College without coffee is kind of unthinkable to a lot of people, so it might surprise you to hear that I don’t drink coffee. Like, at all, ever. I’ve tried it a few times – decaf, half-caf, full strength, black, in all manner of delicious Starbucks confections… I just can’t get into it. I think there are two reasons – 1.) It’s bitter, and I’ve never had the patience for acquired tastes, and 2.) I don’t drink soda either, meaning I have the caffeine tolerance of a three-year-old with ADHD. Caffeinated Megan is not pretty and we don’t need to talk about it anymore.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink coffee, of course. I have no judgement on coffee beyond “I don’t want any, but thanks for offering,” so if you came here for a treatise on why no one should drink coffee, I’m sorry to disappoint. But let’s say you’re not drinking coffee, for whatever reason. College campuses are flush with coffeeshops and pumpkin spice and Intelligentsia blends (whatever those are?) for a reason – college kids drink coffee like it’s a religion. So if you had to get through college without coffee, how would you do it? Good news, guys – I’ve got it figured out.
Getting Through College Without Coffee
The point of coffee.
Despite being a non-drinker, I get the point of coffee – caffeine boost + ritual = good. So when I sat down to think about college without coffee, I wrote down the things that fulfilled both these purposes, not just one or the other.
Start your mornings off right.
So the morning cup of coffee is such a cliche, but a lot of people go for it. Like I mentioned, it’s partially about that energy boost, and partially about having a ritual to start your day. So to replace coffee in the mornings, you need to do something (or somethings) that covers both bases.
I always start my morning off with some stretches, which sounds athletic and ambitious, but mostly consists of extending myself over as much of the bed as humanly possible. And let me tell you, it feels great – knocks the morning stiffness out of my shoulders and hips and gets my blood flowing enough that I actually feel like a human being. So energy, check, and ritual, check.
Every better living article you or I have ever read tells you not to skip breakfast, so I’m not going to tell you not to skip breakfast, since you already know that you should not skip breakfast. But you can integrate that into your morning routine. So instead of starting the coffee machine before your shower, pop some bread in the toaster. Instead of stopping by the cafe for a latte, stop by for a scone (unless you’re cutting coffee to save money, in which case do not do that). Morning coffee is replaceable, even if that might seem like the time you need it most.
Tackle the afternoon slump with confidence.
You know how it goes. It’s two-thirty in the afternoon and you feel like curling up on the nearest available horizontal surface for an ill-advised nap. Cue the coffee. But there are other ways to keep yourself awake and focused.
We can’t talk about afternoons without mentioning my favorite thing, snacks:
Snacks are my favorite things, but despite my obsessive love for artificial cheese, even I know that healthy snacks are the best energy boosters around. The natural sugars in fruits are easy on your body, and oranges, like coffee, have that whole invigorating-scent thing going for them, making them a natural choice. I’m also a big fan of anything with peanut butter, since the protein helps keep you full.
Monotony makes you sleepy, so change it up however you see fit. Ideally, you’d be able to switch focus to something entirely new, but that’s not always an option. If you can go do whatever it is you do somewhere else, get going. If nothing else, change the way you’re sitting or take a quick walk, just to give yourself some change.
Find a replacement.
At the end of the day (or the beginning, or the middle, whatever), coffee is a habit, and if you drink it regularly and then stop, you’re going to notice. So whether your replacement is a physical activity, a few minutes of meditation, or a healthy snack, finding a placeholder for the role coffee used to fill might make the transition easier. So if you’re dropping coffee for an afternoon, a day, a week, or indefinitely – for whatever reason – think about what you like about coffee, as well as why and when you drink it, to figure out exactly what strategies will work for you.
And hey, if you’re still craving a warm, tasty-smelling mug of optionally-caffeinated plant-infused water, there’s always tea!