Brew that Bonds

January 16, 2011

See that chemistry figure in the header of this page that has letters and sticks forming a structure? That would be the structure of caffeine. I say it in layman’s terms because I think I sometimes overestimate people’s knowledge of chemisty. Have you ever been talking to someone and all of the sudden they go off on a tangent and you begin to daze off, contemplating whether you are going to go grab a burger for lunch or eat the leftover spaghetti that you…oh, yes, of course I was listening. You may be a whiz-kid when it comes to chemistry, while others are whiz-ing their way through another subject (say History or Geology) and would have to speak in layman’s terms to someone like me when discussing their favorite subject. In fact, I went home over the break and was trying to explain the difference between butter and margarine and the use of partially hydrogenated oils to one of my family members. I got done drawing a few things and talking for just a bit and said family member had a question (and, surprisingly, it had nothing to do with leftovers). I was pumped because I love sharing this kind of stuff.

Me: What’s your question?

Family Member: What’s a bond?

Me: You know what…let’s make some spaghetti.

I’m not sure where my love of chemistry came from… my love of food? No worries, my family excels in that department. Speaking of which, my love of coffee undoubtedly spurred from my mom and dad brewing up 12 cups of coffee each morning and slowly devouring each one. I never took their lead until I headed off to college. Now, when I go home, that coffee maker gets really tired.

By the way, I had Caribou Coffee for the first time while visiting Chicago this past summer and OH MY is it good. Starbuc..who?

So, therein lies a question: Is drinking so much coffee “bad” for you? I have noticed that my tolerance level is slowly increasing, as one “cup” of coffee just never satisfies me anymore. However, I’m pretty sure that most college students consume caffeine like it’s going out of style. Unfortunately, we were not made to function for 24 hours straight, so we have to make adjustments sometimes. Coffee is typically part of the equation…along with random dance parties (solo) in between chapters and washing your face with ice cold water…to name a few. 

I read this article about how caffeine works and, basically, your nerve cells are easily fooled into thinking that caffeine is another compound (adenosine). Adenosine is responsible for binding to receptors, slowing nerve cell function and making you tired. If caffeine is taking up the nerve cell receptors, adenosine cannot “latch on” and instead your nerve cells kick it into high gear! All of this activity eventually releases adrenaline, which causes the symptoms that all of you coffee-lovers know so well.  

Tea in a "Perfect Coffee" cup. I didn't do it.

Coffee while studying, coffee while baking…if it helps wake you up in the morning and gets your day started off right, then I say go for it! I hate labeling foods as “good” and “bad”. With respect to coffee, you’ll find studies out there supporting your claim either way.

Live dangerously, drink coffee.


My advice for the coffee-addicted, broke college student:

  • Make sure that you always have at least three varieties of the good stuff.
  • Keep things interesting with optional mix-ins.
  • Avoid catastrophes and expensive trips to Starbucks by having at least two travel mugs. Don’t make me say, “I told you so“.
  • If your dad  someone has a credit card with rewards and is offering to give those rewards to you…get a Starbucks gift card. Then, thank said person for feeding your addiction.
  • *Chemistry Nerds* Don’t try to explain your coffee habit to your unsuspecting family members, unless you are prepared to start with “What is a bond?”.
  • Drink up, your grades depend on it!




  1. HAHA love this girl!!! story of my life- coffee addicted college student! haha!

  2. […] “Zero Completed”. Yea, I know, there’s no need to remind me. Any physics whiz-kids out there? I have decided that physics is not like normal science and you have to be a certified […]

  3. I love coffee, but I’ve been going without recently because it kind of gives me a headache. but I still love the taste. le sigh.

    as the bio-geek I am I liek to babble about how it interferes with the antidiuretic hormone… aka why it’s a diuretic… hahaha. oh boy 🙂

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