Coffee Talk

Camille Summers

“I started drinking coffee in freshman year, I believe. I’ve started drinking more coffee over time; I drink one cup everyday.  My parents drink coffee, so they don’t mind that I do.”

Coffee: a wonderful drink that can be sweet or bitter, hot or cold, medium or dark roast. The options are endless. What is there not to like?

Well, I guess that’s my problem. I like it too much. For example, I’m currently sitting in the Newspaper room, typing out this article with a 20 ounce cold-brew, unsweetened, black coffee right next to my laptop. So much caffeine!

It’s not even the caffeine. It's the taste. I love the either hot or cold taste of this bitter drink running down my throat and reving my energy.

Let me tell you, those “free-refill Fridays” at the Café are like kryptonite to all coffee drinkers. I chug my hot Caribou coffees as fast as possible, so that I can get a refill. Even those who don’t like the bitter taste of coffee, still adore “Free-Refill Friday.”

“It’s cold and sweet and the caramel makes it 10x better! The best days are the Free-Refill Fridays. I literally drink about 2-3 cups (on Fridays)!” says Cana Roach.

The iced coffee is a big hit, and it has been for a few years. “This year, we just started offering two different sizes, so that really helped,” said Chef Kat. “A lot of people will order a large because the small one, I guess, is just not enough to get through one class with.”

I used to love those iced coffees. My record was 9 cups in one day, and as I was going for my 10th, my friends staged an intervention, cornering me and throwing away the cup. But after a year, I can’t even drink them anymore. They are much too sweet. It’s cream, sugar, and caramel with a hint of coffee, not the other way around.

The choices of coffee at the Café has definitely increased over the years. The Café serves hot coffee, iced coffee, cold brew, cappuccinos, and chai lattes.

Chef Kat said, “When we started doing branding for the Caribou coffee, it was important because a lot of people like the taste. When we moved the coffee bar to self-serve, that really helped because a lot of people didn’t know we had the hot coffee. (There has also been) definitely an increase in sales of the iced coffees.”

Senior Haley Mason is a big fan of the the Cafe coffee.  “I love getting it in the morning. I actually look forward to it. The chai lattes are also soooo good! Starbucks is better though,” she said.

No matter where the coffee is from, for Ashley Marshall, it is more about the caffeine than the taste. “It keeps me awake when I go to bed late at night. I feel more fatigued if I don’t have some caffeine,” she says. “I started drinking coffee in freshman year, I believe. I’ve started drinking more coffee over time; I drink one cup everyday.  My parents drink coffee, so they don’t mind that I do.”

But some students don’t drink coffee. Sophie Elve says, “I don’t drink it because of soccer, and how it makes my stomach hurt. I become really dehydrated.”

Although the myth between the correlation between coffee and dehydration has been debunked, I guess coffee wouldn’t settle well in anyone’s stomach during an intense workout.

Also, there is an age restriction to the coffee. Middle schoolers are not allowed to purchase hot or iced coffees unless they have a parent’s permission. “We haven’t seen much of that (parental permission),” says Chef Kat. “We just ask the Middle School students when they order if they have their parent’s approval. We need to make sure that we can call the parents. But most parents don’t let their children drink the coffee because of the caffeine, which doesn’t make any sense because Coke has caffeine, but there is an age restriction.”

So is it a problem that I and many of my peers are so obsessed with these drinks? I’ve certainly been told by my friends and my parents that coffee isn’t good for me. I figured I would go ask Mr. Nasrallah, a Chemistry teacher, about the pros and cons of coffee.

“There has been a lot of research done about coffee,” says Mr. Nasrallah. “Coffee is good for your heart, as long as you don’t have a high blood pressure. If you don’t have a high blood pressure, coffee is good for your health and your heart because it helps lower the cholesterol. You also have to drink with moderations. I wouldn’t drink 5-6 cups a day, maybe 2-3 cups. Coffee also gives you the caffeine you need for the day, especially if you drink it early in the morning. It’s way better than drinking Pepsi or Coke. Even though Pepsi and Coke have caffeine, if you don’t add tons of cream or sugar to your coffee, then it’s way better for you. It (coffee) has way less sugar (than the sodas). Coffee, based on research, can help you lose weight. Of course, still exercise and have a good diet, but it can help you lose weight.”

When it came to discussing the downsides of drinking coffee, Mr. Nasrallah couldn’t think of very many. “If you have high blood pressure, you should stay away from coffee or maybe drink one cup a day. That's it! Also, you don’t want to drink too much of it. Because if you drink too much coffee, it might affect your blood, which might affect your sleep. You don’t want to drink coffee late at night. Those are  the only cons I can think of regarding coffee. I encourage everybody to read about the benefits of coffee when it comes to health.”

So, thanks to Mr. Nasrallah, I can drink my coffee without being pressured into throwing away the cup.

Chef Kat also commented on the effects of coffee. “There may be a lot of negativity associated with coffee and caffeine, but I’m a coffee lover. I can’t say anything negative about it.”

I also spoke with some Honduran exchange students that were visiting Lovett for two weeks. As I’ve learned, Americans aren’t the only ones obsessed with this delicious drink.

“A lot of Hondurans drink coffee,”  Ana, the Honduran exchange student my family hosted, said. “There’s this coffee place called Espresso Americano that everyone goes to. It’s the big company located in several parts of Honduras,”

So, I guess, the crazy American teenagers aren’t the only ones drinking gallons of caffeine.

I also spoke with some teachers as well.

Mr. Nasrallah loves the taste of coffee. And the smell. “The smell! That's enough to inspire me to drink coffee everyday. I drink three cups a day. Two in the morning and one in the afternoon. Cream only. I don’t take sugar in my coffee at all. A little bit of half and half and that's it!”  

But there were some mixed emotions. Other teachers don’t n drink coffee, and some relied on other sources of caffeine.

For Ms. Morris-Long, it’s “Copious amounts of Diet Coke.” She said she used to drink Tab, but they don’t make it anymore. She likes Diet Coke because of the flavor, and prefers artificial sugar to real sugar. “I keep my refrigerator stocked,” she said. “The caffeine is the plus, but I mainly drink for the taste. I will say that I get caffeine headaches though if I don’t drink any. Like when I go to Siempre Verde, and they don’t have Diet Coke, I have to drink a little bit of coffee to keep the headaches away. I don’t like the aftertaste and the hot coffee.”

Now, let me tell you, caffeine headaches are a thing. According to Healthline, caffeine headaches are one of the most common symptoms when there is a caffeine withdrawal because “eliminating caffeine causes increases in blood flow to the brain, which can cause headaches.”

But some don’t even drink coffee, which is very confusing for a habitual drinker like myself.  

Mr. Newman, an English teacher and my newspaper adviser, doesn’t drink coffee. “I just never did,” he said. “Maybe a couple cups in my life. I like the smell of it. The concept of it is great. I get it. I get why people are into it. But it’s a smoothie every morning for me. Standing over the Vitamix machine.” He thinks that because he never drank coffee, his body never really found itself needing it. He does sometimes regret that he doesn’t partake in all the rituals surrounding coffee drinking. “I get the impression from a lot of people that drinking coffee is 50% ritual. Smoothies are my ritual, I guess.” But it is hard for him to relate to people who say they can't get through their days without coffee. “Then again, I can't get through my days without podcasts." 

But, when interviewing Dr. Douglas, I learned that, besides the possible stomach aches, money, and just simply never needing to, there can be religious reasons involved with not drinking coffee. “I don’t drink coffee because I am Mormon, and within Mormonism, there are a number of dietary restrictions such as we don’t drink coffee, we don’t drink alcohol, we don’t smoke, and so that’s why,” he said.  

But there are plenty of other people who are more than happy to drink the coffee that people like Dr. Douglas and Mr. Newman forego. Coffee has become more and more relevant and popular. According to Forbes, “only 9% of U.S. adults were drinking specialty coffees in 1999. In 2017, that number hit 41%.”

Caffeine is found in almost all Starbucks drinks (except for the hot chocolate and the strawberry smoothie). A survey done by the National Coffee Association showed that 83% of of Americans drink coffee. And we sure do spend a lot of money for it. According to research in an article by Food & Wine, “the average American spends $1,110 on coffee annually.” That’s a lot of money (and coffee) considering the fact that the average price for a cup of coffee is about $2.

And teenagers are drinking more and more coffee. Mr. Newman said he didn’t recall teenagers drinking as much coffee when he was in high school.  “It’s probably a result of Starbucks and frappuccinos and stuff. Starbucks, very smartly, has a lot of ‘starter drinks’ that the parents can get for the kids like those hot chocolates or sugary caffeine drinks.”

Mr. Newman is spot on. I know I started drinking coffee that was filled with sugar and cream. If I was introduced to coffee without the sugar and cream, I wouldn’t have drank it. Whose first cup of coffee is a black, dark-roast blend? No ones. But, as time has gone on and caffeine headaches have started to show up, I drink black coffee. I guess I can thank the Café’s delicious iced coffees for that one.

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