Economical Coffee Options at IMSA

A representation of IMSA students' heart rates while procrastinating an essay. Source: Pixabay.

With everything getting back into gear for the new school year, everyone is anticipating loads of schoolwork, sleep deprivation, and college and scholarship essays to come. Among those, your top priority is undoubtedly, “How do I work up the energy to do all that?”

Well, never fear — the Acronym is here to help!

Below, you’ll find listings of coffee options both at IMSA and at other frequently-visited locations in the Aurora area. Listings are rated by quality (up to 5 stars) and price (scale of \$ to $$) for the benefit of all sleep-deprived students, regardless of budget. THE SODEXO COFFEE MACHINE (N/A // ★★) No, we’re not talking about the vending machine by grab-’n’-go. There is a coffee machine inside the Sodexo cafeteria. While you shouldn’t expect a Starbucks macchiato out of it, it does have decent coffee, albeit of a weaker flavor (which can easily be amended by adding milk or something). You’ll find the machine to the left of the iced tea machine, by the fountain drink machines in the eating area. THE SODEXO COFFEE VENDING MACHINE ( // ★★★) Now we’re talking about the vending machine by grab-’n’-go. It’s a dollar a cup, but a good price if you want a more flavorful caffeine fix. The Caffe Latte and French Vanilla Cappuccinos are worth trying. Also, the vending machine is accessible any time the main building is open, so definitely a plus. KOLOB COLD BREW TUBE ( // ★★★★) This is how I survive Monday mornings. You can buy a Kolob Brew Tube for 13 on Amazon (disclaimer: the author was not paid to make this shameless plug). Just maintain a supply of coffee grounds, and you have a reliable daily supply of cold brew coffee. Every night before in-room (or, you know, after in-room), just put about ½ cup of coffee grounds into the cold brew tube, submerge the tube in a Mason jar full of water, refrigerate, and let soak overnight. This option also allows you to control the strength of your coffee by measuring the amount of coffee grounds you add. INSTANT COFFEE POWDER FROM WOODMAN’S ( // ★★★) Budgeting for this depends on what brand of instant coffee powder you buy. I like Nescafe’s Taster’s Choice; one jar lasts at least a month and a half. It also comes in smaller packets if you prefer that option. Woodman’s carries Folger’s and Maxwell House brands, too. Of course, they carry Starbucks-brand instant coffee too, but…that should really be in a different price tier. (Tip: The instructions on the jars always say to mix into hot water, but at least with Nescafe, it works equally well with cold water for iced coffee). K-CUPS FROM WOODMAN’S ($$ // ★★★)

K-cups are in a different price tier from instant coffee powder, since they generally are more expensive per unit. This also depends on whether your wing/hall has a coffee machine. I personally believe that K-cups are only marginally better than the Sodexo cafeteria coffee machine…but that’s just me.

STARBUCKS ON ORCHARD ROAD ($$// ★★★★) Well, you can’t argue with the quality and freshness of Starbucks coffee, but the prices can be tough on IMSA students’ wallets. Accessibility is also an issue with this option, since off-campus trips are limited by scheduling and it’s a 2.6-mile round trip on foot. You could, of course, take Starbucks drinks back to IMSA and refrigerate them for the following morning, but then the ice will melt and dilute the coffee. Would not recommend. Endnote: My editors insist that if my ratings are out of 5 stars, I have to have at least one five-star rated coffee on this list. Fine. STARBUCKS, GRANDE CAFFE AMERICANO IN A VENTI CUP, TOPPED WITH EXTRA WHIPPED CREAM ($$ // ★★★★★)

You can get whipped cream topping on any Starbucks drink for free, and it is the unqualified best creamer option for your coffee.