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The bitter reality of coffee

Not everyone likes coffee, but those who do need it more than almost anything else. Those ubiquitous coffee lovers haven’t always needed coffee, though. For most people, sometime in high school or even in college, coffee becomes a necessity, a type of chemical dependency similar to, though less serious than, other drug addictions. I don’t really know why this transition happens, but we can explore its consequences. Ultimately, coffee consumption on our campus has become a serious problem.

Like other drugs, the variety of coffee flavors and roasts is astounding. If coffee is not part of a daily routine, it can taste a little bitter, but some roasts can help indoctrinate new drinkers. Then, as their tastes develop, they can move on to the harder “drugs” like dark roasts. The choices are truly astounding: there’s Americano, cappuccino, espresso, macchiato, latte, Frappuccino and that’s not all. Even a normal cup entails different roasts, light or blonde, medium, dark and extra dark. Coffee is more than a beverage: it is a dessert with all the caramel, whipped cream and chocolate drizzles; it’s no wonder so many people line up for their morning fix. Coffee delights can be downright delicious! For those of us who find coffee tasty at its most basic form, black, I don’t know what to say; maybe we’ve scalded our adolescent taste buds or the addiction has progressed so far we can’t control it anymore.

Frighteningly, the addiction to coffee can be a serious one. Liking the taste is one thing, but eventually most people start drinking it for other reasons. Oftentimes, people drink it hopes of trying to stay awake. Soon, functioning without coffee will seem like an unfeasible feat. The lack of your daily dose cannot only result in a tiresome and zombie-like state, but it can also lead to headaches, cramps or other seemingly dangerous withdrawal symptoms. That being said, it doesn’t seem logical that not drinking something that you used to think tasted like mud can actually cause physical anguish, so many people deny the physical dependency. Although we may not think about it, there is a reason that coffee is one of our first thoughts in the morning. Our body knows it wants coffee and does not want to struggle against itself to get through the day.

I understand not everyone likes coffee. Nonetheless, the desperate all-nighter has been an experience that almost all college students deal with. With the desperate all-nighters comes caffeine. Caffeine comes in other forms like tea, energy drinks and soda, all of which are popular on campus. It may not be apparent to the naked eye, but plenty of students hold tea in their thermoses and to-go cups, not the coffee we assume. So, and some of you may already know this, caffeine may be what we really crave. Coffee-drinkers are not the only ones with grogginess to shake off before morning classes.

Furthermore, I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but we have quite a few options to get a caffeine fix here on the Brandeis campus. For the through-and-through New Englanders, there’s Dunkin’s. If you want a bagel with your caffeinated beverage, there’s Einstein’s. If you’re planning on settling in for a marathon study session in the library, Starbucks in conveniently close by. There’s even a Peet’s for those from the West Coast. Those are just the most obvious places to get coffee. In Sherman, Lower Usdan and the C-store, there are also available options for your caffeine needs. Like any drug, there’s always a vendor peddling your next high, but unlike other drugs Brandeis thoroughly supports the coffee trade.

Now, I know most of the aforementioned seems obvious. Yet, we do not think about how important to us something like a cup of coffee can be. More than for the purpose of sustenance, coffee, how many cups we drink and what kind of coffee we drink can be an indicator of our lifestyle. We all know coffee isn’t a healthy thing to consume, but still, so many of us do, and as college students there’s a good chance that a lot of us even over-caffeinate. Then there are the stereotypes of what coffee we drink; don’t tell me you’ve never heard of the kind of person who drinks those yummy pumpkin-spiced lattes. So, take a moment and think about it. How do you take your coffee? More importantly, in what form do you like your caffeine?

Coffee is not a requirement in the transition into adulthood. It’s certainly not a defining attribute for any individual undergoing the transition. It’s just something that’s popular among college students that for some leads to dangerous dependence. I guess the same can be said for all forms of caffeine. Ultimately, though, it’s just not a good thing that we can get it so easily here on campus and continue to feed our coffee addictions.

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