Today marks the end of a 90-day trial that I have been taking part in.
Before I moved to Sweden, I would usually drink one cup of coffee in the morning before work. Of course, I knew that there was a bigger “coffee culture” here in Sweden, but that is not the reason that I undertook the trial. Even a year after moving here I never felt that the “Fika” culture was really for me. The whole idea of drinking coffee and eating cakes with friends is something that British people would always feel a little hard taking part of. It’s something more associated with Italians drinking espressos or Scandinavians with a coffee, taking the time to talk to colleagues or friends about what they were up to.
The UK is different. The catching up with friends usually takes place after work and possibly in a pub.
The reason that I began this trial was because after working in an office. My previous employer I worked the majority of my time from home, so meetings were usually held over the phone or Skype. Here they were physical, and you would normally begin by asking if they wanted coffee or water. I find not many Swedish people drink tea.
Soon the meetings were picking up and at the height of the year I would have six to eight meetings a day, and that resulted in six to eight cups of coffee. Already being an insomniac, I found that sleep was becoming worse. Some people here would drink coffee at night, I could not even contemplate that idea. My thoughts were what could I do about it.
So I decided on a little experiment. Give up coffee for three months and see what the results were.
The first month was not that difficult. Coffee for me is not addictive, it was just something that I drank during meetings, so it was not that much of an issue. For each meeting, I just replaced with either water or Hot Chocolate. In May so the weather was still a little cold so drinking hot chocolate was not so bad. After the third week, I began to sleep a little better and also felt more alert and awake. In fact, I was not missing coffee at all.
Something changed! I began missing coffee. The smell of coffee would be on my mind, especially when there was filtered coffee. I also began drinking more and more hot chocolate. This led to a craving for sweets (godis here in Sweden). I never ate them before, I would have the occasional bar of chocolate, but here I was buying bags of the stuff. When I was at home, I had a bowl that I would dip into when I was watching tv or on the phone. I was drinking chocolate milkshake after the gym. There were also a lot of godis being placed at work, which I don’t think too many complained!
Sleep was much better, on average three hours more per night and being an insomniac this was heaven! No more did I miss the smell of coffee or the taste. Meetings were satisfied with one hot chocolate instead of two. The craving for chocolate is no longer there. I feel more alert, more awake and above all far healthier.
Coffee is part of living here in Sweden. Only Finland consumes more per person each year. It became part of my life, but that led to sleeping issues especially during the winter months when there are little hours of daylight. Now after ninety days I will not be going back to coffee. I may have the occasional cup but what I found for me is that coffee is addictive, can affect your health and especially your sleep.
So it’s goodbye to coffee. Will see you around but the relationship is over!