Aside from alcohol, coffee might arguably be college students’ most beloved drink, but officials said students should consume in moderation because of potential health effects and calorie intake.
More than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee by the age of 18, said Colleen Spees, doctoral fellow in Ohio State College of Medicine.
Students rely on the drink’s caffeine to jump start their morning, get a boost of energy in the afternoon or fuel their bodies during all-nighters before an exam.
Jennifer Lawson, a second-year in nursing, said she visits the library three or four times a week for a café latte.
The most popularly ordered espresso drinks on campus are mochas and lattes, which also have the highest calorie count compared to other coffee drinks.
“People don’t tend to think to count what they drink in their daily calorie intake,” said Marcia Nahikian-Nelms, a professor in allied medicine.
Calories aren’t the only thing that add up quickly. About $40 billion is spent annually on coffee in the U.S., according to a Harvard School of Public Health study.
Regular or black coffee has no calories because it is merely water run through coffee grinds, similar to tea. Calories come from what is added to coffee and espresso drinks, such as milk, chocolate and whipped cream, which are also some of the main ingredients in campus favorites, the TBC Mocha at Crimson Cup locations and Buckeye Mocha at Campus Grind locations, said Kathy Grant, operations manager of Campus Grind and Crimson Cup operations.
A regular TBC Mocha contains 381 calories and costs $3.70, according to OSU’s dining services website.
“You’re marrying coffee with chocolate, so when you have those flavors together, you have a happy marriage,” Grant said.
The Buckeye Mocha, containing 340 calories and costing $4.05, is like drinking a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, she said.
Dessert beverages are becoming more prevalent, attracting younger children and reducing the average age of coffee drinkers, Spees said.
Nahikian-Nelms said she encourages using skim milk or fat-free soy and to reduce the amount of sugar to lower calories when ordering coffee and espresso drinks.
One cup of brewed coffee contains 100 mg of caffeine and costs $1.85.
“Generally 300 mg or less of caffeine per day is a safe amount to consume,” Nahikian-Nelms said.
Coffee gives a stimulant effect that peaks about one hour after consumption, affecting the brain, elevating mood, decreasing fatigue and raising metabolic rates, Nahikian-Nelms said.
Caffeine has also been shown to improve athletes’ physical performance. However, when an athlete’s urinary level exceeds more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per mL of urine, they might be accused of using caffeine supplements, Nahikian-Nelms said.
Consuming more than 600 mg of caffeine per day, equivalent to six cups of brewed coffee, might cause nervousness, sweating, tenseness, upset stomach and interference with conception, Nahikian-Nelms said.
Coffee should be consumed in moderation, Nahikian-Nelms said, since caffeine can be addicting and cause health risks for those who consume excessive amounts. She recommends caffeine addicts gradually reduce their coffee intake over a week’s time.
Addicts might experience their worst withdrawal symptoms in the first 48 hours. Symptoms can include fatigue, irritability, headaches, depression and flu-like symptoms, Spees said.
Coffee has appeared to increase excretion of calcium from bones, causing osteoporosis, and correlations have been shown between increased caffeine intake and miscarriage rates, Nahikian-Nelms said.
But adding coffee consumption can also produce positive effects linked with reduced risks of stroke, Type 2 diabetes, some cancers and dementia, Spees said.
Spees said she suspects genetics might play a role in personal side effects of coffee consumption. Gender, height and weight also factor into health risks, Nahikian-Nelms said.
Consumers should also be aware of the difference between espresso drinks and regular coffee. Espresso is brewed by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee. Less water is used for brewing espresso, so one cup of espresso contains five times the amount of caffeine than a cup of brewed coffee, Nahikian-Nelms said. There are 500 mg of caffeine in one cup of espresso.
Campus Grind operations brew Starbucks blends and are located in McPherson Lab, OSU Veterinary Medical Center, the Caffeine Element at the Prior Health Sciences Library and Lou’s Café in Drinko Hall.
Crimson Cup operations are located at the Berry Café in William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, the Terra Byte Café in the Science and Engineering Library and KSA Café in Knowlton Hall.
Grant said the operations are busiest from 8:30 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m. and after 3:18 p.m. when most students are done with classes.
Espress-OH, in the Ohio Union, also brews Crimson Cup coffee, but is overseen by food and beverage director Patrick Ionno. One of its most popular drinks is the Ohio Union Mocha, the same concoction as the TBC Mocha with a different name, said Karri Benishek, marketing manager for university residences and dining services.
Madeline Smith, a second-year in philosophy and Espress-OH manager, said the café’s peak hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kristin Gebhart, a fourth-year in biology, prefers ordering her hazelnut coffee from the Crane Café, an independently owned operation in Hagerty Hall.
“I like it here because you can always find a table and there are no big lines,” she said.
“Young women often report coffee consumption linked with socialization and relaxation. Young men associate coffee consumption with better focus and improved performance,” Spees said.
Kelley Burch, a first-year in biology, said she started drinking coffee at a young age and favors the vanilla latte from the Berry Café. Burch doesn’t have a dependent relationship with the drink.
“I just like getting coffee and studying,” Burch said.