Slave To The Bean? Try A 3-Day Break From Coffee

An intermittent coffee-fast maintains caffeine’s long-term beneficial impact on creativity and productivity

3 Days is long enough for a coffee-fast. Photo provided by author via Copyright : Dean Drobot

Gioachino Rossini, the famous Italian composer of operas like The Barber of Seville loved drinking coffee. But he became aware his body would soon get used to the caffeine, with the happy-drug effects wearing off after prolonged, constant consumption. He found this would happen after about 15 to 20 days of regular coffee intake.

It’s Rossini’s good fortune that this was precisely the time he needed to write an entire opera. Well, that’s according to the French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac, who wrote about Rossini’s coffee habits in Traité des excitants modernes.

In his article ‘Music in the Age of Coffee’, John Rice concludes that Rossini would have written “at least some of his operas in a creative fervor induced by caffeine”. Bless him. He ended up composing 40 operas in total.

It’s also suggested that the composer intermittently stopped drinking coffee, to maintain the brown brew’s positive effects on his creativity and productivity. He was aware that after two to three weeks, his uninterrupted coffee habit started wearing him down.

So when you no longer feel your daily coffee is giving you the same boost of alertness and a positive mood, following Rossini’ s example might be a good idea. Introduce your body to an intermittent coffee-fast for a few days. People who’ve tried it report wonderful effects. Three days will be enough to reap the benefits. It’s so much easier than kicking an alcohol or other drug habit for the rest of your life. You can make it easy and fun. Your brain and liver will thank you for it. Most people report the routines around coffee makes it difficult, not the caffeine abstinence itself.

The positives are manifold, especially if you can keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay:

  • your natural life force energy will start returning to your body;
  • your head will start feeling clear as if a fog has lifted;
  • you get to try out other hot beverages and detoxify your body;
  • you will enjoy coffee with renewed vigor when you restart your coffee routine;
  • you give your body a chance to recover;
  • you will enjoy regaining the power in your dependent relationship with the coffee bean.

Coffee trends are all about keeping us drinking the rich brown liquid to keep a global, multi-billion dollar industry pumping. There’s no problem inherent in that — it’s generally a win-win situation. Human bodies thrive on coffee, drunk in moderation. It keeps it alert and it provides it with several essential nutrients (in particular magnesium and B-vitamins).

It’s also great social binder with ancient, traditional roots dating back hundreds of years. It has fueled many creative endeavors. It provides work for growers, roasters, pickers, baristas and even blog writers. And it provides scientists with an ongoing source of fascinating research topics.

If you’ve read this far, you may still feel a little resistance. I know I do. But it’s not as if the last coffee bean on the planet has just been brewed or that you’re saying farewell to a lover who’s leaving you forever. You and your favorite brew can meet again soon, probably enjoy each other even more.

Could the intermittent coffee-fast become the next craze, after trends such as cold coffee brewing, nitro coffee, coffee made with pure water, super baristas, fancy percolators or specialty coffees, organic or fair trade, sustainable beans and local roasts?

You’ll be surprised to learn that your performance in carrying out tasks and your vigilance improve with the intake of coffee, yet stopping your caffeine intake does not harm your performance. The only possible adverse effects can be expected in your mood, and perhaps a bit of a headache.

‘Enjoying Coffee’. Pera Museum, image in the public domain.

Bad moods resulting from the withdrawal of caffeine have more to do with our expectation of what life without coffee is like rather than with the actual effects.

So if you simply focus on the benefits of the intermittent coffee fast, you’ll be flying through this positive experiment with your own body.

Try it for a minimum of 3 days, just long enough to know how great it feels.

To have some fun while not getting your daily cup(s) of consolation, consider some of the alternatives for using your precious beans, grounds or brew. If you can withstand the temptation of drinking it, you could still grind up some coffee beans or buy your usual brand of ground coffee and use them like this:

You won’t have to go without your regular cup for too long to start experiencing benefits of intermittent coffee-fasting, such as recovering your own body’s natural active energy.

Just make sure you:

  • Are feeling strong and happy when undertaking this experiment. Intermittent coffee-fasting can be hard work — if not impossible to persist with — if you’re feeling down or are going through emotionally straining times. Be kind with yourself;
  • Stock your cupboard with a couple of interesting herbal teas such as green tea or licorice tea, or find out about the herbs growing in your garden or pots. An infusion is easily brewed, and it will satisfy your cravings for a hot drink while assisting your body in detoxifying;
  • Drink lots of water. Add the juice of fresh lemons if you like the taste. It will have the same cleansing effect as drinking herbal teas and prevent you from getting caffeine withdrawal headaches;
  • Eat lots of apples for the same cleansing effect as above;
  • Approach it as a fun experiment in the chemistry lab that is your own body;
  • Check out expert advice on the internet on how to go about a caffeine detox.

I specialise in not knowing, I find out by writing. * Off-grid in New Zealand native forest. * You can support what I do at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store