Coffee lovers will be in trouble when the apocalypse hits


Madison Wuu '24

Guinevere Andrews ‘24 drinks coffee religiously. She always buys it from Starbucks in the morning so she’s ready for the school day ahead of her. Her go-to order is an iced vanilla latte.

Coffee is deeply ingrained in our society as one of the most consumed beverages in the world. Drinking just the right amount can increase our alertness and enhance our mood, but too much can make us anxious.

While many Tologs have embraced this caffeinated culture, the health benefits of drinking coffee have long been a contentious issue.

Despite this, many believe that drinking coffee is a healthy part of their daily routine, since it offers stability to their lives.

“Coffee has become a habitual ritual for me,” Elle Gilhooly ‘24 said. “I need it in the morning, it gives me energy, I love the taste of it— there’s something about it that just makes me happy.”

But let’s think about it. Imagine that one day when you woke up, coffee was suddenly inaccessible to the world. I realize this isn’t a very likely scenario, but I have no doubt that coffee drinkers would be the first to go if an apocalypse occurred. The reason I am so certain of this outcome is because I am aware that for heavy coffee drinkers, abstaining from caffeine can lead to major withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms, including headaches, drowsiness, crankiness and difficulty concentrating, occur one or two days after you stop consuming caffeine, and can last for two to nine days.

When we went on our Junior retreat at the beginning of this September, I had the chance to witness firsthand the negative effects that my friend Guinevere Andrews ‘24 (Guin) experienced.

“During our Junior retreat to Catalina Island, I wasn’t able to drink any coffee and because of this, I got massive migraines that didn’t go away when I took Advil and I was also very tired,” Andrews said.

I was so used to seeing Guin at school buzzing with energy and sipping her iced vanilla latte that when I saw her without coffee in her system, she looked like a zombie. Guin could hardly keep her eyes open while she ate her breakfast in the mornings. When we had activities during the day, I would hear her complaining about getting migraines and crashing on her bunk bed in an attempt to ease the pain. Without coffee, she was significantly less alert than her typical upbeat, cheerful self was at school.

In addition to causing withdrawal symptoms, like what Guin experienced at Catalina, sustained caffeine intake can negatively affect the heart. According to the telehealth platform K Health, high caffeine intake can raise epinephrine levels in the blood, which will increase heart rate and blood pressure.

“Caffeine kicks in quickly and can have an impact on blood pressure almost right away. Within 30 minutes to an hour, you could notice changes in your blood pressure after ingesting caffeine. Usually, normal blood pressure levels will return after a few hours of not having caffeine,” K Health writes. 

A lot of the people I know who drink coffee say that when they drink too much, they have more trouble falling and staying asleep. They then have a harder time waking up in the morning, which makes them rely on coffee to compensate for their lack of sleep and keep them awake and focused throughout the day.

“I started drinking coffee at the end of last year because I couldn’t stay awake,” Gianna Candelora ‘25 said. “But now on days that I don’t drink coffee, I feel way more tired than I do on days when I normally drink coffee.”

Not only do I observe Tologs drinking coffee at school, but I occasionally see them — particularly student-athletes — consuming caffeinated energy drinks, the most popular being Celsius. Although it has become a rising trend for athletes on the Hill, the Celsius warning labels indicate that it is not advised for consumption by those under the age of 18.

“As a rower, drinking Celsius makes me feel more energized, but it doesn’t negatively affect me,” Jacqueline Ward ‘26 said. “I know that drinking Celsius has some controversy, but personally, drinking it does more good for me than it does bad. I think it’s one of the healthier and better options for caffeinated drinks.”

In my experience as a student-athlete, the best drinks are those that are high in electrolytes, such as Vitamin Water or Gatorade, rather than those that contain lots of caffeine. While beverages like coffee and Celsius are high in water content, they are low in electrolytes.

“Usually for soccer I don’t drink caffeinated drinks,” Sachi Kaneko-Grun ‘24 said. “I drink Gatorade to gain electrolytes because it does a much better job replenishing the salts in your body, and I think coffee depletes that which is the total opposite.”

So while it may be tempting to pop open the top of one of Celsius’ many enticing flavors, such as Sparkling Wild Berry or Sparkling Grape Rush, athletes have plenty of other, healthier options at their disposal to be prepped for performance.

According to the web guide AddictionCenter, the negative long-term neurological effects of coffee consumption can lead to addiction. Let’s think about this process in simpler terms by using a credit card analogy. Similar to how a credit card accumulates debt when you overspend on it, drinking coffee causes your brain to build up a debt of sleepy chemicals that, the moment you stop, flood all of those receptors and cause you to crash. Quitting causes your body to become completely overwhelmed since your brain is no longer equipped to function normally with all of those sleepy chemicals, causing you to become dependent on coffee.

In my opinion, this coffee addiction is unhealthy. Every person should have the capacity and motivation to pursue success if they so choose. When someone consumes coffee, all of a person’s innate energy and motivation is held hostage. In other words, their bodies become so reliant on coffee that they are unable to even get the motivation they should rightfully have without caffeine. As a result, this prevents them from enjoying life unless they drink coffee as a work or motivational stimulant.

Caffeine does not make you more alert or a better worker. Instead, it prevents your body from having to deal with the “debt” you’ve acquired, which is holding down your capacity to reach optimal productivity.

Aside from all of these detrimental health impacts, coffee is also expensive.

“I never make my own coffee,” Andrews said. “I always buy coffee from Starbucks in the morning, so it’s about 5-6 dollars every single day. So about 35-40 dollars a week.”

If you do the math, you will find that Andrews spends roughly $1,800 a year on coffee alone. For other Tologs, money is spent in the same manner.

“I would say I spend around 15-20 dollars a week on coffee. Right now my go-to order is the iced pumpkin spice latte because it’s in season, but most of the time I just make it [coffee] at home,” Gianna Candelora ‘25 said.

Is coffee really worth the expense? Sure, it increases energy, alertness and productivity, but in the long run, there’s really nothing good about it. Personally, I have never tried coffee, so I can’t say if I like the flavor. But given that it could alter my brain’s chemical composition and interfere with my daily routine, I don’t really feel an urgency to.

But who knows? Perhaps you love coffee and totally disagree with what I have to say. I can only wish you the best of luck when the apocalypse takes hold.