Ghavri: Caffeine Stations

Dartmouth should make good coffee much more easily available.

by Anmol Ghavri | 4/13/18 2:00am

 Yes, this is actually a super big deal for me.

It’s 9:50 a.m. You’re heading to your 10A and walk into Baker Lobby. Maybe you’re running behind schedule because you stayed up late working on an assignment, so you haven’t eaten or drunk anything and are low on time to get to your morning class. You’re speed walking and climbing stairs with headphones in, avoiding saying “Hi” to people you walk by. Finally, you’ve gotten to Baker-Berry Library and are close to class. You need some kind of caffeinated beverage to shake off the morning fog. But you see a line of students extending out of King Arthur Flour ridiculously far into the corridor connecting Baker and Berry. You decide to delay your caffeine intake until later, when you have time to stand in line or when the line is shorter. But the alternative caffeine options at other Dartmouth Dining Services (DDS) locations are certainly not as good as those at KAF. Those other venues might have long lines before classes, like Novack Café, or are on the periphery of campus from the point of view of Baker-Berry, like the Courtyard Café. It’s time to suffer for two hours — unless your 10A professor is kind enough to have a break during their class.

Not only have I suffered on countless occasions during my early morning classes, but anyone who has had to interact with me, my professors included, have had to put up with my foggy self and my diminished cognitive ability. Clearly, the inaccessibility of caffeine for students is a major travesty and is affecting student performance and scholarly output. Maintaining the status-quo is unjustifiable, and students should organize to make good coffee more easily accessible to all students.

Significant scholarly literature has been produced on the culture, history and cognitive effects of caffeine. Some scholars have linked the rise of coffeehouses and the preference for and availability of coffee over beer as playing a significant role in fueling the American and French Revolutions and the industrial revolution in Britain. During World War II, coffee was rationed by the U.S. as integral to the national defense and war effort. Caffeine is present in many beverage choices, not just coffee and tea. However, no rational student would stand in a KAF line stretching into Berry, and Novack’s coffee is just not nearly as good, nor are the lines there significantly shorter. What can Dartmouth do about this central issue for so many students? How can the College make sure it doesn’t deprive hardworking students from their morning buzz? Dartmouth should recognize the fast-paced and short-on-time nature of student life during rush hours like mornings and afternoons between classes, and provide locations around campus for students in a rush to seamlessly grab their pick-me-ups.

The Courtyard Café and Collis already have self-serve options for coffee, tea and other beverages. But I don’t think that it’s a controversial statement to say that KAF has much better-quality options. Perhaps KAF could do something similar and provide self-serve stations for students looking for simple caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea. Yet students would still need to pay, so a separate line would have to exist for these self-serve customers to ensure that lines and wait times are actually shorter. Or, if you’ll entertain my imagination, students could pay by themselves by swiping their card to get a cup or a certain amount of liquid to pour out of a self-serve dispenser — removing the need for lines entirely and better fitting the fast pace of student life. Clearly, this sort of highly advanced technology would require major collaboration between DDS, KAF and the Thayer School of Engineering and is certainly worth major research funding from the U.S. government, given how important this problem is. “DDS caffeine stations” or, better yet, “KAFfeine stations,” can be put around Baker-Berry and other major centers of student traffic.

In all seriousness, I hope Dartmouth is open to innovating some of the ways they make high-demand products like good-quality coffee available and accessible to students. I think DDS has done a great job with developing and maintaining various snack bars in various dorms and house centers. While older students like myself were upset about some of the changes at the Courtyard Café, certain additions like the self-serve bar and new salad bar have been well-received. Maybe in upcoming terms they can think about whether caffeine stations are feasible and what they would look like. Then future generations will never have to know the tragedy of missing their morning coffee.