drink lemon water or green juice or whatever instead, and, just, no.

Guy I worked with for years found that while he liked coffee, he didn’t like the effects caffeine had on him. Everything else about the experience appealed to him, so every day he drank several mugs of hot water.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:54 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


Now that I work from home, I find that I drink much less coffee because I have to make it myself and pay for it myself.
posted by octothorpe at 5:06 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


One cup a day, every day, and that's it for me. Before the pandemic I would treat myself to a second on days when I had a meeting (which fortunately was only once a month or so).
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:06 AM on July 12


I've only ever had one cup of coffee in my life. I was 41 and it couldn't be avoided. Never liked the smell and was not surprised to find it tasted as bad as it smells.

Not being a coffee person is one of the best decisions I ever made, second only to making a conscious effort to become a morning person.

Admittedly, many women have refused to meet me for a date when they find out either of these things.
posted by dobbs at 5:19 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


Thanks for that dobbs - mini derail coming now - forgive me but there's two great new threads in your post dobbs;

"How I made a conscious decision to become a morning person," and no less,

" Many women refused to meet me for a date when they found out these things about me......"

I'm chuckling already at the kind of comments and personal anecdotes they'll trigger.
posted by dutchrick at 5:44 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I drank coffee sometimes at my last job. It was strictly for medicinal purposes, and generally taken black and dark.

That's about it.

Now, black cherry flavored squeeze bottles with caffeine that go into water? That... is a vice of mine.
posted by delfin at 5:52 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Just don't have any caffeine past noon then, if you can't sleep. Why the nuclear option of giving up caffeine? No need to over analyse
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:04 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I had to quit coffee for tea a few years back, after drinking a pot of coffee every morning for… my entire adult life and some of my teenage life. I feel a lot better (even if I’m still getting caffeine from tea) but the weirdest part was in the 6 months I was strictly tea-only, finding out I had deep, deep love for an icy can of Diet Coke and also I kind of loved the occasional sugar free Red Bull. Now I get coffee as a special treat or if I want to consolidate caffeine for an early morning run, and honestly just saying that makes me wonder what the hell I’ve become, in some ways my teenage self would be proud of the adult I’ve become but in ways like that she’d wonder what happened. Thank god I’m in charge now and she’s not. A Diet Coke is also a treat, but I haven’t gone back to Red Bull.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 6:06 AM on July 12


Because I was prone to miscarriages, I went off caffeine for all of my 12 pregnancies (don't worry, only ended up with 2 surviving kids.) With each pregnancy, as soon as it was over, that was the first thing I had - a cup of orange pekoe tea or coffee. I joked that it's a good thing I haven't tried many other drugs (except alcohol, which I don't find as addictive personally.)

I do limit it past noon, and the times that I've fallen into more than a cup or two -- especially when I was burning out at my job and kept visiting the free coffee machine as some kind of sacred space -- it's raised my anxiety level and kept me from sleeping well. It's definitely a substance I need to be aware of.

But I love it in just about all its warm forms. Turkish coffee, drip coffee from supermarket beans, chai, Earl Grey, whatever spot on the spectrum. If that's my vice, so be it. I don't like orthorexia.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:22 AM on July 12 [11 favorites]


I used to drink pots of tea (British style with cream and sugar) all day long, but switched over to black coffee. I'm down to 1 pot in the morning on most days - along with a small chunk of 70% chocolate as a chaser - but I observe that a cup of coffee in the evening usually puts me right to sleep rather than wakes me up!
posted by mfoight at 6:22 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Threads like this make me wonder if there is a place you can volunteer, register yourself or something as a subject for medical studies.

Because I drink a lot of coffee and have no trouble either sleeping or doing without it.
I like it as a drink, much more now that I can afford fancy beans and am working at home so can brew my own; but always preferred it to tea, even instant, despite being British. Right now I probably have 4-6 large mugs a day. I also drink it immediately before bed sometimes, an affogato or a milky coffee made with warm milk and instant granules. I then sleep for about 7.5 hours usually with no natural waking points, or just the one at almost exactly half way.

I have also - because someone challenged me to do it - gone without caffeine, for a maximum of 3 days. I felt fine. I don't find any correlation at all between coffee or tea or fizzy caffeinated drinks and my alertness. I genuinely thought for a long time that it was entirely psychosomatic on behalf of other people. It made absolutely no sense to me, the whole 'don't talk to me before coffee' thing.

Anyway, if anyone wants to experiment on me, I am here. (I still secretly think a lot of it is in people's minds, reinforced by cultural tropes and not actually pharmacological at all).
posted by AFII at 6:22 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I observe that a cup of coffee in the evening usually puts me right to sleep rather than wakes me up

If this (caffeine making you feel tired and calm rather than energised and awake) is a common occurrence, it might be worth getting checked out for ADHD/ADD. It's a fairly common symptom since many people with ADHD have lowered levels of dopamine, when you add a stimulant like caffeine it doesn't raise dopamine levels above the baseline like it does with neurotypical people, it just brings them in line with a normally functioning system, so your brain goes "oh okay, we can chill out now" rather than "let's do all of the things!!".

A friend of mine got diagnosed with ADHD after someone pointed this out to her and that having a cup of coffee to sleep better wasn't usually what it was for.
posted by fight or flight at 6:31 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


It's weird that people are so keen for coffee to be bad for you.

Not so weird when you realize the time, effort, money, and militarization of law enforcement that this country expended solely on the so-called War on Drugs. With the multigenerational efforts to quickly declare any and every recreational drug to be harmful and therefore in need of banning and criminalizing--except for alcohol, which we already tried, and settled for regulating and taxing--there's this nagging, pernicious feeling that caffeine can't be OK. That's why Hazelden, the well-regarded addiction treatment center, once tried banning coffee. Anyone who has ever been to a recovery meeting can guess how well that went.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:37 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


dobbs: Never liked the smell and was not surprised to find it tasted as bad as it smells.
Not being a coffee person is one of the best decisions I ever made


I'm not a coffee person either. It's not really a decision; I simply never liked the stuff. The weird thing is that I do like the smell, and things like coffee flavoured ice cream. But coffee? No, thanks, I'll pass.

It's not that I haven't tried it. I worked for several months on a farm where they grew chicory, and coffee was the drink of choice there; on my first day, I was asked what I would like to drink at coffee time, so I politely asked: could I please have tea? The farmer's wife said, in the dialect of the east of the Netherlands: Da's mi-j völs te lastig, drink mer gewoôn koffie. (That's too much of a fuss, just drink coffee.)
I did my best for a week or two, but still didn't like it, so I started bringing a thermos of tea.

That was more than 30 years ago. I can now stand chicory again. But coffee... I'll pass, thanks.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:43 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Coffee, for me, us usually too strong unless so significantly diluted with milk that it is the La Croix of latté.

I do find a measurably positive mood perk with an 11AM bevvie. However I rarely do this because nothing in my life is set up for easy, cheap coffee-that-is-brown-milk drinking. Regular coffee goes through me like turpentine through a sick donkey, and nobody needs that.

I drink black tea with similar dilution, once a day, in the morning, but don't seem to experience any side effects if I skip it. It's weird because it gives me a psychological comfort, like my body notably relaxes with bitter milky sipping.

What I do find challenging is that my body likes to perk up mostly awake at 6 AM naturally and will lean as early as 4 AM if that's where the sun rise is. It did this when I slept in a room with blackout curtains.

I then get a 10 AM hungry/tired crash. I sort of wonder if I switched to decaf tea if that crash would go away or if it is a circadian rhythm thing?

I tried coffee and caffeine pills in college and it didn't beat literally sleeping face down in my text book. Physical fatigue was in no way fixed and the pins and needles in limbs/sour stomach being too tired gives me are my main dislikes beyond lousy concentration, so I put that aside as a solution.
posted by Phalene at 6:53 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


This thread is too long. I finished my morning cup at least a dozen comments ago. Will refill and return.
posted by amanda at 7:06 AM on July 12 [13 favorites]


Metafilter: insert your own delicious poison here.
posted by datawrangler at 7:07 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Since I started ADHD medication, I've cut my caffeine intake significantly. If I do caffeinated coffee on the days I take my Vyvanse, I'll do half-caf. I just don't need all the jitters.
posted by SansPoint at 7:07 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I was about to gently chide all you fervent coffee drinkers... on the defensive... triggered by the mere suggestion of unhealthy addiction... but then I remembered the six bags of weed in my freezer.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:12 AM on July 12 [21 favorites]


I like Michael Pollan generally and I actually can't really drink coffee after noon without consequences myself. But I've just met *so many* people, even entire cultures it seems, who have a completely different interaction with coffee than me that it would seem completely foolish to try to generalize from myself, especially by cherry-picking the science. Which is pretty much how this article reads.
posted by advil at 7:16 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


Why the nuclear option of giving up caffeine? No need to over analyse

You realize this is Metafilter, right?
posted by fedward at 7:16 AM on July 12 [18 favorites]


Human response to caffeine is varied, and linked to genetics and often heritable. Tolerance or intolerance is like having red hair or brown eyes, it's simply who you are. Other factors like age and health play a role too, but genetics is a big part of it.

My mom's family, Icelanders, are famously tolerant. They'll have a couple of cup of coffee after dinner and still sleep without problems. My wife, on the other had, prefers not to have coffer after mid-morning to avoid sleep issues. I find myself closer to my maternal grandfather in tolerance, so I've had to adjust my habits to match hers after marriage---which wasn't a huge deal as coffee has never done that much for me anyway. I just like the taste of it.
posted by bonehead at 7:22 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


It’s 7:25am here and I just finished off the last sips of my wake-up Mocha Smoothie:
1 scoop Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder (Extreme Milk Chocolate)
2 tbsp soluble fiber powder
1 packet Taster’s Choice 100% Colombian Medium Roast Instant Coffee
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pinch of cinnamon
12 ounces water
30 seconds in the Nutri Bullet
posted by darkstar at 7:25 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I didn't realize beanplating could be about a plate of coffee beans.
posted by deadaluspark at 7:26 AM on July 12 [20 favorites]




I've never liked coffee. Started drinking it in architecture school because I thought it would help me pull my frequent all-nighters. It never really felt like it helped, so I switched to Coca-Cola and chocolate. I do find tea helps me focus when my brain feels fuzzy.
My wife loves coffee, so I started drinking a small espresso with her at breakfast, more as a social thing, until I started getting acid reflux. The only recent change in habits was the coffee.
Stopped drinking coffee, no more acid reflux.
posted by signal at 7:32 AM on July 12


I deliberately cut my coffee intake way down several years ago, so that I don't get as mad as often. (It worked!)

Also, I now grope for words pretty frequently, and my executive function is much worse than it used to be.

My family is happier with me not getting angry...but I feel like late-stage "Flowers For Algernon" a lot of the time. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 7:40 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I switched first to mixing my own 50/50 blend of caf and decaf when making coffee, then dropped the caf altogether. I don't get that short-term energy boost first thing in the morning any more, but then I don't get the 11:00am coffee crash either. And I sleep better at night.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:47 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I love coffee but it hates me in return. I have PVCs that, when they're bad, are exhausting. And caffeine makes them worse. So much worse. I also have a stomach reaction to too much caffeine that can only be described as apocalyptic and incredibly painful, so I've learned over the years exactly how much caffeine, from all sources, I can comfortably ingest. Full-caffeine coffee has been off the table for me for at least 15 years. I haven't had a decaf coffee in probably 13 months? Lately I can't even have more than one cup of tea in a day, let alone a cup of tea plus any other caffeine-containing food/drink, including sodas or chocolate.

So all of you who can have multiple cups of coffee per day and not experience a gastro-intestinal apocalypse or debilitating heart contractions? Must be nice. Pour a little out for me, next time.
posted by cooker girl at 7:54 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I keep hearing about how ground coffee is often moldy. But I thought the FDA cared about things like that. So which is it?
posted by aniola at 7:56 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I was definitely self medicating with caffeine for my undiagnosed ADHD. It certainly felt like it helped me get stuff done, sometimes, but mainly in large doses — anything less than a triple shot of espresso would just make me sleepy (the doctor who finally diagnosed me told me this was not an uncommon reaction for humans with ADHD).

Since diagnosis, I've been taking some variety or other of precribed amphetamines (dextroamphetamine being my fave). Which, let me tell you, work galaxies better at helping me get stuff done (except for when the depression pops up and nothing really helps until I get that back under control).

I find the interaction between amphetamines and caffeine to be really weird. As far as I can tell, they completely erase my caffeine addiction, but not my physical dependence. That is, I can forget to have caffeine and I don't miss it, but then around the time I haven't had any for a day, BOOM mega headache, sweating, nausea (which is how caffeine withdrawal always hit me). For bonus points, before amphetamines I would often have a small portion of coffee around bedtime to help me get to sleep (this totally worked,much to the bafflement of pretty much everyone who knew me, excepting my dad who sometimes did the same). In contrast, if I'm taking amphetamines, and I even smell¹ coffee after noon I'll probably be up until dawn² the next day unless I take a different pharmaceutical to knock myself out.

¹ somewhat hyperbolic
² not hyperbolic
posted by Craven Yeti Superstar at 7:56 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


For a long time I had steel-cut oats and black coffee for breakfast -- and my mid-forties metabolic slowdown was more than compensated for, ifyouknowwhatImean.

And I was hungry for lunch by 10AM!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:57 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


I've always had trouble sleeping and was in my 30s before finally being diagnosed with a sleep phase disorder (when I first sought treatment in college, they just blamed "college" and suggested progressive relaxation). Long before I had an actual diagnosis and prescription I could point to, I had already learned through experience that I had to be very careful with caffeine. It was "no caffeine after 4 PM," then "no caffeine after 2 PM," and then "no caffeinated soda with lunch" (at which point I also discovered that Coke – just Coke, not other sodas – was a major contributing factor for my frequent afternoon heartburn). By the time the doctor asked all the screening questions I was already limiting my caffeine intake the way he'd suggest as a behavioral change.

But then he said an interesting thing: a morning cup of coffee (specifically) was a good idea for managing the sort of sleep issues I have, because you can use that physiological dependence as an alarm clock that will keep waking you up in the morning even if you couldn't get to sleep the night before. I drink one 16oz mug of coffee a day, and I try to drink it as early as is practical, but the practical timing depends on the 30 minutes or more it can take me just to shake the fog off and get out of bed. When I had to commute to an office I'd make my half-sized French press of coffee in the break room and finish waking up while doing my morning email and task list triage.

In other words, on doctor's orders I'm managing my sleep disorder by taking a pill at night and a large coffee in the morning, and heaven help anyone who needs me to be alert and clear headed in between the two.
posted by fedward at 7:58 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


Also, caffeine never made me angry, but ceterizine (Zyrtec) totally does.
posted by Craven Yeti Superstar at 8:00 AM on July 12


coffee good. withdrawal bad. pollan... meh; i probably gotta read this before plotting it on the trendline-for-personal-embrace-of-pollan-just-now. have little but still more effusive gonzo tangential paeans to the bean to add to the foregoing, except to note that there is more to coffee than the available caffeine.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:04 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Walker's Why We Sleep that's referenced in the article, is highly recommended. It makes a compelling case that chronic sleep deprivation is one of the great modern health scourges (to tie it to another contentious current thread, I find myself wondering how much greater amounts of sleep deprivation in the world today contribute to higher rates of obesity, since healthy regular sleep is correlated with better regulation of pretty much every bodily process).

Caffeine's just one little piece of the overall constellation of sleep hygiene. It's worth looking into for folks, but it's more a supporting plank of everything going into steps taken for better sleep. (Regular schedule, physical activity in the day, so many etceteras.)

And yep, it's not so much that caffeine "gives you energy", speaking broadly, but more that it helps block fatigue signaling. But one of the things the book makes clear, that this Pollan piece doesn't as effectively, is that "sleep pressure" behind the caffeine in your system is still there, waiting to break through.
posted by Drastic at 8:05 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Human response to caffeine is varied, and linked to genetics and often heritable.

I was a kid in the 70s and my parents were very 70s in how much they chose to ignore any medical symptoms I might have as personal failings I just wasn't trying hard enough to overcome (hence the delayed diagnosis of my lifelong sleep disorder). By the same token they ignored my allergies until an ENT I saw in college said "why aren't you taking something for this?" He put me on a combo pill with an antihistamine and pseudoephedrine, and it wasn't long before I realized I couldn't take that if I actually wanted to get to sleep.

And then when I realized as an adult I probably had undiagnosed ADHD (again, 70s parents, plus a lack of associated destructive behaviors) my doctor put me on a trial prescription of Ritalin. Thanks to a racing heart and chest pains I can't take that either. I pretty much avoid all stimulants now except for my one morning coffee.

Who has two thumbs and has never had a Red Bull or any other energy drink? This guy.
posted by fedward at 8:26 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I also have the sort of brain chemistry where I can drink a redbull or whatever and then go to bed and sleep just fine. I don't really feel much of an active boost from caffeine at all. I would second the suggestion to get checked out for ADHD if this describes you. I waited too long and basically messed up my stomach to the point where I have to be super careful not to drink coffee on an empty stomach and I can only drink low acid preparations like pour over.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:27 AM on July 12


Five bucks says the part on mescaline's gonne be like, "It's good actually, unlike caffeine which gives you the jitters".

Well, if no-one else is going to write that article...
posted by pompomtom at 8:31 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Do his children weep sadly because Daddy is not there to pick them up from Little League, he's snuck off to that garden center for "just one more espresso"?

I learned it by watching you!
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:32 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I also have the sort of brain chemistry where I can drink a redbull or whatever and then go to bed and sleep just fine. I don't really feel much of an active boost from caffeine at all. I would second the suggestion to get checked out for ADHD if this describes you.

Yeah, it is a symptom of my ADHD. I don't seem to get headaches from withdrawal either. I'm not sure why I still drink caffeine, mostly just via some dumb crystal light flavor packets. I used to try to self medicate with an insane amount of caffeine via BANG energy drinks and crap like that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:32 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


If this (caffeine making you feel tired and calm rather than energised and awake) is a common occurrence, it might be worth getting checked out for ADHD/ADD.

In my younger, single years, I'd often listen to Slayer's Reign in Blood on earphones while falling asleep. What sort of disorder should I get checked out for?
posted by signal at 8:47 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


If this (caffeine making you feel tired and calm rather than energised and awake) is a common occurrence, it might be worth getting checked out for ADHD/ADD. It's a fairly common symptom since many people with ADHD have lowered levels of dopamine, when you add a stimulant like caffeine it doesn't raise dopamine levels above the baseline like it does with neurotypical people, it just brings them in line with a normally functioning system, so your brain goes "oh okay, we can chill out now" rather than "let's do all of the things!!".

My partner has this, and was constantly craving coffee, not for the energy, but for the brain-calming effects and subsequent mood boost. Got on ADHD meds and the cravings disappeared. Then insurance fucked up and they went without their meds for two weeks--constant cravings for coffee. This despite the fact that it never gave them any energy, and they didn't have a job that needed them to be more alert or anything--it was 100% to help them chill out.

If coffee works for you as a self-medication that's great! For them it was a bad fit because it triggered acid reflux, and it wasn't nearly as effective as the med they finally got on (though the first three meds they tried did basically nothing and the trial and error sucked). So, YMMV.
posted by brook horse at 8:49 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Next you're gonna tell me a drink of alcohol doesn't actually make you warmer.
posted by straight at 8:59 AM on July 12 [12 favorites]


I always drink coffee in the evening when I drink coffee at all; gave up morning coffee for tea in my late 30s. I suspect the half-life is something that varies by person, when I did drink coffee I could drink an entire pot and then be ready for a nap in a couple of hours.
posted by tavella at 9:04 AM on July 12


Armless Bandit! Empty your bladder of that bitter black urine men call coffee!

The Tick (ahhh memories)
posted by rozcakj at 9:07 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I have ADHD, and yes, coffee makes me feel calm and relaxed and more capable of facing the task ahead without anxiety/avoidance. To me, having ADHD is an extra good reason to drink coffee rather than a reason to avoid it... what am I missing??

I'm medicated for ADHD (ritalin), and generally can't drink coffee when my meds are active, but happily, my meds aren't the extended release kind and they wear off within 4-5 hours. So I take meds at 7 am, coffee in the late morning and right after lunch, my second dose of meds at 3 pm, and life is good, I tell you, life is good.
posted by MiraK at 9:08 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


As soon as I saw the headline, I knew this article was going to reference Walker and Why We Sleep. The problem is that this book...it is not correct.

If you read the article and cut out Pollan's anecdotes and this one alarmist researcher, it turns out that the takeaway is, "researchers think drinking some coffee or tea is fine and might actually be beneficial".

Publishing alarmist, incorrect research is much better for your career than being right and boring, and as much as I love Michael Pollan's books, he is 100% part of the problem.
posted by goingonit at 9:10 AM on July 12 [38 favorites]


(And yes, I'm also ADHD)
posted by tavella at 9:15 AM on July 12


I do miss the coffee/cigarette/pastry (or dry biscuit) breakfasts of my relative youth.

One of the greatest joys in life is to wake up on a brisk, chilly morning while camping in the woods, kindle a small campfire, brew a fresh pot of coffee, and then sit by the fire with a cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other while the world wakes up all around you.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:18 AM on July 12 [15 favorites]


The problem is that this book...it is not correct.

Well, Pollan is just playing the long game and his next book/article is "Somnolescent Addiction: Is it time to give up sleep?"

This is mentioned briefly in the article, but I do remember that coffee is said to inhibit creativity a little? I don't know if this is true and from what I've read this applies only to coffee and not tea. But that little known piece of info has kept my coffee consumption in check far longer than anything else. Though I usually drink only about 2 cups of coffee OR 2-3 cups of tea a day. Right now it's summer, so I'm usually drinking iced coffee daily (sometimes with plant milk, rarely with sweetener), but I'll switch to hot tea when the weather cools.
posted by FJT at 9:22 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Metafilter coming out strong against caffeine temperance.

Shocking, I know.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:32 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


The problem is that this book...it is not correct.

This has now been bookmarked to always mention in the same breath I ever mention Why We Sleep in the future, as an add-on "but always keep the downsides of pop-sci treatments firmly in mind" facet. (I pretty much suspect similar teardowns of fast-and-loose statistics and juking stats and massaged data apply to every pop-sci book.) Thank you!
posted by Drastic at 9:35 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


FJT: the only study I can find cited about caffeine and creativity is this one published last year.

I looked at the main results tables and tbh I don't think it shows very much of anything. They gave people caffeine tablets or placebos and asked them to solve problems. The way they distinguish between creativity and just cognitive speed is by having the subjects self-report whether they solved the problems via analytic thinking or a flash of insight. And it turns out that people who took the caffeine solve about 16% more problems total, a statistically significant difference. What % do they self-report are due to "insight"? Exactly the same (64% caffeine vs 64% placebo). But why is this being reported as "caffeine might make you less creative"? Because the difference in number of problems solved due to self-reported flashes of insight isn't statistically significant, but the difference in "total accuracy" is.

Note also that they ran a wide variety of stiatistical tests but did not do any multiple-comparisons correction, and if they did then they wouldn't have any significant results at all.

So I would put my mind at ease! It's possible that caffeine makes you less creative, sure, but there's no evidence in the literature for it.
posted by goingonit at 9:39 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Pff. Are you going to believe these bozos or America's foremost ballroom dancers?
posted by Naberius at 9:44 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Oh sure it starts with caffeine is bad for you and next thing you know crack, meth and regular cocaine will be illegal.
posted by interogative mood at 10:01 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


I'd like to see the research showing that waking up in the night reduces the amount of deep sleep you get. Is this only if you drink caffeine? What if you don't drink caffeine, would waking up several times still be a problem? Surely if you did wake up, you would be waking up at the end of a sleep cycle, that is, after being in REM sleep. I don't see why you would wake in the middle of a stage of deep sleep unless something woke you.
posted by mokey at 10:07 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Coffee has been good for me then bad for me then good me then bad for me in six month to two year intervals since I was about 16 years old. Whatever the quality of the current research, it was beneficial to me to consider the swing of the pendulum at this precise moment of the morning - I have finished this morning's first 8 cup French press of half-caf, and am craving a second while also trying to remember the second generally only makes me ill. And that furthermore, that I only switched over to half-caf on account of I was sick of getting sick off one pot.

Thing is, I haven't had any booze in something like 16 months. I'm not sure how long it's been exactly, because I wasn't trying to stop when I stopped but it was finally making me too sick too quickly and too often to continue, just mechanically and physically. It's not really that I quit drinking, it's that at least for now, I've finished. Reading Capitalist Realism around the same time may have helped. Something about "If the figure of discipline was the worker-prisoner, the figure of control is the debtor-addict" spoiled the good times in a lot of ways.

I don't think about booze anymore. Nor cocaine, nor cigarettes, not for a decade or more in either case. (Guess which one of those was harder to quit!) So I know I could quit coffee, or peanut butter, or streaming shows or playing games or any other void-papering habit by the same processes through which I left those others behind. But man, I don't know, I'm nostalgic almost for this lost faith in mere pleasure as a path to real release. I miss going home really believing that a new bag of weed or a dozen donuts was all it took to be happy all weekend. Pleasure is just pleasure, and only up to a point, and that sucks. Real satisfaction takes real risk and real work on things I give a shit about it turns out and I'm so annoyed that there doesn't seem to be any real way to get that consistently without damned experimentation, observation, failure, and repetition. I mean, I'm not getting any younger here!

So I'm not making another pot this morning and I'm not going to sulk with a mug of herbal tea either. Next time the void rumbles I'll do a round of bodyweight squats or finally finish putting these bookshelves together in the faith that I'll "feel like it" about halfway through the process, damn it all.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:10 AM on July 12 [7 favorites]


this thread inspired me to attempt to* book an appointment for ADHD meds while making a cup of coffee, so thank you Metafilter

* it is not going super well but that's a derail for an "American health care sucks" thread
posted by taquito sunrise at 10:10 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]



It's wierd that people are so keen for coffee to be bad for you.


Puritans gonna puritan.
posted by thivaia at 10:17 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


Or, you know, maybe it's bad for some people and not for others.
posted by aniola at 10:27 AM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure why the takeaway from coffee's long half-life (which I remember reading about years ago) is to quit and not resign coffee to the morning hours.
posted by coffeecat at 10:37 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


So this thread prompted me to try easing off on caffeine by switching from coffee to tea this morning. Gah! The lovely-but-thin mouthfeel of this high quality Earl Grey tea is no match for the thick, rich sensation of good black coffee. I'm having texture cravings more than caffeine cravings right now.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:40 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Puritans gonna puritan.

Well, the only American Christian religion that formally restricts caffeine is Mormonism, right? And even then, going from what I know and what I can Google it seems some believers take it more seriously than others.

I'm surprised we've gone this far without mentioning that, which might show there maybe aren't very many Mormons or even Jack Mormons here.
posted by FJT at 10:41 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


When I was right out of college, I started working at a job where the coffee was endless, pretty decent, and free. It helped my productivity a ton, so I just started keeping a big ol' mug of it on my desk pretty much all the time. As time went on and my caffeine tolerance increased, I just drank more and more of it to compensate, and dealt with the awful withdrawal headaches on days I couldn't caffeinate myself. Then I had a doctor ask me what my daily intake was, and I had to scratch my head and go actually measure it, and discovered I was approaching 3g/day. (LD50 of caffeine for a normal-sized human is ~7g)

Then my ADHD was diagnosed, and the medication meant I didn't have to have an IV drip of coffee to keep my neurotransmitter levels where they should be. Now I have a cup or two a day. My creative output is a little lower (and less manic) than it once was, but the mild heart arrhythmia also seems to have resolved itself, so we'll call it a win.
posted by Mayor West at 10:44 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Humorless prigs can try to pull my coffee mug from my shaky hands, but they'll just get burned. I advise a live and let live policy.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:44 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Well, the only American Christian religion that formally restricts caffeine is Mormonism, right? And even then, going from what I know and what I can Google it seems some believers take it more seriously than others.

I'm surprised we've gone this far without mentioning that, which might show there maybe aren't very many Mormons or even Jack Mormons here.


I mean formally, but there are a whole lot of people who think that too much enjoyment of anything is terrible. Anything beyond bare subsistence living is a luxury that humans should deny themselves.

I've gone through periods of my life of drinking absurd amount of coffee and caffeine in general. The times where it affected my sleep were when I was bordering on toxic levels, feeling dry and itchy and having strange dreams. I always thought it was weird that I never got the wake up feeling most people seem to get, it really felt like it just leveled me out.

Cue the pandemic and talking to someone about an ADHD diagnosis at long last, and turns out that Adderall is doing a better job of what I was using caffeine for.

I still drink coffee though, just a lot less of it.

Also, if caffeine causes problems for you, feel free not to drink it. Nobody else really cares, but the moralizing about caffeine before bedtime, etc etc, it's not great. I know a lot of people who can sleep soundly after an after dinner cappuccino.
posted by mikesch at 10:45 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


What *other* socially-acceptable recreational stimulant is there?

There's Modafinil, which is pretty easily available on the grey market. It seemed to be having a moment a few years (okay, maybe 10) back, at least among software developer types I knew at the time. I haven't heard too much about it recently though.

Supposedly Huperzine A (originally derived from some sort of Chinese moss) is a pretty decent over-the-counter stimulant, though I've never tried it. It has its adherents among the "biohacking" crowd, for whatever that's worth (not too much).

The elephant in the room though, when you're talking about legal, recreational stimulants, is nicotine. My view is there's been a lot of demonization of nicotine-the-chemical as a result of its notoriously poisonous delivery mechanisms. Separated entirely from tobacco and tobacco products, nicotine itself doesn't seem that much worse than caffeine. It's addictive, but so is caffeine (and so may be sugar); separated from the known harms of smoking, it's not clear that nicotine addiction alone is a particularly serious problem, except insofar as it might lead to smoking if you can't find lozenges or whatever. (A problem that would be solved by getting rid of cigarettes.) It's been pretty obnoxious to watch the goal post shifting by "anti-tobacco" advocates picking up the "anti-nicotine" banner as smoking has become less popular.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:47 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


Hey kids, fight over this all you want.
Anything that might prompt the return of the gold-can variant of Coca-Cola (no caffeine, regular sugar) would ultimately be a bonus.
posted by bartleby at 11:03 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


I am stupidly sensitive to caffeine and not in a good way. one 8oz cup in the morning and I am a jittery anxious mess. I do like the taste though, so I have a decaf every morning (Peet's makes some good ones)

the weird thing is that when I am in Italy I will have an espresso after dinner and it never affects me at all or impacts my sleep. the magic of Italy, I suppose...
posted by supermedusa at 11:03 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Speaking of moralizing and coffee, let's have a look at the labor conditions for coffee workers.
posted by aniola at 11:11 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I probably wouldn't give coffee a bad rap on that alone — just about everything we buy through supermarkets is obtained through locally and globally exploitative production and distribution networks.

Fairtrade is an option available to coffee drinkers who care about fair wages to producers, reducing price volatility, and encouraging environmentally-friendly harvest technologies.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:24 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


If I don't have my 3 PM cup of joe, I really struggle from the 5 PM happy hour to the 11:30 nightcap.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:35 AM on July 12 [15 favorites]


It's wierd that people are so keen for coffee to be bad for you.

I read arguments like Pollan's as part of the common mythology that if you just do everything absolutely right, absolutely perfect, A++ and 4.62 GPA...you won't ever die. You will have outsmarted God and/or biology and they will be forced to concede to your obvious superiority. You will win the opportunity to be very very old and extremely insufferable (that part kicks in really early), and that is...better...than living not quite so long and enjoying yourself at all, in any way, for even a moment.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:36 AM on July 12 [45 favorites]


I had decided to quit caffeine before reading this and it did strengthen my resolve. I'm one of those people who is highly sensitive to caffeine, as well as other things. Plus, I have anxiety and insomnia. I think these issues are all related to my autism. And the fact that caffeine never put me to sleep or calmed me, as well as the fact that Adderall did nothing for me, was part of the reason my ADHD diagnosis was changed to autism. But as everyone has pointed out, one size does not fit all. And coffee is delicious. So for those lucky enough to metabolize caffeine without getting jittery or sleepless, I toast you with my decaf.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 11:46 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: life is one thousand percent better with a mild dose of stimulant
Metafilter: breaking into cars to feed his flat white habit
Metafilter: can't be trusted around the Keurig anymore
Metafilter: Faintly moralizing? You astonish me.
Metafilter: very very old and extremely insufferable

I love this thread, coffee, and every one of you.
posted by theora55 at 11:53 AM on July 12 [31 favorites]


So this thread prompted me to try easing off on caffeine by switching from coffee to tea this morning.

Doesn't tea have more?
posted by thelonius at 12:09 PM on July 12


Doesn't tea have more?

By dry weight, yes, as I understand it. But based on how an "average" cup of coffee or tea is brewed, that cup of coffee will tend to have more. A cup of brewed tea is somewhere around 60-ish mg of caffeine, whereas a cup of coffee is usually just north of 100 mg.

*warms cold, dead hands with cup of coffee, glances around nervously*
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:12 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Here's the Mayo Clinic's table of caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:15 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


> Counterpoint: What *other* socially-acceptable recreational stimulant is there?

Antagonizingpoint: Lean into it. Instead of finding a different socially-acceptable stimulant (I don't think of coffee as recreational, given the industry dedicated to Monday-Friday morning habits), we can do caffeine in socially unacceptable ways instead. Instead of a cup at or two in the morning, get packs of caffeine pills, grind them up and snorting them. Stay up for days at a time hopped up on caffeine until your mind has only impulses left that would make a meth enthusiast proud. Try all the different brands at the store and develop totally unfounded stories about whos manufacturing process is better, and which one hits better. Put caffeine powder into small baggies and do key bumps in the bathroom and in the stairwell and in your car. Judge the weak for watering down their caffeine intake for not living their best life. Tell yourself your intake is not a problem. Crash hard, hit rock bottom. Go to coffee anonymous meetings Thursday nights at 7pm in the basement of a church. Stay clean and sober from coffee until you accidentally drink a cup of caffinated thinking it's decaf, and fall back into the hole.

Fuck what society thinks is acceptable. Be conscious of the harm that's occurring from your actions, both direct and indirect, but someone's going to judge you no matter what you do. You'll get judged for being able to afford $6 latte's M-F, or even 7 days a week. Others will judge you for having a cheap Lelit machine (which everyone knows is totally inferior to a perfectly setup La Marzocco machine) and refuse to drink caffinated swill out of a hotel drip machine. Others will sneer at the very idea of espresso, and Europeans (and immigrants, for that matter).

Sleep's what important here, and if your caffeine addiction's getting in the way of it, it's a problem and being socially acceptable doesn't make the addiction not problematic.
posted by fragmede at 12:18 PM on July 12 [9 favorites]


I like coffee so much I sometimes make instant coffee before I make real coffee.

And you better not take away my coffee. It would not end well for you. I will happily gnaw on your bones.

Someone should probably warn Michael Pollan that I'm coming for him to turn his bones into fertilizer for some coffee plants.
posted by loquacious at 12:32 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Instead of a cup at or two in the morning, get packs of caffeine pills, grind them up and snorting them. Stay up for days at a time hopped up on caffeine until your mind has only impulses left that would make a meth enthusiast proud. Try all the different brands at the store and develop totally unfounded stories about whos manufacturing process is better, and which one hits better. Put caffeine powder into small baggies and do key bumps in the bathroom and in the stairwell and in your car. Judge the weak for watering down their caffeine intake for not living their best life. Tell yourself your intake is not a problem. Crash hard, hit rock bottom.

What is this, college?
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:35 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


we can do caffeine in socially unacceptable ways instead
Look, I still have the better part of a kilogram of pure caffeine from experimenting in college, I'm way ahead of you there. It's not quantity I'm looking for, it's variety.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:43 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


The 2016 episode of "Say Why to Drugs" about caffeine helped me understand, among other things, how incredibly variable dosage can be; researchers have tried ordering the very same drink from the same café on different days and gotten drinks with wildly different amounts of caffeine.

(I want to read the book that sprung from the podcast; the podcast is excellent.)

Folks have mentioned the difficulty of turning down a customary cup of coffee, or getting tea when coffee is the default. One related problem that has popped up for me on visits to India is dealing with turning down multiple cups of tea:

* as a visitor from afar, I sometimes visit four or five homes in the course of a day
* however, social schedules change often, so during any given visit, I have little confidence in my own knowledge of whether I am visiting more houses later
* hosts often offer food to eat, as a matter of routine hospitality
* food is frequently available to eat (and will reliably be available for me to eat when I finish my rounds and return to home base) but appetite is, in the short run, a nonrenewable resource
* therefore, the more dangerous scenario is the one where I have eaten my fill and suddenly must confront a new host, an aunty or uncle eager to feed, who is hard to dissuade
* thus, the safer course for me is to always refuse food as vociferously as I can -- even if I am hungry
* but also: a host who wants to feed me has an interest in keeping me from visiting the next house on my schedule
* if I successfully plead my way out of eating a meal, the host will generally offer coffee or tea as a sort of concession/compromise -- like, surely I could at least have a cup of tea so as to accept their hospitality?
* jet lag requires me to be pretty careful with titrating caffeine consumption; hundreds of milligrams at unpredictable intervals will not help
* but if I say no to the food AND the coffee/tea I'm rejecting their hospitality TWICE which can be rude!
* The next step down from tea is Bournvita/Horlicks/Boost/milk, and then water; I can negotiate down to water

Fortunately, on all my recent trips where I did these kinds of visits, I was always accompanied by relatives who possessed finesse and were willing to spin outright lies. "We JUST ate lunch!" "Oh, I can't have sweets at all, the doctor says." "She's still unwell from the airplane trip from America and can only eat soups." (Of course all the hosts knew they might be lying, and thus we ended up turning down already-poured glasses of juice and multi-food snack platters.)
posted by brainwane at 12:45 PM on July 12 [12 favorites]




if we're talking about socially unacceptable ways of consuming caffeine...

Back in the 90s there was a product called Polar Bear Snuff, which was basically powder mostly made of anhydrous caffeine and menthol that you were meant to insufflate.

Both Polar Bear Snuff and a related product —EnerB Nasal Gel— were taken off the market after a court ruled that you couldn't sell as a nutritional supplement a product that was meant to be administered nasally.
posted by thedward at 1:12 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


"sleep pressure" behind the caffeine in your system is still there, waiting to break through.

I’m still not getting what this is supposed to mean that’s counterintuitive. That you’ll be tired again when the caffeine wears off? Of course, also good, considering sleep concerns. That caffeine doesn’t buy you an exemption from the effects of sleep deprivation in the long run? Again, obviously not?
posted by atoxyl at 1:14 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Someone should probably warn Michael Pollan that I'm coming for him to turn his bones into fertilizer for some coffee plants.

This is just to say...

loquacious, you made my day. Fortunately for my monitor and keyboard, I had no coffee in my mouth when I read your comment
posted by treepour at 1:16 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


the difficulty of turning down a customary cup of coffee

There was a time I did not like coffee. I even had a friend who worked for a coffee roaster who kept trying to send me free coffee, and I always turned it down. Then I went on a group trip to Germany, and the person who arranged the trip had made arrangements for local hosts in his German home town. The town was on the border with what was still Czechoslovakia, so we flew into Frankfurt and drove rental cars all day in heavy snow, finally arriving in the very late afternoon. One of the host families, in fact the family in whose home I'd be staying, set out a welcome table of food and offered coffee. There was no polite way to say no to this coffee, so I drank it. The next morning they remembered that I'd had the coffee the previous day so they made sure I got enough. Turning this coffee down would have created its own problem, so again, I drank it. This initial politeness I was too polite to refuse kept compounding, and by the end of the trip I was a regular coffee drinker.

When I got back home I told my friend who worked at the coffee roaster to start sending me samples, and the dude sent me eight pounds. By the time I got through all that I was definitely a coffee drinker. For years, every time he sent me "samples" he'd send eight pounds. He warned me that the packages might be open by the time they got to me, because he swore drug dealers liked to ship their stuff in coffee, and thus packages of coffee would be manually inspected in transit. I don't know if this was true or just a coffee roaster urban legend. None of his packages to me ever seemed to have been opened.
posted by fedward at 1:22 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Look, I still have the better part of a kilogram of pure caffeine from experimenting in college, I'm way ahead of you there. It's not quantity I'm looking for, it's variety.

Oh no, I've seen how this party ends and it isn't pretty. I know someone that also had an enormous quantity of pure crystallized caffeine and was doing stuff like making saline solution with it so one could snort it nasally.

That might be one of the only times in my life where I experienced a legit caffeine overdose. It was rough. So dizzy and unpleasant for so many hours.

The only other time I came that close to a caffeine overdose was the day I discovered a drink in a local coffee shop that they were calling a "pinball". It was six shots of espresso poured into a giant bowl-sized cup of drip coffee. It was basically a redeye on crack. I think I had something like 5-6 of those damn things before I realized I had overdone it, and with the half life of caffeine being what it was it was far too late to do anything about it. Oh dear.


On a tangent on the industrial chemical supply for recreational purposes side of thing, I also knew someone who managed to get their hands on a 16 ounce jar of pure dextromethorphan powder. We never did finish that damn thing before we outgrew robotripping and got bored with it. But it sure was a much safer, easier way to do such a thing compared to drinking an entire bottle of cough syrup.

That was also how we learned that some people are lacking in a certain enzyme or metabolic pathway to efficiently process DXM. We had a very, very experienced deadhead friend who thought nothing of eating way too much acid or mushrooms or both, so we thought he'd be fine with the experience.

He was not. He was very much not ok with it. He was uncomfortably high for over 72 hours on what would be considered a beginners starter dose where most people would be done with the trip within 4-6 hours, except he was basically experiencing something like an extended ketamine hole.

In hindsight we learned that this lack of ability to metabolize DXM and is very much a known thing with some people, and last time I looked at the studies it was about as common as 1 person in 25 or so. We'd just been lucky enough to not previously find that one person in 25 in our exploration of that chemical, and of course it had to be the one person in our peer group that was probably the most comfortable with psychedelics and research chemicals in general.
posted by loquacious at 1:28 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I quit coffee cold turkey about 10 years ago, and immediately started sleeping better at night, and my GERD improved dramatically too. I limit coffee to traveling now, because it's impossible to get a decent cuppa tea in the US, unless you make it yourself at home.
posted by COD at 2:25 PM on July 12


In fairness to Pollan, I don''t think he's being all that anti-coffee - the headline's maybe a tad misleading.

This is an excerpt from a longer just-released book on ingesting psychoactive plants, and while he's maybe more than a little credulous about this Walker character's "Caffeine Is The Root Of All Evil" schtick ("single-minded in his mission: to alert the world to an invisible public-health crisis, which is that we are not getting nearly enough sleep, the sleep we are getting is of poor quality, and a principal culprit in this crime against body and mind is caffeine" sounds like a crank to me), I feel like mostly Pollan is doing his Pollan thing, which is basically just try stuff and write about what happens.

In this case it's, "I'm writing about psychoactive plants, there's one - coffee - which is more than socially acceptable to ingest all day every day, and since I'm ingesting it all the time myself I guess the way to see what effect it has on me is to stop taking it and see what happens."
posted by soundguy99 at 3:19 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


I think there is a very tricky way coffee can become an addiction.

We all know coffee promotes bowel movements, right? often almost immediately, and somewhere I have a bookmark to a study which purports to demonstrate that's not due entirely to caffeine by showing that decaf has similar but not quite as strong effects on coffee-naive rats.

And we are similarly aware that opioids can be constipating, sometimes very constipating.

It's only one small step from these two facts to wonder whether endogenous opioids can also modulate bowel movements. I've collected a few anecdotes to this effect, and there's also the unlooked-for but in retrospect not too surprising effectiveness of opioid blocker naltrexone in treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

So I think what can often happen is that your body withholds endorphins to get you ready for a bowel movement, you then drink coffee and have the bowel movement (some conditioning undoubtedly enhances this) -- and then the endorphins come flooding back.

And now your body associates drinking coffee with a big hit of opioids, albeit endogenous opioids.

Voilà!: you have become a coffee addict. Hoist by your own petard.
posted by jamjam at 3:20 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


If this link is nested somewhere up there 👆, my apologies, but this 3 min video "Your Brain on Coffee" does a fabulous job of explaining the way caffeine affects your sleep receptors, etc.
posted by jeremias at 3:24 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I’ve quit caffeine a handful of times - when I was younger, I’d gradually increase my coffee intake and when I was drinking more than I was comfortable with (probably 8+ cups a day) I’d cut down to zero and start over again.

My method for quitting caffeine without a withdrawal headache is to start by drink half as much coffee as you usually drink, and unlimited black tea - if you’re craving caffeine, the black tea will prevent a headache, but you probably won’t drink quite enough to make up for the coffee you’re not drinking. Once you’ve been doing that for several days, switch to one big cup of coffee and unlimited black tea. Several days later, one small cup of coffee and unlimited black tea. Then, just unlimited black tea. Then, do the whole thing over by cutting down black tea and replacing it with green tea. Once you’re down to one cup of black tea and unlimited green tea, you go to just green tea. Then, do it a third time, but with herbal or decaf tea gradually replacing the green tea. It takes a couple weeks this way - so not the method to use if you’re in a hurry - but I’ve always found it totally painless.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:29 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


Seems like you'd need lots of coffee to be able to keep track of that convoluted process...
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:49 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I will mention one thing. When you are fasting for labs, especially your yearly labs, drink plenty of water the day and night before, even the morning, but no coffee or caffeine-full clear liquid beverages. The caffeine will make your blood pressure higher, and being dehydrated for yearly labs, makes all values higher, since the solution they are testing is more concentrated. Your iron might look great, but your cholesterols will be high, sugar will be higher, maybe not the A1C because it is measured over time. Anyway. I might dump the caffeine, and that is probably why I filled my coffee drawer with several pounds of the stuff. I want to sleep well.
posted by Oyéah at 4:06 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


As soon as I saw the headline, I knew this article was going to reference Walker and Why We Sleep. The problem is that this book...it is not correct.

Uh... I'm going to need a better source than a polyphasic sleep evangelist and big fan of Scott Adams and Jordan Peterson before I accept a blanket dismissal of Walker. Alexey Guzey appears to be a pants-on-head crank whose ox got gored.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:10 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


I've never been more than a two cup a day person. Even so, about fifteen years ago, due to a few annoyingly persistent health concerns, I decided to quit everything for a while (alcohol, caffeine, marijuana, other occasional options) ... and coffee was by far the hardest to deal with. Booze -- I just didn't socialize as much. Marijuana -- I ended up reading more. Other stuff -- no all nighters. But that first cup of coffee in the morning cup -- I never stopped missing it. My brain didn't seem to know when it was officially awake anymore. And then, after a few months, I started up again and everything's been fine since.

So yeah, I don't for a second doubt that the caffeine is addictive, or certainly effective toward reliably getting me into functional mode after a night's sleep. But other than one cup first thing in the morning (not that big but definitely strong) and then another after lunch -- I neither need nor want any more. If that's an addiction, I can live with it. I am living with it.
posted by philip-random at 4:17 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I'm going to need a better source than a polyphasic sleep evangelist and big fan of Scott Adams and Jordan Peterson

I pretty much stopped taking him seriously when I saw he'd linked to Hacker News and the Slate Star Codex subreddit at the top, but thanks for backing up the conclusion to which I jumped.
posted by fedward at 4:35 PM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Any thoughts about caffeine and coordination? I've got a friend who would give up caffeine before martial arts tests.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:36 PM on July 12


When you are fasting for labs, especially your yearly labs, drink plenty of water the day and night before, even the morning, but no coffee or caffeine-full clear liquid beverages. The caffeine will make your blood pressure higher, and being dehydrated for yearly labs, makes all values higher, since the solution they are testing is more concentrated.

Caffeine is not dehydrating, particularly not in people who consume it on a regular basis, and while it is a diuretic, it is not a strong enough diuretic to negate the fact that coffee is water. This claim is easily debunked with the most rudimentary of google searches.
posted by obfuscation at 4:45 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Lentrohamsanin and fedward: I'm not vouching for Guzey as a person or for his friends or politics or reading list, but the work that he's put in on Walker is solid.

If we look at the quote from Walker in the article, "The shorter you sleep, the shorter your lifespan", this view is very clearly not supported by the literature. Risk of death bottoming out at about 7 hours of sleep a night across the population has been well-established for at least 15 years -- I remember learning it in college -- and while this doesn't establish a causal relationship, it makes it pretty untenable to just flat-out state that sleeping less shortens your life. Guzey cites his sources.

If you need someone with acceptable politics to back him up, I suggest Columbia University statistics professor Andrew Gelman. He has written on this subject a few times (just search "Walker" in his blog) and his comments section has some interesting discussions of the situation -- are some of Guzey's criticisms too tendentious (e.g. should it count that yeast don't sleep) or are they fair, etc.

I too am sad that it takes the work of cranks and outsiders to expose shoddy work! I wish that claims like this didn't make it into the literature in the first place! But Guzey's claims just sit there, un-rebutted, while Matthew Walker spends his time giving lectures and writing articles about how sleeping too little will kill you.

I know we're all having fun talking about coffee, but at some point the fact that this assertion is factually wrong should matter, right? ....right?
posted by goingonit at 4:49 PM on July 12 [5 favorites]


My family grew coffee. Tons of the stuff.

We would drink two cups with dinner. A cup or two for breakfast, and of course some at the office.

We would complain about the quality, but even so, drank our many cups a day.

No, it is not alertness, but a social tool, a lubricant that is accepted in a work environment, a safe activity with a potential partner, accompanying aromas when browsing books and flirting with a person that might be more than a friend.

Yes, I will live a shorter life. But it will be happy.
posted by kadmilos at 4:55 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


Since many of us are venting our spleens about how annoying the latest, breathless moral panics are, can I just add the concept of "sleep hygiene" to that list? If you are one of the lucky ones who doesn't have to get up in the middle of night to pee and you don't have trouble falling back asleep regardless of whether or not you've had caffeine... good for you.

If you're going to shame me for my lack of solid sleep, might as well talk to my bosses, talk to the civil unrest in this world, talk to global environmental catastrophes that are unfolding around us, talk to any number of the seemingly uncountable things that keep me awake at night, and implore them to stop their nonsense. How anyone who isn't completely off-grid can get a decent night's sleep on a regular basis is beyond me.
posted by treepour at 5:02 PM on July 12 [17 favorites]


METAFILTER: I will live a shorter life. But it will be happy.
posted by philip-random at 5:29 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


How anyone who isn't completely off-grid can get a decent night's sleep on a regular basis is beyond me.

I gave up and stopped caring about all that stuff you mentioned, but I recognize that my method isn't really scalable.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:33 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


Any thoughts about caffeine and coordination? I've got a friend who would give up caffeine before martial arts tests.

A couple thoughts:

- It's easier to recall information when you're in the same mental state you were in when you originally learned the material.

- Maybe caffeine makes their response time for sparring a little faster, their forms a little tidier. I could see wanting to pass those tests under your own steam.
posted by aniola at 6:35 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Ok like we all know Advil is a thing right? Like if you get withdrawal headaches then take an Advil that afternoon and few days later voila you’re over the worst of it. Right? Am I missing something. Because that’s what works for me.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:07 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


We’ve moved way past plates.

Metafilter: overthinking a cup of beans.

(delicious, life sustaining beans)
posted by Ghidorah at 7:35 PM on July 12 [2 favorites]


Diet Coke is my caffeine delivery vehicle of choice. I've quit caffeine several times, both cold turkey and tapering off. At the worst of my caffeine addiction, I was working for the student newspaper and buying two liters of Diet Coke at the student union, and drinking straight from the bottle so nobody would ask me to share. Every single night that I worked. (Also SmartFood white cheddar popcorn to go with every two liter, THAT STUFF IS LEGIT SCHEDULE 1.) I realized I had to cut back when I got up early one morning to study for a test (usually my pre-med roommate was awake and gone before I crawled my newspapering carcass out of bed at 10 a.m.), got a Diet Coke from our dorm fridge, and cracked it open at like 6 a.m., and my roommate called accusingly from our bunkbeds, "IS THAT A DIET COKE?"

I paused for a long moment, panicked, realized she couldn't see me from the bed, and answered, "... no?"

Basically the first thing I did when I was pregnant and they told me I could have one cup of coffee per day was calculate how many Diet Cokes worth of caffeine were in one cup of coffee. You can "officially" have 200 mg of caffeine per day when pregnant and Diet Coke has 46 mg per 12 oz, so basically 4 1/4. I limited myself to two. But my doctor said, "The rec is 200 but most people have at least 600 and lie about it."

I have had terrible insomnia basically my entire life -- I can remember lying awake when I was 7 years old and listening to the cars go by on a nearby busy street -- and I have never had a difference between sleep while using caffeine (even quite late at night) and sleep when not using caffeine. I even had a sleep study done when not using caffeine, and I was given a sedative to help me sleep, and I DID NOT SLEEP because it was a strange bed and I was wired up with a billion wires and WHO CAN SLEEP LIKE THAT? and the sleep study people got mad at me because I didn't sleep so they got no data. I 100% believe that caffeine interferes with sleep for a lot of people! But I also think that insomnia is not as simple as "remove caffeine, don't use screens before bed, and practice good sleep hygiene." For some people, one or some combination of those things work! For others, it doesn't seem to make much/any difference.

Anyway, now that I'm in my 40s, I still drink a couple/few Diet Cokes per day for the caffeine and the taste. But although I love tea, I avoid caffeinated tea, because one black tea makes me jittery AF for HOURS. (I do like my tea strong.)

I assume I'm going to die of whatever you die of from drinking 10 Diet Cokes per day in your 20s. But I won't mind, I like the taste of caramel-colored aspartame.

I remember reading a theory, years ago (and I have no idea if it's legit or totally nuts), about menopause and insomnia. Basically, it drew on the fact that humans and a very small handful of whales experience menopause; otherwise, female mammals keep reproducing until death -- and/or die when they stop reproducing. So there must be (they said) an evolutionary value to menopause. So, the theorists posited, post-menopausal grandmothers who wake easily in the night and tend to fussy babies (and/or are alert to tiger attacks) are evolutionarily valuable, because they improve the health of mothers and babies (and/or protect from tiger attacks). It seems to me the fact that it's humans and whales who experience menopause might suggest that passing on culture is so evolutionarily valuable that feeding post-reproductive females is worthwhile. But these theorists thought that the high prevalence of insomnia in post-menopausal human females was itself adaptive. I do think about that a lot, especially since my mom came to stay with me after each of my babies, and coped a lot better with disrupted sleep cycles than my husband and I did. (I mean, I was recovering from giving birth, so NATURALLY I needed sleep, but my husband was just a complete wreck without sleep, and that seems like a really common story.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 PM on July 12 [4 favorites]


When my wife sent me this article I skimmed over it quickly--MIchael Pollan--check--don't drink coffee--check, and hurriedly posted it because I wanted to see what shape the resistance would take among presumably avid coffee drinkers. And I've learned a lot so far, from those who have quit to those who manage their use. I feel like we need a separate discussion about getting up to pee at night at a certain age, and anxiety and sleep.

Personally, I have problems with anxiety, which leads on occasion to waking up at 4:00 a.m., peeing, and then sitting in bed while my mind races until we get my daughter up at 6:30 for high school. If I go to sleep earlier to provide myself with a buffer of sorts (waking up at 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., then getting more sleep before 6:30 a.m.) then I hear the rest of my family stomping around until 11 pm. I try to follow sleep protocols, like dimming the lights and calming down slowly, but then someone walks in and turns the lights fully on because "I'm not ready to go to bed yet." When I get a full night's sleep, and wake up rested, 1-2 times a month, it feels like a miracle and a furiously try to recall every possible variable that led to the miracle sleep--did I eat carbs before bed time? Was it removing electronics from the room? Is it because my partner was in a good mood? Who knows.

My caffeine of choice is ZipFizz, a combination of Guarana (organic caffeine), B vitamins and L-theanine from green tea. It tastes like liquid baby aspirin, and provides a smooth, even buzz with a very gradual come down, and no jitters to speak of. I crave the light euphoria that it creates, to the point that I try to go as long as possible without taking any so it hits harder when I do. I've also tried Crio Bru, which is roasted cacao nibs, but it gives me an unfocused jolt of energy, when taken with cream on an empty stomach. I have been diagnosed with ADHD, but the come down from methylphenidate is too abrupt and leaves me irritable, but my family would argue that I'm irritable anyway and that they don't notice. Also the day after I take it my brain feels like a wrung out dish sponge.

Oh, and on bad sleep days I'll take my ZipFizz with some CBD oil (hemp derived) that I made with shake and trim from a supplier in Oregon, $60 a lb. The stuff I make is too strong, so it's tricky not taking too much. We are probably switching over to a commercial blend, just because it is more consistently dosed. So I feel like my adult life has been an attempt to mitigate my brain chemistry. When I was young I would eat enormous amounts of bread and milk, which I now realize was an attempt to create a tryptophan machine.

I didn't recognize the low buzz of anxiety for what it was until I went overseas and the resulting stress led to dizziness, so I was afraid to climb onto the roof of our villa, and fell down at the university while walking around during the call to prayer.

So, caffeine, sleep, anxiety, insomnia, the interplay of those four is interesting, and was really foregrounded in this discussion.
posted by mecran01 at 9:02 PM on July 12 [6 favorites]


I love coffee. I have loved it since I started going to coffee houses at 14. I’ve made it at home every coffee-snob way possible. In my 40’s I had to stop drinking it after noon, or it messed with my sleep.
A three week trip to Ireland in the 90’s got me into a serious black tea habit that lasted about a decade. The I went to work for a Large Coffee Company and switched back to coffee.
Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and the chemo fucked up my bowels so badly I didn’t dare drink coffee. I got back into it (1 cup a day, first thing in the morning) during 5 weeks of radiation treatments. Then I had to use it more sporadically while on an oral chemo drug that irritates the intestinal lining.
I’m finally out of treatment (for a whole week now!) and man, do I love and appreciate my morning coffee. That is all.
posted by dbmcd at 10:17 PM on July 12 [20 favorites]


Metafilter: an ennui machine with most of the RAM physically removed


(sweet baby Jesus what a wonderful and hilarious thread this is)
posted by armoir from antproof case at 11:58 PM on July 12 [8 favorites]


P.S. PSA Caffeine + Bipolar , a delicate dance. “Ask me how I know!”
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:00 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I love coffee and drink lots of it. I'm at a loss why the author needs this to be a bad thing. I want to be accommodating and feel bad about myself, but I just don't have it in me right now. Maybe after coffee.
posted by dmh at 12:16 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Oh and like my meditation career as a parent of small children is thanks almost entirely to caffeine. Like my mid afternoon cup will be the substantial cause of my own enlightenment. I dose it just right so my post child bedtime meditation is actually fruitful.

Once I was meditating at 930pm and like within a few minute period my concentration became so fine and so crisp and I was like wow I’m finally getting good at this…. Check my watch… no the caffeine is hitting your bloodstream you numbnutz

There’s the story of the monk who couldn’t stay awake during meditation so he cut off his own fukkin eyelids and they fluttered down into a boiling cup so he drank it (because that’s what you do in a hardcore zen fable I guess) and lo and behold his meditation was a success and tea was born.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:26 AM on July 13


I like coffee a lot, too much probably. It almost killed me once when I was young and helped but me into the hospital again when I got older but I keep drinking it cuz there's not many things on Earth I like better. Hanging out in diners and coffeeshops has taken up a enormous portion of my life and spending money on coffee has taken up a ludicrously disproportionate amount of my often very limited income, but I regret none of it.

I work nights and mostly sleep days and I often start my days with decaf and work up to more caffeine as the day goes on and usually drink a large iced coffee right before going to bed. I've never had any trouble sleeping, mornings, afternoons, or night time at any point in my life, no matter how much coffee I was drinking or how unusual my sleep schedule might be, so at least that part has never been a concern.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:30 AM on July 13


As a teen I drank many Cokes, and much coffee. All was well. At nerd summer camp (on a college campus) I was staying up too late anyway, and I tried a No-Doz.

I awoke in the wee hours to a damp pillow: it was soaked in my own blood, because a nosebleed had started while I slept.

Unaware of just how gory things were, I extracted the pillow from under my girlfriend's head and snuck to my own room to clean up. Reader, that (nauseatingly heavy) pillow went into the garbage, and I was looking over my shoulder for the rest of camp, expecting to be confronted for concealing a murder.

No more No-Doz for me.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:58 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


I awoke in the wee hours to a damp pillow: it was soaked in my own blood, because a nosebleed had started while I slept.

I get that most Summers, caffeine or no.
posted by pompomtom at 7:20 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Usually two mugs of black a day, sometimes three. Love it. Have always liked the smell of fresh brewed coffee since I was a kid.

Weird thing about my addiction healthy loving relationship with coffee is that it didn't start until I was in my early 40s. Didn't drink any caffeinated beverage before then, and only coffee since.

–––––

Good decaf may be hard to find, but it does exist. I like Taylor Lane In Sonoma.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll


For those in Australia, CoffeeSnobs has the best decaf I have found here. Can get it green or roasted.
posted by Pouteria at 7:30 AM on July 13


I never have been a coffee drinker but I have drank Diet Coke for decades. Coke Zero has crept in the last ten years and I'm having one now. I probably drink about three cans a day, my last is in the late afternoon. I have ADHD and despite it not having as much caffeine as coffee it does give me a little focus and energy. I do take melatonin to go to sleep because even without caffeine my brain races like a madman when I lay in bed. The melatonin just kicks me down long enough for the sleep to take hold.

My family is all Scandinavian-American and coffee is a sacred privilege. It probably says that in the Lutheran hymnal or catechism. "Moderation in all things, except coffee. This is most certainly true." I've seen my aunts fire up a pot at eleven pm during holiday gatherings. It's weak stuff that they brewed at night but still, I never heard any complaints about going to sleep. If they got up to pee, it wasn't confided in me.

I've always heard coffee drinkers confess that an early morning jolt will guarantee they poop before leaving home instead of at work. Because, who the hell wants to poop at work? Is this true?
posted by Ber at 7:38 AM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Like many, I consumed an awful lot of this stuff when I was younger. Especially when doing shift work.

Like many, I cut down on quantity a lot after getting older. Still love the taste, but now one modest cup in the morning. Switched to tea for lunch.
posted by ovvl at 7:51 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Have always liked the smell of fresh brewed coffee since I was a kid.

That reminds me of my very first taste of coffee. I grew up in a Mormon family, and yet I already knew I liked the smell of coffee.

I think I was like 10-12 years old and in the day's junk mail there was a flyer with a sample of instant coffee attached to it. For some reason I really wanted to try it and I basically bugged my mom about it until she relented.

But I think she was trying to make it as awful an experience as possible, so she put too much of the instant coffee in a spoon and added just enough water to make it a syrupy liquid, likely trying to make it as bitter as possible like she was offering a spoon full of cough medicine.

Turns out I love bitter tasting things, and I loved the taste of that far too strong and cold instant coffee. I still remember her eyes going wide with alarm and an expression of "Oh dear, what have I done!? This was a mistake!" as I grabbed and wrestled the spoon out of her hands and licked it clean and and going YUUUUUM.

I must have had the same reaction that a hungry dog does when you offer them a whole hot dog, or yogurt to a pet rat, like going from curious to ravenous and grabby in a split second.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was sneaking off to the local convenience store before school and getting my own coffee. And just a couple of years after that I was having morning coffee with my ex-mormon dad before work, but even he was a little alarmed that I liked even really bad convenience store coffee black so much.

I still have a thing for cold instant coffee.
posted by loquacious at 8:21 AM on July 13 [13 favorites]


[R]esearch suggests that insufficient sleep may be a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, arteriosclerosis, stroke, heart failure, depression, anxiety, suicide and obesity.

Oh, great. Just the sort of thing that somebody prone to worry-based insomnia needs to hear. "If I don't fall asleep now, I'm gonna die young."

“How many times a night do you wake up?” he asked. I’m up three or four times a night (usually to pee), but I almost always fall right back to sleep.

He nodded gravely. “That’s really not good, all those interruptions. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity.”


Serious question: are there grown adults who sleep straight through the night? To the best of my knowledge, I haven't done this during this millennium. It doesn't matter whether I avoid caffeine and alcohol or not.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 8:34 AM on July 13 [8 favorites]


I've always heard coffee drinkers confess that an early morning jolt will guarantee they poop before leaving home instead of at work. Because, who the hell wants to poop at work? Is this true?

Yes, but in "only 30, maybe 40, percent of the population." Different, non-paywalled blog post. There's a scientific study that seems to get cited a lot, but nobody quite understands why coffee stimulates peristalsis. I'm sure scientists will eventually get to the bottom of it.
posted by fedward at 8:58 AM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Serious question: are there grown adults who sleep straight through the night? To the best of my knowledge, I haven't done this during this millennium. It doesn't matter whether I avoid caffeine and alcohol or not.

What does it mean to "wake up"

Like, I wake up, turn over, and go back to sleep probably 10-20x/night
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:13 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Serious question: are there grown adults who sleep straight through the night?

Yep. Despite as stats-massaging as Walker's work may be, starting to sleep better again as an adult definitely correlated with better sleep practices for me (cutting out afternoon caffeine, drinking alcohol in much more moderation than my yute, making the effort to reduce time looking at screens in the hour or so before bed), which of course fueled right into how compelling I did find it.
posted by Drastic at 9:15 AM on July 13


Yes, I sleep straight through the night almost every night.
posted by brainwane at 9:25 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Serious question: are there grown adults who sleep straight through the night?

I usually do, yes, unless I've had alcohol with dinner or after, or I'm sick.
posted by cooker girl at 9:35 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Once I'm asleep I generally sleep through the night because my primary problem is sleep onset and not sleep maintenance. I do take trazodone with (what is still, somehow) an off-label prescription though, so I can't say if I'd be sleeping through the night without it. I tend toward a secondary problem with sleep inertia (difficulty waking up fully in the morning), and that was made worse by the zolpidem (Ambien) I used to take. Trazodone doesn't make my sleep inertia worse in the same way. And as mentioned above, my sleep specialist actually recommended morning coffee because a mild dependency on it can be helpful if timed well.

Getting off twitter probably helped me too. No more doom scrolling every night. If I look at my phone or iPad at all in bed, it tends to be the NYT Crossword app, because doing that tends to be more calming than stimulating.
posted by fedward at 9:39 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Because, who the hell wants to poop at work?

Everyone who revels in the fact that you sit on the potty while still getting paid.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:00 AM on July 13 [13 favorites]


Boss makes a dollar,
I make a dime.
That's why I poop
On company time.

(source unknown)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:41 AM on July 13 [10 favorites]


I still remember the time our labs' break room ran out of caff, and a nonaddicted lab assistant "helpfully" made a pot of decaf in a caff pot. She was eventually busted after several of us compared headaches.
posted by whuppy at 10:41 AM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Like, I wake up, turn over, and go back to sleep probably 10-20x/night

Waking up more than 2-3 times a night is considered insomnia, apparently. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I did all of the right sleep hygiene things and still probably woke up about 10x a night. Saw a sleep doctor and he said, "Yeah, some people are just genetically bad at sleeping" and put me on Lunesta. I sleep much better now!
posted by brook horse at 10:47 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Everyone who revels in the fact that you sit on the potty while still getting paid.

Well, I think the "reveling" part comes down to how long one takes to "go" and also whether or not one uses a phone while on the toilet.

And since we're on the topic, I guess a similar strategy would be to be constantly drinking coffee and going to the bathroom 20 times a day or something.
posted by FJT at 10:53 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Waking up more than 2-3 times a night is considered insomnia, apparently. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I envy all of you sound sleepers. It's genetic in my case - my family are all bad sleepers.

One thing that has helped me recently is to buy a headband with Bluetooth - I hook it up to an app on my phone that generates brown noise (less harsh than white noise), and play it while I sleep. This eliminates background sounds as a source of sleep disturbance. I still wake up as often, but I sleep more deeply when I am out.

Mind you, my sleep may be conditioned by the fact that I grew up within sound of a freeway. For me, the drone of automobile traffic is much more restful than complete quiet.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 11:18 AM on July 13


Serious question: are there grown adults who sleep straight through the night?

I sleep straight through form 11 to 6 every night. Apparently there was an apocalyptic thunderstorm last night that I slept right through.
posted by octothorpe at 11:29 AM on July 13 [1 favorite]


I still remember the time our labs' break room ran out of caff, and a nonaddicted lab assistant "helpfully" made a pot of decaf in a caff pot. She was eventually busted after several of us compared headaches.

Back in the late 90s I had a temp gig doing graphic design at a major civil engineering firm.

This was the sort of old school place where the engineers were very serious about their seriously bad coffee, but also chain smoking cigarettes with their seriously bad coffee. We're talking old school like a scene out of a 60s NASA documentary where 99% of the staff wore short sleeve buttoned down shirts, skinny black ties and even a few legit pocket protectors packed full of drafting pens and mechanical pencils kind of old school. Except instead of building rockets they built freeway overpasses and municipal reservoirs and water treatment plants.

And when smoking was finally banned entirely indoors in any/all businesses in California they didn't like that at all.

So they built an illicit smoking lounge right next to the coffee and break room that was massively overengineered with some huge fans that replaced all the air in the room every 30 seconds or so. It was like a wind tunnel in there.

Anyway, the coffee was horrible and provided by one of those industrial coffee services companies that put a couple of Bunn drip coffee machines in there and kept the coffee station stocked with the sort of incredibly bad, dry, light brown pre-ground coffee that comes in pre-measured foil pouches and is somehow even worse than bad truck stop or diner coffee.

Well, one day I thought I would do something nice and get a bag of a decent high light roast and bring in my coffee grinder and make some "real" coffee. So I did that and made it extra strong, just like I like it. I made several pots and set them up. Because why not? What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, that was a horrible mistake. Someone sent out a group email about how good the coffee was today, then a few more chimed in on the email list with messages that sounded extra excited about it in tone and soon there was a steady stream of Dilbert-lookin' mofos walking past my office in the marketing department and going to get coffee.

Long before lunchtime rolled around the engineers out on the cube floor and drafting stations were running around like a bunch of lab rats hopped up on research grade amphetamines just jacked up completely out of their minds. The coffee and break room was packed. The illicit smoking lounge was packed standing room only and full of chain-smoking engineers arguing with each other. Tensions in the air were so high I was sincerely worried that people were about to start rioting and stabbing each other with pencils.

I felt like I was surrounded by about 200 clones of Michael Douglas' character from Falling Down and it was not ok.

By the mid afternoon it got so bad that the VP of operations sent out a company wide email that read something like "Ok, I don't know who brought in the fancy extra strong coffee. Please never do that again."
posted by loquacious at 12:05 PM on July 13 [39 favorites]


Having developed a nasty sleep issue during the pandemic, waking up all night, when an earworm gets into my head, and plays over and over and over, I can relate. Been seeing a sleep therapist for a few months, and her harsh rules for sleep have helped a lot. Stay up later than you want. Get up at the same time every day, even if it's the weekend. You can reset your sleep cycles. My son was going to swimming during the pandemic at 5:45 AM. My spouse and I were trading off mornings. She told me to stop, do ALL THE MORNINGS! and go to bed at 9:30. And it worked, more or less.

Then it ended and she said, stay up til midnight, and get up at 7 something. And that has also sort of worked. So "sleep hygiene" to me, does seem to be a thing. Most effective therapy I've ever had.

Get a sleep diary, and start plotting your sleep/not sleep/ caffeine/ exercise/ alchohol consumption, and then look for the patterns. It's fascinating to see it visually.
posted by Windopaene at 12:35 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Years ago I read an article about caffeine and heroin (which are apparently in the same drug family). Both drugs have rituals associated with consumption: using a certain spoon or mug, shooting up in a certain way, ordering a particular preparation of coffee. According to the article, you could reduce your dosage as long as you maintained the rituals.

I was able to drastically reduce my caffeine consumption by just pouring less coffee into my cup while keeping everything else the same. Eventually I switched from coffee to tea and am reducing the amount of that I drink. Still love good cup tho...
posted by technodelic at 1:03 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Serious question: are there grown adults who sleep straight through the night?

Apparently I slept through a minor earthquake the other night. This is not out of character for me.
posted by aniola at 1:06 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Serious question: are there grown adults who sleep straight through the night?


Of course it's possible to sleep through the night, I do it every night.
Unrelatedly, recreational pot is legal in my state.
posted by bleep at 2:17 PM on July 13 [9 favorites]


What bleep said above. I moved to Colorado last fall and I had not slept this well in at least a decade previous, maybe two.
posted by Mothlight at 2:39 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I awoke at 6AM. I gave up coffee until 10:30 AM. It was so good! I made it a little weaker it was light and fantastic, granola style with wildower honey and vanilla soy milk! It is a pleasure I don't have to give up.
posted by Oyéah at 3:31 PM on July 13


P.S. I got smaller cups for my coffee, 10 oz, instead of 16 oz, and one fifth of my coffee is vanilla soy milk. This was a few months ago. I mostly have a cup and a half, instead of two cups.
posted by Oyéah at 3:34 PM on July 13


Now that we've stopped speedrunning politics, these huge threads are usually just about music or obituaries, which I don't have anything to add; so I feel obliged to throw in my 2c and say that I put instant coffee powder in my morning muesli.

It horrifies many, but I like getting the taste of iced coffee and cereal without excessive sweetness while saving time from having to do two things
posted by Marticus at 3:52 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Marticus, I join them in horror but also then remember I have had affrogato which is espresso poured over vanilla ice cream and delightful in a messy way.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:06 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I love affrogatos. I sometimes even get extra fancy with them by going to one place for a cup of really good ice cream and then walking it over to another place for a decent espresso shot and then take my time combining the two.

I had a friend that was having a bad day at one of her art exhibit showings and I saved the day with one of those. And she and her family are very Italian and she hadn't even heard of such a thing before and I was just like "Oh? Oh we're fixing that right now." and it was the perfect thing. A bit of coffee for the stress and some very nice ice cream for the blood sugar levels.
posted by loquacious at 5:05 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I love coffee. I have a multitude of prep methods at home, and still drink instant and decaf. My boyfriend mentioned he doesn't drink coffee much except with me because I am a firm 'at least two before 11am' kinda gal. Also tea. He has confirmed ADHD and likes to keep caffeine low so when he need the stimulant he has it available (unmedicated currently) and has suggested I ought to get tested. Between the caffeine habit, the hyperfocus, the auditory processing, and the PTSD I can't blame him.

But I've also been a lifelong terrible sleeper. My mother still claims I was worse even if it took my brother longer to sleep through. I just...don't go to sleep. I'm amazed when people do. Caffeine will definitely interfere but even without it I have periods of not sleeping. I'm also the kind of person that once woken up I have difficult going back to sleep without the right environmental stuff.

I absolutely abuse caffeine though, but I enjoy it? I don't drink soda, rarely drink alcohol, am currently in a smoking relapse, and I figure coffee has a lot more benefits to it.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:45 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


Smoking almost doubles the rate of caffeine clearance from the body:
The elimination of caffeine from saliva was compared in groups of healthy smokers (n = 13) and nonsmokers (n = 13). Mean caffeine t1/2 in smokers (3.5 hr) was shorter than that in the nonsmokers (6.0 hr). The body clearance of caffeine in the smokers (155 +/- 16 ml . kg-1 . hr-1) was greater than that in the nonsmokers (94 +/- 18 ml . kg-1 . hr-1) (p less than 0.05). No significant difference was noted in the apparent volume of distribution in smokers (720 +/- 67 ml . kg-1) and nonsmokers (610 +/- 80 ml . kg-1). These differences probably reflect the induction of hepatic aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHH) activity in smokers. The increased clearance of caffeine by smokers may contribute to the higher consumption of coffee reported to occur in this group.
The authors think this accounts for greater coffee consumption among smokers, but I think it also strongly suggests that if you are or have been a smoker, coffee will increase your craving for a smoke.
posted by jamjam at 7:57 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


Which raises a possibility of espresso with nicotine added as an aid to quitting smoking, or even as a 'one for the road' coffee house nightcap, since that presumably wouldn't interfere with sleep as much.
posted by jamjam at 8:05 PM on July 13


sometimes an acquaintance will inquire "how many cups of coffee do you drink" and is invariably flummoxed and frustrated when i reply "all of them. all the cups of coffee." pushed, i'll dance and wave my hands around about unquantifiable variables until they give up. anybody half serious about coffee knows that those cup markings on the carafe do not relate to measuring-cup cups nor to the cups in which coffee is served -- should i use that unit? i am conversant with fancy considerations as to sourcing, roast, grind, freshness, method of infusion, but i like to drink coffee all day every day. so, although i have some unroasted beans in a drawer, one or two fine pounds and a handful of poundage representing the dross of many a coffee-of-the-month gift subscription, i brew the local supermarket chain's canned ground beans in a mr coffee-style drip pot with a dribbly carafe that goes up to 12 units. from which i pour coffee until it is empty and then brew some more. in my dotage, i have tried to stop drinking any more cups of coffee after 10:30 (aiming for slumber in the 12-2:30 range), though i count myself among those who do not notice either a great alertness kick nor sleep interference. also i am a caffeine junky. there are sometime other compounds involved.

with a baseline of such steady all-day drinking of totally normal drip coffee once punctuated by espresso drinks, i quit smoking once and had to cut the espresso way down, because they put me over the top, into too-much-caffeine territory, which threatens a headache as fierce and recalcitrant as withdrawal's migrainey pains. also, too much of that dark dark mostly-unsweetened chocolate will sometimes tip me over that edge.

tea is also good, and will suffice.
(though, come to think of it, i have been aware of turkish-style black tea binges interfering with sleep).
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:11 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


anybody half serious about coffee knows that those cup markings on the carafe do not relate to measuring-cup cups nor to the cups in which coffee is served

No kidding. I drink my coffee in cups that will hold a pint, and think of a pot as having three cups' worth and a swallow or two to prime the pump. Sometimes I'll see a coffee cup for sale with a cute design or motto, and I'll be interested until I see that it's one of those dinky 11 ounce cups, and then I'll be like, damn, I thought you were a baller.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:30 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Never acquired a taste for coffee. Never took up smoking. Never experimented with any form of recreational drugs, not even pot. Gave up soda/pop in all forms six years ago when my blood sugar tested in the danger zone for type two diabetes. Trained myself to enjoy the flavor of tea without the heaping teaspoons of sugar or honey. I'm now quitting alcohol as it appears to be the root cause of my sleep issues (thanks perimenopause!) and I was turning to it too much to cope - it was past time to develop healthier coping skills.

But I'm not giving up my black tea and I'm going to intentionally ignore any article that attempts to shame me into doing otherwise. I stop drinking tea at noon and switch to water or herbal tea for the rest of the day. That is the biggest concession I am willing to make, because there is no point in living longer if I'm not allowed a pleasure or two to enjoy in the life that I have left.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:36 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


When I went to university, I took with me an ornate, hand thrown mug that I bought at a Renaissance Faire. I was in a program that required a short paper be turned in each Friday, and got in the habit of filling the mug with coffee Thursday night in preparation for the writing ahead. For a couple of weeks in a row, I'd drink that coffee with dinner, get too jittery to sit down and write the paper, fall asleep for a few hours, wake up in the middle of the night, and then sprint to write the paper that was due that morning. Eventually I thought to measure my prized, hand thrown mug and was mortified to discover that it held five normal cups of coffee. From then on I used the mug as a pencil cup.
posted by PhineasGage at 6:37 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]


nowhere is self delusion more effective than with portion size of a desired substance.

"You're drunk."
"No I'm not. I only had one bottle of beer."
"How big was the bottle?"
"About a quart. It was one of those Belgian things."
"How much alcohol?"
"Twelve percent."
posted by philip-random at 7:49 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


I like coffee. As a general rule, I only drink decaf (cold with skim milk and Splenda). 1 or 2 times a week I'll have a Premire Protein café latte shake, which according to them contains the same amount of caffeine as 1 cup (however big that is). I used to drink full test but my stomach has been a delicate flower after gastric bypass and I can only take a little bit before I get pain.

I'm currently on jury duty. I have the one vice I indulge in when I really need to be awake (we're doing marathon session between 8:30 and 1:30 with two short breaks) and I generally don't get up until 8:30 for work and take a nap between 12-2 before I finish my split. Chocolate covered coffee beans. I used to only get dark chocolate ones, but the grocery store I go to only sells them in white/milk/dark combo containers. I'm finding I like the combo even though I strongly dislike white chocolate. The bitterness of the coffee bean pairs well with the white chocolate.
posted by kathrynm at 4:34 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I wonder sometimes if I have undiagnosed ADHD and self-medicate with caffeine.

Well.. huh. Goddam if that ain't something to think about.
posted by quinndexter at 7:59 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I've had a mug of coffee four days in a row now just because of this thread. I hope y'all are happy!! (I know I am)
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:57 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Which raises a possibility of espresso with nicotine added

New from the makers of Tomacco: The Tomaccaccino.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:02 PM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Another point of view:

posted by anguspodgorny at 6:05 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Apparently I need more coffee to perceive the rest of that comment.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:41 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]


Some people I know opened a coffee shop and I want to support them, but I quit drinking caffeine two years ago and I'm not interested in all those syrup-and-milk drinks. It doesn't leave much.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:29 AM on July 19


My lifelong quest is to convince American coffee shops to serve tonic water on tap. Sippable, refreshing, good for the alcohol-free and caffeine-free person in your life. Upcharge for a slice of citrus, what's not to love?
posted by Think_Long at 11:16 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


Start with the ones serving coffee tonic made with espresso or cold brew.
posted by fedward at 11:20 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


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