At one time coffee drinks were the only mass-produced form. Today, stores sell hundreds of different energy products, ranging from energy pills to caffeine-laced pills.
Energy drinks are not only popular, they are addictive. At grocery stores, dozen of caffeine-based products line the shelves.
The famous green logo graces the exterior of white cardboard cups and neon signs. The logo has become a global icon. It can be seen in the hands of teens, students, adults and on the covers of tabloids in the grips of celebrities. It is the Starbucks logo.
The coffee trend began with Starbucks coffee shops seemingly appearing on every street corner and in every grocery store. The chain even sells its products on college campuses to students. Starbucks has become recognizable around the world and has helped turn the caffeine trend into an obsession, marked not only by an increase in coffee consumption, but also by a booming market for caffeine-infused energy drinks.
Local coffee chains have become Friday and Saturday night hang-out hotspots, especially for younger crowds not old enough to drink or enter nightclubs.
“I have been drinking coffee since I was in high school,” said 21-year-old CUNY public relations major Mallory Martinez. “There was a Starbucks almost in every shopping center, so it was a convenient place to hang out when I was 15 and 16 years old. What else was there to do at that age besides go to a movie?”
Studies from The Boston Globe have shown that children between the ages of 13 and 17 have had a 20 percent rise (from six percent) from 2004 to 2006 in eating or drinking snacks that included coffee.
The 20 percent increase could have to do with the fact that drinking coffee once or twice per week seems to be a growing habit among young students and adults alike, resulting in more frequent visits to a coffee vendor or coffee made at home. Though drinking coffee may have begun as a trend in socializing, ultimately, the trend results in caffeine being consumed in record amounts.
“I drink it almost every morning – usually just when I am working or at school. I just drink it to stay awake,” said Martinez.
What works for some people may not work for others. In just one “tall” size cup of coffee from Starbucks, there are 260 milligrams of caffeine. That amount may not be enough for most people, as it is the smallest size that the coffee chain offers. According to Carol Reynolds of the CUNY Health Services, some people react differently to caffeine.
As a result, many people that rely heavily on caffeine to keep themselves going throughout the day turn to an alternative source of the stimulant: energy drinks. Students have replaced their white paper cups with tall cans with clichÃ© names: Monster, Red Bull, Amp or Rockstar. CUNY has become a main supplier of these drinks for students who need something with a little more kick than coffee.
In CUNY’s cafeteria, six variations of the energy drink Rockstar are on the shelves at one time, not including a variety of other drinks that hit the shelves on different days. The nutrition facts label on the Rockstars read 80 milligram of caffeine, except Rockstar Punched and the zero carbohydrate version which contain 120 mg. CUNY also provides a vending machine specifically for energy drinks located in the science building.
“I used to drink espresso; sometimes I still will, but I drink energy drinks every day,” said CUNY history major at Shauna Hultgrien.
Many people have made a life-changing transition: breakfast, once constituted of bacon, potatoes, eggs and coffee in the morning, has become a power bar and an energy drink. Rockstar has begun distributing a coffee-flavored energy drink: Rockstar Roasted, which has a little more caffeine than a 12-ounce cup of coffee.
“We don’t recommend our product for teens – we sell them primarily to older age groups like college students,” said a consumer relations representative for Monster energy drinks.
With the growing success of energy drinks, popular beverages like Monster are being mixed with alcohol. Monster sells Monstrosity in clubs and bars. This variation of the drink includes 3 ounces of Vodka and 8 ounces of Monster. Bars and clubs also serve a few other drinks that are similar in nature and the recipes for these drinks can be found on Monster’s Web site.
Along with coffee and energy drinks, there are new products available to consumers like 5-Hour Energy (an energy shot), caffeine pills and an energy drink called Cocaine, which was taken off the shelves because of its controversial name. Pepsi has even joined in on this craze by adding more ginseng to a new drink they have out on the market: Diet Pepsi MAX.
With these products for sale and readily available to anyone, many have argued that there is a major downside to caffeine. National Public Radio reported that one of the side effects of caffeinated drinks can be sleep problems; even in if they are consumed in the morning, caffeinated drinks can cause a person to have trouble falling asleep at night. However, this may not be enough to convince most people to stop drinking coffee or energy drinks. This trend will likely continue until a replacement hits the market promising longer lasting and healthier energy.
Sociology instructor Angela Andrus thinks there could be worse obsessions than caffeine which is why it is seen as such a popular trend.
“You see people all the time with a cell phone in one hand and a Starbucks drink in the other,” Andrus said. “Coffee drinking always seemed like an adult thing to do and now it is a cross age, cross cultural phenomenon.”
Like the transition from high school to college, the transition from coffee to energy drinks is happening and happening fast. The consumption of caffeinated drinks are becoming more common amongst many ages with the advents of newer products like 5-Hour-Energy and Diet Pepsi Max. Energy drinks being served in bars and coffee vendors appearing on college campuses are the results of a trend that started with a simple cup of coffee.