Benefits, costs come with making, buying coffee

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Trisha Conley (right), sophomore, orders an iced coffee at Starbucks Monday morning to start her day. She spends an average of $21.25 on coffee each week.

City Editor and City Editor

In the course of the semester, sophomore Trisha Conley will have spent 22 percent of her meal plan on coffee.

“If anything, I’d buy more coffee because I’m not paying for it, my mom is,” Conley said.

While she doesn’t refer to her habit as an addiction, she explains it as being “passionate about coffee.”

Conley prefers a grande ice caramel machiatto or a grande white chocolate mocha from Starbucks depending on the weather.

At $4.25 a cup for each, Conley will spend $340 during the 16-week semester out of a total of $1,512 of her bronze meal plan.

For Conley, this is a necessary cost as her busy schedule demands she stay alert throughout the day, a routine she got used to her freshman year.

“It’s like a legal drug we can use to help stay focused and stay awake,” she said.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, junior Catherine Tomanski starts her day with a homemade pot of instant coffee at her home in Toledo.

She typically chooses the eight-ounce Kroger instant brand at $3.79, which lasts her a month.

“At Starbucks, its like $4 for a cup of coffee when I pay [$3.79] a month for coffee for a whole container,” Tomanski said. “I’ve saved a lot.”

While students can save more money making their own cups of coffee, they are the reason coffee shops such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are available on campus, said Mike Paulus, director of dining services.

“We do this because you want it,” Paulus said. “A lot of consideration goes into the brands we bring on campus.”

Aside from being popular with the college demographic, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts are more convenient and serve as hang out spots for students, he said.

“You’re paying for the experience,” Paulus said of the atmosphere of the stores to the customization of the drinks.

Conley said she enjoys the atmosphere of the Starbucks and would hang out there more if it weren’t so crowded.

Aside from atmosphere and convenience, there are a few other factors that come into play when deciding to make or buy a cup of coffee, casting customers as competitors, said Dwayne Gremler, University professor of marketing.

Factors such as time and resources can sway a person either way, Gremler said.

If people have the equipment to make a cup, it makes sense to make it, Gremler said. But if not, they would have to go invest in it, when buying it can be more convenient at the time, he said.

Students living in the residence halls are allowed to have a coffee maker, according to the Office of Residence Life’s website, but Conley doesn’t own one.

“I am bad at making coffee,” Conley said. “[Starbucks employees] know how to make it better than I do.”

Lack of expertise, like Conley’s, is another reason Gremler said a person’s decision is influenced.

Conley is one of 1,500 customers served during weekdays by Starbucks, many of whom use meal plan, said Karen Piotrowski, store coordinator.

“People can’t make all the varieties as we can … and it’s nice to have someone wait on you,” Piotrowski said.

For Dunkin’ Donuts, the mix of coffee and breakfast is what attracts an average of 2,300 customers on the weekdays, said Joshua Knudsen, store manager.

“The coffee is cheaper than Starbucks and we have different roasts,” Knudsen said.

For Tomanski, one variety doesn’t really differ from another.

“I’ve never noticed a difference,” Tomanski said, comparing her instant coffee to name brands. “It’s probably the same quality.”

Though she knows in the long run coffee may be cheaper to make, Conley said when she lives off campus, she would probably continue her habit.

“It’s a tough decision,” she said. “It’s just a lot of work and I don’t know how to make things.”