By Lucy Wilkinson
Monday the 1st October marks International Coffee Day, so today you’ve got even more of an excuse to spend £4 on that necessary cappuccino.
Coffee has undeniably become a central feature of modern-day life, and socialising. It seems like everything that’s not to do with drinking alcohol, revolves around the caffeinated substance. But the substance has the world divided on whether it’s a good thing to drink or something to be entirely avoided.
Arguably the 1990s was the birth of what we understand as the coffee culture in the UK. Between 1993 and 1997, the number of UK coffee shop outlets catapulted by 847%. Therefore, there is no doubt that coffee shops are lucrative. There are even studies that claim by 2022, the coffee shop industry in the UK will turn over £13billion. Numbers from 2017, to 2018, showing an increase of 5.3% of stores testify to this.
The whole irony of coffee is that, for a student, its benefits and its downfall are closely aligned. We love coffee because it helps us finish that essay in the early hours, and because it helps us focus after the Monday 9am. But, once the deadlines are met, it is exactly the reason why we’re up until 3am, and we find we can’t do work without one.
I think perhaps the greatest benefit of drinking coffee is that it increases your energy levels, having the ability to keep you alert if/when you need to be. It’s a great thing to drink before going to the gym without taking pre-workouts which are often expensive. There have been studies that prove caffeine has a positive effect on physical performance, by 11-12% even. There have also been scientific claims that drinking coffee can reduce your risks of Alzheimer’s, and even diabetes. However, like anything there is a lot of evidence for either side. But hey, what could it hurt to have a few occasionally? Providing you buy Fairtrade coffee, your purchase could be making a positive difference in communities across the world. Similarly, a lot of independent coffee brands are cropping up in cafes across cities in the UK. So, buying from these companies could also support the local, immediate community.
Coffee drinking is a choice. The strength of the industry has demonstrated that we tend to choose ‘yes’ to coffee. This does not by any means say that it doesn’t have its downfalls.
A lot of budget experts tell us to calculate how much our daily/weekly coffee from Starbucks is costing us on a yearly basis. Research has shown that yearly, the average Brit is spending about £2200 on coffee. That £4 a day didn’t seem significant before, did it? Undeniably drinking coffee can be an expensive habit, and for students this can pinch our purse in places that we can’t afford it to. There has been a lot of interesting research into the correlation between coffee, and mental illnesses such as anxiety. This is because the increased energy levels that coffee can provide, paired with sleep disruption, can exaggerate the effects of some mental illnesses. If you’re interested in the link between coffee, anxiety and mental health you can have a read of this Telegraph case study: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/gave-coffee-said-goodbye-anxiety/.
The world divided by simple pros and cons is far too simplistic. By assessing things as ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ we seek to make some sort of value judgement, whether something is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But really, you should just do whatever the hell you want. Drink the coffee. Don’t drink the coffee. Empower yourself to make decisions you want to not what society – or a pros and cons list – tells us.
What we all can’t argue with now is that although whether we want to be or not, we are immersed in a coffee culture that is not ceasing.