UB discusses costs and benefits of coffee


UB coffee lovers can now get their fix at more than 10 locations between North and South Campus.

UB is home to both Tim Horton’s and Starbucks’ products and has an expansive variety of coffee options for the mainstream coffee connoisseur. Students can also get a quick cup at many on-campus cafés located conveniently throughout the academic buildings.

But there is a common argument on many university campuses on whether or not coffee is harmful to your health.

Kristen Perrella, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist for UB Athletics, believes coffee has long been a popular beverage on campus but will only help so much.

“Students are always looking to stay awake and study longer,” Perrella said. “They should be aware that although black coffee contains minimal calories which we get energy from, the popular added layer of saturated fats and added sugars from cream and sugar should be limited.”

UB Campus Dining & Shops is responding to an increased demand for coffee by opening two new Starbucks locations in the Oscar A. Silverman Library in Capen Hall and the Health Sciences Library in Abbott Hall on South Campus.

On top of the 10-plus coffee locations on campus, there are even more options when you venture off campus. Minutes away from North Campus is Niagara Falls Boulevard, home to another Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, Panera Bread, Corner Bakery Café and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The danger of these coffee chains is the portion size of their options.

Janice Cochran, dietitian and coordinator of nutrition and physical activity for Wellness Education Services, advises students to drink coffee in moderation and watch out for oversized chain beverages.

“A good range to stick to is one to three cups per day from an eight fluid ounce cup,” Cochran said. “A Starbucks ‘grande’ is 16 ounces or two recommended cups, a Tim Horton’s medium is 15 ounces.”

Another coffee danger is caffeine consumption.

A Starbucks “grande” contains 330 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per cup, according to the American Chemical Society. That is nearly their entire “daily safe dose” of 400 mg.

Cochran warns that more than just 200 mg of caffeine per day can be associated with increased anxiety, nervousness, jitteriness and an upset stomach.

Other studies show that around 200 mg of caffeine can be associated with increased happiness, energy, alertness and overall wellbeing, but can have its downsides if not consumed in strict moderation.

Many students overlook the downsides and are just happy to get the quick energy fix they need to get through their homework. An increasing trend among busy college students is drinking a cup of coffee in place of a meal. Some admit it’s a money-saver and many chains offer a drive thru option, which is faster and more convenient.

Garrett Rubin, a seniorhealth and human services major, drinks a 14-fluid-ounce Dunkin’ Donuts hot coffee four to five days a week. As a health and human services major, he is always aware of what he is consuming and tries to drink black coffee.

“I probably spend close to $5 a week at Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said. “Closer to $10 during finals or big study weeks.

He is also an avid Keurig user, an alternative to mainstream coffee options. A box of 54 Keurig cups or “K-cups” costs $36 at Dunkin’ – a cheaper option in the long run and easier to manipulate milk and sugar options.

Caitlin O’Connell, a senior accounting major, spends a lot of her time in the Jacobs Management Center on North Campus. She often finds herself waiting in line at the popular Tim Horton’s location inside.

“I guess I spend around $10 per week,” she said. “And probably $15-20 during study weeks.”

One main alternative that can be purchased at any coffee chain or café is tea. A common misconception with tea is that it does not contain caffeine but some teas do. An eight fluid ounce cup of tea only contains 28 mg. Three small cups of tea equate to about half of the maximum recommended consumption of caffeine.

Evan Schneider is a staff writer and can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com