Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Carleton’s Coffee Culture: The Allure of A Cup of Joe

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

The Caffeine Epidemic, The Uni Student and their Coffee

As a recent adult with growing responsibilities each day, one thing that I have started to notice is the prevalence of coffee in my life and of those around me while on campus. To be frank, I’m not the most caffeine-crazed person on earth — I drink tea most mornings and see coffee as a treat for especially hard days. But when I came to university, I held all of the common preconceived notions including late nights, a high academic workload, and a reliance on the one drink that’s supposed to get us through it all: coffee. Yet once I arrived at Carleton and spoke to my first-year peers, I was shocked to find how many were caffeine-free. 

Even with this observation, it’s no secret that coffee is still a prominent part of many Carleton students’ day-to-day lives. There’s no shortage of students holding coffee cups in and out of their classes, and the on-campus coffee shops always have atrocious lines. Knowing this, I became curious about the coffee culture and even went as far as going caffeine-free for a month to experience both extremes. Today I tackle the million-dollar question, what is the truth about Carleton students and their coffee? And more importantly, are we all doomed to the same jittery fate?

Student Opinions Around Campus

To get a feel of on-campus opinions on the issue, I reached out to students on both sides of the spectrum; spanning from avid coffee drinkers to those who avoid it at all costs. Unlike other universities, the Starbucks locations at Carleton are numerous and easily accessible. It also doesn’t help that the university enables its residence students with dining dollars that have limited spending potential outside of Starbucks. 

Here are the (anonymous) responses, starting with the coffee lovers of course.

Pro Coffee

Coffee Lover #1

Go-to Starbucks drink: Vanilla Iced Coffee with Vanilla Sweet Cold Foam

Why do you drink coffee?

I started drinking it in high school as an energy booster and got hooked. It doesn’t help that the coffee drinks available are so appealing.

What do you think about the coffee culture on campus – Do you notice one?

I guess the culture is that it’s very normal that everyone has a coffee addiction.

Coffee Lover #2

Go-to Starbucks drink: Grande Chai Latte with 2 Blonde Espresso Shots

Why do you drink coffee?

To stay awake but mostly because I like the taste [and] trying new lattes.

What do you think about the coffee culture on campus – Do you notice one?

I don’t really notice a campus coffee culture, but the new Bridgehead in the business building helped a lot! Page break Starbucks is always busy and the [University Centre] one seems to never be open. There could be more of a culture.

Coffee Lover #3

Go-to Starbucks drink: Dairy Free Caramel macchiato

Why do you drink coffee?

I like the taste and it gives me small bits of energy to last until my last class.

What do you think about the coffee culture on campus – Do you notice one?

I think it’s either you get a plain black coffee or the most extravagant coffee at Starbucks, there’s never an in-between. Also, I find that in certain groups everyone drinks coffee, and if you don’t you’re the odd one out (it’s weird).

On the other side of the debate are the non-coffee drinkers of Carleton, who deal with tiredness in other more interesting ways.


Coffee Hater #1

Go-to Starbucks Drink: Cream-based Caramel Crunch Frappuccino with Whipped Cream

Why don’t you drink coffee?

I have never had coffee because none of my parents drank it growing up and I never had the need to start… I feel like even just one cup can lead to something more long-term.

How do you handle late nights as a student?

Naps, I’m a big supporter of naps.

What do you think about the coffee culture on campus – Do you notice one?

I find it’s pretty balanced and some people will question my not drinking coffee but for the most part they’re pretty chill. There are people on both sides of the debate.

Coffee Hater #2

Go-to Starbucks Drink: NONE.

Why don’t you drink coffee?

It doesn’t taste good and I think it would interfere with my sleep schedule. I think that getting proper sleep would be a better way of staying energized than using coffee.

How do you handle late nights as a student?

How do you handle late nights as a student?

Not well. I just suck it up and set lots of alarms. Sometimes I nap while doing my work and some nights I don’t sleep and just stay up till my morning class. Whenever that happens, I have a shower to bring me life and go about my day.

What do you think about the coffee culture on campus – Do you notice one?

I think the whole Starbucks coffee culture is pretty visible on campus. It’s a pretty expensive habit. I definitely notice a lot of people who get coffee before class or wake up for class.

Coffee Hater #3

Go-to Starbucks Drink – Any starbucks pastry.

Why don’t you drink coffee?

I don’t drink coffee because I don’t want to rely on it. Also, I’ve tried it a couple of times and it hasn’t had a significant, noticeable effect on me. I’m already energetic enough.

How do you handle late nights as a student?

My circadian rhythm leads me to many late nights working. Usually, I have some hype music going on to keep me alert. I try to move around to keep the blood pumping. Mostly the adrenaline pulls through.

What do you think about the coffee culture on campus – Do you notice one?

I am not privy to a coffee culture. I don’t know many people who are avid and vocal coffee drinkers at Carleton.

The Takeaway:

These responses suggest a mixed bag when it comes to the Carleton coffee culture. While it definitely exists, it’s not as intense as it might seem to outsiders. Based on the go-to orders above, even those who don’t indulge in coffee still enjoy non-caffeinated Starbucks drinks once in a while.

My Experience – Caffeine free for 30 days

My next step was partly out of curiosity and in part a way of making things easier for me during the upcoming month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the holy month in Islam when Muslims fast and focus more on their worship. So, I went caffeine free for 30 days. This meant no coffee, no tea and most importantly at the time: no happiness. Although it seemed daunting at first, I was excited to get rid of the withdrawal headaches that I was used to experiencing while fasting.

In hindsight, going cold turkey wasn’t the best idea. At first, I was sluggish, had headaches and craved my usual morning cup. But, as I slowly adjusted, I began to feel the benefits. I felt less tired in the mornings, I didn’t experience any withdrawals while fasting and my energy levels were much higher than usual. Looking back on it now, the coffee-free life has been largely positive. However, this doesn’t excuse the fact that it also bores me. I miss having a quick cure to sleepiness in a cup and being able to rely on coffee during late nights instead of sheer will. I love going to Starbucks, having access to exciting drinks and drinking coffee in cute mugs as I work. It’s simply an indisputable part of my university experience. 

In the end, it appears as if the Carleton coffee culture is still a mystery. Some students perceive it as nonexistent while others are constantly being confronted by coffee-drinkers. As for me, I plan on continuing to contribute to its existence, whether prevalent or not, once Ramadan is over.

Teni is the current Campus Correspondent of Her Campus at Carleton! She oversees and supports the executive team, ensures that HCHQ requirements are met, and acts as a final reviewer of all articles. Outside of Teni’s Her Campus duties, she is a second-year student in the Public Affairs and Policy Management Program, with a specialization in Communication Technologies and Regulation in addition to a French minor. Teni is passionate about racial advocacy and has administrative experience through organizations like CATIE where she worked as a Research Assistant. Within the role, she updated the public service directory of community-based organizations along with their internal database. On campus, she works as a Front-Desk Associate at Carleton’s Center for Student Academic Support. In terms of extracurriculars, she has kept busy with clubs like BSA (The Black Student Alliance) and BSPA (Black Students in Public Affairs), where she volunteered at an Afrofuturism conference and made lifelong connections with other Black students in PAPM. To relieve stress, Teni thrives in the realm of escapism, ranging from fantasy books to reality TV. As a lover of the arts, she uses poetry as a creative outlet and aspires to be a published author alongside a career in either Law or Public Policy.