Each morning, Patrick F. Taylor Hall’s Panera Bread brews over 20 gallons of coffee.
Tiffany Myers, Executive Director of Panera Bread, sees the same students every morning buying a cup to get by all day.
âWe brew about twelve gallons of just iced coffee each day,â Myers said.
In second year of international studies, Nicole Mann drinks four cups of coffee a day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon.
Mann started drinking coffee at age 13, and since her freshman year of high school, she started drinking coffee regularly twice a day, claiming it was now part of her schedule.
âDuring the midterm week I’m going to drink a lot more coffee, which is definitely unhealthy,â said Mann, who sometimes drank up to eight to 10 cups a day. “I was drinking more and more regularly every few hours.”
She says she often drinks black coffee because it is the cheapest option.
âI definitely drink for the high, it keeps you awake and keeps your blood pumped and your adrenaline pumping with all the caffeine you have,â Mann said. “Being locked in the dorm got me so exhausted that I drank more coffee.”
A 2019 study by Elsevier, a science publishing house, observed caffeine consumption among students at five universities, including LSU.
The study provided several reasons why students consume caffeine:
Seventy-nine percent used caffeine to keep them awake
Thirty-one used caffeine to improve their focus
Twenty-seven percent said it helped them increase their physical energy
Nine percent drank caffeine for stress relief
Overall, the study found that the main reason students drank caffeine was to improve their mood and performance.
Freshman architecture student Amelia Blackmon has found herself drinking more coffee and energy drinks in recent months, attributing the increase to work in a cafe and time consuming classes. Blackmon estimates that she doubled her caffeine intake while in school.
Blackmon drinks about two cups of coffee a day. She started drinking coffee in seventh grade and now drinks all types – black coffee, smoothies, lattes – even swapping out a cup of coffee for a Monster Energy drink on some days.
Blackmon works at Coffee Joy, a cafe near campus, where she regularly sees many LSU students and faculty having coffee. Working there also allowed her to get free coffee, which helped make the habit less expensive.
âIt gives me energy and I’m very sleepy all the time, so I need it to finish my class or a late night project,â Blackmon said.
Denise Holston, assistant professor at LSU School of Nutrition and Food Sciences and registered dietitian nutritionist, was not surprised by the amount of coffee the students would have drunk per day, nor by the amount of coffees like Panera Bread brewed each morning. .
âStudents have a lot to do – they’re studying, they’re trying to get good grades, most students have jobs and families and need a morning pick-me-up,â Holston said.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, or about four or five cups of coffee. However, some people have different levels of tolerance to caffeine, as some can metabolize it faster.
While many people who drink coffee have a built-up tolerance that allows them to drink more, others may experience nervousness, anxiety, and fatigue. People who drink too much coffee may experience symptoms such as nervousness, insomnia, rapid heart rate, nausea, and headaches.
Holston also says that while black coffee is better in terms of calories, it still has about the same amount of caffeine as others.
Ariana Tashakkori, a first year wildlife ecology student, is a regular coffee drinker, drinking two cups a day. Tashakkori first drank Monster Energy drinks in high school, but eventually switched to the cafe. She now drinks it in the morning for breakfast, either cooking it herself or buying a mug at CC’s Coffee House. Despite the cost, Tashakkori continues to drink coffee for its effects.
âIt’s expensive, even if you buy a big gallon of cold brew at the grocery store, it’s a lot of money,â Tashakkori said. âAt this point, I am dependent on him. I cannot stop drinking it, otherwise I will have a headache.
Holston strongly advises against energy drinks, especially Bang energy drinks, which are high in caffeine. While Bang is calorie-free and carbohydrate-free, it has double the caffeine compared to a Monster energy drink, and it’s more potent, meaning people who drink it can feel the effects much faster.
Holston is also warning students of the dangers of mixing alcohol with Bang energy drinks. According to Holston, the high caffeine content can mask the effects of alcohol, so students may not experience significant effects and believe they are able to drink more.
Holston believes that drinking coffee can be a healthy habit until it turns into overconsumption or is used to replace sleep.
âEven if you’ve been awake all night with caffeine to study, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do well on the test because you won’t be able to function well mentally,â Holston said.