Coffee Culture

Ever since Jane Turchi could remember, every morning her mother would make herself a cup of coffee, complete with tons of creamer and whipped cream on top. Being a curious child, Jane would scoop the whipped cream from the top of her mother’s mug and get a hint of coffee along with it. Though she didn’t like the coffee as a child, she has grown to love coffee as a senior at Texas A&M University.

For as long as college students have pulled all-nighters and shuffled to 8 a.m. classes, coffee has been on college campuses across America.

Over 50 percent of college students consume caffeine and 78 percent of freshmen consume more than the 200 mg daily recommendation of caffeine, according to The Coach K Show, a counseling website for college students. Coffee has permeated the fabric of college life and has created a “coffee culture,” said Ben Watzak, senior applied mathematics major and president of the TAMU Coffee Club.

“Coffee culture is based on one fundamental idea — the love of coffee,” said Watzak. “Coffee is the typical beverage offered at family and community gatherings, and it is inexplicably able to create a sense of warmth and unity, even among a group of strangers.”

The rise in popularity of coffee among college students has created a desire for spaces where people who love coffee can meet others, noted Watzak. At Texas A&M, this space is realized in The TAMU Coffee Club.

“As a club, we are working towards having a strong community within our members,” Watzak said. “We host a few events during the year that are open to the greater Texas A&M community, which further engenders interactions and unity among Aggies.”

Coffee culture is seen at Texas A&M when student organizations offer coffee to passing students in order to engage their interest, said Watzak. It creates dialogue. It’s also seen in the never-ending line at the Starbucks in Evans Library, he noted.

“People have this basic understanding, possibly without even realizing it, of the power that coffee has to bring people together,” Watzak said. “Students will often use a coffee run as an excuse for a study break, but then when they return to the books, the whole group has something to drink and keep them going.”

Self-proclaimed coffee snob Sarah Aboud has loved coffee since she was a child. The senior English major said she joined the Coffee Club so that she could talk and drink coffee, share stories and bond with other coffee-loving Aggies.

“I love coffee because its seasonal creamers raised me, its coffee shops hosted and witnessed every friend I made, it is what I will owe my degree to, and it is endlessly exciting to learn about,” Aboud said.

Coffee culture is more than just the social aspects but is also a movement for environmental sustainability, said Lora Abegglen, Starbucks service supervisor. Starbucks’ commitment to environmental sustainability was what drew her to working for them, Abegglen said.

“There’s a movement of sustainability in the culture that I absolutely love,” Abegglen said. Coffee is one of the few things which people want to continue in an environmentally-conscious way, she noted.

Between studying how CO2 production happens in brew coffees and what to do with used coffee grounds, the TAMU Center for Coffee Research and Education is the hub of coffee research on campus, said Rodrigo Chavez, project/training coordinator at the TAMU Coffee Research Institute.

“For those who don’t know much about coffee, coffee is coffee,” Chavez said. “But we would like to inspire people to drink more black coffee, good quality coffee and to have a more educated purchase when it comes to purchasing coffee.”

Coffee beans were first discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed, after his goats ate these particular beans, the goats did not want to go to sleep, according to the National Coffee Association USA. This lead to the cultivation and trade of coffee in the Arabian Peninsula, the popularization of coffee in Europe, and in the mid-1600s, coffee was brought over to the New World.

“For the U.S., the Boston Tea Party played a big role in the popularization of coffee because people thought it was uncool to drink tea and so they drank coffee,” Chavez said. “Even though coffee came to the U.S. about 100 years before the Boston Tea Party, it was not popular until then.”

The popular choice for where college students get their caffeine fix is Starbucks due to its multiple, convenient locations. For coffee aficionados, places like Lupas and the Tipsy Bean are good choices, said Aboud.

“I usually buy my whole bean coffee from What's The Buzz, which I use to make pour-overs at home,” Aboud said. “If I'm looking to treat myself, I will go to Lupas for a quick latte, the Tipsy Bean for a pour-over if I don't want to make one myself or Gogh Gogh's for anything and everything on their menu.”

College students drink coffee because it keeps them alert and awake, it’s a place of socialization and academic work as well as coffee contains antioxidants that help keep college students healthy, according to the Huffpost.

“I think that when you are a student and are super busy in the mornings, it’s good to have that extra push in the morning to have a more productive day,” Turchi said. It can also help her to be a nicer person because she had coffee, she noted wryly.

Coffee is a wonderful form of supplemental energy and is easily accessible with coffee shops established across campus and around the city, Aboud said. It’s a source of caffeine with few critical health concerns and several important benefits.

“For most college students, I think coffee is the life and soul of their long nights spent studying and suffering,” Aboud said.

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