Becoming addicted to coffee

Feb. 17, 2017, 6:31 a.m.
Becoming addicted to coffee
A Café Misto from Starbucks. (CAROLINE DUNN/The Stanford Daily)

Until two weeks ago, I never drank coffee. When I was really little, like nine or 10, I actually liked the taste of coffee until it started giving me massive migraines. Also, my non-addiction to coffee made me feel superior. Other people have to drink caffeine to stay awake, but like Gisele and Tom Brady, I don’t consume any caffeine at all so ha! (I don’t think I realized that chocolate has almost as much caffeine as coffee, so really my superiority was a moot point.)

Fast-forward nine years, and I’m sitting in one of my favorite classes, with an incredibly interesting teacher. A class that happens at nine in the morning, and only has 10 students. I start to fall asleep and it’s totally obvious … My eyelids are drooping, and I have to pinch myself to stay awake, but every few seconds, my eyes flutter close. So I try to widen them, but all that does is make my eyes roll around like a crazy person.  

I pretended to take notes so the teacher wouldn’t notice (but he definitely did, so I’m sorry, sir!).  Later, I looked at my notes, and they weren’t even on British history. They didn’t seem to be about my class either, but instead nonsensical ramblings where I seemed to think my current pleasure read, a young adult novel called “Fangirl,” was totally true and somehow also my life.

Basically, I was totally losing my mind over lack of sleep and half-hallucinating in class. Mostly because I had started going to bed at 4 a.m. and waking up at 8 a.m., so sleep had become a distant thing that I half-remembered from winter break.

And then I had a revelation.

In high school, a girl in my English class would come in every morning with two extra-large iced coffees from Dunkin Donuts and drink them within an hour. That is 48 oz of coffee or 600 mg of caffeine … when you’re supposed to drink less than 400 mg ideally. In one hour! She always said if she didn’t drink it, she’d fall asleep in class. So, I thought, Coupa is only a few feet away, why not try a cappuccino and see what happens?

A cappuccino, obviously, because coffee is still only good with like three packets of sugar and a cup of milk added. Like magic, all my exhaustion vanished. In fact, as I walked to my PWR class, I found my hands literally twitching from the caffeine. Totally spastic!

After PWR class, I ordered another cappuccino. Mmm. Good. The next day, I ordered a coffee on my way to class. Then, over lunch, I gave that nifty Starbuck app a try and ordered a venti Café Misto (read: half milk, half coffee – my kind of drink). It’s like liquid energy!

I think I’m addicted to coffee now. I can’t stay awake without it, but it also keeps making my heart skip weirdly and my hands type faster than I ever thought was possible, so maybe I should be worried?

People looooove to argue over whether or not caffeine is healthy. My grandfather (who’s a doctor) has sent me multiple articles about how a study showed that drinking five cups of a coffee a day will lengthen your life and increase your metabolism. It can lower your risk of cancer (according to most studies), seizures, heart attack, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and type two diabetes. Other people think caffeine is a drug and should be cut from your diet entirely.

So I’m not really sure about the health benefits of caffeine … but people sure do seem to drink a lot of it here. In every class, someone is holding a coffee. Coupa is always packed, and there’s always a crowd of caffeine-hungry people clustered around the drinks counter at Starbucks.  Even searching “coffee” on The Stanford Daily website brings up more than 30 pages of results!

It’s a controversial topic on some college campuses (I know, you’d think people would have more important issues to talk about, right?). Indiana University, for example, recently capped the number of expresso shots students can order after one poor student tried to order twenty shots, which sounds like a heart attack in a Starbucks cup.  Hopefully Stanford would never try to regulate our coffee consumption; that would go down about as well as the alcohol policy.

Am I slightly worried I sold my soul to the devil? Maybe. I can just see myself in 20 years watching on the news “Coffee Linked to Host of Health Problems” and wanting to hit my idiot freshman self for starting such a bad habit. Do I feel slightly guilty for betraying my tea obsession? Yes, and I want to extend an apology to David’s Tea.

On the other hand, now I get to try all the best coffee shops on and off campus, which is exciting. My next stop will be at Philz CoffeeI’ve heard it has a cult following …


Written while drinking a venti latte from Starbucks. Email Caroline Dunn at cwdunn98 ‘at’ with coffee recommendations.  


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