Commentary | Love in the time of caffeine addiction

A student speaks out about her experience with coffee

Ah, coffee: the staple of the typical university student diet. Forget water – this cup of Arabica paradise is the elixir of life. After all, it’s what keeps us going at 3 a.m., when those term papers still refuse to write themselves. It’s also what keeps us from dozing off amidst back-to-back classes that inconveniently start in the ungodly hours of the morning.

A few years ago, I read a Gawker article about how Alec Baldwin made his own iced latte at Starbucks with macchiato, milk, and a cup of ice, just to save two dollars. I found it incredible that anyone would go out of their way for coffee. After all, it’s nothing more than a drink.

I have since seen the light. Now, I believe that coffee intake is nothing short of a transcendent experience.  I’m willing to be 10 minutes late for my first class of the day if it means I can get my morning fix at one of my cafe haunts near campus, because nothing keeps me focused like a good old cup of caffeine addiction. And hell, I’m writing this as I happily sip my second cup of the day at 8 p.m.: who needs sleep when you’ve got coffee?

But with every good caffeine high comes an equally awful caffeine crash. When I feel my internal organs groaning, when I feel the sudden urge to collapse into the first chair I see and loaf there for a few hours, I know I’ve been drinking too much coffee. That feeling doesn’t stop me from going back for more, though, because going cold turkey is even worse. A few weeks ago, under the impression that I’ve been getting headaches from excessive coffee intake, I stopped drinking it altogether. The result was not pretty.  First of all, I felt more like the undead than ever. And, every day, my coffee craving increased, until it seemed as though the only thing that would save me from some imaginary impending apocalypse was a medium regular at Java U. Needless to say, I relapsed sooner than I’d planned.

Despite my dependence, for a while I’d had a growing suspicion that students’ routine coffee intake was linked to some sort of placebo effect. For me, at least, coffee doesn’t always do what it’s reputed to do. I’ve had days when I’ve drank two cups and still feel sleepy shortly thereafter. Perhaps my tolerance has increased. Perhaps I should stop diluting my coffee with milk and upgrade to three cups a day, probably at the expense of my sanity. Or do I keep drinking coffee for the sake of it because it’s supposed to be, as I’ve said, a staple of the university student diet? Meanwhile, somewhere out there, the heads of coffee conglomerates are pro

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what coffee does, or doesn’t, do. It has become inextricably woven into our academic lives, and we need it more than we may realize. After all, no lecture hall would be complete without someone accompanied by their favourite mug or paper cup. Coffee is to the university student what fast food is to the average North American. Even when we realize its detriments, we always go back for more.

Oh coffee, I really wish I knew how to properly quit you. But, then again, I don’t really want to.


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