ABA Journal


Question of the Week

How much caffeine do you need to get through a workday?

May 1, 2013, 06:48 pm CDT


Well, there's two cups of coffee before I leave the house, a Starbucks Frappaccino on the drive to work, three to four cups of coffee before lunch, usually a large coke at lunch, two cups of coffee in the afternoon and usually a coke after I get home.

I don't know what that adds up to numbers wise, but I'm reasonably certain I'm pushing up the average caffeine intake.

By OKBankLaw on 2013 05 01, 7:57 pm CDT

No offense please, all that caffeine and sugar daily is NOT good for and you are well headed for hypertension, high blood pressure, heart disease issue if you're not careful!!!

By streetrunner on 2013 05 01, 8:13 pm CDT

That's not nearly enough for a lawyer.

By Wired on 2013 05 01, 8:32 pm CDT

Heh. How much have you got?

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 01, 11:11 pm CDT

One small latte per day. Other than that, I prefer my caffeine in solid, choco-lated format. It's less likely to get all over my computer keyboard.

By BMF on 2013 05 01, 11:21 pm CDT

Not nearly as much as when I was selling cars.

By W.R.T. on 2013 05 02, 1:58 am CDT

Two cups: One before I leave the house in the morning; the second from McDonald's which I take into work with me.

By Yankee on 2013 05 02, 2:29 am CDT

On a regular day: one cup of coffee in the morning, a cup of black tea/mate in the early afternoon.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 02, 12:03 pm CDT


No offense taken, but other than the Frappaccino and the cokes, I don't add sugar to my coffee. And so far at least, the caffeine intake hasn't caused any of the problems you've indicated.

A friend of mine once remarked that he couldn't believe I drank so much coffee and didn't I know that much caffeine wasn't good for me... He said this of course as he drank his 8th Diet Mt. Dew of the day.

By OKBankLaw on 2013 05 02, 1:17 pm CDT

Having read the exchange above @1/@2/@9, drinking coffee in moderation (a cup or two a day, preferably without surgar) is not bad for your and likely offers some measureable health benefits.

As to OKBankLaw, you might want to dial-back a wee bit your caffeine in-take. (I was getting jittery just reading your comment @2.)

By Yankee on 2013 05 02, 2:42 pm CDT

I rarely do coffee, but I generally go through a 24 pack of soda each week at the office plus buying the occasional one from a vending machine on breaks between hearings at the courthouse. Keeping a constant low dose of caffeine in my system is cheaper than anti-depressants.

By pubintatty on 2013 05 02, 2:48 pm CDT

Geez, a bunch of lightweights. I generally drink one (1) full pot myself. I am embarrassed to admit this because the amount is so high, but I spend a lot of money at Dunkin Donuts. I mean, a real lot. A real, real lot. It is terrible.

I tried to stop coffee cold, obviously that lasted about a day -- half a day.

By Great Question: One (1) Pot on 2013 05 02, 5:33 pm CDT

I am a hard-core black tea drinker. All the caffeine, but WAY easier on the stomach, plus it's chockful of anti-oxidants:

By Sundevilpeg on 2013 05 02, 7:39 pm CDT

@12 I suggest that you and OKBankLaw set up a support group. (Suggestion: You might want to taper off slowly cutting back your caffeine intake, rather than going cold turkey.)

By Yankee on 2013 05 02, 8:07 pm CDT

Most days I have one strong cup of coffee at home in the morning, and a cup of black tea at work in the late morning or early afternoon. This may not sound like much, but it's a huge increase from my first decade of practice when I had a one-cup-of-coffee-per-week policy, designed to a) save money and b) make sure the coffee gave me a needed jolt on whatever day that week I really needed it. I had to give up the policy a couple years ago when I started having to pull regular late-nighters to keep up with my workload <sigh>

By Cal Gal on 2013 05 02, 9:22 pm CDT

I was in the pot o' day+ range for a while (a long while). For various reasons, I had to cut down or quit several times over the past couple years. I always went back to it. Mostly because I like the texture.

But this last time, I finally learned... After I got past those first several days of terrible headaches (yeah, I was at that point), I started feeling normal, awake, even perky in the mornings. Even when my schedule shifted and I had to wake up at 4 every morning after only about 4-5 hours of sleep (is that a lot for a lawyer? I've lost track...), I STILL felt good. Better, in fact.

So, to make a short answer long, none. And it's kind of awesome...

By Former Addict on 2013 05 03, 8:03 am CDT

Former Addict, sounds like you are still on the pot o day range by the timing of your post.

I am at a tall venti/day.

By LincolnLawyer on 2013 05 03, 8:53 am CDT

In a 16 hour work day 2 pots of black coffee, plus a few cups on top, are my average, 7 days a week. Who needs the sugar when you have the caffeine? I have been doing this my entire 35 year career, with the first cup and the last cup tasting just as great, and I sleep like a baby. Decaffeinated coffee gives me a terrible headache, which is understandable when you realize how that stuff is made.

By Tax Lawyer on 2013 05 03, 11:43 am CDT

I put in an "early shift" in the morning getting the kids dressed and off to school, work a full day, then put in a "second shift" at home in the evening with the kids. Dinner for me often doesn't come until after 9:00, and *then* I can get started on housework.

Suffice it to say, caffeine is a necessity. At least a cup just to get the kids out the door in the morning, sometimes another on the way to work, 1-2 caffeinated diet sodas at work, and sometimes another caffeinated soda on the way home just to stay awake through my 9:00 dinner and chores. After all that caffeine, I sometimes need a sleeping pill to fall asleep, despite being exhausted! Not healthy, but that's life.

By Mommy Esq on 2013 05 03, 1:28 pm CDT

How much is there? Plus another cup.

By Matt on 2013 05 03, 1:59 pm CDT

I wouldn't say I "need" any coffee to get through my day, although I generally have two 12-14 ounce mugs a day because coffee in moderation is good for you and I like it. That's the only caffeine I consume on a daily basis.

The only other liquids I regularly drink besides coffee are water, almond milk and beer.

By IdaDuck on 2013 05 03, 1:59 pm CDT

None, I meditate every morning. But for some reason when i'm in Italy I drink a cop of cappucino most mornings. I guess when in Rome :).

By Karma on 2013 05 03, 2:40 pm CDT

I've actually almost completely sworn off caffeine, which might sound amazing for a law student. I can't get rid of it entirely because I enjoy black tea too much, so a cup––without anything added––is an occasional treat (about once a week or so). I've never been a coffee drinker. And my personal trainer told me to stop drinking diet sodas like Coke Zero, so I did. And I quickly realized I didn't miss the stuff.

I used to drink about a liter of home-brewed iced tea per day (except Saturdays and Sundays). But I was always kicking myself for it because I was able to get through college with only a glass of diet Coke per day. So after I was sick with the flu earlier this year, and could only drink water, I decided to just go off caffeine entirely (with the black tea exception). After about two weeks of dull headaches, I was back to normal, and neither my energy level nor my productivity suffered as a result of dropping caffeine. I'm not sure if I sleep the better for it, since I've always been a sound sleeper. Now, the only things I drink regularly are water and herbal tea, if I want another liquid taste in my mouth. (Alcohol I save for the weekends.)

One advantage of my dropping caffeine is the moral superiority I feel over people who consume energy drinks all the time. : )

By Diana on 2013 05 03, 2:57 pm CDT

Minimum acceptable amount: Two "grande" sized coffees through the morning, and another one sometime after lunch. Even at that relatively moderate (by lawyer standards) pace, I can tell I've developed a bit of physical dependency - on those rare days when I'm not able to fortify myself with caffeine, major misery inevitably ensues.

By KG1 on 2013 05 03, 3:54 pm CDT

I need one 'obese' sized coffee in the morning then I have another 'rotund' sized one before lunch, followed by a 'portly' sized cup early afternoon and one final 'stocky' sized cup around 3:00 p.m.

By You call this coffee!? on 2013 05 03, 4:32 pm CDT


By associate on 2013 05 03, 6:42 pm CDT

Okay, lets do the math. . One can of diet Mountain Dew (the regular green kind, not the poorly conceived other formulas, for example ) EFFECTIVELY EQUALS one nearly level teaspoon of Nescafe Classico (that’s Tasters Choice for thrifty people. Hey! Don’t laugh. I’m from Indiana, not Seattle. And, for a reason I’ll explain in a moment, I really need to have control over my caffeine intake) EFFECTIVELY EQUALS one Regular Strength Jet-Alert 100 mg caffeine pill, at least in the body of Tom Youngjohn, but perhaps not for you.
On a perfect day, I take 100 mg of caffeine (apparently, but see the above math) at 9AM, then again at 1PM, then again at 5PM, and finally at 9PM. I think I finally figured out this formulation when I was taking the Bar exam for the second time, but I really can’t remember. Could have been after I was sworn in to the Bar. My ex-brother-in-law had talked me out of dropping out of law school early on in my first year, before I knew of my caffeine sensitivity, after I had freaked out in the law school library, having had two Star Bucks Ventis, (I suppose. That’s “large” if you’re from the Midwest. Which is actually the Mideast of the US. Which is distinguishable from the Middle East, at least for now...)
I am physically addicted to caffeine, because if I stop, even for half a day, I’ll get a little headache which goes away as soon as I have my 100 mg of caffeine.
Now, what y’all did NOT ask about, was my Mormon/Brigham Tea Powder habit,¤cy=USD , which is about one pinch (I put mine in vegetable capsules, , loose, not packed, (remember that, loose) with this handy little device 1c00 1c-capsules/dp/B006OQ4316/ref=sr_1_1?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1367607333&sr=1-1&keywords=the+capsule+machine . Amazon has apparently run out of Brigham Tea Powder, but since I’ve bought 5 pounds of it, I might have a ten year supply. At least eight years, all for about $50, (fifty US dollars). I originally discovered this Mormon Tea, in the form of ephedra, at Costco. They used to keep “Metabolife 356 Diet Pills” with the vitamins and supplements. Later they had a whole, stand alone tower of it, which then moved around. I kept saying “okay fine, not interested” which is to say “meh.” At least until they doubled the size of the tower and moved it to be right in front, well, right inside the Costco entrance 12 years ago, so that I’d have to walk around it to get past it. It was as if they wanted me to buy it. I did. One pill was all it took to become impressed with it. Within the next four and a half months I lost 45 pounds! I’m not lying. Never felt hungry. Never felt low energy. Never felt sorry for myself. Just felt thinner.
Psychologically addictive? I’d say so, on at least an emotional “this is a good thing” level. But are there withdrawal symptoms? As someone facing a six month suspension for not having withdrawn soon enough from a deportation case (characterized as “obstruction of justice” by the Bar, even though the next hearing, a pre-trial hearing was eleven (11) months away, I guess I’m a bit of an expert on withdrawal, or at least the failure to do so. At least with the repercussions of it all. So, honestly, and I’d say that there are no withdrawal symptoms for Mormon/Brigham Tea Powder.
How much do I take? One loose, not packed, 00 veggie cap with each of my four cups of, well, you do the math.
Am I guilty of flunking the fourth grade having been diagnosed with “hyperactivity disorder”? You better believe it. Back then did my mom refuse to accept my pediatrician’s prescription of Ritalin, and hold me back instead, in the same school, Never to tell me about the proposed prescription, or the Diagnosis, until maybe about ten years ago? Yes. Now that was a surprise.
But what about sleeping, what with all those stimulants? I promise you, I sleep like the dead. It’s great.
But my other habit, my 9PM to midnight habit of two shots of Canadian whiskey, Xbox, and more or less one late night meal a day, (vegetable heavy, which should be supplemented by Flax seed oil, if not salmon or tuna) has already bored this audience, so I’ll say have a nice weekend, gentlemen, ladies.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 05 03, 7:39 pm CDT

None. Caffeine gives me a headache. I don't use it, and I don't need it.

By Old Man from New Hampshire on 2013 05 03, 8:14 pm CDT

Enough to kill a characer from the sitcom "Friends."

By Zen on 2013 05 03, 8:19 pm CDT

"According to Mayo Clinic, drinking four or more cups of coffee a day - somewhere in the ball park of 500 to 600 mg - is a bit overkill. " Nice link, Zen @ 29. Thank you.

I'm a little guy, so 400 mg is enough for me.

By Tom Youngjohn on 2013 05 04, 2:02 am CDT

LincolnLawyer - you were correct that night. It was a rare exception ...

By Former Addict on 2013 05 05, 7:54 pm CDT

No one speaks to me if even I look like I haven't had my coffee. I've had an ADA ask me to go have my coffee then come back to negotiations

By it's lawful on 2013 05 10, 12:02 pm CDT

6 to 8 cups, every morning!

By Erasmus on 2013 05 10, 2:34 pm CDT

A pot of coffee before work. Probably a third of my office's 40-cup percolator at work. A pot of coffee after work.

I sleep the recommended 45 minutes per night.

By Scott on 2013 05 10, 2:50 pm CDT

1 Venti Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte per day.

By Bizinl on 2013 05 10, 4:32 pm CDT

Tax Lawyer, that headache doesn't come from drinking decaf, but from caffeine withdrawal. Your body is addicted to it now. You can get free of it, but don't be surprised if headaches accompany your efforts; perhaps you should ask a doctor for advice on how to withdraw from drinking so much of it. You can live a different life.

Now I'm getting to work. :-)

By Helen C. on 2013 05 10, 6:12 pm CDT

I used to drink a pot a day. Then I was diagnosed ADHD. Now I take prescribed stimulants and I only drink 3 cups a day. My point?: If you really must have a lot of caffeine to function, you might be ADHD.

By Hillbilly on 2013 05 13, 9:28 pm CDT

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