Coffee and I go together like ground up beans in a brew.

Being the cliché English major that I am, I have been drinking anywhere from one to five cups of coffee a day since freshman year. Upon returning to the daily grind this semester, I became increasingly aware of my dependence on coffee that up until a few hours ago, I knew nothing about —here's the scoop.

Coffee's legend starts in Ethiopia where a goat herder took notice of his frolicking goats, which were practically skipping from bush to bush eating cherry-red berries. Curious of the goats' especially perky demeanor, he too took a handful of berries and was soon frolicking with them in a state of euphoria.

Ever since this fateful day, sometime around 800 A.D., humans – and goats – have been consuming coffee to reap its energizing benefits.

I don't have to tell you people around here are keen on coffee – the line at Starbucks in Hodges library is proof enough.

According to coffeeandhealth.org, coffee "improves mental performance, especially alertness, attention and concentration by mildly stimulating the nervous system." Sound familiar?

It has been proven a cup of coffee is as valuable as a 30-minute nap; and while we all love to nap, sometimes we don't have time.

Maybe something you don't already know is habitual caffeine consumption may slow down age-related cognitive decline, especially in women. Other research links coffee consumers to having a 17-20 percent lower risk of Alzheimer's. It also may be associated with lowering certain types of cancer such as oral, brain and liver.

Understandably, coffee has a dark side as well. Coffee can greatly affect the sleep cycle, especially inhibiting the ability for REM sleep, which is essential to memory consolidation and learning.

To avoid this potentially negative effect, it is recommend you do not consume coffee after 2 p.m. if possible.

In this case, it is also important to be aware of caffeine content in your coffee. Coffee brands around campus, all in size "medium," contain different quantities of caffeine: Starbucks is best suited for your morning or only cup of coffee with 330 miligrams of caffeine, followed by Panera at 189 mg and finally, for that late afternoon or evening cup, Dunkin' Donuts is perhaps the best choice at 178 mg

Caffeine also poses an addiction threat, which I have experienced in the form of migraine headaches after exam week. It's nice to hear from the scientists at coffeeandhealth.org that if I were to rid myself of this dependency, the withdrawals typically would only last a few days.

It is even nicer to read that coffee does not give way to bodily addictions, only mental ones, and daily coffee consumption is considered a habit, not an addiction.

Finally, the least attractive thing about coffee is the hole it puts in your wallet. Let's return to the Starbucks line in Hodges. As a loyal customer, I believe it is my duty to pass on my experienced wisdom to you sad, white chocolate mocha bingers on how to get the most bang for your star-buck.

Here's how you can continue to get your delicious mocha while saving some green. Start with regular coffee, ask your barista to save you room for cream, then ask for 2-3 pumps of white mocha. You will be charged for the coffee ($1.65 for a grande) and the pumps (50 cents), equaling about $2 compared to the $4.45 you would pay for the white mocha.

Even better news – white mocha is only one of many pumps offered at Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, cinnamon, raspberry, toffee nut, peppermint, and a seasonal or two (now gingerbread).

Sipping on this delicious juice at 8 p.m., I wish this productive potion to be a blessing to you all.

Julie Mrozinski is a junior in English. She can be reached at jmrozins@utk.edu.