When it comes to the eating habits of college students, our preferences tend to differ. The varying cuisines of Ithaca’s Collegetown and the Commons allow us to access everything from sushi to salads to pizza. The freedom of being a college student means that if we wanted to eat a poke bowl every meal, so be it. However, there is one thing that almost every college student agrees is necessary: coffee.
62 percent of Americans start every day with coffee, and yet it is quite an individualized process because different households prefer various brewing methods. There are countless choices, from thousand-dollar espresso machines to the Keuring to bottled cold brew. Each option has its pros and cons, and there are many factors to consider. I’ve tried many different methods of coffee consumption since coming to Cornell… let’s do a deep dive.
The first category of consumption is probably the least practical: purchasing out. Whether you’re rushing between classes, cramming for a prelim or just craving a drive-thru run, nothing hits the spot like a barista-made beverage. On campus, there are decent options spread evenly around. As far as taste and price go, Klarman Hall’s Temple of Zeus is top-tier. They have a variety of high-quality hot and iced options, and the prices are certainly preferable to those of Cornell Dining spots. When it comes to Cornell-run locations, there are plenty of choices. On both North and Central campuses, most places serve Starbucks brand beverages (or, in the case of Cafe Jennie, Peet’s Coffee). These drinks are solid options and are available quickly, but the flavor is never stellar because they are not made in-house. Additionally, Cornell prices can be quite steep. For example, a 20 ounce Starbucks hot coffee costs 20 cents more at Bus Stop Bagels than it would at the Starbucks in College town. Dunkin’ Donuts and Collegetown Bagels are relatively affordable (a 24 ounce iced coffee at CTB is $3.50), but these chains are less convenient on campus. The benefit of these options comes from the variety of menu options and improved quality.
No matter where you purchase it, buying coffee to-go is an accessible option. It’s also fun — who doesn’t enjoy treating themself? Yet, this habit has its downfalls. Buying individual drinks is definitely the least cost-effective way to get your coffee, and single-use plastic or paper cups and straws are detrimental to the environment. Paying around four-bucks for a Starbucks coffee means that you are also paying for the price of the cup and service, which feels silly when a 48-ounce bottle of the same product costs under $5. I love my Dunkin’ runs with friends, but I think it’s important to have an at-home coffee routine for day-to-day consumption.
This brings us to our next alternative: making coffee yourself. As college students, our options are limited in this regard. Living in our cramped dorm rooms and apartments, most of us don’t have the space or money for a legitimate espresso machine. Machines like the Keurig and Nespresso are convenient, but the wastefulness of disposable pods pretty much cancels out the efficiency of the product. However, that’s not to say you can’t achieve high-quality coffee at home. A french press or a pour-over coffee setup is both affordable options that are quite simple once you get the hang of them. Purchasing one of those or investing in a normal coffee maker will allow you to establish a morning routine that brings you comfort along with caffeine. Additionally, experimenting with different beans (perhaps through a subscription service) can be a fun way to spice up your daily cup.
Finally, some people just don’t have the time or energy to brew their own coffee, but still want to be mindful of cost and environmental impact. Most grocery stores now offer bottles of cold brew from brands like Starbucks and La Colombe. However, I have found that cold brew concentrate is the best investment when it comes to bottled coffee. The product yields more servings while still being relatively inexpensive (around $1.50 per serving on average), and you can control exactly how much caffeine you want in your cup.
Hot, iced, sweetened, black… we all have our preferences when it comes to the most important drink of the day. Living in college dorms and apartments denies us some of the luxuries of adult life, but there’s no reason that it should stop us from enjoying the ideal burst of caffeine each morning. It might take some experimentation, but I firmly believe that we all deserve the perfect cup of coffee.
Sadie Groberg is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].