To caffeinate or not to caffeinate

Students wait in line at American River College's Starbucks location on Aug. 28, 2018. (Photo by Ashley Hayes-Stone)

Coffee is one of the most essential parts of a college student’s lifestyle. It makes powering through those 2 a.m. study sessions and early morning classes possible.

Coffee really does play a crucial part in students’ productivity and that’s why it was such a big deal when American River College announced that Starbucks would be coming to campus in 2013.

Students were filled with excitement to hear that the two-tailed siren was going to grace the campus with her presence and lure students in with the aroma of caffeinated goodness.

What they did not expect, however, was the long, excruciating wait they would have to endure in order to get their caffeine fix.

Students have told me horror stories of how long it has taken to get their coffee, but I didn’t know how bad it really was.

To experience this myself, I took the time to see firsthand how long it would actually take to get a cup of coffee.

At 10:22 a.m, I ventured out to bear the bustling line of impatient decaffeinated zombies to see how long it would take to both order and receive my brain juice.

The line contained proximity 20 people and there were only two employees behind the counter.

By the time I had sat through the line, ordered and waited for my drinks to be made, it had been a total of 22 minutes since I had first stepped foot in the line. Only three of those minutes were spent preparing my order two coffees and a sandwich.  

All together I waited almost 23 minutes to get coffee. Is this ridiculous?

I decided to see how long it would take to get a similar order off campus. So I drove to a nearby Starbucks, approximately 3.5 miles away, to see if there would be any markable difference in time spent waiting.

At 10:22 a.m., I got into the car and left campus, beginning my journey to the nearest Starbucks. The drive itself  took 11 minutes. Once there it took five minutes to order my drink and four minutes for them to complete my order, and 11 minutes to get back to campus. It took a total of 31 minutes.

The convenience of having a Starbucks on campus is lost when it only takes an extra 8 minutes to go off campus to get the same coffee.

Starbucks’ mission statement states that they are  delivering their best in all they do, holding themselves accountable for results.  I think it’s time for these standards to be applied at this location.

The Starbucks on campus should definitely have more bodies on staff to ensure that the line can move faster and that people can get their drinks in time for class.

I asked students around the line at Starbucks to see what other ways the wait could be improved. Palwasha Amin, a psychology major at ARC, said she feels that it’s more about quality than quantity.

“I don’t think the issue is how many people there are [working],” Amin said. “If they took the time and train their staff there would not be such a long wait.”

The Current reached out to Aramark, the company that is contracted to operate Starbucks on campus but Santa Singh, the food director of ARC’s cafeteria, said she was unable to comment about the wait due to her contract with Aramark.

Students of ARC if we know it takes a million years to get our coffee from the java siren herself then we have a few solutions.

Peet’s Coffee is temporarily closed, but once up and running next week students can utilize it in Portable Village between the hours of 7:30a.m. and 12:30 p.m, Monday through Thursday. The best part is that you don’t have to wait your whole life to get your coffee.

Another place to get some good coffee and food on campus is the Oak Cafe Bakery, which is open Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. What makes the cafe great is that the wait is short and students would be supporting our culinary department.

Students can also visit nearby coffee shops, such as Starbucks like I did. However, there are also smaller coffee houses such as Java Bliss, a drive-thru coffee shop, just down the street on Auburn Boulevard. The location is open 5 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. and the prices are reasonable.

The last thing I would recommend is time management — and yes, I know you are too tired to roll your eyes, but hear me out. If it takes a minute to get that double espresso, the caramel frappuccino or whatever your caffeinated poison may be, then set some time aside so you are able to wait in line without showing up to class late.   

Either way, if you are a coffee junkie like me you will always find a way to get your fix.

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About the Author

Ashley Hayes-Stone
Ashley Hayes-Stone is an award-winning photojournalist who has had her work published in The Sacramento Bee and the Sacramento News and Review. She is now a freelance contributor for SN&R and serves as photo and multimedia editor for the American River Current

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