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Pledging allegiance to the caffeine nation
Posted on March 31, 2006

Wafting through the glass doors, the warm aroma awakens the sleepy customers from the parking lot. As almost mesmerized by the scent, customers of every kind, from people with rumpled hair and baggy pajamas to businessmen with freshly pressed suits, drift into Starbucks like zombies. They wait in line admiring the pastries uniformly placed behind glass and the black chalkboard featuring this week’s special blend. At last, they reach their turn to place order for their poison of choice. The coffee language (as I like to call it) begins – ”I’ll have a Venti vanilla latte, with an extra shot, no whip, easy foam, two equal and extra hot.” The barista scribbles down the order in perfect comprehension and the concoction is off. As people skip away with their steamy or icy drinks, a look of satisfaction and relief creeps over their faces–they have what they need to make it through the day.

On pretty much any given day, you are likely to find this editor in a Starbucks in La Verne, Pasadena or Rancho Cucamonga (three locations in my weekly routine). It is even more likely to see me sipping away with a rather large caffeine drink while typing up a paper, staring blankly at a computer screen, stumbling into class or cruising in my Altima. I have to admit this has become my drug of choice for the past three years. However, now my addiction has become far more severe than any other year.

If I had to pinpoint the beginning of this fetish, I would probably look back to my senior year of high school. It all began with mocha frappuccinos five minutes before the morning bell rang. From high school, my addiction made a leap from casual coffee drinking to purchasing Starbucks’ “Double Shots” to ritualistic trips to Starbucks in my current junior year. Today, if I am deprived of my precious helping of caffeine, I can be diagnosed with a headache, irritability and negative thoughts. At times, I feel the only thing that will jump start a long day is a hearty prayer with a monstrous pot of coffee.

What’s comforting about my hopeless addiction is that every day I see at least three students walking around with the similar beverage. The university scene is probably one of the biggest contributing factors to my addiction. Even if I do not have time to run into Starbucks, the coveted caffeine can be readily found at Circle K, Coffeeberry or Miss Donuts.

And it seems fancy Starbucks-like coffee has become more common in this generation then that of our parents’ day of taking it straight black. The heightened coffee consumption is not only infecting college students but younger teenagers as well. Where I only began seriously drinking the stuff when I was 16, I’ve seen 9-year-olds order an even more complicated drink than me – another indication that kids are rapidly trying to grow-up.

Everyone has to admit that Starbucks is doing business right. Being highly available, offering a distinctive product, a relaxing environment and above all, the ability to customize has anchored their success. America’s obsession with made to order products is directly found in Starbucks giving coffee an almost high fashion appeal. Along with making coffee the trendiest accessory, Starbucks has created a loyal band of followers desperate to feed their addiction. And I must admit – I have joined the caffeine-propelled zombies and it does not look like I will stray any time soon.

Nicole Knight, a junior journalism major, is managing editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at nknight@ulv.edu.