The first time I complained about the sorry state of my caffeine intake to my parents back home, my dad offered this little gem of wisdom: “It’s easy!” he said. “Just microwave some water, put a paper towel with coffee grounds over a mug, and pour it through!”
Even to my naive freshman ears, this sounded hobo-ish and like more hard work than I really wanted, and I thought to myself, there has got to be a better way. And, in my next four years, I discovered that there actually were many better ways to get that little boost of energy and inspiration, whether it’s 2:30 in the afternoon or 2:30 in the morning.
1. Personal Coffee Maker. An investment, to be sure, but not a large one. You can get traditional filter coffee makers that only put out one cup at a time and plug right into the wall. If you’ve got at least a stove top, you can also get a small espresso maker by Bialetti for under $30. I seriously considered thanking the company in the acknowledgments of my thesis, and if I had, it would not have been undeserved.
2. Instant Coffee. Once upon a time, Nescafe was the primary if not sole provider of instant, coffee goodness to sleepy people the world round. These days, however, many other brands (like Starbucks) have been edging into the market, providing students in libraries with many more gourmet options for their 2am energy slump. All you need to get it going is some hot water. And a spoon!
3. Tea. Pros–only requires hot water to assemble, is sophisticated and delicious. Cons–I always feel like I’m cheating on coffee. I’ve heard from other, less scrupulous folks it does the trick, though.
4. Coffee Flavored Energy Drinks. I am not proud of the fact that my otherwise sophisticated palette enjoys Java Monster. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t developed a taste for it. With the flavor of a frappuccino laced with Guarana, it’s not half bad. This is an industrial-strength energy boost, and so make sure you actually have enough work to warrant drinking one. Otherwise you’ll find yourself, paper finished, frantically Facebooking into the wee hours of the morning when you’d rather be asleep.
5. Vault. There will be times when you are up late at the library, and all your pseudo-coffee paraphernalia is back in your dorm, sweet dorm. These are desperate times, and you might be limited to what is in the vending machine to stay awake. If you’re really looking to pull an all-nighter, Vault soda is going to give you the greatest possible caffeine dosage per 16 oz. bottle. However, part of its energy boost comes from the fact that it contains enough sugar to give you instant diabetes, so proceed with caution.