Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Sunday, March 26, 2023 — Houston, TX

Alumni reflect on the changing coffee scene


Jim Stones '65

By Ruby Gee     10/5/11 7:00pm

Caffeine has always served as a sociable source of fuel for Rice students, with their endless stream of problem sets and reading assignments, but the extent of caffeine usage has changed dramatically between the mid-20th century and the early 21st. Though earlier alumni generally testified to the absence of different forms of coffee and a lack awareness towards caffeine levels in drinks, the nature of their responses suggests varying generational attitudes towards caffeine usage.

Harry Reasoner (Baker College '60) said that coffee consumption was not thought of as that big of a deal when he was a student.

"[Coffee was] widely used before exams … [with] no thought about caffeine levels," Reasoner said. "Of course, we didn't have caffeinated energy drinks to worry about."

Jim Stones (Wiess College '65) recalled that while most of his undergraduate friends did not drink coffee, a lot of graduate students did.

"There was virtually no interest in the caffeine levels other [than] that some students drank coffee to stay up late — especially architecture students before a deadline," Stones said. "Since I did not start drinking coffee until I was in the Navy after graduation and because ‘cool' hangouts like Starbucks did not exist, I really was not that aware of the coffee culture."

Ann Greene (Brown College '71) made a similar observation about caffeine level awareness, adding that coffee was limited in its availability.

"No one thought anything about the caffeine levels except for how well it could keep you awake," Greene said. "I don't think coffee was that easy to get on campus … it was probably only available after meal hours in Sammy's in the RMC. I don't remember that it was available in the college commons once mealtimes were over."

Larry Nettles (Lovett '78) said that iced tea, Coke and other sodas were more popular than coffee as caffeinated drinks in his generation.

"Back in the '70s, drinking coffee was sort of considered like smoking — it would pump you up temporarily but then you would have to deal with potentially unpleasant side effects," Nettles said.

Nettles' recollections suggested that, in contrast to today's Starbucks culture, coffee was limited in its varieties and availability.

"Coffee was coffee … there weren't different blends or flavors, only plain coffee," Nettles said. "There were no coffee bars on campus, and you could get coffee only at breakfast in the commons or in Sammy's any time of day or in staff offices on campus. A large container of coffee would be placed in each college commons during final exams."

Marisa Bono (Baker '01) who graduated nearly 10 years after the founding of Coffeehouse in 1990, noted the popularity of the coffee establishment alongside a continued lack of awareness of caffeine consumption levels among her generation.

"I don't recall there being any awareness or conversation around caffeine consumption when I was at Rice," Bono recalled. "Coffeehouse was a popular meeting [and] gathering place."

Paul Roslyn (Jones '01) indicated that while coffee was widely available on campus to students in the late 1990s and early 2000s, its consumption was yet to be a huge part of mainstream culture.

"Coffee was available — and there were some who drank it routinely —but neither me nor any of my friends were what I would call huge coffee drinkers," Roslyn said. "Most people spent time drinking Coke or Diet Coke, though not always for the caffeine."

More from The Rice Thresher

NEWS 3/1/14 4:14am
SA General Elections rerun results in different outcome

The Student Association General Elections rerun resulted in a win for Ravi Sheth, a write-in candidate. Sheth, a Martel College junior, ran in the SA General Elections after the first election was appealed and ruled “partially invalid” by the University Court.The Student Association Elections Committee reran the General Elections and merged it with the previously scheduled SA Internal Vice President Elections. The rerun elections closed Feb. 28 at 11:59 p.m.Sheth said he was excited and humbled by the amount of support he got as a write-in candidate. He also said he was impressed with the level of voter turnout from the entire student body.“I think there was 1636 votes; that’s more than was seen in 2009, and [I think the turnout in 2009 was more than Rice] had seen in a decade, so this might be one of the highest voter turnout elections in Rice history,” Sheth said. “I’m really excited to see that level of student involvement and turnout, and I think it puts the [Student Association] in a really great position because we now have the attention and the engagement of the student body and I think that will really allow us to do great things over the next year.”Sheth will assume the role of SA president at Changeover on Monday, March 10. He said he already has ideas about what he wants to do during his term.“I have a list [of things I’d like to get accomplished in the next year], but I think a lot of them need to have buy-in from different parties before we officially announce them,” Sheth said. “I will be opening up creative proposals for something to do with the SA iPad because that should never have been bought with student money, so we’ll find something productive and good to do with it.”SA presidential candidate Trent Navran, who won the original election, said he was frustrated by the decision to rerun the election. He said he was initially disappointed by the outcome of the most recent election, but ultimately feels confident that Sheth will be a good SA president.“I was really impressed to see the energy that Ravi helped excite on campus, and the fact that so many people were talking about elections and that there was so much buzz was exciting,” Navran said. “As a friend and as someone who I’ve worked with, I think Ravi will make a fantastic president. I’m very proud of him and I look forward to working with him in a lot of capacities.”Although he did not win this election, Navran said he learned a lot about himself during the elections process, and he will use that insight to continue serving the Rice student body in other ways.“President or not, I’m really excited because I know I can still make a big impact on campus,” Navran said. “I’m going to be focusing a lot on social innovation and social entrepreneurship, which is something that happens a lot at Rice, but I want to work to build more of an identity and more programming and resources around that. It’s something I’ve cared about and expressed recently in my campaign, but I think I have valued and will now be able to focus on as a senior.”Baker College junior Abby Gordon won the race for SA Internal Vice President. The remainder of the items on the ballot were also rerun. A full list of the results, according to an email sent to the Rice community by current SA President Yoonjin Min, can be see below. ReferendumsThe referendum on the Ratification of the SA Constitution passed.The referendum on the Honor Council’s Proposed Constitutional Amendment passed.The referendum on the Rice Environmental Society’s Proposed New Blanket Tax failed, because it failed to get a majority in favor that was greater than two thirds of votes cast on the item.The referendum on Rice Catalyst’s Proposed New Blanket Tax without the Sunset Clause failed, because it failed to get a majority in favor that was greater than two thirds of votes cast on the item.The referendum on Rice Catalyst’s Proposed New Blanket Tax with the Sunset Clause failed, because it failed to get a majority in favor that was greater than two thirds of votes cast on the item.Elections for positionsRavi Sheth won the election for Student Association President.Abby Gordon won the election for Student Association Internal Vice President.Amritha Kanakamedala won the election for Student Association External Vice President.Olivia Hsia won the election for Student Association Secretary.Joan Liu won the election for Student Association Treasurer.Cathy Hu and Pooja Yesantharao won the election for RSVP Chair.Joann Pan won the election for RSVP Internal Vice Chair.Brian Baran won the election for University Court Chair.Aisha Jeeva won the election for Rice Program Council President.Sal Tijerina won the election for KTRU Station Manager.Miles Kruppa won the election for Thresher Editor-in-Chief.Rachel Gray won the election for RTV5 Station Manager.Lauren Thompson won the election for RTV5 Program Director.Julia Liu and Isabelle Lelogeais won the election for Honor Council Senior Class Representative.Michael Williams Hart, Josiah Grace and Seth Lauer won the election for Honor Council Junior Class Representative.Claire Bonnyman and Luke Van Der Spoel won the election for Honor Council Sophomore Class Representative.

NEWS 11/29/12 6:00pm
Affirmation: The Future of Admissions

Fisher v. The University of Texas has revived one of the most polemical debates in America: whether race can be used as a factor in admissions to institutes of higher education. This issue undoubtedly resonates at Rice University, which, like most American universities, factors an applicant's ethnicity when selecting its freshman class. While the arguments concerning affirmative action are widely known, a true understanding of the issue requires both legal and historical background.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.