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Student Caffeine Addicts

You need to get through two essays in one evening, to wake up at 6 a.m. after a long night of partying or to study for that philosophy final the night before. You need one more cup of joe.

Others turn to coffee for its aromatic quality and the romance of sitting in an artsy coffee shop sipping fancy beverages.

Coffee, the most popular beverage in America and the most common form of caffeine, is widely consumed at Mills, and many cite “stressful all-nighters” and “procrastination” as justification for binge drinking. Many students who don’t consume coffee, drink soda or caffeinated tea instead. A few students also take caffeine pills during final exams. When weighed out, coffee and black tea contain the same amount of caffeine. The distinction is that a cup of coffee is generally made with more volume then tea is.

“I really like the smell of coffee. If I could drink the smell, I would,” said freshwoman Rebecca Blanck-Weiss.

Outside Peet’s Coffee in Emeryville, freshwoman Alma Flores meets those waiting with keys working the morning shift. “Everyday, at 5:50 [a.m.], we have people waiting in line. They get the same shit everyday,” she said. People like “a guy named Jafar. He’ll order a small cappuccino and be back in line four times within the hour. So that’s eight shots.”

The average cup of java contains 115mg of caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant regulated by the FDA. If caffeine is considered a drug, then should coffee also?

Flores’ sentiment is echoed through other student baristas. Audrey Parish, a freshwoman, works the morning shift at Starbucks and said on a typical morning, before opening, “One person will pour everyone [espresso] shots and peer pressures everyone else to drink them.” Parish related the experience of being a Starbucks barista to being at a “party with alcohol but it’s a coffee place with caffeine instead.”

Jaime Barger, a barista at World Ground on MacArthur Blvd., said that when she stops drinking coffee, she “doesn’t feel an affect,” yet she still considers caffeine to be a drug as it “alters a mental state.”

In the Olympics when urine tests find 12mg/liter of caffeine, the equivalent to eight cups of coffee, caffeine becomes an illegal stimulant, grounds for disqualification.

Though many agree that coffee is a drug, besides feeling tired, few students list any withdrawal symptoms that they feel when they stop drinking Joe. When Blanck-Weiss goes without coffee, she has to “eat an apple. It’s supposed to be better than coffee.”

The term used to describe a person who is dependent on caffeine is “caffeinism.” This condition only applies to drinkers who consume a high dose of caffeine, which is 600-750mg per day. The average American, consuming 3.4 cups a day, would not be considered a caffeinist. The term only applies if the person shows withdrawal symptoms. Many students agreed that an addict is distinguished from the casual drinker by showing these symptoms.

Parish states that, “People will pay any price, we raise prices all the time and some will complain but then they will turn around and buy it anyway. If you need [the caffeine] you’ll pay for it, it’s like a drug business.”

Contributed to by Kassi Kappelos