Is Coffee Harder To Give Up Than Sex?

The results of our latest survey say yes, it is!

As January approaches, New Year’s resolutions begin to formulate in our heads and the most dedicated of us prepare for Dry January, Veganuary, or any one of the many other organised abstinence events.

That got us thinking about what the hardest thing to give up would be. It’s easy to go straight to the obvious choices – alcohol, chocolate, dairy, etc – but we wanted to find out if there was anything we were missing.

With that in mind, we put together a survey asking which out of a hand-picked list of vices people were least willing to give up for a full month. Here’s what we found.

The results

Which of the following would you be least willing to give up for a full month?

27% Alcohol
26% Coffee
25% Deodorant
24% Chocolate
23% Social Media
22% Tea
22% Sex
21% Takeaways
20% Meat
19% TV Subscriptions (e.g. Netflix)
16% Dining Out
15% Favourite TV Show
13% Google Maps


Unsurprisingly, alcohol came top of the list with 27% of people saying they’re least willing to give it up. Men were more attached to booze than women, with 29% compared to 25% choosing it respectively, and Newcastle was far and away the least willing place to go dry, with 37% of people saying it would be hardest.

Next up – the vice closest to our hearts – coffee. It came as no surprise to us that 26% of people thought coffee would be one of the hardest things to give up for a month, we can’t even comprehend the idea. Both men and women found the idea equally undesirable, but there was a clear increase in terror around the idea of caffeine chastity with age, with 29% of the 55+ age bracket choosing coffee compared to just 21% of 16-24 year-olds.

Close behind coffee, with 25% of people choosing it as one of the most difficult things to give up for a month, was the first surprise result – deodorant. Women brought up the average here, with 27% compared to 22% of men choosing it as a non-negotiable part of life. We can’t say we’re surprised…

Next came chocolate, with 24% of people we surveyed refusing to accept a choc-free month. Women led the way on this choice, too, with 26% compared to 22% of men holding the sweet stuff close to their hearts.

Outside of the top four, things got a little more unusual. We saw social media pop up in fifth place, but almost exclusively led by the 16-24 age bracket, with a huge 33% of the youth saying life without social media wouldn’t be life at all.

Next, another female-led result with tea’s popularity being dragged up by 27% of women, compared to just 18% of men who were unwilling to go tea-free.

The first male-led result since alcohol in the top-spot followed, with sex being much more important to men than women. This was the biggest gender disparity in our survey, with 27% of men unwilling to go sex-free compared to just 18% of women. Sex’s position in the table also made for some interesting insights, implying it’s less important in people’s lives than tea or social media.

At dead bottom of the results, with both men and women rating it as the thing they’d most easily give up, was Google Maps.

By city

City Top Vice %
Belfast Tea 32%
Birmingham Alcohol 27%
Brighton TV Subscriptions 30%
Bristol Coffee 31%
Cardiff Alcohol/Sex 33%
Edinburgh Coffee/Deodorant 31%
Glasgow Sex 28%
Leeds Alcohol 28%
Liverpool Chocolate 30%
London Coffee 29%
Manchester Alcohol 30%
Newcastle Alcohol 37%
Norwich Deodorant 36%
Nottingham Alcohol 27%
Plymouth Coffee 27%
Sheffield Deodorant 31%
Southampton Coffee 38%


The results of our survey grouped by city highlight some serious regional preferences. As we’ve already mentioned, Newcastle absolutely lead the way when it comes to not being up for dropping their alcohol, but other cities have some strange attachments too.

For reasons outside of our understanding, Norwich respondents were particularly hesitant to give up their deodorant, with 36% choosing this option. Elsewhere, 38% of people from Southampton strongly resisted the idea of giving up coffee, alcohol and sex were integral to Cardiff residents’ lives, and 32% of people we surveyed in Belfast refused to be separated from their tea.

By profession

Profession Top Vice %
Professional Services Coffee 33%
Arts & Culture TV Subscriptions 30%
Legal Coffee/Sex/Meat 30%
HR Social Media/Takeaways 33%
IT & Telecoms Alcohol 31%
Finance Sex 32%
Sales, Media & Marketing Social Media 31%
Retail, Catering & Leisure Alcohol 32%
Healthcare Social Media 27%
Manufacturing & Utilities Sex 33%
Architecture, Engineering & Building Takeaways 28%
Travel & Transport Alcohol 39%
Education Deodorant 29%


We also asked people what sector they work in, revealing some interesting quirks about what different types of workers treasure most. Some of the key takeaways we got from this research include legal sector workers are extremely attached to the holy trinity of coffee, sex, and meat, HR can’t live without social media and takeaways, and people working in travel & transport are worryingly resistant to giving up alcohol.

Does giving things up work?

The idea of giving something up is nothing new, especially at the start of a new year, with the history of New Year’s resolutions stretching back to Babylonian times (~1800 BC). The practice has arguably never been more popular, though, with around 60% of people setting themselves a New Year goal.

Resolutions have got more public and communal, too, with Dry January and Veganuary making a splash since they were established in 2014, reaching participation levels of 4.2 million and 250,000 people respectively in 2019.

And yet research has shown that only around 8% of people manage to successfully achieve their resolution, meaning that a whopping 92% of us give up on giving something up.

Something that’s becoming more popular in recent times is the practice of setting goals rather than making resolutions. This eliminates the abstract element of giving something up for no reason other than tradition, instead bringing you closer to where you want to be in a more real sense.

For example, instead of trying to give up alcohol for a month, you could set yourself a goal to spend less than £20 on drinks, limiting how much you can drink anyway. Rather than going cold turkey on coffee, you could pledge to drink at least 2 litres of water a day, which supposedly improves alertness and concentration anyway, meaning you mightn’t even need the caffeine in the first place.

In the process of setting a goal, you’ll probably get to the bottom of why you’re doing it and how it can improve your life. Even better, you’re much less likely to fail, which means no resolution remorse to damage your ego!