Whether coffee’s your cup of tea or not, it matters.
In 2015, the National Coffee Association and The Specialty Coffee Association of America found more than half of Americans over 18 years old drink coffee daily and that Americans consume about 400 million cups of coffee a day.
In academia, caffeine’s popularity is even more concentrated. An honors student at the University of New Hampshire conducted a study on some of her peers’ consumption and perceptions of caffeine and found that price was unlikely to change students’ consumer habits because they felt caffeine was necessary, especially if they did not get enough sleep the previous night, had to study for an exam or do homework.
Despite health risks associated with coffee, especially for heavy drinkers, UCLA students certainly understand this.
In 1971, students actually protested an on-campus price hike on the beverage to recover from a revenue deficit and argued that Associated Students UCLA was failing its mission to serve students.
A former Daily Bruin editor in chief was even quoted in a 2001 article about the “coffee wars” that “Coffee was such a staple that using that to increase ASUCLA profit was sort of like taxing the poorest.”
When Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf signed a contract with UCLA in 2004 to provide its line of products to UCLA coffeehouses, some thought the campus should focus on promoting small businesses instead of large chains.
One student told The Bruin she thought incorporating the franchise into on-campus restaurants would have a negative impact on other ASUCLA restaurants such as Relaxation, the Ackerman boba stand at the time.
Her concern echoed students’ concerns in 1995 that having two new coffeehouses in North Campus was excessive. The Anderson-based Espresso Roma, which became Il Tramezzino in 2011, and Northern Lights, the coffeehouse in the North Campus Student Center, meant students had three options to purchase coffee in North Campus alone.
Today, with 12 coffee shops on campus, including six in North Campus, and no signs that any will close for lack of revenue, three sounds inadequate. While foot traffic certainly varies at less central locations such as Terasaki Cafe and Cafe Synapse, students, faculty and visitors alike need their coffee fix.
Despite a decline in American coffee drinking, and the increasing popularity of single-serve machines and energy drinks, coffee still has a grip on college campuses. Perhaps it’s the productivity and comfort of Kerckhoff Coffeehouse or the historical role of coffeehouses as public spaces for intellects, or maybe there’s just too much to be done while we’re here.
Whatever it is – hold on, I need to get a refill.