College stu­dents and their coffee are absolutely insep­a­rable. At Hillsdale, you might even see coffee in your textbook for an English class. I remember some verses from ENG 330:

Coffee (which makes the politician wise
And see thro’ all things with his half-shut eyes)
Sent up in vapours to the Baron’s brain
New Strat­agems, the radiant Lock to gain.

-Alexander Pope, ‘The Rape of the Lock’

Maybe you like coffee because it picks you up in the morning, maybe you love coffee, maybe you just need it to survive hell week. Maybe you’re drinking it now. Maybe you wish you had some now.

Whatever the case may be, a little edu­cation never hurt anybody (too much can be a problem I hear), so take a few minutes from your other studies and check out these cool coffee facts and advice:

  1. Fact: The dif­ference between a cap­puccino and a latte lies in the barista’s treatment of the milk. Lattes are steamed milk with a little foam and espresso. A cap­puccino is frothed milk (a lot of foam) and espresso. Tra­di­tionally, espresso mac­chiatos are espresso with a dollop of foam on top, but some coffee shops dump a shot of espresso into steamed milk and don’t stir and call it a mac­chiato. Mochas are like cap­puc­cinos with chocolate. A breve is like a latte with half & half instead of milk.

2. Fact (kinda): You don’t need fla­vorings and syrups to make coffee taste great. All the drinks above can taste amazing with just the coffee and milk. The milk is nat­u­rally sweet and helps to balance the intensity of the espresso. Black coffee, too, can be phe­nomenal when brewed spe­cially and not in big batches. It’s the dif­ference between cafe­teria food and a home-cooked meal.

3. Fact: Espresso is neither a type of coffee nor a roast. Espresso is made of finely ground coffee beans, of any roast or origin, and high-pres­sured, hot water. The water is forced through the coffee grounds and extracts the flavor of the beans. Espresso also has crema, a golden-brown foam on the top of the shot.

4. Fact: Amer­icano drinks do not have as much caf­feine as brewed coffee. Boom. You may have thought the espresso made it prac­ti­cally over-the-counter, but brewed dark roasts have 1.7 times more caf­feine than the espresso and water drink. Not to say that Amer­i­canos won’t get you hyped, but house coffee will do the job faster (and probably cheaper). Alter­na­tively, you could try adding more shots of espresso until you reach your ideal level of caf­feination.

5. Fact: Making your own coffee is cheaper and allows for more control over the taste.  You have more control over how and when your coffee is made. Besides basic drip machines or Keurig machines check out: French presses, the Aero­press, pour over systems like Hario or Melitta, the Clever brewer, moka pots, and if you want to get really ritzy check out siphon brewers. These spe­cialty brewers extract coffee better than drip or single-serve machines because they control the amount of time water is in contact with the ground coffee. You can also use them for fresh coffee anytime, like at 3:00 am Tuesday morning.

6. Fact: Making coffee yourself is really not that expensive in the long run. Even if you buy a new spe­cialty brewer, a hand grinder, and your own coffee, it’ll still be cheaper in the long run than buying cup after cup all semester from AJ’s or coffee shops. A 12-ounce bag of coffee will average 20 cups of coffee, and usually runs around $15 for high-quality beans. So that’s less than a dollar a cup for high quality coffee. A little more if you include ‘start-up’ costs, but still nowhere near cafe prices.

7. Fact: Fresh coffee is, in fact, better coffee. Roasting coffee changes its com­po­sition, and there are hun­dreds of chemical reac­tions that occur during roasting. Almost imme­di­ately after roasting, the beans start to lose flavor and go stale. Keeping it in air­tight con­tainers helps, but, even then, try to drink coffee within two weeks after it was roasted (this shouldn’t be too dif­ficult).

8. Pretty close to, if not actually, a fact: Coffee gets stale after two weeks when it is stored as whole beans. Now mul­tiply that surface area by a whole bunch. It’s gonna get stale a lot quicker. Grinding your coffee right before you brew it is a great way to keep it as fresh as pos­sible. Besides, one grind size does not fit all. French presses need a coarser grind, where a moka pot would need a very fine grind. You can get manual burr grinders online for less than $30 to start grinding your own coffee.

9. Fact: coffee grows all over the world, and dif­ferent regions have dif­ferent cli­mates and various ways of pro­cessing the coffee they produce. African coffees tend to have fruitier flavors (think blue­berries), while Indonesian coffees may have dis­tinct rustic or earthy flavors. Paying attention to where your coffee comes from can help you find flavors you like or avoid those you don’t. It’s also really cool to see where your coffee comes from. Some roasters will even tell you which spe­cific farm your coffee is from and who farms it.