By Hope Doyen, Ashley Harrison & Emily Murphy
College students are notorious for consuming caffeine to help give them the necessary energy to stay afloat in college.
According to Kate MacDonnell, a businesswoman and coffee enthusiast working as a senior content manager at Pangolia, “Around 92 percent of college students are said to consume caffeine regularly.” This high number begs the question of how many students consume caffeine daily at their local colleges.
In a recent study, an average intake of 173mg of caffeine among college students, and coffee was the main source of their consumption. The study was conducted on August 24, 2022, by Kate MacDonnell. She listed that the reasons for caffeine consumption include feeling awake, enjoying the taste, social consumption, improving concentration, increasing physical energy, improving mood, and alleviating stress. She had also discovered that 13- to 18-year-old “saw the greatest increase in coffee intake in 2017 to 2022, of any age group.” Amongst these ages, 37% of them drink coffee every day of the week and sometimes more than one cup.
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is an example to show how college students consume so much caffeine. This campus offers many options for caffeine consumption, including vending machines, the campus grocery store, or even the local coffee shop on campus. On the UWGB campus, the main culprit for caffeine consumption is the local coffee shop known as Common Grounds Coffee House, located inside the University Union. This coffee house supplies hundreds of caffeine-infused drinks to UWGB students and is a primary reason why students are consuming noticeable amounts of caffeine.
Two UWGB students offered to share their daily consumption of coffee. Natalia Morales, a Psychology major at UWGB, stated, “I consume about 3-4 cups of coffee a day, and I can’t say that I keep track of how much money I spend on coffee each day. But, all I know is that I am willing to spend enough money to keep me awake and on track through the school year.” Emily Goggins, a Communication major at UWGB, responded, “I consume about 2 cups of coffee a day, and I spend about $10 on coffee each day which doesn’t seem like a lot for me because I am willing to pay about $6 on a cup of coffee.” This shows that students are willing to spend money on a cup of coffee to keep them awake, enjoy the taste, and improve their moods.
Annie Mason, an employee of the coffee shop, shed some light on the number of people who regularly buy coffee at the Common Grounds coffee shop. Mason agreed that there were labor shortages, saying, “The majority of these shortages are because students are the employees and often their schedule does not work with the necessary hours of the coffee.” Mason continues, “Our busiest time in the coffee shop is normally from 8 am to 1 pm, and our slowest time is normally 6:30 to 9 pm.” Lastly, Mason notes, “People who choose to do homework in the shop are 90% of the time drinking a beverage from the shop, and most of the time it is caffeinated.”
Sara Wagner is a lecturer for nutritional sciences and dietetics at UWGB. Wagner explained the health effects of consuming caffeine in large amounts: “While caffeine affects everyone differently, it can have negative effects along with some positive effects. Some positive effects are increased energy, more mentally alert, and may decrease chances of getting certain diseases, including Parkinson’s disease. Wagner added, “While the positive effects can seem like nice perks, the negative effects can include heart palpitations (irregular heartbeats), feeling more jittery and anxious, acting as a diuretic (making people go to the bathroom more), and interfering with sleep. It is believed that people with faster metabolisms are less likely to experience these effects than those with slower metabolisms.” Wagner would advise people to listen to their bodies and watch for these adverse effects to tell them if they need to lower their caffeine intake.
Mahoney, C. R., Giles, G. E., Marriott, B. P., Judelson, D. A., Glickman, E. L., Geiselman, P. J., & Lieberman, H. R. (2019). Intake of caffeine from all sources and reasons for use by college students. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 38(2), 668–675. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnu.2018.04.004