No Coffee or Tea For At Least 2 Weeks

My new dentist then turned to me and said something I’ll never forget.

No coffee or tea for at least two weeks.

Excuse me?

You need to avoid coffee or tea for at least the next two weeks. If you do have coffee, you must drink it using a straw.

I messed up. I messed up bad. A few weeks ago I got a direct mail advertisement for a dentist offering new patients a free Zoom! teeth whitening with the purchase of a cleaning and X-rays. Now that I’ve moved to the Seattle area, I needed a new dentist. I saw the Zoom! machine on Extreme Makeover and my favorite word is free. What could go wrong?

empty espresso
Empty Espresso

I didn’t ask any questions or do any research. It was only after the procedure that I learned about the coffee and tea restrictions. Drinking coffee or tea after tooth bleaching can cause staining. The dentist was a little shocked that I left in a state of panic wondering how I could drink espresso through a straw. Soon I would find out.

The Zoom! Whitening procedure lasted almost an hour. After prepping the teeth, a bright light is focused on the teeth. Not exactly laser teeth whitening, but a cool technology. Oh and did I mention the cost was free? According to the official site:

…Hydrogen Peroxide is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin, bleaching colored substances while the structure of the tooth is unchanged. The Zoom! light aids in activating the hydrogen peroxide and helps it penetrate the surface of the tooth.

The procedure does cause some tingling with periods of sharp shooting pain. The price of beauty. My hunch was living with teeth sensitivity would be less tramatic than living with coffee restrictions.

The first morning I pulled a shot of my latest espresso blend. Then I did the unthinkable. I dropped a straw into the demitasse and started sipping. Maybe my TV memory is a little fuzzy, but I don’t recall ever seeing anyone on Extreme Makeover drinking espresso through a straw. It was less than a satisifactory experience.

The Longest Two Weeks Ever

Having just moved to Seattle, I was in espresso heaven. The legends are true. Seattle has the best coffee of any place I’ve ever been to. Carrying a straw into some of the world’s top coffee houses was not an option. I’d have to figure out a compromise.

My coffee schedule was not going to make it easy for me to avoid coffee. I was enrolled in a four-part coffee cupping class at Victrola Coffee Roasters and I also scored a ticket to Coffee Fest. This means not just a lot of espresso, but a lot of excellent espresso. The straw idea was too silly, so I developed my own technique for sipping espresso that gets almost no coffee on the teeth. Tilt head back, round tongue and pour. It needs to be a little cooler in temperature.

At one of the coffee cuppings, my class sampled the five different beans that made up the Victrola Streamline Blend as individual espresso shots and then we sampled the espresso blend itself. The exercise was to isolate the different flavors inside the blend. Since this was a cupping and most mortals probably shouldn’t drink six shots of espresso in an hour, they advise spitting the espresso into a cup.

The tilt technique that I had perfected minimized the amount of coffee that touched my teeth. Spitting out the espresso would guarantee the espresso would coat my teeth on the exit. Not an option. Plus the espresso was too tasty not to be fully enjoyed. Six espressos later and my teeth were still white as the driven snow. My heart was racing like I had just run a 100 meter dash, but I looked good.


Well with the exception of the first day, I didn’t drink my espresso using a straw during those two weeks. I didn’t even cut back on my coffee intake. In fact I probably ended up consuming more. My tilt technique wasn’t perfect and I did develop some slight coffee staining. In the end, my teeth ended up just slightly whiter than before.

If I had to do it again, I would schedule the Zoom! whitening during the summer and drink iced lattes with a straw. And I would confirm Coffee Fest was not in town those two weeks.

Michael Allen Smith

Michael Allen Smith fell in love with coffee while attending college. Shortly after graduating college, he found himself in the Tampa Bay area far away from the good coffee he had at The Ohio State University. That is when he starting home roasting coffee. Less than a year later in April 1999, he launched the coffee website has been going strong ever since with hundreds of articles and tutorials submitted by over one hundred contributors.

In 2007, Michael moved to America's coffee capitol Seattle, Washington. He has visited close to three hundred different coffee places in Seattle, Portland,Vancouver and San Francisco and met many of the top roasters and baristas in the country. Since 2009, Michael has been the Organizer of the Coffee Club of Seattle, which is a Meetup group of over 800 coffee enthusiasts. Besides the social aspect of the group, the Coffee Club of Seattle partners with local coffee professionals for educational events such as coffee cuppings, brewing demonstrations and roasting tours.

Unrelated to coffee, Michael has a personal blog at which covers several topics including fitness, cooking and economics.