Caffeine IS a drug

John Kuhn
2 min readJun 1, 2021

TL;DR: Feels good, but isn’t sustainable in my experience. These are just a few of my observations since really leaning into coffee as a productivity tool.

Pretty much my whole life I’ve avoided coffee, and not for any other reason than I just disliked the taste. Even when I was working as an intern at Salesforce and we had a free coffee bar all day long, I still avoided it. My roommate at the time told me to order mochas because they have a lot of milk and sugar and taste better, but I still didn’t like them and would usually just throw most of it out.

Fast forward to being 18 months into my career post college. Working remotely is a bit of a mundane drag, and I started turning to coffee as a productivity tool. I went from drinking no coffee to drinking 2–3 cups a day. My taste aversion has gone away completely. In fact, I don’t add any sugar or creamer most of the time and buy the dark roasts.

Positives

I found myself becoming a productivity monster. I could grind through tasks at a crazy speed and enjoyed doing it. The best tasks to hit were the chore type tasks with a very well defined goal but a very pain in the ass solution which is also well established. An example being cleaning up software specs in our test suite, shit no one wants to do. On coffee, it became my personal goal to make sure our tests were as efficient and clean as possible.

I liked the feeling coffee gave me. I enjoyed being wired, and I know I was getting a dopamine hit every time I drank a cup.

Context switching became easier. If someone pinged me on a slack channel asking a question, I had no issue answering it and coming right back into the headspace I was just in.

Negatives

For the first time in my adult life I started having nightmares. Serious waking up sweaty nightmares with demons and death. Since I stopped drinking coffee they’ve gone away completely.

I was extremely irritable on coffee. If a zoom meeting was starting to run over by a couple minutes, I became immediately upset. I had no patience for stupid questions or even questions that were directed my way that could be answered with a google search or onboarding documents. Additionally, I was upset that everyone else on the team wasn’t running as fast as I was, and “I’m the best person on my team” thoughts were common, which aside from being an incorrect assertion is a very unhealthy thought.

Conclusion

I’ve completely stopped drinking coffee, full stop. Exceptions being if I’m staying with a friend and he or she offers it to me in the morning with breakfast or something.

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John Kuhn

Co-Founder of Integral. I write very informally