Energy Drinks & Caffeine Cravings

By Proma Sen

Ironically enough, I was sitting in Caribou Coffee when I began writing my article about caffeine consumption. With final exams and deadlines for research papers fast approaching, it seems that caffeine is quickly become as much of a necessity as a computer and a key board. As I was writing, two fellow first-years, Eva Beal ’11 and Melinda Vogel ’11 entered. After a few minutes our conversation turned to my article on caffeine, all three of us confessed to coffee being our sole savior. What else was going to help us make it through those long nights?

“It definitely keeps me awake. But I don’t know, it doesn’t really make me energetic, said Beal. “It doesn’t give me a buzz. Caffeine in anything tastes good though!”

“I disagree,” replied Vogel. “I much prefer drinking coffee to any energy drink. Energy drinks are creepy and they taste like liquefied gummy bears.”

While we pondered Vogel’s remark, I decided to ask them why they thought people drank so much coffee these days. Beal became nostalgic about her home country, Sweden, and expressed her disappointment with America’s café scene.

“Café culture just isn’t as strong here as it is in other parts of the world,” said Beal. “People sit around and drink coffee for hours.”

Finding common ground with Eva on this thought. Vogel was quick to acknowledge, “It’s definitely a social thing. Coffee shops are like hang out places.”

But according to a recent study, Macalester students aren’t only drinking coffee for the social aspect of it; they’re drinking it to stay awake.

Data from a recent study conducted at Macalester showed that females have a considerably higher caffeine intake than do males at Macalester. Also, far more females acknowledge that their level of caffeine intake has changed since high school. A lot more of them admit to drinking coffee as the main form of caffeine and a significant number of them admit to drinking it during weeknights, Monday to Thursday.

Scientifically it has been proved that caffeine may increase alertness in tired individuals and enhance performance of certain tasks. Many people find caffeinated beverages help them stay alert when they work or study.

However, people’s level of sensitivity to caffeine tends to vary and it is this difference that determines each person’s sleeping patterns based on the amount of caffeine they have consumed. Not everyone needs caffeine to stay awake. Not everybody needs caffeine to be active.

“I don’t drink any form of caffeine and I’m one of the most hyperactive people I know,” says Adam Van Der Sluis ’11.

If you are one of those people who needs caffeine as part of your daily routine, Caribou Coffee’s large cold press with a shot of espresso gives you the most bang for your buck. According to Caribou employee, it’s a drink commonly consumed in the summer time. In winter however, it’s the large light roast coffee that has consistently been the most popular of drinks.

“I’d take that if I wanted to work all night,” said the employee. “I’m sure I took something similar when I was in college. There was one time when I took four or five caffeine pills in a half hour time period and I just couldn’t stop shaking. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t focus on my work either!”

Caffeine pills are another fix commonly used by college students as the semester comes to a close. Despite Winton not carrying or encouraging the use of caffeine pills, the Highlander neverthless carries what you need to get through those late night study sessions. But no matter where or how you get your fix, there are some basic things you should know about caffeine.

Caffeine can be harmful to a person’s health when taken in large doses. It tends to be a strong diuretic that can lead to irritability, nervousness, nausea, rapidly increasing blood pressure, and can, in extreme cases, prevent blood from flowing to the heart.

However despite many controversial speculations, in moderate doses (classified as 2-3 cups a day), there is no scientific evidence to prove that caffeine consumption, in any form, has correlations to cancer, heart disease, stomach ulcers, or infertility.

Caffeine doesn’t stay in the body for an extended period of time, and perhaps this is why people find themselves constantly in need for more of it.

Nevertheless, caffeine is a commonly occurring substance/alkaloid that can be derived from leaves, fruits and seeds of over sixty to sixty nine different plants. It’s hard not to have ever consumed any caffeine at all. It’s present in coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks, soft drinks, some prescription drugs, and in some types of gum.

As Macalester student, Skadi Von Reis Crooks ’09 aptly puts it, “To all those health freaks out there: There’s just some exceptions you have to