So, a new school year is once again upon us and you may find yourself facing an uncomfortable reality: between your soccer practices, your shifts at Five Guys, and approximately 75 AP classes (you lost count after course sign-ups), you’re not going to be able to stay awake. Or sane, for that matter.

God I need to sleep

the lord is testing me

i don't sleep

Congratulations, universe. You win.

paper throw

But all is not lost. It’s simply time for you to embrace the Golden Rule, the First Commandment, the one universal truth we can turn to for comfort in this world:

coffee fitz


dean coffee

Now, you may be a little apprehensive to welcome coffee into your life with open arms, and that’s fine. Because you have an almost-equally wonderful (and slightly more British) alternative:


hug in a cup

Now, when you’re first embarking on your new, caffeine-driven life, avoid ordering THIS:

black coffee

black coffee3

black coffee2

Those are bitter waterfalls of sadness and despair, my friend. You’re going to take one sip of that and gag until you cry. What you’re looking for is this:


Now THAT is better. Look at that frothy stream of sugar, milk, sugar, caramel, oh and sugar. Diabetics be warned, the path to actually enjoying coffee (as opposed to just choking it down), is paved with bricks of sugar. Actual bricks.


Moving on to tea. There is only one rule: MAKE SURE IT’S CAFFEINATED. Look at the label on the box. Look at it again. Look at the it until the phrase “X mg caffeine” is seared into your brain. You don’t want to get home from Harris Teeter, look at the box, and then proceed to headdesk for fifteen minutes.

omg (2)


face palm


Oh, and I lied. There’s one more rule for tea: make it properly with an electric kettle. Please. Don’t microwave it unless you want to see me cry, because I will.


No matter your beverage of choice, eventually you’re going to set off for whatever coffee shop suits your fancy (be it Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or even a little local place) for the very first time. You’re thinking that you’re gonna swagger up to the register and be super suave…



But you’re just really confused by the menu. A frappawhat? Venti’s the small one, right? Oh God is there already a line behind me?


i understand nothing

fassy top gear


And you’re thinking the baristas are all thinking:

judging you1



you are genuinely stupid i do apologize

But seriously, if you’re confused about something, just politely ask about it and it’ll all be fine.

You can pretty much order whatever you want in your coffee. Have no fear–boldly go where no one has gone before. Can you order a cappuccino laced with the blood of your enemies and the fuel of the Star Fleet Enterprise? Probably.

coffee 12 jd fez

 And eventually you’ll get an eyeful of the pastry display…

i love food



And trust me, by the time you get that first sugary mouthful of latte and scone together, you’ll be hooked. Problem solved!

damn fine coffee

this drink i like it


But over time, you may find yourself becoming a little too attached to your newfound fountain of energy.

where's my coffee has she died

coffee time

I need coffee in an iv

drink coffee to drink more coffee

One day, you’ll be minding your own business, shuffling up to the register, mumbling the name of the first drink that pops into your mind with eyes so puffy you can’t read the menu anyway…

need sleep spn

 …when the barista will look at you with a cocked eyebrow and say, “The usual?”

internally screaming

Your existential crisis thought process will unfold as follows:

WAIT WHAT. You acknowledge my existence? Nope nope nopity nope this was not how this was supposed to go down. I was supposed to blend in with the huddled masses of baggy sweatshirt-clad, sleep-deprived batch of nine-to-fivers. I wasn’t supposed to have a “usual.”

mean girl awks

And you may need to sit and think about your life choices for a bit.

sb coffee

Your parents, too, will eventually recognize your addiction (and the sizeable dent it’s recently left in their bank account) will eventually cut. you. off.

lilo caffeine

Preliminary warning: you will not take this news well. The coffee shop has slowly become your home away from home. Literally. You own half the throw pillows in the place. Your mug collection is stashed underneath one of the side tables.

friends coffee

not raven

my emotions


But have no fear! Because every once in awhile, THIS festival of merrymaking (or a similar discount) will roll around:


And at long last, after weeks and weeks of swallowing that homemade brew you’ve never been able to get quite right, you’ll be able to double up on what you’re now certain is the ambrosia of the gods.

treat yo self

Speaking of homemade brew, you’re going to need to figure out how that works if you’re on a budget. My advice? Find a competent adult, watch them, and take notes. Because let me tell you, operating a french press is about 600 times more complicated than it looks, buddy.

coffee machine


idk what to do my whole brain is crying

Now, one final warning: given the somewhat pretentious, monied, and snooty reputation of Starbucks (or any coffee shop, really), you may find yourself confronted with some haters. My advice? Let them hate. Ain’t no one keeping me from my Pumpkin Spice Latte. Ain’t no one.

stop talking peasant

wrong opinion



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the author

Elizabeth Watson (just call her Beth) is a senior at an itty-bitty private Catholic high school in Virginia. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes and performs sketch comedy with her improv troupe, rehearses like mad for school theatre productions, suits up for forensics competitions, and writes poetry for her school’s literary magazine. A brief rundown of Beth’s favorite people and things ever to exist in no particular order: hole-in-the-wall bookshops, sweaters, Jane Eyre, peppermint tea (in a Troy and Abed mug, of course), Broadway musicals, British period dramas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. Beth’s long-term goal in life to is to become Julie Andrews, but for now she’s focusing on surviving the final stretch of high school and getting into college–hopefully as an English major

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  1. Christine Fulgham on January 14, 2014

    THIS IS GENIUS! I always love a well crafted gif article! WHOOT! *applause all around* *toasts coffee in your favor*

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