November Challenge: No coffee

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At the end of 2020, I've decided to make 2021 a challenging year. I have committed to doing 12 monthly challenges, one for each month. You can see the list of all the challenges here. Below is a summary of the November challenge.

What was the challenge?

Challenge: No coffee.

Why: I love coffee, and it has multiple health benefits, but it can also mess with your sleep. I'll go an entire month without coffee and substitute it with other stimulants (e.g., yerba mate), observing the effects of the change, if any.

How well did it go?

Challenge completion rate: 100% (30 out of 30)

How hard was it?

At the end of each day, I recorded if I had completed the challenge for the day. I also rated how much effort it took on a scale of 1 to 10. While it's subjective, it gives an idea of how hard it was to complete the challenge.

Average effort score: 2.83
Lowest effort score for the month: 1 (3 times)
Highest effort score for the month: 6 (2 times)

What did I learn from it?

It was surprisingly much easier than I thought it would be. Only the first few days were somewhat less comfortable, with slight headaches. After that, it was all smooth sailing.

I couldn't go without stimulants, though. That would kill my productivity and sleep pattern. My sleep is as bad as it gets. No need to make it even worse.

I decided to go with yerba mate. Red Bulls or Monsters daily can't possibly be healthy.

The only difference I noticed is that yerba takes a little longer to have the effect, but the effect lasts longer. It might be problematic, though. If I drank it at night or late in the evening, I could easily sit and work through the night, not wanting to sleep, only to be distracted by the morning sun.

I also felt more focused on yerba. It might be just my perception, but it's the case whenever I drink yerba instead of coffee.

With this challenge, I answered myself a question. Yes, I can go without coffee for as long as I want. I might not need to or want to, but I can.


  • "I'm not an addict if I can stop when I want." An excellent excuse to get back to drinking a lot of coffee with a clear conscience.
  • Better focus.
  • Longer-lasting effects.


  • No coffee. I like the taste, the ritual, the camaraderie (Hmmm, I sound like someone describing drugs).
  • No easily available replacements when eating out. Yerba mate is not a common menu item.

Will I keep doing it?

No. The purpose of the challenge was for me to be able to say that I can stop whenever I choose to. I can. That's good enough for me. I like coffee, and I will keep drinking it. Most days, probably too much. With coffee being my only drug, I'm fine.

What's the next month's challenge?

Challenge: Daily post on Instagram.

Why: I used to post on Instagram once every few years. I'm not used to it. I also obviously can't post the usual Instagram half-naked stuff. So it sounded like a good challenge: something I don't usually do, with a dose of creativity not to post useless stuff.