Food | Caf-fiend


Lisa Lavelle searches UCD for that perfect cup of Joe…

At the beginning of first year, a lecturer gave a speech to my class about adjusting to college life. She rounded off by telling us that an important part of student life would be coffee. Naturally, we had expected her to say ‘studying’ or ‘interacting with your fellow students’-we would soon realise that coffee is very important to both these pursuits.

As a final year Arts student- with more all nighters than Buffy the Vampire Slayer under my belt- coffee drinking has become not just a but a way of life.

The first stop on our coffee trail is the Arts Café, home of coffee, funky chairs and packaged sandwiches. The coffee here is Fairtrade, which means it’s a little more expensive, but its caffeine boost is supplemented by an ego boost. We all leave the Arts Café feeling like good people. It packs a punch sorely needed before certain classes.

Also, you get to pour it yourself, which means you won’t end up in the classic Starbucks dilemma, with more foam than coffee.

However, this is real coffee. It’s strong – not for the faint-hearted, or for those looking for a beverage as rich in sugar as it is in syllables. There are none of your mocchachinos here. The coffee comes in two categories: black or milky.

Our next caffeine hit is Nine-One-One, one of the cheaper coffees on campus. Although the coffee in the Arts Café is not for novice coffee-drinkers, Nine-One-One must be frequented by CIAIA agents who suck on lemons for breakfast. It’s bitter. Bitter as sorrow in a polystyrene cup, but after three years of frequenting the library, a strong appreciation develops, and cravings for its distinctive flavour will linger with you for years after you graduate.

Finally we come to Starbucks. In a university full of weary students and jaded professors, Starbucks reigns supreme. Located in Elements café, Starbucks is the Colossus of student coffee culture. Also suppliers of Fairtrade coffee, Starbucks coffee is considerably fluffier than its Arts Café counterpoint. The coffee is sweetened, foamed, whipped and syruped to within an inch of its life. One sip of the macchiato will set you twitching.

If you’re feeling reckless, why not order your coffee in the Venti size and receive a cup that looks as though it should be worshipped by Kubrickian apes. In short, despite the high prices, Starbucks’ combination of coffee and obscene amounts of sugar is a winner. Exactly what a weary student needs to get the synapses firing.