In the morning, I love going to the coffee shop. Call it a force of habit, a craving, an addiction — it’s hard for me not to start my day without popping into our corner store. Recently, however, I’ve been limiting my caffeine intake (due to pregnancy and headaches) and I was stuck: do I drink coffee or not? Do I continue the habit? Should I tempt myself by going into the store?

The obvious costs are easy to debate and rebuke — caffeine and $4 a day? You don’t need that!

For me, however, there are a number of other benefits that I love:

Connection. The act of saying hello to people in the morning, and checking in with my neighbors. I know the baristas and the owners of the restaurant, and they are always curious about how I’m doing and how the pregnancy is going.

Walking. Surprisingly, the coffee shop feels so close (it’s just down the block and around the corner), but when I leave the house I tack on another 1,500 steps to my FitBit fitness counter (I’m obsessed with this thing). On a day when I pop out to get a coffee, head to the post office later, and make a stop to the grocery store, I can walk 5,000 steps without feeling like I’ve done anything at all. This surprised and delighted me when I discovered it.

The routine. Something about the habit of my morning routine, and breaking around 8am or 9am to pause, greet the day and the neighbors, and then settle back into work keeps me focused. It clears my head of the junk from the morning and lets me get back to one single focus for the next few hours. There are probably all sorts of triggers and clues wrapped up into the process, and I appreciate them.

So, it’s a decaf almond milk cappuccino for me nowadays, but I still love the taste of coffee. And, more than that, I love the ritual of going to the coffee shop.