Coffee is a university student’s best friend. It allows us to concentrate in lectures early in the morning, and can keep us going throughout our late night study sessions before a huge exam. As an avid coffee drinker, I was curious as to how coffee actually affects the body, and the healthiest ways to consume a cup of joe.
As you go through the waking hours of the day, the neurons in the body are firing. As they fire they create a byproduct called adenosine. This is monitored by receptors in the body, and when the adenosine levels reach a certain point in the brain and spinal cord, your body will begin to feel drowsy and start telling you to head towards sleeping. Caffeine is basically an adenosine impersonator. The adenosine receptors accept it as the real thing, and this blocks the receptors. Then the natural stimulants within the brain to work more freely, which in turn make caffeine users more awake. (There is a great article on this on lifehacker.com that probably does a better job explaining than I am!)
Although there is a lot of research on the health benefits and risks of drinking coffee, the general consensus is that a cup or two of coffee every day isn’t going to hurt you. However when you drink coffee is important to consider. Drinking coffee to stay up late for those study sessions actually hurts you in the long run. Getting a good night’s sleep is still important, and depending on caffeine to get you through the day after a late night should not be your strategy.
In my first year of university, I tried to save money by buying the cheapest tins of coffee I could find. It was disgusting. I have since learned to find a happy medium; mid-priced coffee that still tastes pretty good. And I always look for which kind is on sale, that way I can get a higher end coffee for a decent price. I figure if I am only going to have a cup a day it might as well be a good one! I have also learned that if you can grind your coffee yourself and then use a French press you will get a richer taste. This is something I am considering trying.
This information on coffee makes it really clear why the pairing of student and coffee cup is such a common sighting.