October is undoubtedly my favorite month of the year. The weather cools down, people trade their T-shirts for cozy, oversized sweaters and pumpkins start popping up in craft stores — for the purposes of carving, decorating and more.
With the arrival of October also comes midterm season. Yet the other day, I was sipping a latte in Frary and going over an anthropology reading when I suddenly smiled. “It’s midterm season… and still, I’m enjoying myself,” I thought.
As I lifted the steaming mug to my lips, I was reminded of my first-year self who would guzzle down four shots of espresso before frantically pulling an all-nighter in Lincoln Hall (I actually wrote a TSL piece about this). This midterm season, even though I was a little stressed about the work I had to do, I felt rather peaceful. Importantly, I didn’t feel like I needed an exorbitant amount of caffeine to make it through.
I realized at this moment that my coffee habits had indeed changed since my first year of college. While I still drink coffee (and according to some of my friends, I still drink “a lot”), it is almost always for pleasure rather than the caffeine. As I sat in Frary, rather than focusing on the reading in front of me, I started analyzing my coffee consumption from the beginning of the semester up until now. I soon realized, to my amusement, that I now associate certain drinks with sweet moments that characterize my college experience.
For example, cold brew for me now signals early morning productivity. On most weekday mornings, you can find me at Malott, laptop open, sipping my way through a tall glass of the smooth, rich, amber liquid. As I peruse my to-do list for the day I may feel overwhelmed, but the cold brew helps me focus and start tackling, one at a time, all the things I have yet to get done.
Cappuccinos symbolize friendship. On Tuesday mornings, instead of Malott, I make my way to Café 47 right at 7 a.m. My friend recently started working the morning shift and so I go bright and early to be one of the first faces she sees. A silly routine, indeed (and even for an early-riser like myself, it’s incredibly early), but oh how I look forward to my Tuesday morning cappuccino made by the one and only Eliana Yi PO ’24.
“This midterm season, even though I was a little stressed about the work I had to do, I felt rather peaceful. Importantly, I didn’t feel like I needed an exorbitant amount of caffeine to make it through.”
Lavender lattes from the library coffee shop are motivators when I am in the trenches of essay-writing. After sitting on the third floor cranking out a paper for hours, nothing is better than taking a trip down to the first floor and returning with a floral-forward beverage to wake up my taste buds, tickle my nose and motivate myself to write that concluding paragraph.
And last but not least, Norema Cafe’s cold brew with sea salt cream is a special treat when I trek down to the Claremont Village after a particularly long week. I tiredly step into the cozy space and am immediately greeted by the owner who recognizes me as the “cold brew girl” (I frequented Norema while tour-guiding at Pomona the summer after my freshman year). In mere minutes, I dip my lips in sweet, pillowy cream before washing it down with a refreshing gulp of cold brew. There is truly no better way to begin the weekend.
Throughout various moments of junior year thus far, then, coffee has been a loyal sidekick. It is sweet to see how coffee plays a different role than it did during my freshman year. Rather than just being a vehicle for caffeine, enabling me to study and study and study until I ultimately crash, it has truly been a beverage of pleasure, accompanying me along the steady rhythms of school. Even in more intense moments, I can enjoy myself.
So as we ride the stressful wave of midterm season, I hope that coffee can be more than just study fuel. Visit a friend working at a coffee shop. Stroll down to Norema, tell the owner that the “cold brew girl” sent you and that you are intrigued by this cold foam with sea salt cream. For us coffee lovers, coffee serves a purpose beyond just fuel. Even as we prepare for midterms, I hope we can all discover its delight.
Emily Kim PO ’25 is from Irvine, California. She has recently started listening to the Animal Crossing soundtrack while studying and swears that it enhances her productivity.