Coffee: From Three Times a Day to Three Times a Week

Patrick Poh
5 min readJun 15, 2024


In today’s world, coffee has become an integral part of our daily routines. The enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the warmth of a cup in our hands, and the invigorating boost it provides have made it a staple in the lives of many.

However, my recent experiment to reduce coffee consumption from three times a day to three times a week has shed light on the power of the mind to control urges and the benefits of self-regulation.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The Beginnings of a Coffee Habit

My journey with coffee began at a young age, so early, in fact, that I can’t even pinpoint when exactly I started. Unlike smoking, which I began out of boredom and can clearly remember the year I picked it up, coffee drinking seemed to come naturally. It was a habit formed by observing adults around me. It became a “symbol of maturity”, a rite of passage into adulthood.

The social acceptance and even encouragement of coffee consumption have played a significant role in reinforcing this habit. Coffee chains with their comfortable settings, air-conditioned interiors, cozy chairs, interesting decor, and appealing lighting have made coffee a social lubricant. These establishments have promoted coffee as not just a beverage, but an experience — a perfect setting for meetups, gatherings, or just chilling out.

How Much Is Too Much?

Seeing a Reddit post about people drinking three to four cups of coffee a day made me reflect on my own consumption. During my university days, I would (sometimes) drink more than five cups a day, leading to shaky hands and jitteriness. The constant mental exertion during the day seemed to drive my need for coffee as a stimulant for mental energy. The fetching of coffee was more like a natural habit than a purposeful decision.

This made me wonder: why do we rely on coffee so heavily? Is it truly a natural habit, or is it a socially constructed one? And more importantly, how much coffee is too much?

Embarking on a New Experiment

Recently, I embarked on an experiment to test my ability to control my coffee urges. The goal was to reduce my coffee intake from three times a day to three times a week. This experiment was less about discipline and more about the ability to say no to ingrained habits without experiencing too much “pain.” It’s not a total detox, I didn’t think it needed to be.

The initial transition was surprisingly smooth. For the first few days, my mind was strong, and I was determined to prove to myself that this change was possible. I decided not to go cold turkey but to adopt a gradual approach — drinking coffee on alternate days. This way, there were days when I completely abstained from coffee, allowing my body a kind of “caffeine-detox.”

Observations and Physical Reactions

During the experiment, I noticed my mind constantly wanting to revert to the daily coffee habit. However, physically, I felt the benefits of reduced coffee consumption. On days without coffee, my body no longer craved it by mid-afternoon, and I could get through the rest of the day without thinking about it.

Interestingly, while I couldn’t scientifically confirm if my mind felt sharper, I observed that having too much coffee made me feel sluggish faster. It seemed that the rapid boost from coffee led to more noticeable crashes. On the other hand, drinking water (or even tea) instead of coffee provided a more sustained physical recharge.

Finding a Balance

One way forward I think, is to limit coffee to once a day and at very specific times, such as late morning or during lunch. This approach helps avoid the early-morning trigger that leads to multiple cups throughout the day. By pushing myself to get through the day until the mid-afternoon without coffee, I can manage cravings better and prevent over-reliance on caffeine.

Mindful Consumption and Better Health

This experiment is not just about reducing coffee intake but also about being mindful of what we consume and how it affects our bodies. Paying closer attention to our habits can help us achieve better physical and mental health. Here are some key takeaways:

1. Understanding Urges: The experiment has taught me that our urges are often psychological. The mind seeks the comfort of familiar habits, but with awareness and intent, we can reprogram our responses.

2. Gradual Transition: A gradual reduction in coffee intake was more effective for me than going cold turkey. It allowed my body and mind to adjust without feeling deprived.

3. Physical Benefits: Reducing coffee intake led to noticeable physical benefits. Less jitteriness, fewer energy crashes, and better overall hydration were some of the positive changes.

4. Social Aspects: Recognizing the social aspects of coffee consumption helped me understand why it’s such a deeply ingrained habit. Finding alternative social activities can help reduce reliance on coffee as a social crutch.

Practical Tips for Reducing Coffee Intake

For those looking to embark on a similar journey, here are some practical tips:

1. Set Clear Goals: Decide on a specific reduction plan. Whether it’s cutting down to one cup a day or limiting to certain days of the week, having clear goals helps maintain focus.

2. Substitute with Water: Whenever you feel the urge for coffee, drink water instead. Staying hydrated can reduce cravings and improve overall energy levels.

3. Find Alternatives: Explore other beverages like herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee. These can provide comfort without the caffeine.

4. Be Patient: Understand that cravings will occur, especially in the beginning. Patience and persistence are key to overcoming them.

5. Monitor Progress: Keep track of your progress. Note any physical or mental changes you experience. This can provide motivation and insights into the benefits of reduced coffee intake.


Reducing coffee consumption from three times a day to three times a week has been an interesting experiment in self-control and mindfulness. It has shown me that the mind is highly capable of controlling urges, even those that are deeply ingrained.

By being mindful of our consumption and understanding the underlying reasons for our habits, we can make healthier choices and improve our overall well-being.

Coffee, like many things in life, is best enjoyed in moderation. Finding that balance allows us to appreciate its benefits without becoming dependent on it. As I continue my journey, I am reminded that true self-control is not about denying ourselves pleasures but about making conscious choices that lead to a healthier, more balanced life.