In the Magic Hour, Thoughts of Kona (Coffee)

13 Mar

It’s 7:32AM on Tuesday March 13th. We’ve sprung forward. It was pitch black when I woke up this morning at 5:15AM in order to make a 6AM swim. I rolled around in  bed for about five minutes trying to come up with a good enough excuse to skip this morning’s workout. Couldn’t think of one. All I need is coffee, I thought to myself, then all will be well.

Not so much.

Yesterday marked phase 1 of Operation Coffee Ween. I have to give it up. Sigh. I knew this day was coming, I just didn’t expect it to be yesterday. Or any day in particular really. But the Head Doctor (and by Head Doctor I mean neither the “Doctor in Charge” nor “my therapist”) told me that I had two options:

Option 1: make some big dietary changes, which include but are not limited to a drastic reduction in my coffee consumption, for at least the next three months or;

Option 2: take a pill, once a day every day for at least the next three months and perhaps indefinitely, that might induce a major cardiac event.

As much as I love coffee (and I LOVE coffee), I hate heart attacks more. And what I hate even more than heart attacks, is living with the fear that I might have one. I explained to Head Doctor that I do endurance sports and asked whether or not this drug could pose a problem with my training. This is the conversation we had:

Me: What are the chances that I’ll, like, have a heart attack in the middle of a run?

Head Doctor: We won’t know until that happens.

Me (in my head): Well at that point, the chances will be pretty fucking good then, won’t they?

Me (out loud): I’ll make the diet changes, Doctor.

Now, I’m not dumb. I recognize that anyone, anytime, anywhere could suffer a major cardiac event with zero warning and drop dead on the spot. Especially in the middle of a mile swim or a 13.1 mile run completed after a mile swim and a 55 mile bike. But here’s the thing: this pill Head Doctor suggested I take is prescribed for migraines but wasn’t actually developed for them. This pill was developed for regulating blood pressure and it just happens to help with headaches. Why take a pill that wasn’t made for what I have, is only treating symptoms, might have no real effect on my condition and could make my heart stop beating?

One of Head Doctor’s colleagues called me “medicine phobic.” I call me “one pill less likely to have a heart attack.” Also, quitting coffee doesn’t cost me anything. In fact, it’s going to save me money. And why should conservative fundamentalist tax payers foot the bill for my headache medicine? Maybe it’s God’s plan that I suffer with migraine. I got myself into this addictive state so I must be a really weak-willed individual.

Just saying.

I am not going cold-turkey. I am doing this all very, very gradually. The first step was to downgrade from the rocket fuel I’ve been drinking every day for the last several years to a milder, lighter roast. I didn’t start drinking coffee until college but I grew up in a Cafe Bustelo household so when I did start drinking coffee, that was my gateway drug.

Then I lived with a barista for nine years and I drank whatever he brought home from the cafe: all of it very good coffee. When I moved down here, I switched back to Bustelo in a drip pot and would sometimes make 4-6 cups in the morning. Most of that would go to waste but I was still drinking too much of it. So this fall, I pull my old stove-top espresso pot out of storage. It makes about one large mug of coffee with, I’m guessing, the equivalent caffeine of like three cups. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I also have one grande Starbucks drip before class.

This weekend, I went to Fresh Market in preparation for the gradual caffeine step-down and bought a half pound of Kona Blend. Yes, the name DID factor into my decision–lame, I kn0w–but mostly I bought it because the lady at the store told me it was a light roast. I ground it for French press, pulled the French press out of storage, put the stove top espresso pot back into storage and drank my first cup of this “coffee” on Sunday morning before the race.

Ah ha! Maybe that’s why my run time suffered! This morning, I made one cup, drank half of it, then went to the swim and swam 800 in 19:09, which is almost EXACTLY in line with what I did Sunday. So maybe it is the coffee’s fault. No? Really? Oh, all right.

I will say that the Kona tastes really good. I enjoy drinking it more than the espresso. But it feels pretty close to decaffeinated. It’s got enough of a jolt to keep the cold-turkey withdrawal headaches at bay but by the middle of the afternoon yesterday I was pretty giddy and needed to go down for a nap.

I have a lot of non-coffee drinking friends and they’ve all told me how wonderful life is on the other side. No mood swings! Sustained energy throughout the day! The freedom of knowing you are no longer a slave to addiction! The true caffeine boost when you do finally allow yourself one cup on a special occasion! Gag me. I LOVE COFFEE. AND I WANT IT.

I love my morning coffee routine.


I hate this.



That’s enough of that. So I’ve got a four week plan for getting this monkey off my back. Here it is:

Week One: It’s spring break and my obligations are minimal, I will drink one cup of Kona and one cup of black or green tea a day.

Week Two: I will continue with the one cup of Kona but switch out decaf for tea if I need a second cup.

Week Three: No more Kona. One cup decaf and one cup black/green tea if necessary.

Week Four: Attempt no caffeine. If the headaches are awful, I’ll take Advil.

In addition, I have to give up a few other things: Booze, aged cheese, bananas, peanut butter, and yeasted baked goods. Some of this is going to be easy and some of this is going to be really unpleasant. But I figure, in the long run, it’s not a bad idea to cross a few of these items of the old diet inventory.

So now, here I sit, in my gloriously quiet office on my gloriously empty campus, drinking a mug of black tea in the dark. The sun is up outside but I’m afraid of what might happen to me if I go out there and stand under it. I’ll keep you posted.


5 Responses to “In the Magic Hour, Thoughts of Kona (Coffee)”

  1. Rona March 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    Not sure if this would work for you or help but a friend who gave up coffee drinks cacao powder mixed with almond milk to give her a smoother boost of energy as opposed to a spike with coffee.

    • mymultipersonality March 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      I’m willing to try anything. I already dig on almond milk but is cacao powder different than cocoa powder?

      • Rona March 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

        yes, cacao is straight from the cacao beans, no sugar. This is the one she was using- it’s sold at wholefoods and I’m sure whatever health food store you have.
        She mixes about two tbsp in a little bit of almond milk, nukes it, and then adds more almond milk and mixes some more.

      • mymultipersonality March 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

        nice. I’ll check it out.

  2. sexyflexi March 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    Yeesh, you’re moving closer to my diet. I’ve been off coffee about a month now; it’s still rough and I don’t love not drinking it. I still get headaches. BUT weaning off using tea definitely helped, and teechino is good for when you really want that coffee flavor. I think I fooled withdrawal demons a few times using that.
    On the bright side, my diet was altered so I didn’t have to use meds either so that I can tell you does work out. I, like you, hate taking pills.

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