For the coffee snob

It should come as no surprise that school is back in session. Being back, the temptation to skip class and continue sleeping ‘til noon, as many of us did during the winter break, is enticing. But instead, we’re stuck waking up for that 8:30 class we wish we didn’t need to take. The solution: coffee, or “black gold,” if you will. But how much is too much? Can we really get enough?

The American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide states that “for most healthy adults, moderate amounts of caffeine, 200-300 mg a day, or about two cups of coffee, poses no physical problem.” However, when they say two cups of coffee, they mean a 7-oz. cup. To put this into perspective for our little Starbucks-trained minds: the smallest cup size you can even get at Starbucks is their “short,” which is already 8 oz. The regular, “grande,” is twice that with 16 ounces of coffee goodness. A nice way to remember your coffee limit — one grande a day or with your life you’ll play.

Now, before I rain on your coffee parade or make you stop patronizing your favorite little coffee place, I must mention some positive notes for our beloved life juice during academic re-entry. Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) discovered that patients with chronic hepatitis C who drink more than 2.25 cups of regular coffee daily have milder liver fibrosis. Specifically a daily intake of (308 mg) had therapeutic effect on the patients. Now that’s one positive side effect of coffee, but for those of us who don’t have chronic hepatitis C, how do we deal with the fact that we like drinking far more then we should? Well, the recommendation is that for every cup of coffee you drink, you drink two of water, to help replenish fluids the caffeine takes out. That’ll get me well over my eight cups a day.

Of course that’s one way to cope with a coffee addiction, but it’s easy to see that coffee is bad for you when you try and stop drinking coffee. I tried going cold turkey, no coffee for 40 days, and I’ve never sympathized more with a drug addict in rehab. Going through symptoms of withdrawal, I developed a massive headache and a twitch, and was one of the worst people to be around for over a month. How I managed to maintain friends during that time is nothing short of a miracle.

Now, coffee is one of those beverages that you have to learn to love. Like beer or a difficult friend, it may not be totally enjoyable at first, but as time goes on you begin to appreciate the subtler characteristics. As appreciation for the java juice grows, one becomes a coffee connoisseur, also known as the coffee snob. It’s that person who rambles off a list of specifications down to the temperature when ordering their drink or refuses to drink the Folgers coffee you brewed for them, knowing they like coffee. I’m really describing myself at this point, but this is what happens when your heart no longer pumps blood, but coffee.

As a self-admitted addict, I find it easy to see the trends consuming coffee shops. First, a major trend is fair trade coffee. People love it — it makes them feel good about themselves. Dishing out the extra cash for the helpful cup also buys the right to stick one’s nose up at those drinking a lesser cup. Bonus points if you bring your own mug, saving the environment and the coffee farmer, all with just a sip. Not only are you now away for your 8:30 class, but you got your coffee snob points all in the same shot of espresso.

But the second coffee shop trend is the tea invasion. Coffee shops are offering a wide variety of teas, including loose leaf teas. But I dare you to even trying ordering a regular tea. Your standard Red Rose basic tea just doesn’t exist anymore. The tea menu is filled with green teas, oolong teas and black teas; teas with citrus notes, a floral flavor or even a spicy flare. But “just tea” simply can’t be done. We’ve moved on. Next stop: pretentiously picky tea-drinking.