Castleton’s caffeine cravings

Student Matt Eckler holds up his tea in Coffee Cottage.

The sound of undergrads ambling from classroom to classroom reverberates through political science professor Rich Clark’s narrow and cluttered office in Leavenworth Hall as he lifts a cup of steaming hot Coffee People’s Jet Fuel brand coffee to his lips and takes sip.

     “It isn’t just about the caffeine jolt,” Clark mused with a wry smile, before downing another quick gulp of smoky, caramel-brown, morning joe. “I like to have the warm cup in my hand and be able to smell the coffee. It’s a psychological boost for me. I sometimes feel like I’ve actually become immune to the caffeine.”

At Castleton University, Clark is not alone in his thirst for a daily, if not sometimes hourly, small kick in the butt to get going.

Students and professors can be seen trekking across campus and sitting in classrooms clutching onto drinks from Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Pure Leaf Tea, and Monster Energy, as though these beverages were life preservers helping them keep their heads barely above water.

Matthew Eckler is a theater major with a penchant for slurping caffeinated beverages out of to-go cups of all shapes and sizes.   

“I drink unsweetened tea every day,” he said while holding up a large sweaty cup of Dunkin Donuts iced tea. “I get it from McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts or the Coffee Cottage.”

The Coffee Cottage is a hot destination on campus, often frequented by the overtired and overworked.

But, even though the Coffee Cottage serves such a vital role in Castleton’s community, business is not always as booming as might be expected.

“Coffee consumption is actually down on campus,” said a Coffee Cottage employee who wished to remain anonymous. “That’s why we’ve brought in pink lemonade and iced tea. To bring in new customers.”

While the prevalence of caffeinated concoctions on campus might indicate large sales numbers at the Coffee Cottage to some people, the fact of the matter is that individuals seeking the comfort of caffeine have a plethora of options available to them at nearly all times.

Castleton professor Rich Clark holds up his coffee mug.

   In a recent poll conducted at Castleton, where 10 Professors and 20 students were interviewed, 100 percent of the professors and 65 percent of the students indicated that they drink at least one cup of coffee per day. However, many said they prefer something with a little more variety to the plain, old, black java.

“I use a French press at home or go to the Castleton Village Store for some of their French Roast,” said senior John Everett, showing off a gargantuan-looking Village Store coffee cup placed inside of another equally large coffee cup. “The trick is to use two cups, more insulation that way.”

Another poll participant, Jennifer Turchi, a sociology, social work, and criminal justice professor at Castleton, also likes to break the mold when it comes to her morning mud.

“I drink a 24-ounce Americano with two shots of espresso every morning,” said Turchi, reclining comfortably behind the wooden desk in her office. “It really helps to wake me up. Professors have to lecture, grade papers, and do prep work and a ton of community service with students. And there are no grad students here to help us out.”

     Marie McDuff, a nursing professor at Castleton and admitted coffee drinker, believes that some caffeine is probably all right in moderation but she warns students and colleagues that too much can be dangerous to their health.

  “You do have to be careful with caffeine,” said McDuff, astutely. “Some is fine, but when we’re talking about people who drink upwards of 10 cups of coffee a day, that’s unhealthy.”

McDuff also strongly advises her students against the consumption of energy drinks, which she notes contain much more sugar and caffeine than the average cup of coffee, and have also been linked numerous times to health problems in the people who drink them.

“I am not a fan of energy drinks,” she said. “I’ve smelled those Monster drinks before and they smell like cough syrup, and they’re full of chemicals. I would encourage everyone drinking energy drinks to find something else.”

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