by Erica Ly


Most of us have experienced a situation where we’ve seen people fawn over someone, as if they are the oxygen that the survival of humanity depends on. This being must have had some out of this world attractive power, because anyone who came into contact with them couldn’t stop talking about this “saviour”, afterwards. At times, you questioned the sanity of your friends for being so reliant on someone, but then, you realized that the absence of this all-powerful being made the gentlest of your classmates turn into a walking ad for Snickers (“You’re not you when you’re hungry…”). To make the situation more puzzling as a bystander – you have tried to see thing their way, but you just don’t understand the attraction.

If you were expecting juicy gossip or a religious post, I apologize. The being that I am referring to, is coffee.


“Don’t talk to me when I haven’t had my morning coffee. I can’t be responsible for my actions.” It’s as rare as coming across a cat that can bark, if you don’t know someone who says this. I have heard of (and seen) the wonders of coffee. A caffeinated drink with more forms than an evolved Pokémon, morphing from espressos to lattés and decafs. As a university student born in Canada who simply doesn’t indulge in coffee, the Starbucks menu will never not be confusing.


According to other busy students and working adults, apparently coffee has enough gravitational pull to power up even the deadest of corpses. It is almost too good to be true seeing how Procrastinator Paul, who fell asleep on his lunch today, now has enough energy to plan world domination at 2 a.m. after a sip of liquid. (Put away the test tubes and sodium peroxide, everyone, the future is now…)


When I was younger, every morning in my house began with the smell of freshly brewing coffee (strictly either Maxwell’s or Folgers). It was an incredible smell that I either genuinely liked or had grown so accustomed to over the years that my memory is now telling me that I loved. One fateful day, curiosity got the better of me when my relative offered a teaspoon of their coffee. I had gratefully accepted, waiting for the moment I tasted pure bliss and find the only haven I’d ever need in the form of a drink.

That was my first experience face-to-face with heartbreak.

I had been deceived. How could something that smelled like sunshine taste so much like sewer water (not that I would know the exact degree of comparability)? It was only a teaspoon but the impression could last a lifetime. I had never tasted something so bitter and with such a strange aftertaste, too. It was safe to say that I drank two full cups of milk after that, and basically swore off coffee for the rest of my life.


I often retell this encounter to my friends when asked why I am so certain that I will never enjoy coffee. Sometimes I relate my negative experience to my age (kids like sweets, right?), but then get promptly put in my place when classmates tell me that they started drinking coffee at the age of five and loved it. It is possible that when you’ve consumed coffee for as long as you’ve fed on milk as a baby, your palate becomes adapted to the bitter taste.


There was even a very short phase I went through in senior year of high school when I genuinely questioned myself on why I couldn’t just enjoy coffee like everyone else. Not for the feeling of inclusivity, but for the days when you wake up absolutely exhausted like a car completely out of gas. At those times, I wondered if caffeine could help me out of the slump and into my usual preppy, active self. Thankfully, I tended to get shocked out of that daze as soon as I opened my front door and got blown around by harsh October winds on my walk to school.


Then comes university which is literally a place where you hear people talking about coffee and their deprivations left, right, up and down. Seven times out of ten, I am exhausted when commuting for two hours in the morning and at night. Would caffeine be the kick I needed to actually feel a hundred-and-one per cent, every single day? The obvious trade-off would be pinching my nose and downing the liquid which, in the long run, would feel more like torture than an energizer.


Personally, I have concluded that it is more effective and realistic for me to turn to my lifetime supply of hot chocolate every now and then, rather than a hot cup of coffee. For one, the contradictions against hot chocolate are limited to the high sugar content in the most extreme cases. That is much less than the millions of comments coffee has lined up, that range from the tried and true like caffeine addiction, to outlandish rumours that a five-year-old could have written during Creative Writing class.


Whether you choose to acknowledge the comments or have figured that it’s too late to quit now, that is a battle which non-coffee drinkers will never truly understand or be able to sympathize with. For instance, non-coffee drinkers will never understand why someone would spend $5.00 on a drink every day, when you could be saving that money to buy great concert tickets (or pay off student debt…).



Regardless of your position in the great coffee debate, the testament still remains on whether a university student can survive all the way to graduation without turning to coffee at least once. I, for one, am ready to take on this challenge. Are you?