I have been drinking a lot of sugar in my coffee for nearly two decades. When Noah was a baby back in 1997, my coffee of choice was General Foods International Coffee French Vanilla Cafe, made with skim milk.
It’s not even coffee. It’s sugar, hydrogenated soybean oil and corn syrup solids, with instant coffee and artificial vanilla flavor. But it sort of tasted like coffee and it contained caffeine. It’s also manufactured by Maxwell House, and that’s coffee, right? I drank a giant mug of it every morning and another one in the afternoon while I took care of my little newborn first baby.
Thus, the story of my coffee addiction begins in the heart of Sugar Land, where residents enjoy a little bit of coffee to go with their cream and sugar. And black coffee only exists in their most bitter of nightmares.
In the early 2000s, my favorite Starbucks drink was a Grande Caramel Macchiato, with a whopping 32 grams of sugar, and I treated myself to one every time I went out. At home, I bought flavored creamers. The big giant artificial garbage that tastes so creamy and good and comes in seasonal flavors and pretty colors. Look how pretty…
About 10 years ago, in an effort to be healthier, I started buying organic fair trade whole bean coffee, organic half and half, and vanilla or hazelnut syrup from Whole Foods. Because buying it from Whole Foods means it’s healthy, even if it’s syrup.
Finally, I moved from sugar/syrup to local raw honey. It wasn’t fake, and it actually had some nutritional value. But my coffee was still very, very creamy and sweet. Creamy and sweet brings me great joy.
That’s where I’ve lived the last several years and where I intended to stay.
I’d come to the realization that I really love sweet, creamy coffee. It is truly one of my favorite things. I look forward to it every day. In my gratitude journal, coffee makes a regular appearance. More so than people. I’m not joking.
I also love joy.
So, since I experienced such joy, I’d decided to stop worrying about coffee and sugar and all that, because I truly eat clean about 90% of the time. I’d decided, in the light of eternity, sugar in coffee was simply not a big deal. Loving coffee more than people could be problematic, however.
In January, I went on a fast. It was a spiritual fast, but I cut several things out of my diet, not the least of which were animal products (including half and half) and sugar. During that fast, I drank only water and black coffee.
For a girl who drinks whitish coffee with honey every morning, THIS WAS THE WORST TASTING THING EVER. I dreaded every morning of the fast and hated every single second of sipping that stupid joyless black coffee. However, I was unwilling to deal with fasting AND caffeine withdrawal, so I forced myself to drink the stupid joyless black coffee every morning and get on with my caffeinated day.
I did that for 21 days. I also lost 6 pounds in the first week.
(Not that the fast was about pounds, but spiritual things affect us physically, and vice versa—it’s just true. So, stepping on the scale during a fast is not all that crazy or carnal or whatever you might be thinking right now.)
I broke the fast with much fanfare and celebration, as I filled my coffee cup with lots o’ cream and honey and a little bit of coffee. I heard trumpets and saw beautiful unicorns and rainbows, too.
And that’s when a very, very weird thing happened: For the first time ever, it didn’t taste very good.
At least, not at first. I thought that first cup of Joy-Filled Coffee would be pure bliss. But it wasn’t. It tasted too sweet, too thick and kinda gross. But I just continued drinking it like that, and (surprise!) within a few days, it tasted normal again. I quickly regained my 6 pounds and moved on with my sugary, caffeinated life.
Then, a few weeks ago, with the majority of our move behind me, and bathing suit season before me, I decided to rein it in and focus on my health. I started with the coffee. I remembered how quickly I lost six pounds on that fast and how gross the Joy-Filled Coffee tasted when I drank that first cup. I decided to try to drink it with no honey or sugar at all, and also, cut my half and half down by half. So, now it’s like half and a quarter.
The first taste was a little yuck, but by the middle of that cup, it actually tasted okay. Maybe the joy is not in the super-sweet coffee after all?
The next day, it didn’t taste yuck at all.
And after that, it tasted good.
I have been doing this for about a month now, and I can honestly say, I LOVE my coffee without sugar!!!! I do. I really, really do. And I will drink it in a box and with a fox and on a train…
I have completely broken the sugar addiction and I no longer crave it, at all. In fact, I have also started drinking unsweetened tea, which I have never, ever enjoyed. Not only do I drink it, but I enjoy it.
No lie. It’s a freaking miracle that I enjoy these things unsweetened.
I have also lost 9 pounds. Which, for me, is also a miracle, considering I eat healthy and exercise every day, and I never accidently lose 9 pounds ever, ever, ever, ever.
I’m moving a little more and cutting back a little on portions, so I think there are more things at work than just sugar. But the main change I’ve made is cutting sugar out of my coffee and greatly reducing the cream.
So, all that to say, you if you are a person who thinks you would never in a bazillion years enjoy coffee without sugar, maybe this story will give you hope.
However, if you like it all sweet and creamy, and don’t want to stop drinking it that way, then never mind.