Swearing off coffee has only led to one thing: more swearing

image Today, like every day since the start of the New Year, I’ve abstained from my morning cups of coffee — a decision I reached during a moment of weakness, sometime around midnight on New Year’s Eve. That’s when I vowed (after several glasses of champagne) to take better care of myself in 2015. While this decision has certainly made me a healthier person, it has also made me a crankier one.

This is due in large part to the decaffeination process itself, which can cause headaches, drowsiness, constipation, Tourette’s Syndrome and, in the case of Lizzy Borden, involuntary manslaughter.

After doing some research, I realized that there was more to beating this thing than just dealing with the physical craving which, for someone who drinks coffee all day, is similar to the craving one might have for, say…

Breathable air.

I also had to take into account the mental aspect of my addiction — which is really about me having an excuse to leave my desk. On a good day, between coffee refills and trips to the bathroom, I can spend as little as eight minutes actually working at my desk. Because of this, it was clear that conquering my physical addiction wouldn’t be enough.

I needed a replacement beverage.

While I briefly entertained the idea of decaffeinated tea, I decided against it. Mostly because I can never figure out what to do with the tea bag once it’s done steeping.

Do I throw it out? Save it? Put one over each eye and take a nap?

The truth of the matter is, men are not “steepers.” A man wants to wake up, fill his mug with something close to 8,000 degrees Fahrenheit and immediately drink it. A man doesn’t have time for steeping. In fact, he hardly has time to get to the hospital after drinking his 8,000-degree beverage.

This left me with three viable alternatives:

1) Hot chocolate
2) Some kind of soy drink that, according to the label, can be consumed either hot, cold or as a grilled patty
3) “Postum.”

After reading the label on the hot chocolate canister, I realized that, based on my average daily hot-beverage consumption, replacing coffee with hot chocolate would result in an estimated weight gain of just under 600 pounds in five weeks. This, of course, would defeat having an excuse to leave my desk since I would no longer be able to fit through the door of my house.

I considered the soy-drink-patty-thing, but couldn’t get passed the idea of consuming something that can be reffered to as the soy-drink-patty-thing.

This left me with “Postum” as my morning beverage of choice. For those who are unfamiliar with this product, it is a coffee alternative that is completely caffeine free because it is made from “all natural” ingredients like wheat, corn, sea weed, yarn, tree bark, bone meal and simulated wood paneling, all of which is then ground up and allowed to “steep” before it is eventually freeze-dried to resemble Taster’s Choice.

I’ve been drinking it for a little over a week now, and it’s not all that bad. Still, I’m not convinced that Postum’s claim to be “The Truly Soothing Hot Beverage” is true.

In fact, I’d KILL for some coffee right about now…



(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)

Published by

Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

103 thoughts on “Swearing off coffee has only led to one thing: more swearing”

    1. I know it was stupid. I really should have done it in stages. One cup this year, one cup next year, etc. I may have to postpone this resolution until the Betty Ford Clinic starts treating caffeine addiction.

  1. Wow….I’m impressed that you can give up coffee. I’ve started my cleanse today as well, but that just means no more processed foods or any other crap I cannot pronounce. I accept the calories for my coffee and cream because I traded that for no wine for a month. Frozen raspberries are still on my list of good things to eat!! Good luck and may 2015 be a healthy one for both of us!!

    1. I wish I could’ve given up something easier, like crack cocaine or insuline injections… 😉

      Cheers to being healthier in 2015! (Once the nightsweats pass)

  2. Why would you want to give up coffee? Cut back to one cup a day and you’ll be fine. Or make that cup more exciting with various creamers that are extremely bad for you (but taste so good). You could also just drink Irish Coffees and make your mornings a little more exciting. I’m sure there is a study out there that says the liquor outweighs the caffeine or something along those lines of thought.

      1. It is all about baby steps….load up your coffee so it is really unhealthy…then slowly remove one “bad” item per day (or week or year). Then when you get to the coffee (and/or whiskey), you can stop because you have reached your goal! See? I’ve become a life coach and you have given up something “bad”.

  3. You’re a writer. Drink the damn coffee. Writers do not do sissy drinks like postum or decaf tea (unless you’re 60 and a woman, then you have an excuse). Non-coffee drinking writers scare the bejesus out of me and are people I don’t trust much. Yea, I’m harsh, but I like my writers like I like my coffee: Bold and real, not that weak uncaffeinated crap.

    1. You’re right, Kim. I know it. I love everything about coffee — the flavor, the ritual, the excuse to leave my desk every 15 minutes for a refill/bladder purge.

      Besides, I’m pretty sure Postum causes cancer (Or so I’m saying…)

  4. I echo Ross Murray. If you are not a drunk or a smoker, do whatever you want. Coffee can be a good friend. However, I support you on your decision and it’s a free country, etc, etc. But seriously, you are crazy.

    1. I’ve never smoked. Anything. And although I have a drink from time to time, I’m not a “drinker.” So yeah, if coffee is my worst vice, I’m probably doing OK.

      What was I THINKING? (I swear it’s not just the coffee DTs talking…)

      1. You can word it like this: “I’m fasting from coffee right now to focus on an issue.” Then you get respect because you are so dedicated, but it’s understood that one day you will begin chugging it again. 🙂 Like a normal person.

  5. YIKES! Hide the sharp objects and the lawn mower.
    Now, I’m not trying to be an enabler here, but aren’t there worse things than a cup of coffee? I don’t drink the stuff, but couldn’t start a day without Spark (120 mg caffeine/serving and B-vitamins to boot!).
    In fact, I spit it all over the keyboard when I read the word “Postum.”
    That’s what I used to serve my little old ladies in the surgical unit when they couldn’t, er, get their insides moving.
    Not even kidding 🙂

    1. You know, you’re the second person to refer to Postum as an old lady’s drink.

      I may have to re-think this resolution while I still have a shred of manhood left. Right after I get back from the restroom…

  6. “I’ve abstained from my morning cups of coffee…”

    Are you insane??!!

    “I’ve been drinking it for a little over a week now, and it’s not all that bad…”

    Why yes, I think you might be. Postum and “not all that bad” in the same sentence??

    I hope you manage to pull it off. Coffee is a powerful one 😉

  7. I had to give up coffee temporarily due to my ulcerative colitis, so I switched to bottled iced tea. No tea bag to deal with, and if you want, you can always nuke it into hot tea. The only drawback is, I’ve yet to find a bottled tea that doesn’t have some kind of sweetener – either natural or artificial. Even naturally sweetened, at just 100 calories per 16-oz bottle, so long as I only drink one bottle a day, it’s not too bad for my health.

    But now that I’m in remission, I do allow myself one cup of black coffee per day, and believe me – I enjoy every single drop of it.

  8. Like any vice, detox sucks! Once the caffeine is out of your system, it is really more about the habit of drinking coffee that will linger. When I quit smoking years ago, I was told to change up my routine or pattern. So, instead of reaching for your coffee, down a glass of water. Add a bit of lemon to that water & not only will you still be able to incorporate multiple pee breaks at work, it will help your digestive system, aid your immunity system, repair your skin & freshen your breath!

    1. Considering that you’re a woman, I’m not sure what that says about my manliness! And I have to admit, my resolution is quickly evolving into more of a “fasting,” i.e., I need to end this as fast as I can… 😉

    1. Haha! I’m not sure how long I can hold out, but I’ll go as long as I can and just call it a “fasting.”

      And I sort of figured you meant the coffee mug, although my ears have been used as a handle before *cough cough*

  9. That is mighty brave of you to cut out coffee Ned – I tried that and ended up with headaches and serious withdrawl symptoms. Doctors seem to think that 2-3 cups a day is actually good for you, but more than that is bad. I just cut down. Besides, as other commenters observed, the fact that you don’t drink or smoke is a major positive force in your life.

    There is one big plus for using Postum. You see “Postum” is an American Nuclear Weapons code word for a device known as “urchin” (this is all true by the way). Urchin is a “modulated neutron initiator “- a device placed in the center of nuclear weapons that helps to initiate the reaction and allow a bomb to operate properly. All this may seems rather boring until you get to the end result – and I am not joking (this is a direct quote from Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urchin_(detonator) ) –
    Without postum “… the chain reaction starts too soon (‘predetonation’), the result will be only a ‘fizzle yield’, well below the design specification…”

    So, you can easily make a case that you switched to Postum for your wife’s sake, in order to avoid “predetonation” and “fizzle yield”.

  10. all i can think of is ‘sanka’ which was the stuff that looked like brown granules in a jar that she mixed with boiling water and drank as her coffee. i am afraid of postums and possums and do not wish to ingest either.

    1. I don’t blame you. Sanka is a gateway drug to Postum, which I believe is made from bark ingested and “processed” by opossums before being cutivated and dried into beverage granules.

  11. Explain how this postum is somehow better than a cup of tea again? I think as long as you don’t hold your delicate pinky out while drinking it, tea would work and bonus, it isn’t disgusting.

  12. I can afford to laugh as I was in your shoes many years ago. The doctor said give up coffee of my blood pressure was going to blow through the roof of my head… which may not have been a bad idea. They did let me drink caffeinated green tea… put the bag in, pour the boiling water in, by the time the water has cooled enough to drink the tea will be steeped! Leave the tea bag in the cup, but please don’t drink it!

    Now while you are swearing, I need to go give up sugar now. How in God’s name does one give up on chocolate chip bar cookies??????

  13. I stupidly cut back from two to ONE cup a day for my resolution. (ok, so they’re more like giant barrel-sized mugs, not cups…) Yet even that was enough to give me a five day long pounding headache. I had to laugh at your “men don’t do steeping” because I told my husband with a straight face last week I would replace my coffee with tea, forgetting that most tea tastes like shitty dishwater.

    But I can do this! I can cut down on coffee! I know I can!


  14. Try putting a hot water vaporizer at your desk. When you have a craving, put a teaspoon of sugar and creamer in your mouth, then stick out your tongue. It works. Take it from someone who knows.

  15. I’ve tried quitting coffee before, always leading me to the same conclusion: I’ll quit drinking coffee when they pry my cold, dead fingers off my coffee mug. In fact, I’m pretty sure my gastroente, gastroentra, my gut doctor told me I could treat my stomach like it was a demolition derby car as long as I take one anti-stomach-acid pill every morning. Yeah, I distinctly remember him saying that.

  16. Coffee is such a wonderful laxative. How can you to convert to something called “Postum” which sounds too much like post mortem, which may be it’s actual name but it’s the street name, or slang. Maybe it’s steeped possum corpses after a lovely post mortem. See, this line of thinking is exactly what happens to people when they quit legalized coffee consumption for “healthier lifestyle changes”. You go stark raving mad and start thinking your drinking dead possums and then someone calls the funny farm and they put you away on an island with that unwanted Kardashian kid Rob. He’s going to want to kill you because you don’t drink hot chocolate like him, cause he quit coffee too and took up the soy-drink-patty thing(made him gassy so he switched), but he couldn’t find Postum and he gained 600 lbs. What are you going to do now?
    Drink coffee and soon or you could end up dying to soon from post mortem possum steeping fake coffee. We all need shits and giggles, that’s what coffee gets us.
    I swear, this all made sense in my head when I started.

    1. Kris, if this comment is any indication of what I can expect by giving up coffee, I’ll start drinking it again tonight!

      And frighteningly, it all makes sense in my decaffeinated head…which is what scares me.

  17. Going cold turkey, damn that’s brave. Hope you stocked up on Excedrin Migraine. I hear it only takes a week or two for your system to adjust. Ironic, I just started drinking caffeinated tea again after almost a year of drinking herbal teas. I think it was because I was out of Lemon Ginger, my favorite. Got a box, so now it’s back to drinking roots and fruits. Good luck with your endeavor.

    1. Thanks, Susan! I’ve tried tea and it just doesn’t do it for me. I may just settle for a caffeine “cleansing” and return to a limited coffee intake by the time it’s over.

      I could live on coffee and bacon; not sure I can live without them!

  18. I’m glad you didn’t choose the soy-patty drink. That has female hormones in it and number one if you think your cranky now…
    Number two, you may find you’ve grown man boobs..

    1. Becky, it’s now Tuesday morning, Jan. 4, and you will be the first person, aside from my wife, to know I have returned to drinking coffee. I dont drink much and have never smoked. If coffee is my worst vice, I can live with that. And plenty of teeth whitener.


        1. Thanks, Becky! Actually, I almost knocked myself out with my coffee mug because, once it was filled with coffee, I couldn’t get it to my mouth fast enough!

  19. If man were meant to drink Postum, the chemists would have come up with a better name for it, like the dudes who made Tang and Yoo-Hoo, Ned. You need another alternative. Tang? Yoo-Hoo?

    I drink one 32-ounce cup of home-brewed cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to start every morning. With Half n Half. Then another. Too much since Iknow write out of my recliner in our living room? Yeah, I know … But never Postum just from your description.

    Best of luck with this little withdrawal matter.

    1. I hear you, Mark. What kind of name is Postum? They might as well have named it “Ech” or “Rectum.” I have to admit, I started with good intentions in my goal to quit coffee but, for the life of me, I can’t seem remember what they are anymore.

      And yeah, Yoo-Hoo rocks!

    1. You’re right. I’m through denying myself the pleasure of coffee when I can just give up something else more toxic to my system, like watching The Bachelor…

  20. Okay I laughed at this because I think this would be my son if he ever had to give up coffee. I find that incredibly funny really, because he grew up in a home with tea drinkers. I have rarely (very rarely) consumed coffee because I don’t like it. But I have gone caffeine free as well and I now drink herbal teas (with the occasional green one thrown in). It’s amazing what our taste buds become accustomed to.

  21. You are nuts! I don’t think I could EVER give up coffee. I started Paleo a few weeks ago and I guess I think I’m doing pretty good but there are some things I would just never be able to give up……coffee is one of them. I’m proud of you for doing it and wish you all the best. But I still think you’re nuts.

    1. I agree with you, Sandy: I was NUTS. I’ve already fallen off the java wagon. I figured there are worse vices I could have. Coffee brings me too much pleasure and is better for everyone else’s health when I drink it 😉 Besides, security tape evidence already caught me in a weak moment…


      I’m sure your Paleo will go better than my attempt to give up coffee. Either way, Cheers!

  22. Oh my gosh! Postum. I had completely forgotten about that crap. The last time I gave up coffee (during EE finals week, followed by finding out I was pregnant oops), it was my beverage of choice and GAH. Yuck. I gave up meat, dairy, and eggs. No prob. But nobody better touch my coffee (as long as it’s fair trade).

    I agree with many of the commenters. You’re nuts.

    1. I definitely think there is a connection between giving up coffee and getting pregnant. Or possibly Postum makes us more fertile. Not sure which.

      And yeah, why I ever decided to try giving up coffee I’ll never know. It was like a bad dream.

  23. lol… I am trying desperately to give up my daily addiction to Starbucks… which wouldn’t be difficult if I could make a decent cup of coffee at home for myself. I’ve been trying for 2 weeks and failing miserably. I have a french press, a Keurig, a wide variety of spices, 2% organic milk, almond milk, coconut milk, dried creamer with a really scary label, and about 5 or 6 bags of different kinds of coffee.. Peets, Starbucks, Givalia, etc. I go to make a cup and the only thing I end up liking about it is that cap of spray whipped cream on top then I go pour it down the sink because it’s awful. Nothing tastes like the holiday Chestnut Praline.. or the Gingerbread latte.. nor my beloved SB Caramel Macchiato. I don’t care if it’s not espresso…I want what I make to taste like it is. So when my latest cup was a yet another flop.. I was sitting at my desk mad and so I just pounded out on the keyboard into google “i’m going to swear off making coffee at home because it’s lousy” and your blog came up to this article. lol. …Best of luck to us both.

    1. Hey, Ginger!
      I had to laugh at the image of you enjoying the whipped cream before pouring the rest down the sink! Haha!

      I’m assuming you’re motivation to give up Starbuck’s is to save money maybe? I’d suggest selling all your coffee press, Keurig, assorted spices, etc. With that money, you should be able to finance your Starbucks habit for at least six months 😉

      Thanks for reading!

      1. That’s kind of.. ….not a half bad idea! :O …Genius I tell you. …Since there’s a big ice storm headed here and I have to wait for better weather to host a big coffee paraphernalia yard sale.. I’m going to just estimate what I think I’ll get for all this nifty stuff and go ahead and advance myself the funds to go back to my daily SB latte. ..Actually.. I already started back today even before I read your reply. But I didn’t really need to admit that because you don’t know me and how the heck could I have been busted. But. There it is. The truth. And now I feel I can let go of the guilt because of your plan. Thank you for coaching me through what was a particularly stressful time in my life.

        I’ll be sticking around to read more of your blog! 🙂

  24. According to my doctor – I cup of coffee a day is actually good for you! So first thing in the morning I drink a real cup of coffee – then the rest of the day I drink de-caf which actually counts towards your water intake because it doesn’t contain the same ingredients that make coffee so bad for you. Decaf coffee has come a long way since Sanka (do you remember Sanka or am I dating myself here?) & can be just as enjoyable as real coffee.

    1. That’s definitely the manly way to drink tea. Bare-handed and in a scaulding hot mug searing your flesh. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Tim Horton’s near us. I’ve heard the coffee and donuts are fantastic. The closest we have is Voo-Doo Donuts. Sort of like designer pasteries and donuts that will curse your heart…

No one is watching, I swear...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s