Coffee, tea and more: A boarder’s guide to caffeine!

Tyler Watts, Managing Editor of Op-Ed

Even in the midst of a pandemic, hustle culture and being perpetually busy have remained key aspects of many of our lives. So long as the world is spinning the work week will continue. The adaptive remote and hybrid models of school and work have proven restorative by some measures, yet can be just as draining because of extended screen time and Zoom fatigue from staring at powerpoints and squares of faces for hours a day. Work, however, is the most socially acceptable excuse to purchase and consume copious amounts and varying forms of caffeine. 

The most holy and renowned caffeinated beverage, coffee, has made it from 9th century Africa to the present day, shapeshifting to keep the world awake. Coffee preference is a truly personal entity, and as a bit of a coffee snob, I will attempt to remain as impartial as possible. 

Starting with the base of coffee drinks, coffee itself can be brewed in so many ways. The acclaimed espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee, the small but mighty building block for americanos, lattes, mochas, macchiatos and more. 

Coffee can be prepared as a cold brew, using cold water and long steeping duration to get a really bold coffee. It’s a great iced coffee option and is extra potent from a fancy schmancy Nitro tap. 

For boarders looking to make a decent cup of coffee in the dorm, French presses and pour overs are friendly to the living space and not too pricey. Moka pots brew great coffee as well if one has access to a hot plate or stove, and they can best mimic the concentrated taste of an espresso. 

Instant coffee such as the granules from Nescafe or Cafe Bustelo can do fine in a pinch or for a dalgona style treat or Greek frappe, but if you can make coffee from real grounds it’ll be worth the effort. 

Caffeine while studying is a different ball game than getting coffee or tea while out running errands or having brunch. Work requires heightened focus and vitality, so know how caffeine affects you to get the most out of your caffeinated academic endeavors. 

For studying, I personally like to begin with plain strong black coffee. It’s very comparable to jet fuel in this most natural state, and so I associate it with fueling my mind. It also makes for a better sipping experience; the drink is good but not so wonderful that it will distract from the task at hand, leading me to guzzle it down. In my opinion, the best black coffee experiences are either a hot americano or plain cold brew! I like to end by making a latte, or I’ll purchase them around midday if I just have a few things to get done. 

The other side of the leaf is tea! Tea is wonderful because of the variety and the numerous antioxidants and properties that can heal ailments and boost immunity. Yerba mate and varying green and black teas will provide a pleasant energy boost, often in a way that doesn’t spike or crash like coffee may for some. 

Powdered matcha is a powerful form of green tea that was the ceremonial beverage of nobility around the 11th century in Japan. Since then it has gained popularity across the world for its versatility, as it can be treated much like espresso in terms of drink preparation. It has a bitter earthy flavor that pairs well in lattes with milk and any form of sweetener. Chai teas from India offer a warming spice taste that cinnamon fans will adore. It’s great on its own, in lattes, or even with a shot of espresso added for a “dirty chai”. English/Irish malty black teas can be perfect for waking up in the morning. The more gentle cousin to these, Earl Grey, has aromatic and floral accents of bergamot and lavender, and with milk and sweetener it makes for a mellow, cloudlike London Fog. 

Lastly, the cursed and chaotic energy drinks. Red Bull and various Monster flavors are the only ones I have had, but there are so many chemicals; please just take a nap instead. After two months of drinking Monster weekly, I started having chest pains, and so I stick to coffee. But to each their own. Listen to your body!

Stay hydrated while you caffeinate. Caffeine is a dehydrant by nature and will zap the water from your body, so compensate by drinking plenty of water every day. Although sitting down to crank out hours of work is only slightly comforted by the presence of Starbucks, hang in there and see the light at the end of the tunnel. No one is alone in this final stretch towards exam and project season, so buy your friends a drink to show how matcha you love them! 


A small french press beside a bag of whole bean coffee from a small Chicago business. I highly recommend buying whole bean!