Skip to Content

Life as a Non-Coffee Drinker in a Coffee Obsessed World

What Life is Like as a Non-Coffee Drinker in a Coffee Lovers World

For those residing in North America, coffee has slowly but gradually become an essential part of everyday life. In fact, I’ve been told by more than one acquaintance that non-coffee drinkers like myself have become a dying breed. I can’t blame them either.

After all, in my hometown, you can easily find a Starbucks within a hundred meters if you live downtown — and that’s not counting the other coffee chains such as Tim Hortons or Blenz or other similar cafes. It was the same on campus, there were always lines for coffee no matter which coffee shop you went to and almost everyone would walk in with a drink during the morning lectures.

Coffee has also pervaded many instances of daily life – which I have become hyper-aware of, as time goes by, because people always seem so shocked when I tell them that I’m not a coffee drinker.

How can you not like coffee? They wonder in shock. How can you even stay awake in the mornings?

Welcome to coffee culture. Yes, this is an actual phenomenon. It even has its own Wikipedia entry which is defines it as, “A social atmosphere or series of associated social behaviors that depends heavily upon coffee, particularly as a social lubricant.”

Meetings and Dates

Coffee dates are a common way to get to know people. “Want to go grab a cup of coffee?” or “You should ask him out for coffee!” is something I have heard so many times especially when getting to know someone. Coffee shops are also common places to hold informal meetings and work on group projects. When the temperatures start lowering, the amount of people heading for the nearest coffee shop for warmth and shelter also rise accordingly – because then even non-coffee drinkers like myself often take advantage of these ubiquitous gathering places.

Which brings me to another point.


Coffee drinking is the new smoking. Before people start throwing things at me for saying this, just hear me out for a second, okay? Instead of congregating in one area for smoke break, now people crowd around the nearest coffee maker or head out to the nearest coffee shop during their breaks. It’s a complete no-brainer. Have a break? Let’s go grab a coffee. Then there’s poor non-coffee drinkers like yours truly who end up tagging along and not getting anything. Can anyone say slightly awkward?


Some coffee shops tend to have a certain homey vibe to them. In the less packed cafes, they can be great places for working on assignments, typing out that novel you’ve always wanted to write and for people-watching. During the rainy days of late autumn, they provide a warm haven to relax amidst the aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee (yes, even non-coffee drinkers aren’t immune to this). The free wi-fi that can usually be found at these places don’t hurt either.

Some people even deliberately download coffee shop background noise soundtracks to aid in productivity, such as their power.

So if you’re like me and you never developed a hankering for this beloved beverage that is coffee, what can you do?

1. Try and (gently) persuade your friends to quit and/or switch to another beverage.

As with getting anyone to break a habit, this is definitely easier said than done! Although the times I’ve tried going with the “Think of how much you’ll save!” angle, this is rapidly countered by the “I can’t stay awake without it!” rebuttal.

2. Find a coffee alternative.

There comes some times when your friends/co-workers/supervisors will insist on treating you to some coffee. And I find that it’s often easier to give in – to a point. What usually happens is I end up ordering hot chocolate, which works out as I can still enjoy the atmosphere and company without having to drink coffee. Then there’s also tea, which is another great alternative.

It also beats staring in confusion at the choices available at Starbucks while all the regulars glare at you for taking so long to make up your mind. Seriously, the array of choices is really, really confusing to non-coffee drinkers. Someone once tried explaining the different types of coffee to me and all I could get out of it was that some had more caffeine than others.

So coffee drinkers out there, please be kind and forgive those of us that haven’t managed quite yet to appreciate your drink of choice.  We just don’t get it.

About the Author

Elle Young

Elle graduated with a B.S. from the University of British Columbia and then moved to Australia for a change of scenery (med school was just a perk). In her free time, you'll find her hula-hooping, scribbling away in her notebook or catching up with her many fandoms on tumblr. In the future, she hopes to combine her many passions to create a fulfilling career.