Discovering my coffee personality (and breaking up with caffeine)

Discovering my coffee personality (and breaking up with caffeine)

Back in January, I gave up coffee for a month during my Whole 30. When my Whole 30 was over, I added caffeine back in, and found out pretty quickly that one cup was my limit.

But since that happy day coffee and I reunited in February, I’ve felt increasingly less well on my one cup. (It gives me headaches and makes me jumpy. This post set off all kinds of bells in my head. Go read it.) I switched to half-caff pretty quickly, and a few weeks ago I switched to 100% decaf. It was a sad day for this devoted coffee snob.

But I feel great.

drink coffee

When I ditched the caffeine a few weeks ago, I viewed it as an experiment, not as a permanent thing.

But last week I was talking to a friend and she happened to say–she didn’t know caffeine and I were on hiatus–“I quit caffeine three years ago, and you couldn’t pay me to go back.”

I realized my experiment was over: I already had my results.

Last week, Jen created a Myers-Briggs-inspired sleep personality inventory. (If you’ve never visited her blog, check out her 21 tips for survival mode while you’re there.) A quick review of my coffee personality made it clear it was time for caffeine and me to break up.

Don’t know your coffee personality? This quiz is for you:

Loves the taste of coffee (L) – (H) Hates the taste of coffee

Loves to sample new varieties  (S) – (C) Committed to one brand

Needs coffee to function (N)(D) Doesn’t need coffee to function

Gets pepped up from the caffeine (E)(F) Falls apart from the caffeine

I am a LSDF, which means I should keep drinking my coffee…decaf. The sad thing about decaf for an LS is there are far fewer options. But as a DF, it’s clear I have no business drinking the leaded stuff anymore.

I’m not committed to being a purist. My husband’s a (fellow) coffee geek, and we love to coffee shop (the verb) together. I’m counting on tasting his drinks, or maybe sipping (tiny) sample cups somewhere.

I may have to reevaluate that decision in the future, but golly, I hope not.

What’s your coffee personality? 

P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.

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59 comments

  1. I’m an LSDF too! And like your friend, you couldn’t pay me to drink a caffeinated beverage of any kind today. My biggest struggle in the summer is finding places that serve (good) decaf iced coffee. When I lived in Austin, there was one shop in particular that I *loved* and their decaf iced coffee was truly incredible, but they stopped selling it (which I found out when I was home visiting a few weeks ago) because not enough people bought it. Sigh. My favorite cheap-ish decaf is Trader Joe’s French roast, but the key to good decaf coffee, regardless of brand, is to make it twice as strong as you would regular coffee (at least that’s what I prefer).

    • Anne says:

      3 words that just might change your life: decaf iced Americano. 🙂

      Thanks for the decaf tips! (I’m lucky: several of the local roasters have a whopping TWO varieties of decaf, which isn’t terrible…but they have a lovely rotating variety of a dozen for the caffeinated beans! Boo.)

      I have some TJ’s decaf French roast in my cabinet that I’ve been meaning to turn into iced coffee. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Just curious. . .do you drink your coffee black? I felt pretty gross after drinking coffee (even though I love it) until I switched to soy creamer and no sweetener. Turns out it was the dairy and sugar that was messing with me, not the beans.

    • Anne says:

      I do drink it black. I used to be a devoted cream-and-sugar-taker, but I went black 5 years ago and haven’t looked back.

      That’s so interesting about the dairy and sugar. Glad you found a way to enjoy your coffee!

  3. Amy says:

    LSDE…that makes me some sort of social drinker 😉 Also, it’s not just the taste of coffee I love but the temperature–very soothing to have something warm in the morning.

    I really ought to drink decaf all the time. Too much caffeine and my stomach revolts but it does give me a jolt so I drink one cup a day. Actually, I should get rid of it totally for the amount of sugar I put in it!

    • Anne says:

      Somebody told me 5 years ago “give it 2 weeks black and you’ll never go back.” I was pretty unhappy that first week, but it was true: I didn’t want to go back after my second. I’m sure that’s not true for everyone, but I wanted to throw that out there in case you were serious about ditching the sugar.

      And I completely agree about having something warm in the morning! Even in the summer, when I love my iced coffee, I want my first cup to be hot.

  4. Joanna says:

    HSNE, although not strongly H and with varying degrees of N. When I was writing my thesis and again when working two jobs I was consuming chocolate covered coffee beans in quantities I am guessing where probably not too far off dangerous.

    I’m a bit of a strange coffee person. I like iced coffee and I like chocolate covered coffee beans but really don’t like hot coffee. I live in a city renowned for its coffee snobbery (Melbourne, Australia) so not drinking hot coffee is a bit awkward sometimes.

  5. Mary says:

    LCNE. I could never give up my coffee–or rather my coffee ritual. It begins the night before: I put the grounds to soak in my french press before going to bed. First thing the next morning, I pour my cold coffee over ice and top it with vanilla coconut milk before sitting down with it to catch up on my favorite blogs. I find each step in the preparation process intensely relaxing (and energizing, if that makes sense) and satisfying.

    So I don’t know if it is the coffee itself, or the ritual surrounding it that I find so addictive. But either way, there is no way you could convince me to give it up!

  6. Jaimie says:

    I’m an LSDF too– but it’s not the caffeine that bothers me as much as too much coffee creamer (it messes with my stomach). I’ve started drinking ONE cup, on occasion, mixed with a full cup (as in 8 oz each) of milk, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and sometimes about a teaspoon of brown sugar or maple syrup– whipped with my immersion blender to mix it all together really well and create a lovely foam on top. My tummy likes this and I think it tastes better than any coffee creamer! My husband likes/needs the caffeine from regular coffee, and with this method I can drink regular with no problem. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      I’ve heard so much about the “bulletproof coffee” but I’m afraid to try it. Were you scared? Because it doesn’t *sound* like my typical coffee delicousness to me…

      • Jaimie says:

        It was only sort of “bulletproof coffee.” That’s made with really high-quality coffee (I use Folger’s…) and grassfed butter (I don’t use any butter, just the coconut oil, and just a little). Scared? Goodness, no. I did try it after reading about bulletproof coffee, but also because I wanted to test the power of my immersion blender. The foam it creates is thick and rich, and the coffee really doesn’t need any sweetener with the 50/50 ratio of coffee to milk–but it’s yummier with a little pure maple syrup, brown sugar, and I sometimes even add a couple drops of pure almond extract.

        It’s rich, creamy, delicious, and non-tummy-bothering, so this is basically the only way I drink coffee now. Sometimes I even use part heavy cream and part milk, and even that doesn’t bother me. I think it was the sweeteners/preservatives/etc in coffee creamer that was affecting my system.

  7. I’m an LSDE for sure… except when I get some espresso, in which case I crash and burn. Have you ever had Mystic Monk brand coffee? It is hands down the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, and they do almost every blend in decaf (it’s an online store). I usually drink a small, weak cup of coffee every afternoon, because for some reason caffeine seems to affect me much more in the mornings.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve never tried it but people keep telling me about it! One day I’ll get my hands on some, pinky swear. 🙂

  8. MK says:

    Perfect timing for this post. Last night the baby wouldn’t sleep, and your post about not being able to do things in moderation kept ringing in my head.

    I had let Diet Pepsi back into my life and (at first) it had no effect on the baby. But one a day turned into stopping at the gas station for an extra one every time we went by and…well, I learned that I can’t do moderation either! And after a bit, my milk must be riddled with it and baby can’t sleep…and I feel like a terrible mama.

    So, the remains of a 24 pack is curb-bound, my head hurts, and I haven’t had enough sleep in ages…but I’m clinging to the hope that I (and baby) will feel better soon enough!

    • Anne says:

      Oh, I so get that. I’ve done that with Diet Coke (quit, then the slow creep back in) a half dozen times at least.

      The headache will fade, the baby will be fine, and you’re not a terrible mama! You just need to find a nice substitute. I’m sure you can do it. 🙂

  9. LCNE — I suppose I could give up coffee, if I had to, but right now, yeah, I’m like Mary and consider coffee and the routine surrounding it one of those pleasures in life that is small but brings me a great amount of joy.

  10. Jennifer says:

    A few weeks ago, I would have answered LSDE. I have, however, been pondering the effects of caffeine for a few weeks now, and I’ve been feeling pulled toward a break with my coffee reliance. My problem with coffee is that I associate it with productivity. I think that it goes back to the days of undergrad when I would pull all-nighters with a pot of coffee to keep me fueled. Then came grad school, and babies who wouldn’t sleep for more than a couple of hrs at a time, and all-nighters of grading 3 sections-worth of papers.

    Alas, I am WAY too dependent on coffee, but, I think it’s just the beverage – not necessarily the caffeine. I may move to half-caf and see how I do. Thanks for the fodder for reflection!

    • Anne says:

      I so resonate with the “productive” drink. Oddly, mine isn’t coffee–it’s Diet Coke. I have deep associations with cracking one open and settling in to hard work. I think that’s one of the reasons diet coke was such a hard habit to break for me. (That, and that stuff is crazy addictive!)

  11. Karianna says:

    LSDE here. Beware, I’m commenting before I’ve had a cup. 🙂 I would say I’m on the border of N and D though. Do I need it to function? No. Is it part of my routine? Yes. Does this E/ISTJ thrive on routine and fall into a tailspin if said routine is disrupted? You betcha. I experimented to see if the cup and act of drinking was the routine key by switching to a lovely Jasmine Green Tea and that was wonderful… But then my yearning for something strong, dark and smoky returned.

    Jaimie’s mix with coconut oil sounds intriguing… I may have to check it out!

  12. Tim says:

    LSDE for sure. I’ve had teims when I’ve ditched caffeine for a while, but in comparing those times to time with caffeine I can’t see a marked improvement when off coffee.

    My coffee of choice for the home is Tully’s Hawaiian Blend in my Keurig one-cup maker. It tastes great hot or iced (brew straight into a tall cup full of ice). There’s a great coffee shop near the courthouse that I can try a variety of blends and roasts, and they will do a single drip made up special for me for just a little more than a regular cup costs out of their carafe. Plus great pastries, as you can see here!

    Tim

  13. I’m an LSDF, too! The caffeine never bothered me EVER until I went off it during my third pregnancy and while I was nursing him. With my other two kiddos I could restart fully leaded drinks no problem. Now, I’m better info stick to one cup in the morning and no caffeine in any form after 12 noon. Ugh.

    • Anne says:

      Oh, interesting. I was always sensitive but could handle a few cups a day just fine…until after my 4th baby, now that you mention it. Hmm.

      • Caris Adel says:

        ha, k. I’m feeling more and more really addicted to it, and I quit once for 3 weeks and it was kind of amazing….I’m starting to wonder if I should try it again.

  14. How fun! I’m an LSNE. It’s not only that the caffeine gets me going, but it’s such a mood lifter for me. Like happiness in a cup. I think part of the mood-lifting aspect I could still have with decaf coffee because the ritual of making it and drinking it is part of the fun. But with a 4-year-old, a 21-month-old, and a newborn my cup in the morning and my cup in the afternoon just make like so much prettier 🙂 I can drink it without sugar, but I gotta have me some cream, milk, or butter, or else.

    • Anne says:

      “But with a 4-year-old, a 21-month-old, and a newborn my cup in the morning and my cup in the afternoon just make like so much prettier.”

      Those are great reasons. 🙂

  15. Hi Anne! I think I would be an LSNE, but the N is more on the wavelength as a ritual. It’s the warm cup of coffee to begin my day, not the caffeine. And as for the E, I don’t fall apart having caffeine, but don’t overconsume. I’m definitely at my best keeping my coffee intake to one cup a day. I feel yuck if I do more than that. So, maybe I’m not an E.

  16. Anna C says:

    I’m an LSNE. Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffe, yo. I love it black too- black and hot in the morning, iced with raw milk(or black, either way) in the afternoon. I’m definitely addicted to the caffeine though- not just for alertness but because it really helps me with anxiety. Weird, right?

  17. That sleep personality type thing is interesting! Coffee personality: LSDF. Same as you, which is funny because I am way more of a tea drinker, than a coffee drinker. But I blame that all on my inability to handle caffeine. I know I need to just accept the fact that decaf is better for me if I do decide to have a cup of coffee but I’m not ready to admit defeat yet. It’s a good thing I drink it so rarely!

  18. Mandie says:

    I’m an NSDF too. I gave caffeine up for the most part about a year ago due to anxiety and was so relieved that I didn’t have to get used to decaf when I found out I was pregnant. And then, about 6 weeks into my pregnancy I stopped wanting coffee! I’m back to drinking it now, but not every day, and only half-caff at most, but usually just decaf. I think it’s harder for me not to gulp down 3 cups of iced coffee in the summer- warm coffee just doesn’t do it for me like it used to.

  19. Sarah B. says:

    I am HSNE!
    I recently discovered that I need exactly one cup of coffee a day. I’m pregnant, so I tried to forgo the caffiene. I had a migraine every day for almost a week. Drank coffee, and lo, no headache. But if I have more than one cup I am a jittery mess.

    My favorite right now is a local blend from a coffee company called Hubbard and Cravens. I add lots of half and half and a little bit of splenda.

  20. I love that you made an MBTI for coffee. 🙂 I’m an LSDE, which at least means that I can buy whatever organic, fair-trade brand is cheapest at the time and, happily, not be bothered by taste differences.
    I’m tempted to try going black after reading what you said about 2 weeks. So far, I only prefer black with desserts.

  21. Meg Evans says:

    I graded myself an LSNE, although I’m not entirely sold on the N. I don’t need it in order to function so much as I need it in order to stave off the headache that comes from not having it.

    Many, many years ago I gave up soda, and I haven’t missed it at all. Occasionally I’ll have a ginger ale or a sprite and I’ll feel so turned off by the amount of sugar in them (especially in the sprite).

    I am very sensitive to caffeine, so if I have one cup a day, I have to have one cup a day–no deviations! I am starting to think I should cut back on the amount of sugar I put in it; my favorite part about the coffee is the creamer. I’ve thought about getting a milk frother. When we went to England last year, I discovered that if you ordered your coffee “white,” they added steamed milk to it–it was so much richer than cold creamer or half and half!

    I will probably consider switching to decaf at some point because I love the ritual of the morning coffee. My husband drinks a tankard of coffee in the mornings, so I think I’d have to get him on board with this first–or we’ll have to get a keurig so we can each brew our own!

  22. Laura says:

    I’m an LSDF too. I switched to decaf a year and a half ago after a cleanse. Now I’m a mess if I drink the regular stuff. I cannot sleep no matter when I had that coffee, including first thing in the morning. But I like my decaf with homemade almond milk. (Homemade is key because you can make it thicker so it’s more like 2%, not skim like the commercially made stuff.) I just feel better when I’m dairy-free.

  23. What a snazzy spin on the MBTI! How on earth do y’all all stay connected and do all this linking and bloggity-blogging. Whew! I wish I was in the mix more but I am much more pleasant with limited time on the internet, very limited time. Thanks for quality posts that are so enjoyable, informative and thought provoking. 🙂

  24. Amy says:

    It’s so interesting to read this, because I’ve noticed the same thing about myself. I was drinking 2-3 cups a day with no problems (I thought). I cut it to one cup only and now I feel like it affects me more. I love having that morning cup with my husband. sigh! I might have to try half decaf. 🙂

  25. 'Becca says:

    LSNE, although I can function on tea rather than coffee. Caffeine is a crucial medication for me in the prodrome stage of a migraine. (I realize caffeine triggers migraines for some people; it doesn’t for me, and I don’t have withdrawal headaches when I reduce caffeine consumption, and all doctors have told me I’m using it appropriately.) On ordinary days, as a data manager I need to be very sharp-minded and attentive, and caffeine helps with that, although it is possible to have too much and become distractible. I’m also prone to low blood pressure, and caffeine helps with that–though not as much as salt does.

    I am learning, though, that when I feel unusually anxious, it is better to drink a caffeine-free hot drink than coffee, even if I think I really want coffee. I also managed to go almost caffeine-free from about 3 weeks to 16 weeks pregnant; because coffee smelled horrible to me at that time, I quit drinking it (had green tea about twice a week) and functioned instead on the strange energy that was available to me some of the day.

    Decaf has no role in my life. Not only am I afraid of some of the solvents commonly used in decaffeination, but I find that decaf has a sort of anti-placebo effect, like the taste makes my body expect caffeine and then when there is not enough caffeine (decaf does have some) my circulation and brain activity go wrong. It’s similar to the effect of artificial sweeteners on me, but not as severe. So if I’m not having caffeine but want a hot drink, I have something that naturally has no caffeine in it, like “red tea” or peppermint tea.

  26. Hi! This is my first time reading your blog (I actually read your post about 5 reasons to know your personality type first), but then got linked to this post. Maybe I’m missing something, but was there a “key” to that coffee personality quiz anywhere? I’m a LSDE, but I don’t know where to find what that really means. Thanks!!

    • Anne says:

      Brittany, welcome! I’m glad you stumbled your way here. 🙂

      As for that quiz, I just made it up. But as an LSDF, I’m very jealous of your type! I’d love to have my lapsed caffeine tolerance back so I can sample more great coffee. 🙂

  27. Liza says:

    I came across this post via a link from a different post. I’m weird: I love the smell of coffee but hate the taste. My husband is a coffee drinker and I buy coffee for him based on smell. If I like the smell, he likes the taste. It works well. I finally realized that I like sweet drinks. If it’s not sweet, I don’t like it.

    A decaf tip: you can make decaf from regular coffee beans. Just brew it twice. Brew the regular coffee and let your husband drink it. Then using the same grounds, brew it again. The caffeine in the beans is leached out in the first brew. The second brew gives you the same flavor but is decaf. (You’re welcome.)

  28. Linda says:

    Have you tried Mount Hagen Fair Trade Decaf Instant coffee Anne? Myself and several of my friends all love it. It lasts a long time and you can adjust the strength so easily since it is instant. You can get it thru VitaCost or Swansons where you get vitamins. As for caffeine; I struggle terribly with it. When I am on it, I think quicker but also tend to say things too quick without thinking – but it also makes me more perky whereas I feel dull and gloomy when I am off of it. I also feel like my brain isn’t working and I can’t think of simple words (scares me) I do get horrible headaches after only 1 day of not having caffeine but if I go off it for several weeks, then I can start thinking clear again but it takes a few weeks for that to happen. We are definitely all wired differently as we handle caffeine in different ways. I have a friend that is 75 but looks 60 & doesn’t have a single grey hair; she has never touched caffeine of any form (allergic to it) meaning no chocolate either. Makes me wonder if caffeine makes us age faster!!! My grandma also stayed away from caffeine & she looked 70 when she died at 91; she had beautiful white hair & hardly any wrinkles. It would be interesting to hear what others have noticed on aging with non-caffeine drinkers.

  29. Andria says:

    I’m an LCDF. I’ve had an on-again off-again thing with coffee for the last few years. I drank way too much my second and third year of grad school, and when I was diagnosed with anxiety after I went to the doctor for heart palpitations, I stopped completely for a while and have mostly been a 1 cup a day person since. A recent bout of gastritis made me give it up again, and I’m having a hard time imagining going back. I have less of an afternoon slump and my general anxiety levels have been lower. I’ve been drinking a rooibos chai in the mornings, and it has been lovely, but maybe I’ll get some decaf for the weekends 🙂

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