Coffee Levels Coming Down

Last week I posted on my current issues with coffee in the post Hello Darkness My Old Friend.

…my relationship with coffee right now is troubled.

Coffee is now making me feel both good and awful at the same time.

Not only has this affected my energy level, but my food reward experiment.

I’ll drink coffee for the flavor and pick up and then crash not later in the day, but sometimes as soon as 30-60 minutes later. At this point my energy level is low and I can’t drink more coffee, so I reach to food for the pickup. Coffee can be both suppress and stimulate appetite. In the short run, it suppresses, but in the longer time frame, I believe it increases my appetite.

Well I have good news. This week has gone much better. I bought a high quality decaf coffee which I now drink upon waking. This tricks my head for about an hour, which is exactly what I want it to do. By delaying the first cup of caffeinated coffee an hour I don’t get the spike and crash effect. Also, when I do go for my first caffeinated coffee, I only get a half a mug.

As the day progresses, I’ll pair coffee more with food, which seems to help. I’d say my coffee levels are down about 30-40%, but I’m not bouncing from wired to tired all day long. I’m also doing those morning and late afternoon short walks right about the time I would have been crashing. Although the reduction in quantity consumed is helping, I’d equally credit adjusting the timing for the benefit.

Some people scoff at decaf coffee, but decaf has changed a lot in the last four years. Most people including many people in the coffee industry are unaware of the quality improvements made by Swiss Water in the decaffeination process. The short version is some decaf coffees are so good now that they are fooling coffee professionals. The long version of what is happening with decaf is worthy of an article, which I plan to write and post over on INeedCoffee.


Fighting the coffee devil this week. Photo by me taken at El Diablo Coffee in Seattle. 


Add yours

  1. Which brand of decaf coffee do you currently like? We’ve been impressed with Gevalia.

  2. @Glenn – I would say 99% of the decaf coffees out there are terrible for reasons I will go into in the upcoming INeedCoffee article. The 3 roasters that come to mind who are getting decaf right are Kuma, Slate and Ritual. There are more, but I’ve had the decaf offerings from these 3 in the last year so I can endorse them.

  3. I added a second big ass cup of coffee to my day in the mid afternoon. It kills my appetite and I’m full until dinner. I went with a decaf that is using the swiss water method. Tastes just as good as the caffeinated version in the morning.

  4. Green Tea/Coffee

    Green tea is one of the most overrated health food hoaxes ever. Most of the so-called antioxidants in green tea (and the same thing applies to many other “phytonutrients” that the health food people get excited about) are actually polyphenolic compounds — many of them estrogenic. The particular polyphenol in green tea is catechin (also found in red wine and cocoa). There are some benefits from the catechin family of polyphenols, but they are grossly over-hyped.

    Of course, the most important point is that none of the flavonoids and other polyphenols have significant nutritional effects unless there is healthy intestinal flora/microbiota..

    So much for the catechins — the one small benefit from green tea.

    Now the other considerations — most people do not realize it but green tea is exactly the same thing
    as black tea. It is the same leaf from the same plant but picked when the plant is younger rather than fully mature. As a consequence, green tea has all the harmful effects of black tea. And, the biggest problem is the caffeine content.

    The amount of caffeine in 2 cups of coffee more than doubles the body’s loss of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and other minerals each day. It takes more than 2 cups of tea to equal the caffeine in 2 cups of coffee, but just remember that the mineral loss is directly proportional to the tea intake.

  5. @Gary – I can’t stand the coffee and tea fans that try to defend their drink by saying it is healthy. I drink coffee and tea occasionally because I love the taste.

  6. @Gary,

    Just curious. What’s your take on herbal teas? Hibiscus, chamomile, dandelion, valerian, etc. Caffeine free.

    Also, in an earlier post your seemed to disparage fermented vegetables as being a mouthful of lactic acid. Sandor Katz got it wrong? Can you elaborate?

    I do enjoy your posts.

  7. @Rudy – I can’t speak for Gary on fermented veggies, but I posted on my understanding here (see #3).

  8. @Rudy,

    In adults, the critical SCFA are acetate, propionate, and butyrate. In breast fed infants fecal SCFA consists mainly of acetate and lactate. Lactate (lactic acid) is an appropriate SCFA for infants, but not for adults. This distinction between healthy SCFA content of infants vs. adults is critical for you to understand. Adults should not have any more than tiny amounts of lactic acid in the GI tract. The main reason: by far the most important and beneficial SCFA is butyrate, and lactic acid decreases butyrate production.

    The structure and function of colon cells, as well as the link between the GI tract and the immune system, is tied in with the proper quantity and balance of short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are end-products of the anaerobic colonic bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates. There are 3 SCFA: acetate, propionate, and butyrate, that must exist in the healthy adult colon in the ratio 3:1:1, and play a vital role in maintenance of colon cell integrity and metabolism, and modulate immune system activation.

    SCFA constitute two-thirds of the colonic anion concentration and they perform critical functions.

    Non-physiological quantities of lactic acid can decrease butyrate production. Not only does the lactate create an undesirable intestinal environment, but the lactic acid is easily absorbed, and can be a metabolic stressor for many people.

    And don’t buy into resistant starch, i.e. white rice, potatoes and yams. These 3 starches are actually the highest amylose starches there are. Amylose has an extremely high glycemic load because the amylose so quickly degrades in the gut to sugar. Also note that these 3 starches are very low in indigestible fiber relative to their number of calories. — So — eating those 3 starches will wreak havoc with your glycemic control and do virtually nothing to feed your gut flora.

    Eat your vegetables (fibrous/non-starchy). Indigestible carbohydrate is the primary food source for normal intestinal flora. The acetate formed via colonic fermentation of undigested carbohydrates is readily absorbed from the colon.


    New chemical methods are now common to make tea quality seem higher.

    Ice Cream

    I don’t eat ice cream. But I have made exceptions when her clothes are off.

  9. Mike Yarbrough

    Apr 28, 2015 — 6:13 pm

    I had a similar issue with coffee and stayed away from it for quite a while. I switched to decaf, which helped, but at some point I gave it up all together. However, for me I found it was definitely in the quality of coffee I was drinking. I was typically getting coffee from a Keurig in the early morning. I didn’t really need coffee to wake me up, just enjoyed the flavor and having something warm plus the routine. However, 30-60 mins later I would start to feel sluggish.

    After I had been off coffee for a while I decided to have some coffee from a shop across the street which serves LaVazza coffee. Anyhow, the stuff is great and I felt great after drinking it. A few days later I had a cup from the Keurig…felt terrible. I started asking around the office and other people said the same thing. We had a new Keurig machine brought in but still had the same issue. I feel fine with home brewed and the stuff from the coffee shop (not Starbucks), but not much else.

    That may not be the same situation as yours, I know there can be adrenal fatigue issues as well, but maybe this will help someone else.

  10. @Mike – For me this is not a quality issue. I’m getting my coffee from the best roasters and coffee shops in the country. I think it is quantity and timing issue.

  11. Did reducing caffeine intake improve your sleep? I’m drinking about 16 oz of aeropress coffee/day. I use about 40 grams of beans to brew that much. I tend to wake up around 4am tossing and turning. I don’t get solid sleep after that point. I read that you had a similar problem. Did you resolve the issue with less coffee?

  12. @Steve – Actually I discovered a hack. It probably deserves a full post, but the short version is I drink a glass of salted orange juice prior to coffee. It prevents the spike and crash effect. Doing this stabilizes my energy throughout the day. This enables me to sleep better.

    If you don’t like orange juice, just seek out something with sugar and a touch of salt.

  13. How much OJ?

  14. @steve – I have 8-16 oz. Nothing exact. Drink as much or as little as you want.

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