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Coffee Ethics and Finals

"This devil's drink is so delicious...we should cheat the devil by baptizing it."
-Pope Clement VIII on coffee 
(the authenticity of quote, I should note, is disputed)

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the last few weeks I have chugged more coffee and eaten more doughnuts than should ever be allowed by a 20-something female. I also (as you can well imagine) gained 5 pounds as a result of all the coffee and sweets. I don't know what it is about finals...but I always find myself losing my will power and craving everything that is bad for me. I can, at times, be the epitome of "grief bacon"...especially when its exam time and my stress level is through the roof.

Fortunately, I can finally start losing the poundage now...because...

....(drum roll)...


According to the handbook, I no longer have to take any more classes save for journal club. I  However, I have used guarded statements for quite some time when it comes to class. It all started in high school when I walked out of calculus with head held high, thoroughly convinced that I never had to take another math class ever again as long as I lived. I loved my teacher and thought calculus was cool...but I hated having to do so many problems each night. This was back in the day when cartoons were actually decent and I used to hole myself up in my room to listen to music and/or read. Why would anyone want to do proofs and vectors when there was Lord of the Rings to read, U2 to listen to, and Hey Arnold! to watch? Exactly. This was back in the day when the internet was just getting started as a household fixture. 

Well, flash forward from high school senior self to college freshman self, and there I am...taking a required algebra course....and another algebra course after that one. Pile on chemistry (significant figures!), physics (impossibly long velocity problems), organic chemistry (balancing equations!), and many other courses...and next thing you know I find myself in my room with fingers swollen from all the number crunching. NEVER AGAIN would I EVER assume that I would be free of math and calculator-induced injuries. I am not even going to bother going into too much detail about all the statistics homework I have done since college or the number crunching I have to do on a day to day basis. 

Hence, my guarded attitude towards this idea of no more class ever again. 

Still, I cannot help but get a little excited about this because every day (at least for the moment as I continue on an end-of-semester high), feels like a Friday. I have caught up on a few much-needed things (like grading for the classes I taught on the weekend), rest, and all sorts of other me-time essentials like listening to Lord of the Rings audiobooks (these are hysterical classics!) and trying out a new coffee shop.

Speaking of coffee shops, I had a revelation of sorts. This revelation may sound completely ridiculous...but it certainly has made my conscience feel a little better about the coffee I drink. I have have come to the conclusion that I will try to avoid Starbucks from now on. I came to this conclusion as I was seated at the Fine Grind Coffee Bar Cafe this past weekend. The food (I had a soup and sammy combo) was phenomenal and the atmosphere was fantastic. The decor was creative, but still very comfortable and laid back. I loved the place and saw how the workers there still maintained some level of personality as they served and did their thing. As I sat there, I thought about the plight of mom and pop shops throughout the country and came to the conclusion that I had to do my part to keep places like this going. 

I really wish I could shop local and/or fair trade more often for clothing, groceries, etc...but my PhD stipend really doesn't allow for that. Don't get me wrong, I do still try to buy local. I mean, most of the clothes and accessories I've been buying recently come from a variety of local shops and some of the gifts I've been buying come from a cute, little Irish-themed store down the street. This is, of course, because I seldom buy clothes and don't really give gifts every day. Everything else I buy, however, typically comes from, Target, A&P, and a few other bigger name places. Yes, I do feel guilty about using places like this when there are so many other places I could be utilizing. However, my problem is that, budget-wise, I simply cannot afford to buy everything I need from a mom and pop shop

However, coffee (as tasty as it may be coming from Starbucks) is more of a luxury than an actual necessity. I can afford to spend a little more on mom and pop shop coffee when it's a luxury that I don't have every day. I can further afford to go to local businesses such as this one by cutting down (or just plain eliminating) how many times I go to Starbucks. I already found a way around my tall Pike Place Roast with a shot of Peppermint (hot coffee + splenda + peppermint extract) well as my mint mocha obsession (iced coffee + Splenda + milk+ peppermint extract = mint mocha). I am working on my way around my green tea frappuccino...and will probably figure it out once I get a blender. Thus far, my cold milk+green tea drink mix + whipped cream (optional) mixture is doing the trick. 

I've been trying to cut down on Starbucks for some time to save money and because of some rumors that have been popping up regarding just how not-so-fair-trade Starbucks can be. Don't get me wrong, Starbucks can have good intentions and I am sure it hires a lot of great people, but I think they may be guilty of more than their fair share of green washing for the sake of a profit. Therefore, I've had time to be creative. I've also had time to explore other sources for my coffee fix. As a result, I've been frequenting a local tea place by where I live and a small coffee shop by my school. I still walk past Starbuck twice every morning on my way to the subway in Penn Station...and I have been tempted to go inside for a cup. However, my resolve has certainly grown since this weekend and I will be trying to frequent lesser-known and more local coffee places from now on. 

Pax Vobiscum


  1. Congratulations on finishing the semester! No you can do some stress relief in the form of hiking / walking / riding / swimming ...


    1. Thank you! You are absolutely right and I have a certain trail that has been calling my name for quite some time. Will have to explore it soon!

  2. Hmm coffee - such a weakness for it that I started my own fair trade organic coffee company ( - as for consumption levels - being Catholic myself I believe St Thomas Aquinas said something to the effect of "Virtue lies in the middle"