Sunday, December 5, 2021

Do college students have a coffee problem?

October 18, 2021
<p>A person with an iced coffee at Foster Coffee Company in East Lansing on Sept. 30, 2021.</p>

A person with an iced coffee at Foster Coffee Company in East Lansing on Sept. 30, 2021.

Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

Every morning, advertising management freshman Ryan Weir enjoys a cup of coffee before going to class. When he returns from campus, he sips on another, and if he has something going on that night, he’ll indulge in a third.

Weir embodies a stereotypical college student with his caffeine intake, but the stereotype that college students drink an excessive amount of caffeine does not appear to be the truth of the matter.

In fact, in a survey of 100 Michigan State students, 34 percent indicated that they do not drink any coffee, and another 29 percent said they only have one to three cups of coffee per week.

“Honestly, I'm not really big on the coffee taste,” English education sophomore Adriana Lulgjuraj said. “I kind of do it more socially, so if my friends are going to Starbucks, I'll pick up an iced coffee or something… I'm just an energized bunny on my own, so I don't really need the caffeine to get me going or wake me up.”

Graphic design sophomore Kailey Nguyen agreed, adding that she worries about becoming dependent on caffeine.

“One of my friends, he drinks a lot of coffee and I hear a lot of nasty stuff about waking up with a migraine without a cup of coffee or something like that," Nguyen said. "Or somebody's mood being entirely dependent on whether or not they've had caffeine that day. It’s really not desirable.”

Weir has been on the other side of this phenomenon. There are multiple times where he's taken coffee breaks and gets headaches or doesn't feel his best.

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“I've done it a couple times to prove to myself that I'm able to live without it, but I see a better quality of life when I do have it,” Weir said.

Although 63 percent of students surveyed do not drink more than three cups of coffee per week, 24 percent of students surveyed indicated that they drink seven or more cups.

“It's the college experience,” English sophomore Maddie Turrill said. “I don't think it's necessarily a problem. Most people aren't consuming dangerous amounts of caffeine, but it is the college experience. Like my mom started drinking coffee when she got to college and everyone just needs coffee.”

Some students say they like to use energy drinks instead of coffee to achieve an energy boost. English education freshman Eduardo Díaz said he typically drinks one Bang or Monster a day.

“I think it does increase during peaks of final exam moments,” Díaz said. “That's when I'm like ‘Okay, I should probably take four of these.'”

For certain students, their caffeine consumption has not increased since beginning college. Especially, English freshman Nathan Nichols.

“I started drinking coffee when I was pretty young,” Nichols said. “I think I was in 5th grade. … Now that I started college, I find that I don't have a lot of time to get coffee.”

Similarly, Turrill has noticed a decrease in her coffee intake. She now only has about one cup a day.

“I think I would actually drink more coffee in high school just because I was taking math courses, but now I'm an English (student),” Turrill said.

However, there are some parts about being on campus that can cause an increase in students’ caffeine intake, such as the abundance of vending machines and coffee shops in the area.

“In high school, we didn't have so much in vending machines and those types of energy drinks,” Díaz said. “But here, it's so readily available in every building.”

Lulgjuraj cites Combo Exchanges as a reason she drinks more coffee now than she did before. With Combos, coffee can be purchased at Starbucks or Sparty's and is readily available.

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The social aspect of going out to get coffee was also a common theme in students’ responses.

“I feel like saying, ‘Hey do you want to grab a cup of coffee?’ Is a really easy way to… hang out,” Nichols said.

In addition, some college students study best in an environment like a coffee shop. 26 percent of surveyed students indicated that they study in a coffee shop at least once a week.

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Some East Lansing staples include Blue Owl and Foster Coffee Co. Weir prefers the latter for its design and atmosphere.

"I think being around a social setting and people working motivates me to get stuff done, too, whereas if I'm in my apartment, there's no one there to pressure me to get stuff done,” Weir said.

Coffee is known to be pricey when purchased from a shop, which is why 29.2 percent of students surveyed said they make their own coffee, and 25.8 percent of students surveyed said they both buy and make their own coffee equally.

“I got the big jug from Costco of ground coffee,” Turrill said. “It's definitely a lot cheaper than going to Starbucks every day.”

Overall, regardless of how much coffee and general caffeine MSU students consume, most students realize that excess caffeine intake can and will negatively affect one’s health.

For example, Nguyen has in the past drank coffee to keep her up through the night to grind out an assignment, but she does not think this is good for anyone if done often.

“I don't think it's worth it,” Nguyen said. “I have definitely done that where I have stayed up and tried to finish a project on time and it very negatively impacted the outcome of the project and the homework in general as well as just being very irritable and groggy in the morning. I'm not at my full capacity.”

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