Is Coffee Making You Feel Weird? The Bad and Ugly of Our Favourite Wake-up Drink

Toni Koraza by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash

How much coffee have you had today? I’m one sip away from a panic attack.

Writing and coffee go together like policing and batons, or baking and aprons — the things that make other things more enjoyable.

I’ve got a confession to make: When I first started writing, I was already four years into caffeine abstinence. And before that, I was a caffeine junkie. I’m a personality that goes all-in or doesn’t engage at all. Sometimes, life is easier if you don’t tease yourself.

I’m two feet under when it comes to consuming coffee. I’d love to have an espresso in the morning and then crush the day. But somehow, I end up on a caffeine IV drip while I write and do pretty much anything.

One cup just makes me anxious for another. The 4th cup makes me hate myself, and by the time it’s 9 pm, I’m into conspiracies.

5 Years Without Coffee

I abruptly dropped caffeine in my second year of Bachelor's. I didn’t consume anything that might upset my heart. I stayed clear of green tea, caffeinated-soft, and energy drinks.

The first week was a disaster. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume I became narcoleptic. I fell asleep during the televised political discussion about reconciliation in Bosnia & Hercegovina. The local media ran the story, and there I was actively sleeping.

The benefit came after that first week. The next four years made me love myself more. I’d feel fine the whole day. The energy rollercoaster became a flat ride throughout the day. I stopped being restless, my legs didn’t shake, and my hands stayed in one place most of the time.

Anxiety didn’t control my everyday life anymore. I became present. I’m not sure to which degree going off caffeine played in this role, and to which degree it was just growing up and adulting, but I felt like a better human.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s and Masters’s degree without a single cup of coffee. I wrote my first novel, traveled across more than 20 countries, and worked around the globe caffeine-free. I felt like myself.

The Game Changer

I’ve scored a job in China, working for a consultant agency. They did everything from renting English teachers to exporting robotics. The cultural strangeness was the first thing that welcomed me under the fake smiles. I felt different. The new world made me cling to my European roots.

Chinese are predominantly tee drinking people where foreigners (white people) drink coffee. And I guess in some weird way; I felt like I belonged to that group of foreigners.

The painfully long and unproductive hours made me sleepy. I was used to productive work in the States and Europe. But my new employers didn’t care about the effectiveness as long as I worked hard. The fake hustle made me yawn.

What did I do? I ordered a Tall Mocha from Starbucks.

The smell of freshly roasted coffee beans hit my smell buds like cocaine. I got high on that first cup of coffee, then second, and third. I couldn’t stop. It became part of my identity. I was that foreigner who drinks coffee. I would hang out with other coffee drinkers. The ABCs (American-born Chinese) and foreigners made the group.

Fast forward to today, and I’m drinking 4 cups a day. With each cup, I feel like It should be the last one for the day, then I get up and make myself another one.

A professional coffee machine in the kitchen is partly to blame, too. I love to play barista. Illy beans will get you an almost perfect Italian expresso.

The good, bad, and the ugly:

The Internet loves coffee and reports fantastic health benefits. Researchers will praise your caffeine intake, some claiming it even cures cancer. You’re crazy if you’re not sipping on that next cup. Coffee will make a superhuman out of you.


  • “Mental alertness. Drinking coffee and other beverages that contain caffeine throughout the day seems to increase attention and clear thinking. Caffeine can also improve alertness after sleep deprivation. Even one drink of coffee can reduce fatigue and increase alertness.”
  • “Drinking coffee might shorten the time until the first bowel movement after having part of the colon removed or after having surgery for gynecological cancers.”
  • “Diabetes. People who drink more coffee seems to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The greater the intake of coffee, the lower the risk.”
  • “Gallbladder disease. People who drink beverages such as coffee that provide at least 400 mg of caffeine per day seem to have a lower risk of developing gallstones. The greater the intake of caffeine, the lower the risk.”
  • “High cholesterol. Drinking caffeinated coffee seems to reduce levels of total cholesterol, LDL or “bad cholesterol,” and blood fats called triglycerides by a small amount. Drinking at least 6–8 cups of caffeinated coffee per day might have the greatest benefit. Drinking decaffeinated coffee does not appear to have the same effect.”
  • “Low blood pressure. Drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee seems to increase blood pressure in elderly people who experience dizziness after meals due to low blood pressure.”
  • “Death from any cause. People who drink coffee every day seem to have a lower chance of dying from any cause or from heart disease compared to those who never drink coffee. It’s unclear if drinking coffee is linked with a lower chance of death due to cancer.”
  • “Parkinson's disease. There is evidence that people who drink caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and cola have a decreased risk of Parkinson's disease. Interestingly, coffee does not seem to help prevent Parkinson’s disease in people who smoke cigarettes.”
  • “Cancer of the esophagus. People who drink more coffee don’t seem to have a lower chance of developing cancer of the esophagus.”

What about side-effects?


  • Insomnia,
  • Nervousness and restlessness,
  • Stomach upset,
  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Increased heart and breathing rate,
  • Other side effects

Caffeine is potentially unsafe for rectal use. And drinking more than 5 cups of coffee might be dangerous. Does research on the adverse effects of coffee feel a bit vague?

My Point

Black cocaine is widely prescribed to tackle life in the West. The culture is feeding you coffee beans with a silver spoon. Your mom, dad, and neighbors are drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks.

The advertised effects are breathtaking. You’re a superhuman who treats cancer and Parkinson’s while living the best of life.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe brains can get a free lunch. Everything that goes up has to come down, right? I’ve personally felt more anxious, agitated, and my skin worsened in periods of drinking coffee. My sleep wasn’t great, either.

I have a five-year of experience of being caffeine-free. Caffeine has the power to affect your personality. I become a slightly different person after consuming coffee. If you don’t believe me, try to go off caffeine for a month. You’ll see a change in your behavior.

We tend to drink caffeine every day (soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee, medication.) The majority don’t even realize how life becomes different without caffeine. Personally, coffee helped me peak productivity, but I grew anxious and unsatisfied.

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