How a Coffee Lover Survived Freshman Year Without a Coffeemaker

By Lexie Pitzen | Photo: Timothy Barlin

Before I showed up for orientation at Florida State University, after analyzing the campus map and quoting my Uber ride from the airport, there was a very important question I needed to answer: how do I get my coffee fix in Tallahassee?

I love coffee, along with most of the adult population. I love the caffeine high almost as much as I love the ritual of coffee—setting up camp in a cozy coffee shop, patiently preparing a French press, and drinking a cup of Nespresso every morning by my sunny bedroom window. But, I knew my coffee habits would change once I started college. A busier schedule would infringe on my morning coffee time, money would be tighter, and I wouldn’t have a coffeemaker.

At freshman orientation, one of my earliest tastes of Tallahassee, I spent a few hours at the Sweet Shop after my flight landed, drinking my first “Ruby” of many. The iced chai latte blended with raspberry and white chocolate and instantly hooked me on the Sweet Shop. The whole summer, I couldn’t wait to go back.

Early in the fall, I learned how quickly $5 lattes add up. Frankly, I could not afford to buy one every morning or multiple times a week. I could stomach dining hall coffee mixed with almond milk, but it lacked the ability to wake me up. Reluctantly—silently apologizing to every coffee connoisseur on earth—I began drinking instant coffee made in my dorm kitchen’s microwave.

Switching to instant coffee (save the occasional coffeeshop visit,) dramatically reduced the cost of my coffee habits without putting me through withdrawal. I soon learned tricks to instant coffee, like cutting the bitterness of plain, black coffee with cinnamon or salt.

To reduce the cost of trips to coffeeshops, I began ordering a cappuccino or a café con leche instead of a flavored espresso drink, saving about 2 dollars per trip. I paid for Strozier Starbucks coffee with Flexbucks, I took advantage of free coffee on Landis Green, and I won free lattes from All Saints Café’s #freecoffeefridays contest. 

Next semester, as I move off-campus, I’ll begin using a hand-me-down coffeemaker from my grandma. I don’t want to drink instant coffee anymore, but I want to be financially smart, and I want to keep drinking coffee. It’s a tiny way that I add joy to my life, and college is not the time to give it up.

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