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January 30, 2017 · 3 min read

Switching from coffee to caffeine pills


If you’ve ever met me (especially if you’ve met me in the early morning), you’ll know that I’m a caffeine addict. I’m very grumpy if I can’t get my morning jolt, and I usually drink coffee throughout the day to keep me going. I don’t particularly like this about myself, but I try to keep very busy and it’s hard to fit in periods of detox with a busy work schedule. As a result, I’ll normally drink 3/4 of a pot of coffee during the day and a soda or two at night. All that acidic coffee has started causing me stomach problems, and it’s interfering with my efficiency as I have to keep taking bathroom interruptions.

About two weeks ago, I was idling on Hacker News and noticed a comment by somebody who said they had the same problem and switched from coffee to caffeine pills, with great success. I love self-experimentation, so I decided I’d give it a shot.


I find that if I down a strong cup of coffee or take single 200mg caffeine pill, the coffee comes on faster and reaches a higher peak. The pill still comes on quicker than I expected and takes me up to a normal, human amount of energy in about half an hour. This slowly climbs throughout the next few hours, then slowly tapers off.

With the coffee, however, my energy level keeps rising and falling as the initial cup wears off and I have to drink more to keep going. After a few hours of this, I begin crashing so hard that I’m actually worse off than if I just didn’t have anything at all.

Overall, the advantages are quite clear.

The Downsides

There’s nothing else in the world that can give me the feeling that coffee gives me, the feeling that there is something in this world that loves me, it is warm and it is black, and I love it like it loves me. There is a reason to keep living, and that reason is love. The ritual of brewing it, the smell, the taste, the burn of the tongue, the flash flood of dopamine as my brain boots up, oh God, I love coffee.

A caffeine pill will not fix a hangover like coffee will. A pill does not make the senses tingle nor does it rev the libido. You can’t go on a date to a pharmacy. In fact, the ritual of taking a pill every morning is I one that I actually find quite repulsive. I’ve tried to mask it by having a cup of decaffeinated tea as well, but I can tell. It’s not the same.

I’m so excited!

As Saved By the Bell showed us, the pills can also be quite habit-forming. It’s easier to take six pills at once than it is to down 12 cups of coffee. I’ll only take one in the morning perhaps one more in the evening if I intend to work late, but I could see how this could be a problem for some people. It’s something to keep an eye on, at least.


If you’re working long hours and your coffee intake is over 1 or 2 cups a day, I’d seriously recommend switching from coffee to caffeine pills, if only for the sake of your stomach and your bladder. Everybody else, keep drinking coffee. Drink it slowly and appreciate all that it gives you. It is a gift.