There are many impressive individuals at Stanford but some of the most remarkable people I have met here are the ones who have managed to go through even one year of college without any sort of reliance on coffee. I used to be a caffeine holdout, insisting that I would never want to be reliant on mind altering chemicals no matter how pervasive they were. This lasted essentially throughout all of high school, and even though I liked the taste of coffee I would resolutely stick to decaffeinated. But all it took was one week into college to break down my caffeine free ideals and after a couple months I had resorted to two cups of coffee on days where my sleep really took a hit. I also very quickly forgot the importance I had previously invested in the integrity of being addiction free. But sometimes when I find myself paying exorbitant prices for coffee or worrying about the accessibility of coffee when going somewhere, I do feel like somewhat of a sucker and begin to draw the plans for a gradual switch over to green tea. But then the moment of insecurity passes and I continue to profess my love and appreciation for such an effective drink. As coffee transcends the realm of drinks into that of a culture, I think it’s important to lay out some of the costs and benefits of living the caffeinated life.
Coffee can get you through at least one exhausting day at a time. This is not just an old wives tale. Coffee has generous amounts of caffeine, which has been scientifically proven to block the action of a natural brain chemical that is associated with sleep. So caffeine may not be the most natural choice but those lines become very blurry when you are still awake and you hear the birds chirping.
You become part of the coffee community. An affinity for coffee is definitely something people bond over. Of course there are different sectors within the larger coffee community. There are the hipster coffee drinkers who taut their exotic brews and settle into their indie coffee shops at wooden tables with early 20th century novels. Then there are the Starbucks loyalists whose orders are not translatable to the menus at other coffee shops. Then there are the shamelessly utilitarian coffee drinkers who are blind to the brand on their cup and down a morning coffee as if it were cold medicine.
Coffee is something warm to drink if you don’t like tea. It’s nice to have a hot drink in the morning or after a meal and if you find tea to be underwhelming and hot chocolate to be excessive, coffee is the perfect compromise.
Coffee is a good medium for meeting up with people. If you don’t like coffee you can always casually ask someone if they want to get milkshakes sometime but it definitely does not have the same societal acceptance.
Coffee addictions can be very costly. If you need a cup every morning, it is hard for coffee not to make a dent in your budget. The most cost-effective solution would probably just be instant coffee or brewing it on your own, but let’s be honest, if you actually appreciate the taste of coffee those options are going to leave you somewhat unsatisfied. Some other options are investing in a Keurig or an expensive coffee maker or to just pay someone else to use their uber expensive coffee maker to provide you with your morning cup o’ joe. When coffee shops made to look low key begin to charge you $4.50 for an small iced coffee, you begin to feel like the helpless victim of some cruel joke.
Coffee addictions can sometimes be inconvenient when you are in a place that doesn’t have easy coffee access. Let’s say you want to go camping. Do you bring a little bag of instant coffee with you and then suffer through a cup of half-dissolved lukewarm coffee in the morning? If that is not the shameful side of addiction, I don’t know what is.
You get to say you are not dependent on coffee. This will confer to you some bragging rights — people will truly be in awe, considering superman probably still drank coffee in college.