Unwavering perk

What impact is Starbucks having on university students?

This time of year, many students across campus are getting the jitters.

Mind you, this is not a result of spring break approaching, but because that’s how their bodies are reacting to the pure, caffeinated bliss that only Starbucks can deliver. And it does—en masse.

Our generation is the first to experience this phenomenon. In my parents’ time, coffeehouse culture didn’t exist. Coffee was a bitter, black liquid consumed at breakfast. There was no such thing as a “mochachino” and a “barista” was an Italian bartender.

That was back when tall meant tall, and not small.

It is no surprise Starbucks is so popular among students. Its hip, trendy image gels well with younger consumers. It’s common to find some franchises littered with well-groomed young adults, Macbooks open, the signature green-stamped cups cradled in their palms like a lost pet. The contents may be hot, but the scene is totally cool.

It is for this reason Starbucks has aimed its percolating fingers at university campuses. Of all the college grounds I’ve ever visited, only one was without a Starbucks on it or nearby. University of Michigan alone has three within the area of its main campus.

Besides the Starbucks located in the IRC/Business Building, Ferris State also plays host to the Rankin Coffee Shop, carrier of Seattle’s Best brand coffee—a subsidiary of Starbucks Corporation. To say the bean-peddling mega-giant is well established here is an understatement.

But at what cost? The average beverage sold at Starbucks is significantly pricier than that of a lesser-known competitor. For the penny-minded, this spells highway robbery. With students saving up for spring break, is a $5 cup of coffee necessary? And one must also take into consideration the health factors.

High caffeine consumption can lead to serious dependency, as well as dehydration. Sleep doesn’t come easy, and relaxation is nearly impossible. Everybody’s familiar with the headaches attributed to the “decaffeination” that occurs after a lapse in frequent intake.

Prolonged use can also lead to the stiffening of arterial walls, scientists speculate. However, for those who believe caffeine will stunt your growth—relax—that one’s a myth.

For the fit-minded student, one must take into account the calorie variable. Many popular Starbucks beverages are mostly milk, and nothing goes better with a caramel macchiato than a chocolate chip scone, or so I’m told.

I must admit, I’ve never been a serious fan of Starbucks. I feel their coffee has an overwhelming “burnt” taste. I much prefer Biggby’s coffee, despite having to risk my life crossing State Street to indulge.

Love it or leave it, Starbucks has grown to become an immeasurable influence not just at Ferris and other college campuses, but in American culture. And like all guilty pleasures, it is one that should be enjoyed in moderation. n