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How much caffeine is too much?

| Monday, December 4, 2017

The Mayo Clinic’s recommended caffeine intake limit for the average adult doesn’t offer an exception for college students trying to manage a full course load and a social life at the same time. It was a truly unfortunate moment when I discovered that my morning cup — which is more like a small pot—of coffee exceeds this. Regardless, it’s too late in the semester to try to kick the habit.

In honor of the upcoming finals week, here are some situational caffeine recommendations.

Disclaimer: The events that led to the gathering of this information about caffeine capabilities led to few hours of sleep and high stress levels.

When you need just a subtle push: black tea

Ideally, it’s strong. Realistically, it’s pretty boring. It won’t kick your brain or body into overdrive, but this remains a favorite among many. No nonsense. No frills. Just some dried leaves steeped in water. It shouldn’t keep you up too long.

When you have an online assignment due in a few hours: medium roast

Maybe you like it bitter or with more creamer than coffee. Whatever your preference, this classic cup of coffee should get you through an average homework or study session.

When you have a leisurely amount of time to do some reading: a latte

It’s gentle, frothy and maybe just a little bit sweet. Any way you take it, a latte is a satisfying choice for a time when you aren’t too stressed. Take a deep breath. Sip the perfect but not quite decadent blend of espresso and milk. Savor the texture—there’s nothing quite like it.

A few hours later when you realize that you’ve procrastinated on the reading: dark roast

Perhaps a bit of cream will make this more tolerable, but it’s best not to dilute it too far — even if it tastes like tar. The faster you drink it, the faster the taste is gone. It’s not for everyone, but it certainly has an unmistakable kick to prevent what could become a dire situation of procrastination.

When you sense an all-nighter coming: canned caffeine

Espresso shots, overly sweetened energy drinks, even soda in a really desperate situation. These might not be the best caffeinated beverages, but there’s surely one that you know you like. The stress of an all-nighter should fuel you, but stock up just in case. The exhaustion could hit at any moment. It’s better to be prepared.

When you wake up from the first sleep following the all-nighter: cold brew

Your eyes don’t want to stay open. Your body longs to crawl into bed or even lie down on a flat surface. The table where you’re sitting looks appealing. The icy temperature makes you more alert with every sip. About halfway through the drink, you might find yourself more awake than you expected. Sleep will be necessary at some point, but this should get you through the day until then.

When the semester ends and it’s time to give up the caffeine: decaf

Placebo effect, anyone?

When you remember that your column is due in an hour: no time for caffeine

Just write.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • James Rahner

    I’m no coffee expert, but I was under the impression that the darker the roast, the LESS caffeine it has? Can anyone confirm?