The percolating bubble and hiss of the coffee pot, the roasty aroma, the first bitter mouthful of the morning. Coffee. It's a ritual without which the working day would be, for many, unsurvivable.
But in addition to providing a much-needed energy boost, a morning cup of Joe often brings with it a number of unfavorable symptoms, too. Jitters, heart palpitations, irritability, upset stomach, the inevitable afternoon crash, and the need for yet another cup are all common side effects of daily coffee consumption.
If you’re one of the many people who are sensitive to coffee, or are just looking to cut back on your intake, consider following the tips below.
Substitute with tea
Both tea and coffee contain caffeine and therefore have a stimulant-like effect on the brain, but the nature of these effects is quite different. One of the best ways I’ve heard it described is that the effect provided by tea is like being gently encouraged to do something by a loving grandmother, while coffee is like being kicked in the butt by a military officer.
The main reason for this difference is that tea contains a unique type of amino acid called L-theanine, which increases the formation of alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with alert relaxation. When combined with caffeine (like in tea), L-theanine has been shown to improve attention and brain function.
"Four Hour Work-Week" author Tim Ferris says he drinks tea to help boost creativity and efficiency. "I use tea in place of coffee when possible because caffeine has a sharp crash for me," Ferriss wrote on his blog.
To make the transition, start substituting one of your daily coffees with a cup of tea. At first, choose a tea that has brisk and bold flavors (like our Ceylon Breakfast) to make the transition away from coffee easier.
After a day or two, replace two of your cups of coffee with two cups of tea. Continue until you’ve successfully weaned yourself off coffee completely.
Enjoy other milky beverages
Many enjoy their coffee in the form of a big, milky latte, and it’s easy to understand why. There’s something about clutching a hot milky drink that is simply therapeutic.
Try substituting with a chai or matcha latte made with plant-based milk (dairy milk contains an enzyme that prevents your body from absorbing the health-promoting nutrients of tea). If you’re purchasing your latte from a café, be wary of the sugar content!
Cut back on the carbs
For many working the 9-5 grind, afternoon fatigue is REAL. You’ve experienced it – that terrible post-lunch period where you cannot concentrate or struggle to stay awake and alert.
It’d be wonderful if we could all hunker down under the desk and take a nap, but I have a feeling most bosses would not be impressed by such behavior. (Oh how I miss nap rooms in Korea!)
To avoid the crash, do not eat a carbohydrate-heavy lunch. Ensure your lunch has a strong protein component, whether it’s chicken breast, tuna or a handful of nuts.
Address the social experience
Part of the allure of drinking coffee is the experience of sitting at a café in good company and truly savoring the beverage in front of you. I’m all about a great food/drink experience, but, for me, paying $4 for a cup of hot water and a tea bag just doesn’t measure up to a pour-over.
To enjoy the non-coffee experience more, visit cafés and restaurants that serve tea properly. I’m talking about the ones that prepare their teas in tea drippers, infusion baskets or tea pots. You’ll find that the experience is completely different, and far more enjoyable.
Practice good sleep hygiene
Getting proper amounts of sleep and practicing healthy sleep habits is key to remaining functional throughout the day.