Faculty friday| 2019-11-01 Bányai Bálint

Give us this day our daily caffeine! 

Professionally about university coffee consumption

An old meme from the time of academic teaching comes to mind thanks to the 25-hour long sports day:

“You failed your physiology exam because you should’ve studied 25 hours every day…

-But Mr. teacher! There are only 24 hours in a day!

-Then wake up an hour earlier! ”

Because of this, we went after what kinds of analeptics the regular university students can get their hands on so that in spite of the terrible shortage of time, they can somehow ingest all the necessary knowledge; in essence: what can we use, if we want to stay awake during studying?

These activity-enhancing, legal, nonprescription fluids have been ranked in order of quality and value of money:

 

  1. If you only need to stay awake – or coffee vending machines

Who wouldn’t know the coffee machines standing in the hall or near the entrance of every clinic and other university building, from which after a peculiar noise, an unidentifiable, mostly brownish sweetened liquid comes out? Yes, this coffee costs around 100 forints, and because of this, it can easily be called the cheapest solution. In accordance with the requirements of this consumerist society some machines accept credit cards – even if the quality of the “elixir” found within has not changed much over the years – improvement is unstoppable! Based on the experiences of our workgroup, certain machines offer instant and even “brewed” options – the latter is dilute and “groundy”, so if you choose this method of survival, we recommend those that were blessed with instant, cream, or other extras. Because of its quality, we can mostly expect it to be a placebo effect.

 

  1. Cokes: zero & sugar

Even if Coke isn’t necessarily known for its stimulating properties, it still contains an absolute bonkers amount of caffeine. Truthfully, much less than a good old espresso. Thus,  it’s only recommended in moderation for those under 12-14 years of age. However, we Semmelweis students can consume it without prejudice since the caffeine and sugar found in this originally brown drink have an additive effect on our minds. This effect is a tried and tested method for the treatment of hypoglycemia, additionally, energy drinks work in a similar way (see later). You should be careful though, for excessive usage – because of the effect of these two agents – can lead to cardiovascular complications/diseases. But there’s still another advancement: the sugar-free version zero/black, whichever you prefer… The latter solution has a more beneficial physiological effect, and it doesn’t even serve as a source of calories, however, BE CAREFUL! Just like with medicine, we can experience unpleasant combinatory side effects! Sugar-free coke does not go well with every food – when consumed in conjunction with certain bakery goods, sweets, fruits it has stool softening properties that can last for several days!

 

  1. Next level: NET black

The savior of third- and fourth-year students could be the Eurest buffet, which is known for its well-priced, freshly made coffee. The elixir here actually comes from real coffee, and yes, it can be lifesaving after a lecture early in the morning (the writer of this article had to live through his pre-clinical studies during the time of catalogues). Essentially, it’s the market’s best value for money, we whole-heartedly recommend it. One can even find such luxuries like cream and cinnamon sprinkles!

 

  1. Energy drinks

Perhaps somewhat similar to Coke, but still much stronger and way more intensive, a bit like a “big brother” – especially because the same company produces both. When one thinks about the taste of energy drinks, it’s most likely the nauseatingly sweet taste of “tutti-frutti” comes to mind. This can be found in even the at many store’s budget-friendly section. If all else fails, and one needs caffeine, this option is always available. Middle-range category products like Redbull, Bomba and I could go on, don’t provide much more in terms of quality or taste; the amount of caffeine and other “vitamins” can perhaps be more desirable. The upper end of the spectrum is represented by Burn and Monster. Here there’s a huge pallet of different flavors, it’s less nauseating, and if we look at their ingredients, there are more options in terms of sugar content as well. In fact, above a certain level, there are even some sugar-free options. It even contains a satisfying number and amount of vitamins, but here is some friendly advice: we don’t recommend the consumption of any energy drink on the long term, because it can damage the kidneys: recommended life-saving dosage is 1-2 times a month! If we need some reinvigoration more often than that, we recommend either going back to good-old coffee, or to these other alternatives…

 

  1. Packaged, cold, store-bought coffee

Falling in between the machine-made and NET coffee in terms of quality, it reached fifth place thanks to its wide availability. It can be found in any convenience store and supermarket,  it’s relatively cheap too, however, its quality is proportional to this as well – based on our experiences the best options are either the Mizo top selection or anything in that same segment. We do NOT recommend Tesco’s cheap milky coffee.

 

  1. Home practices

Here we have almost every opportunity to start the day with a pleasant black, or milky coffee. Many swear on the stovetop coffee brewer, no wonder why as compared to its simplicity a truly pleasant product trickles out, even its steam can have a stimulating effect on your morning apathy. Then there’s instant coffee – many don’t know it, but this granulate is made from the same coffee as the brewed version – so it isn’t really that much of a compromise, however, its simplicity can make it many people’s first choice. Coming from the same beans, however, doesn’t mean that the quality of it is also the same; usually, the lowest quality beans are grounded into instant coffee. Nespresso and other capsule coffees are the highest ends. These offer a wide selection, and their quality is pretty good as well. Each of these methods has a different end product for a different price and it also takes some effort to make most of these. There are pros and cons for each depending on your taste, level of love for coffee, wallet, and preparation time. 

 

  1. Expert levels: New wave coffee shops

There comes the time, when you don’t drink a cup of espresso or latte just for the caffeine, but because you need the mood, the atmosphere and an environment that helps you study. This all contributes to studying comfortably, or simply to building friendships after an exhausting practice.