By Torie Kozyk
It’s crunch time at Lorain County Community College as teachers pile on papers, projects and review sessions to make sure students absorb as much as possible before our winter break. Of course, the students can’t catch a break, so coffee is their main source to function properly during finals week.
“I have one cup of French vanilla coffee every day,” said Jack Sartschev, a liberal arts major at LCCC. “I am addicted to coffee, I know this because my body reacts in an uncomfortable way when I don’t have a cup at my normal time. When it comes around to finals time, I am a Nazi when it comes to coffee. I need it to stay up later and be aware when taking my final exams.”
The typical college life consists of cheap Ramen noodle lunches, beer and coffee. “Too much of everything,” said Paige Sparkio, an LCCC student in the nursing program, “but when it comes to coffee around finals time, it seems to be overdosed by everyone.” Coffee can be a student’s best friend or worst enemy.
Coffee has its benefits, but it also poses health risks, and while it pumps you up momentarily, consuming excessive caffeine can cause an accelerated heart rate, tremors and nausea, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine website.
Coffee has a special place in the consumption habits of students preparing for exams and tests. “The Saturday before finals week, sales at campus coffee shops increase between $1,000 and $2,000 from a normal Saturday, and by Sunday sales are up between $3,000 and $4,000,” said Kathy Grant, the operations manager overseeing all coffee shops on Ohio State campus.
A few pots of coffee typically go hand in hand with study groups and all-night cram sessions. “We see the same faces at least twice a day. We get regulars just like any other establishment,” said a Starbucks employee at LCCC. Three 8-ounce cups is normal, according to the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs; 10 8-ounce cups is excessive. For those that deal in Starbucks, a short is 8 ounces, a tall 12 ounces, a grande 16 ounces and a venti 20 ounces. For Dunkin’ Donuts drinkers, a small is 10 ounces, a medium 14 ounces and a large 20 ounces.
Starbucks’ busiest times of the year are not only finals time, but also the first two weeks of the fall and spring semester at LCCC. “There is no significant coffee sales increase during final exams in any of our Starbucks locations,” said David P Cummings, CASP director, Auxiliary Services at LCCC. When asked what coffee was the best to drink during finals, Cummings said, “ Coffee. Coffee is general and a very personal thing that I usually just like to provide options and let them make choices according to their own taste, but the Carmel Macchicato is the most popular item sold at Starbucks. Students, faculty, and staff should know that there are options when it comes to coffee on LCCC campus, and many at different price points. Along with Starbucks coffee and blended drinks, we also offer more basic brands at the Corner Bistro and Marketplace at a lower cost,” said Cummings.
In a 16-ounce Starbucks cup, there are 150 milligrams of caffeine in a latte and 330 milligrams in brewed coffee. In comparison, an 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine, and a 12-ounce bottle of Cola holds 35 milligrams.
51 percent of 496 college students regularly resorted to coffee and other caffeinated beverages to help them in test preparation, according to the Oct. 21, 2007 issue of ‘The Nutrition Journal’. A study was published in which John Wiley and Sons in “Human Psychopharmacology” concluded that caffeine gave an advantage. The study indicated that higher levels of the stimulant in coffee showed increased levels of alertness and improved cognitive responses.
The first study indicated that higher levels of the stimulant did indeed show increased alertness and a definite reduction in response times. The other studies showed students who regularly consumed caffeinated drinks before a major test had improved cognitive responses. These studies by Wiley and Sons draw a positive picture of improved performance based on coffee and caffeine consumption.