Coffee is like a good friend who boosts your mood and peps up your whole day.
And much like with a good friendship, it’s important to set healthy boundaries in your relationship with coffee—or more specifically, the stimulating component of coffee: caffeine.
Now, this isn’t meant to suggest that caffeine is bad or should be avoided altogether. In fact, this potent natural compound has been linked with several health benefits we’ll get into below.
But like with most things in life, moderation is important, and the occasional break from caffeine can do your body and brain some good.
And hey, even if you decide that you and caffeine need to spend some time apart, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite morning brew… You just need a clean, delicious alternative to take its place. More on that later!
First, let’s start by taking a closer look at the world’s favorite “drug.”
The Case For Caffeine
It’s estimated that nearly 80% of the world’s population consumes at least one caffeinated product each day. That makes sense considering it can be found in so many wonderful things like chocolate, teas, some desserts, and of course, coffee.
And as we mentioned above, caffeine can offer several health benefits, including:
- Physical Performance: Using caffeine prior to exercise and training has been shown to improve endurance exercise performance.
- Cognition: It can also help improve your focus, reaction time, and alertness following a night of poor sleep… And coffee appears to offer some protection against neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.
- Longevity: There’s even evidence that suggests caffeine has potential anti-aging effects, especially when combined with the polyphenols found in organic coffee.
So as you can see, caffeine can do a lot more than just enliven your morning. No wonder so many of us turn to it for a boost each day!
Why You Should Caffeinate With Caution
But despite its benefits, it’s still smart to maintain a healthy relationship with caffeine.
The stimulated feeling you get from caffeine happens primarily because it binds to your brain’s adenosine receptors, blocking the drowsiness-inducing effects of adenosine. Combine this with a corresponding increase in adrenaline and dopamine, and you have a brain that’s primed and ready to take on the world.
However, regular caffeine consumption can cause adenosine receptors to become less sensitive to its effects over time.
Less sensitive adenosine receptors mean you need more caffeine to achieve the desired state. We’ve all experienced the puzzling phenomenon when one precious, daily coffee turns into two… and then three... until you’re guzzling quad espressos just to crawl out of bed.
Beyond the issues with tolerance, there are a few other potential downfalls to watch for if you’re regularly consuming caffeine:
- Sleep Disruption: Long term exposure to high levels of caffeine can begin to affect the overall quality of your sleep. For most, it’s a good idea to limit caffeine intake several hours before bedtime. Slow caffeine metabolizers might even need to discontinue use if experiencing difficulty falling and staying asleep.
- Overstimulation: Caffeine has been shown to increase the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, placing your body and brain in an acutely stressful state. This can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as feelings of anxiety.
- Dependency: Chronic use of caffeine does maintain some risk of dependency/addiction. That’s why quitting cold turkey can lead to some unpleasant side effects like headaches, sleep disruptions, and feelings of fatigue.
So what can you do to ensure that you and caffeine remain friends and not foes?
Try A Caffeine Reset
One simple thing you can do to avoid getting burnt out on caffeine is to occasionally take a little break. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
A short 7-day break from caffeine gives your adenosine receptors a chance to reset, which can do wonders for your caffeine tolerance and relationship.
But of course, if you’re used to consuming some form of caffeine every day, stopping it cold can bring about uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal.
So we recommend tapering down your consumption to help your reset suck a little less. A good rule of thumb is to incrementally cut your caffeine consumption in half until you reach the point where you’re not consuming any at all.
Using coffee as an example, here’s how you could cut down from two caffeinated cups per day to zero:
- Day One: 2 cups of caffeinated coffee
- Day Two: 1 cup of caffeinated coffee
- Day Three: Half-caf (½ cup of regular coffee, ½ cup of decaf)
- Day Four: Full decaf coffee or herbal tea
- Day Five: Decaf coffee or herbal tea
- Day Six: Decaf coffee or herbal tea
- Day Seven: Decaf coffee or herbal tea
- Day Eight: Enjoy the brain-boosting superpowers of caffeinated coffee once again… You’ve earned it! (but we suggest tapering back up to decrease any negative side effects of over-caffeination)
To keep up the habit and continue to ensure you don’t become reliant on caffeine, try doing a caffeine reset every 1-2 months.
Have Your Coffee and Drink it, Too
Now, if you're anything like us, it isn't just the caffeine in coffee that has you hooked— it's the taste, the aroma, and the ritual too. If that’s the case, then try switching to decaffeinated coffee during your reset.
If you occasionally trade out your regular coffee with decaf, you'll hardly miss the ritual and the taste, and you'll still be getting all the antioxidants and polyphenols that regular coffee supplies.
Just make sure you find a decaf that's just as high-quality as your regular coffee (preferably organic, mold-free, and specialty grade).
That's why we're excited to announce Kion Decaf!
The Coffee You Love, Without the Buzz
Kion Decaf is the same delicious, organic coffee—minus the caffeine. And just like our regular coffee, it’s medium roasted to give you the most health benefits and richest flavor.
Our coffee beans are from the top 3% of coffee beans worldwide. They’re 100% organic, grown on sustainable coffee cooperatives, and tested to ensure they’re free of toxins like mold and pesticides.
We decaffeinate our beans using the Mountain Water Process, a unique process in which green coffee beans are soaked in pure mountain water to remove caffeine molecules without the use of chemical solvents.
(PS: Decaf coffee is never completely caffeine-free. However, where regular coffee contains nearly 100mg of caffeine per cup, there's only about 7mg of caffeine in most decafs. This is equivalent to a small square of dark chocolate, and not enough to become dependent or lead to any negative side effects for most people.)
Kion Decaf is the perfect option if you don’t tolerate caffeine well or just need to take a little break, but still love enjoying the experience of smooth, delicious coffee.
Finally, you can drink your precious coffee guilt-free—day or night!
Ki Points on Caffeine
As you can see, the case for caffeine is a bit nuanced.
On one hand, it can quite literally be used as a performance-enhancing drug...
But like many pleasures in life, there exists a need for respect and moderation to ensure caffeine remains an uplifting substance...And not one of dependency.
If you’re already experiencing some of the drawbacks mentioned above, taking a short hiatus from caffeine could be a smart move.
And if you're anything like us and going a day without your favorite brew sounds about as fun as attending a three-year-old's birthday party...never fear. You can still enjoy your morning coffee ritual—sans caffeine—with Kion Decaf.