Campus Coffee Consumption and Caffeine Crisis


By Madeline Cade, Contributing Writer

Photos by Madeline Cade

The amount of stress that college students deal with on a daily basis is overwhelming. There are students who balance sports and classes, others who balance jobs and classes, and then those who balance all three. There are those who have work study, take extra credit hours, and are involved in clubs or other extracurricular activities. Sometimes, in order for us to finish it all, we have to sacrifice sleep. What do a lot of us do? We drink coffee and stay up late – especially during midterms and finals week. I am definitely one of those people.

I used to simply be a casual coffee drinker. Now, I drink around three cups before I leave my apartment in the morning and then usually have one or two more in the evening. Most of the time I have to stay up late to finish papers and assignments. Both of my roommates drink a lot of coffee as well, and we have a huge collection of coffee mugs to feed our addiction. Since coffee is a love of mine, I wanted to take it to social media to see how the other students at McKendree feel about coffee and to see if there are any negative impacts on their lives because of it.

I first asked whether McKendree students drank coffee or not. I had 241 McKendree students answer that question: About 195 (or 81%) of students said that they did drink coffee. Those who said yes were told to answer a few more questions. 55% of them said that they drank coffee more than four days a week and only drink between 1 and 4 cups a day. 68% said that they get coffee at 1828.

I talked to Kaylyn Ruiz, an employee at 1828. She said that, for plain coffee, they sell around 50 cups a day- equaling approximately 250 cups per week. When it comes to other drinks such as lattes, macchiatos, and mochas, they sell approximately 400 of those every week. She said that in one day, they sold 67 white chocolate mochas. That’s an insane amount of coffee compared to the amount of students on the campus.

2
Coffee everywhere

We have easy access to coffee at 1828 and also at our own rooms. About 79% of those students said that they had a coffee pot at their apartment or dorm. I then wanted to get into the effects and why students drank coffee. I left this question open-ended so people could write their own answers. Most people either said they drink coffee for the caffeine, taste, or both. Some said that they needed the caffeine and the great taste was just an added bonus. Others said that the caffeine gave them the necessary energy to finish homework and to pay attention in class. One of my teammates said that she has really long days and the caffeine is the only thing that gets her through it. One person said that it gave them a reason to wake up in the morning. The takeaway here is that we, as students, are relying on coffee so much that it is said to be the reason we wake up.

The next question I asked was if they had ever experienced caffeine-related sleep problems. 77% of the students who answered this said that they had, in fact, dealt with issues related to their excessive caffeine habits. Whether it is losing sleep or complete nights of sleep deprivation, these problems are affecting students, and schools are allowing it. Athletes will get up around 5 or 6AM and go to practice, then go to class all day, then have another evening practice, and then some have jobs or club or team meetings. Sometimes we don’t even get a chance to start homework until 10PM. We have no choice about whether we want to stay up late – that’s why we turn to caffeine. I asked about how many had used coffee in order to stay up late to finish assignments: 70% said that they had, and that’s sad.

It’s hard to be a student-athlete. It’s hard to be a student with a job. It’s hard enough to just be a student. We shouldn’t have to rely on caffeine for us to be able to complete our assignments. We are lacking much-needed sleep because of the necessity of finishing homework. Coffee is an amazing thing, but it should be able to be enjoyed, not forced down simply so we lose sleep and are able to do our school work.