Opinion: Coffee is a high school student’s kryptonite


Credit: Kris Poole-Evans

Join WSPN’s Kris Poole-Evans as they discuss the pros and cons of drinking coffee as a high schooler.

Kris Poole-Evans

I got my first taste of coffee around five years ago at the ripe age of 13-years-old. To my naive and obviously uncultured pallet, coffee was disgusting. It was either served so bitter I turned into Scrooge, or so sweet it felt like drinking straight up glitter and rainbows. I didn’t come around to liking coffee until I was 15-years-old, which just so happened to be the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. School was closed, friends were too far apart and the workload, along with my stress levels, just kept piling up.

I needed to use every single minute of daylight I was provided to get my work done, as once the the sun set, my brain would shut off and I would involuntarily exit school mode. Here is where my go-to drink comes into the picture: a Red Eye, brewed coffee over a shot of espresso. The drink itself is pretty good, and it is still a personal favorite, but since I’m not in my mid-30s working a nine-to-five job, there’s no reason for me to force myself to live that lifestyle. As a child, there was no reason for me to be drinking that every day.

Any opinion I have about underage coffee drinkers can be boiled down to a simple statement: coffee should be a treat, not a way out. But before I get too critical, let’s look at the good parts.

Learning the different types of drinks
Want to impress your friends? Knowing the different types of coffee might just do the trick. Why wouldn’t you point out that the triple strawberry pump, peppermint, sparkly grapefruit whatever your friend got from Starbucks is actually more of a glorified abomination than actual coffee? If you want to get more technical and really sell it, tell them their macchiato from Starbucks is basically a latte, or as I like to call it, steamed milk with some pizazz. If you lose a friend in the process, well, at least you know your stuff.

Looking mature and getting respect as a child
Before I turned 18, most adults wouldn’t give me the time of day simply because I was a minor. No one wants to associate themselves with a stinky minor. But for some reason, when they saw me pick up my thermos full of espresso, it’s like a switch flipped. Going from being essentially ignored by more than half of the world to being praised for my unhealthy behavior and toxic relationship with coffee felt like floating on cloud nine.

Conversation starter
If you’re like me, and can’t socialize comfortably with your family for whatever reason, simply throw in the fact that you drink coffee before school. When I used to go out to dinner with my family, I often sat in silence, twiddling my thumbs or moving food around on my plate and praying for dinner to be over. But now that I have a mature, upgraded pallet, I can talk to my family about adult things like the news or gay rights over cappuccinos during dessert. The “coffee effect” doesn’t mean your parents will actually listen to you, but the coffee gets them interested. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll take you seriously, but you drink coffee, so you should be used to bitter feelings.

Of course, not every pot of coffee is created equally. There are times when high schoolers will drink coffee a little too seriously. People of all ages, but especially younger and more influential teenagers, will sometimes believe that drinking coffee will make them better intellectually and emotionally.

And with every pro, comes a con.

You developed a superiority complex? Really?
All jokes aside, if you drink coffee, you are not instantly better than anyone else. I mean, what’s so cool about admitting to the world that you rely on beans and hot water to give you your personality? Coffee tastes great, but showcasing your Dunkin’ Donuts cup like a trophy doesn’t make you “elite” and “cool,” it makes you look stupid and vulnerable. Remember to go outside and take in some fresh air or drink a glass of water instead of another cup of coffee. Sitting at home and drinking coffee in the dark, wrapped in a blanket isn’t a past-time often looked at in the positive light.

Drinking more than one cup doesn’t mean you’re actually more mature
There’s no doubt that drinking coffee as a high school student will give you some level of maturity, but it only makes you mature visually. Coffee is drilled into our brains as something only overworked, depressed adults drink. So, shouldn’t flexing how you’ve had four cups of coffee today be at least a little concerning? People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Oh cool, health problems!
You know how coffee is extremely acidic? No? Well, maybe the intense stomach ache you’re about to get from your fourth cup of coffee will wake you up to the effects of coffee. Digestive issues are a given for coffee drinkers. The plethora of dairy products you can add to coffee, preferred levels of sugar and other sweeteners, it’s no wonder you’ve spent your entire morning clutching your stomach in pain, or, even worse, spent your morning on the toilet. Drinking too much coffee can also cause anxiety and lead to a caffeine addiction.

High school students shouldn’t glamorize coffee. Whether or not teachers or parents or whoever wants to admit it, being a student at WHS is a scary and intimidating thing. Students have a reputation of receiving good grades and going to prestigious colleges. Harsh due dates and long hours playing sports can make it nearly impossible for students to be on top of school work. While I don’t have any solid advice, forcing down a cup of joe is not the answer.