August 11, 2018

Newish coffee ritual

From 2008 to 2013, I quit coffee. Actually I quit three specific things during those five years: drinking, coffee, and Diet Coke. I think I'd started as a new year's resolution in 2008, did it for a month, and was like: Oh wait, this is pretty easy, I'll just keep going. To be honest, I don't think it did me any good; I gained a ton of weight during those years (drinking calories and eating calories are not the same thing) and my social life suffered (it's really not un-awkward to have a social life in New York if you don't drink alcohol, coffee, or Diet Coke; also I got bored of explaining abstention to people when there wasn't a reason). Anyway, I started drinking alcohol and coffee again in 2013, just out of the blue—and I think, in retrospect, the best thing about taking all those years off caffeine and booze is that I now have much lower tolerance for both, so I have sort of successfully achieved moderation in these two consumption categories in middle age.

For a few years, I've been drinking Illy coffee made in a Bialetti, but in the past six months, I've been experimenting with different instant coffees that have stuff  (mushrooms, mostly) in it. It's apparently good for the brain and good for stress levels and health. See above reference to middle age.

Here's what I've been liking a lot:

1. Four Sigmatic "Create" with Lion's Mane and Chaga: This used to be called something different, I think "Think," because the balance of Lion's Mane and Chaga helped to both stave off caffeine jitters and helped focus throughout the day. I first read about this on Tim Ferriss' blog—he's right, it's powerful stuff. I try to drink this most work mornings—especially when I know I have a big meetings or brainstorming day ahead—and I try to not drink this on weekends, to give my brain a rest.

2. Four Sigmatic "Achieve" with Cordyceps and Chaga: This used to be called "Awake" and I drink this on days when I know I have to be alert, but maybe don't need the added focus boost of "Think." Cordyceps is a pretty popular ingredient in Chinese cooking, and apparently is also helpful in managing energy levels. I find that when I drink this in the morning, I don't get the 3 p.m. sleepies as much. I prefer the taste of the "Create" coffee packets, though, so I tend to stick with those.

3. Four Sigmatic "Hack Stress" Adaptogen Coffee with Tulsi and Astragalus: If you know me irl you know that sometimes work can really stress me out. Recently I ordered a box of this anti-stress coffee—my initial impressions are that 1. It totally works. The result is palpable and I feel physically more relaxed and unstressed, yet am still alert. 2. It has a very strong taste—very herbal, so if you don't like things that taste almost-medicinal-herbal, you may not be able to drink this. I'm going to keep this around and use it when I feel like I'm having an especially tough week, but I'm not sure yet whether this is going to be a regular thing for me.

4. On weekends I try not to drink coffee unless I have something I need to do, people to see, or need to stay up past 10 p.m. for some reason. To combat and prevent caffeine headaches, I'll have a cup or two of Yorkshire Tea in the mornings (with organic milk from grass fed cows—this is the only American milk I've found that even vaguely comes close to British milk). If I skip tea, I'll have a brutal headache by 11 a.m. and nothing besides two Advil and a nap will make it go away.