College Coffee

College Coffee


As hundreds of students flow in and out of the HJF Learning Center, the Spoonholder Café is open to serve life-giving coffee. Between classes, a line of tired students and faculty stretches to the front doors, waiting for their caffeine fix. After their coffee is brewed, many students choose to stick around the coffee bar to converse and finish homework.

Diane Nguyen, a senior at Morningside, sat nonchalantly nearby discussing just that. Coffee.

“I drink coffee so I can stay awake and do my capstone paper,” Diane said humorously. The amount of work she needs to accomplish daily can only be fulfilled by a steady flow of coffee. This usually draws her to a local Starbucks, or in this instance The Spoonholder, which serves Starbucks brand coffee.

Nguyen isn’t alone by using the caffeinated super drink as a productivity tool. Even though coffee can do so much more, many students across campus admitted to using coffee to aid in homework completion.

According to Harry Lieberman, a research psychologist, interviewed by CNN, reported that coffee improves just about any mental function.

“When you’re sleep-deprived and you take caffeine,” Lieberman said, “pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning — most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence. And most Americans are sleep-deprived most of the time.”

Sophomore Tony Patton knew these affects of coffee well and used them to his advantage recently. “I had a stats tests one morning, so I put four cups of coffee down and went to my test,” said Patton. The results of the test turned out well, which only reinforced his drinking habits.

An article on Our Everyday Life reported some interesting information on caffeine advantages. Author Jen Saunders writes, “John Wiley and Sons in “Human Psychopharmacology” concluded [from a ‘Nutrition Journal’ study] that caffeine gave an advantage. The study indicated that higher levels of the stimulant in coffee showed increased levels of alertness and improved cognitive responses.”

The feeling of Alertness was evident for Nguyen , who just came off a full night without sleep. She finds herself pulling all-nighters occasionally to finish up assignments like research papers. She recalls the night where she stayed up throughout the night just to finish a paper for an English class. In order to get the paper done on time, she saw no other option but to pour a cup of coffee and continue writing into the early hours of the morning.

“I will drink coffee at 3 or 4 in the morning just to stay awake,” Nguyen admits.

As for Patton, he isn’t afraid to make the coffee pot percolate either. “I’ve drank coffee at 1am before just because I wanted it.”

David Elder, an associate professor of writing and rhetoric, found himself in similar situations during grad school, but has words of caution.

“I started drinking a lot of coffee [then] and I was super stressed out. I would wake up every morning with a stress headache. My breakfast would be Ibuprofen and a 12 cup pot of coffee. The detriment to that is stomach issues, I had the worst heartburn constantly. I got acid reflux because of the coffee and I’m sure the Ibuprofen didn’t help.”

Elder carried his coffee habits into his professional career at Morningside, but was determined to become less reliant on it.

“I decided I needed to cut down. I only wanted two to three cups a day, but I made a whole pot in case anyone wanted some. So I was pretty much drinking two pots of coffee a day. I got the KEURIG to help cut down on coffee consumption. I always buy the san Francisco bay pods because they are 97% biodegradable.”

What’s surprising—or maybe not so surprising—is this sort of behavior occurs across the board for college dwellers. Students in particular continue to see coffee as a simple substitution for sleep. Unfortunately, some don’t see this as beneficial to the body. An article written by University of California, Davis Campus graduate Justin Hong, uncovers a big reason why swapping coffee for sleep isn’t really beneficial.

“Consuming caffeine, we [condition] our bodies into batteries that can run longer with less time to charge. However, caffeine is not a substitute for the vital functions that sleep provides. Sleep is important for learning since information in short-term memory is moved to long-term memory during sleep. A lack of sleep also reduces metabolism and energy levels,” writes Hong.

Madison Reed, a freshman at Morningside, has seen some of the side effects that occur when coffee overtakes adequate sleep.

“I get jittery, my heart starts beating faster, I lose focus. As long as I don’t drink too much I’m good, but it can affect me, Reed said. After becoming a regular coffee drinker, she has found it hard to quit. “If I don’t drink coffee I start to get headaches. I drink three or four cups of coffee a day.”

Regardless of the cons, the campus community continues to drink on, finding other good reasons beside the caffeine intake. Elder saw why.

“It’s an easy place to congregate for a few different things. It makes first dates a little bit easier. When you’re working on homework late at night, it’s a good place to meet when you’re working with a group. It’s a good place to meet for faculty. It’s a central location and everyone can get the drink that they want.”

As Diane’s interview comes to a close, she sits sipping her coffee and looking about the bustling learning center. She looks over to different groups of students sitting together and enjoying their drink of choice. Some students sit with professors that are conversing about their research. One table is piled with papers and books, surrounded by a couple students working on a project. As for Diane, she was taking it easy, but enjoyed the scene.

“It’s a casual place to go. People say you learn a lot about someone by what coffee they order,” Nguyen says optimistically. For this reason, the next time I go on a coffee date, I’m ordering tea.



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