When I was in my early 20s, I drank about 60 ounces (~1.75 liters) of Diet Coke a day. 30oz or so at lunch, 12 or so between lunch and dinner, and 18 or so at dinner. I did this practically everyday. Sugary sodas (Coke, Dr. Pepper, etc) never did the trick the way Diet Coke did.

I knew I shouldn’t do it. I knew it wasn’t great for me. But I kept on going.

I would go through periods where I would avoid Diet Coke for weeks, even months at times. But always caved and came back crawling for me. I was on that sweet, sweet, Diet Coke bandwagon.

Around this time, I also worked at an italian restaurant where a Diet Coke fountain was all you could drink. Luckily, we also served Affogato which is espresso poured over ice cream. I loved this dessert. Still do. It’s funny because I would consume awful amounts of Diet Coke, loved Affogato, and still didn’t touch coffee unless it had a ton of milk and sugar.

Fast forward a few years, I was visiting Paris with my then girlfriend and now wife. Everyday I still needed my Diet Coke fix. Except Diet Coke wasn’t an option so I was forced to drink Coca-Cola Light. Coca-Cola Light has nothing on Diet Coke. A key Diet Coke ingredient, Aspartme, is not allowed in Europe as far as I know. It sucked.

While In Paris, I knew I needed caffeine to avoid the grumpies. Luckily for me, the place we were staying at had a Nespresso machine. I knew that I enjoyed espresso over ice cream so I decided I would suck it up and drink espresso like I was taking a shot of liquor. The caffeine buzz was almost instant. I was hooked.

We got back to California, I bought a Nespresso machine. It was one of the best purchases I have made in the past 10 years. Not because of the machine itself, but because it brought me an empowering alternative to my Diet Coke addiction.

It wasn’t long before I switched from pure espresso to adding water and making Americanos (Caffè Americano). Not long after that, I bought a drip coffee maker and a coffee grinder and I would drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day. Then I started receiving coffee-related gifts from friends and family: mugs, a french press, a manual drip, beans, and other things. Heck, I’ll drink basically any coffee that’s available – even if ’ts not “good” coffee (whatever that means). I am that much of a coffee drinker now.

Last year, I decided to upgrade my setup again and bought this awesome espresso machine. It might be my favorite purchase under $2k.

Freshly ground beans for freshly made espresso is just one of life’s pure joys. I haven’t touched Diet Coke in 6+ years.

My key takeaway: The only way to replace a habit is to find a true alternative habit.