Caffeine craze

Queen’s campus serves a bold brew of coffee culture

Queen’s students have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to coffee on campus. The university’s main campus, covering less than one square kilometer is host to over 15 different coffee outlets.
Queen’s students have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to coffee on campus. The university’s main campus, covering less than one square kilometer is host to over 15 different coffee outlets.
Canada is the second most-likely country in the world for one to consume coffee outside of the home, following Italy.
Canada is the second most-likely country in the world for one to consume coffee outside of the home, following Italy.

Three million, five hundred thousand.

That’s how many cups of coffee were consumed at Hospitality Services retail, dining and catering outlets on campus last year – and that’s not including the three Tim Hortons outlets.

It may seem like an astronomical number, but it’s not out-of-the-ordinary for a university, according to Hospitality Services.

In fact, caffeine is the most widely used substance in the world, according to the Globe and Mail. This demand can be seen on campus: there are at least 15 vendors that sell coffee on main campus at Queen’s - a geographical range spanning less than half of a square kilometre.

Drinking coffee is a part of a daily routine for many students, but if you’re not one to talk before your morning coffee, the conversation on caffeine consumption may be one worth having.

That’s because no one should require caffeine to function normally, according to Beth Doxsee.

Doxsee, a peer health outreach coordinator at Queen’s Health, Counselling and Disability Services, says many people fail to recognize their morning coffee as a highly addictive drug.

This is especially the case when, unlike the majority of drugs, there’s no regulated age at which routine caffeine consumption is condoned.

“It shouldn’t be something you’re relying on heavily to get through your day,” she said.

“If you need five cups of coffee to even get up … and you can’t do anything beforehand, there’s a good chance it has become very addictive to you.”

It impacts both mental and physical health, Doxsee said.

“We just don’t know what the long-term effects are. It could really impact growth and development,” she said.

It’s true that there are conflicting camps when it comes to the debate on coffee’s health effects.

A 2006 study from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that those who consumed coffee on a regular basis had a significantly lower risk of developing type two diabetes.

Furthermore, several studies have found a correlation between caffeine consumption and lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s Disease, cirrhosis, colon cancer and asthma.

Consumption of caffeine can improve athletic performance as well. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, ingesting the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee prior to exercise increases endurance in both running and cycling activities.

Due to this performance enhancing nature of caffeine, it’s a controlled substance by the International Olympic Committee.

Despite its beloved benefits, however, Doxsee said there are numerous pitfalls to consuming mass amounts of caffeine, as its intake has been linked to insomnia, headaches, irritability, anxiety, high blood pressure and elevated heart rates.

While long-term effects remain unknown, she said it’s clear that caffeine has a major impact on mood, noting how its consumption can amplify the effects of anxiety in those already prone to being anxious.

“[That’s] why we would suggest that someone who has an anxiety disorder avoids stimulants such as caffeine, because it can make situations a little bit worse,” she said.

“Knowing how big of an issue mental health is becoming, I think there is some new evidence that [caffeine] could be a factor in people being able to deal with the normal ups and downs of everyday life.”

Doxsee also said caffeine consumption exasperates the effects of insomnia, impacting mood even further.

“Things seem like huge insurmountable things all of a sudden,” she said.

Addiction to caffeine can become cyclical: insomnia is heightened by the presence of caffeine in the bloodstream; subsequently, fatigue requires more caffeine to fight the effects of sleep deprivation.

Some consumers may not even be aware when they’re consuming caffeine.

The law does not stipulate that caffeine be listed on a product, unless it has been added to the product separately. This means you may not notice how much caffeine you’re taking in if you consume products that derive caffeine from ingredients such as herbs, Doxsee said.

Still, many students are consciously caffeinating, as many resort to the stimulating effects of energy drinks in lieu of coffee.

“We’ve seen Health Canada has put some caps on caffeine in energy drinks as they are drunk more especially on university campuses … I think in moderation it’s completely fine … as long as you’re not relying on it too much,” Doxsee said.

Students aren’t alone when it comes to caffeine consumption.

According to Sandy McAlpine, president of the Coffee Association of Canada, Canadians generally are devout coffee consumers, with 65 per cent of those above the age of 18 consuming coffee on a daily basis.

The average regular coffee-drinker in Canada consumes approximately 3.2 cups of coffee, each day, according to McAlpine.

Between 2011-12, Canadian retail coffee sales increased 22 per cent and, in 2013, the country saw its largest expansion of Starbucks franchises ever, as 150 new outlets opened in Target stores.

Canada still falls behind many European countries when it comes to per capita coffee consumption. The United States, however, has a lower per capita consumption that Canada.

McAlpine said Canada is the second most likely place in the world for a cup of coffee to be consumed outside the home, after Italy.

According to him, this trend has been gradually evolving for the last 10-15 years, and accounts for the greater accessibility of coffee on university campuses as well.

“I think consumption on university campuses might have become easier in the long run,” he said. “Whereas before you had just the cafeteria, you have locations with services often done by a branded venue now.”

The caffeine content in Canada’s coffee, though, is considerably less than what it once was.

According to McAlpine, the recent trend in Canada has been towards Arabica rather than Robusta coffee. Arabica coffee contains half the caffeine of Robusta beans, which were imported in greater amounts during the 1960s.

“Most of our coffee now comes from Columbia and Central America, specifically Peru,” McAlpine said. “Those are countries that almost exclusively grow Arabica beans.”

Spilling the beans on the buzz

Health Canada recommends a daily consumption of caffeine of 400 mg for adults. This is a maximum recommendation, however, as daily intake beyond 400 mg will induce the development of significant health problems.

Take a peek at the caffeine content of your go-to pick-me-ups:

Coffee-based drinks

Starbucks Pike Place Roast – Grande (473 ml): 330 mg

Common Ground coffee – Exam-sized (473 ml): 180 mg

Tim Hortons coffee – medium (414 ml): 200 mg

Tim Hortons Iced Cappuccino – medium (414 ml): 120 mg

Tim Hortons hot chocolate – medium (414 ml): 20 mg

Starbucks café latte or cappuccino – Grande (473 ml): 150 mg

Starbucks solo shot of espresso – 75 mg

Starbucks iced coffee with milk – Grande (473 ml): 125 mg

Starbucks iced coffee without milk – Grande (473 ml): 165 mg

Tea-based drinks

Starbucks Tazo chai tea latte – Grande (473 ml): 100 mg

Tazo Awake brewed tea – Grande (473 ml): 135 mg Tazo green tea – Grande (473 ml): 70 mg

Arizona iced black tea (473 ml): 30 mg

Arizona iced green tea (473 ml): 15 mg

Snapple lemon iced tea (473 ml): 62 mg

Soft drinks

Diet Coke (355 ml): 47 mg

Coke/Coke Zero/Diet Pepsi (355 ml): 35 mg

Barq’s root beer – regular (355 ml): 23 mg

Barq’s diet root beer (355 ml): 0 mg

Mountain Dew – regular or diet (355 ml): 54 mg

Pepsi Max (355 ml): 69 mg

Energy drinks

Monster energy drink (473 ml): 160 mg

Red Bull energy drink (473 ml): 152 mg

Glaceau Vitaminwater energy drink (473 ml): 40 mg

Jolt energy drink (473 ml): 190 mg


Cold Stone Creamery mocha ice cream (355 ml): 52 mg

Hershey’s milk chocolate bar (45 ml): 9 mg

Excedrin Migraine – two tablets: 130 mg

Midol Complete – two caplets: 120 mg

Sources: Centre for Science in the Public Interest; Tim

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