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Donkey Coffee, located on Washington Street, offers customers free deals if customers can complete a weekly challenge.

Local coffee shops don't monitor caffeine intake, despite potential safety concerns

Taren Holliman is a frequent coffee drinker who can consume more than eight shots of espresso some days.  

Although excessive caffeine intake can be unhealthy, it is not always regulated by suppliers.

This academic year, Indiana University placed a limit of four shots of espresso on drinks after one student ordered 20 shots. Some local coffee shops in Athens, however, feel it is a consumer's job to know how much caffeine they can handle.

Donkey Coffee and Espresso’s owner Chris Pyle, 48, said the shop has no limit on the number of espresso shots, each of which costs 80 cents.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever thought about (it being liable if someone suffers medically),” Pyle said. “We do have one person that every once in a while comes in and he orders, like, eight shots at one time. That’s a ton. I mean, that’s a lot of shots. But I don’t think it’s enough to do permanent damage.”

Pyle said he may consider placing a limit on espresso shots per drink, but he also feels it’s the customer’s responsibility.

Holliman, a freshman studying journalism, usually orders a venti iced Caffe Americano. 

According to the Starbucks website, a venti Caffe Americano — with and without ice — contains approximately 300 milligrams of caffeine. The grande contains 225 milligrams, the tall contains 150 milligrams and the short contains 75 milligrams.

“I try not to, but I can easily exceed two large cups a day,” Holliman said. “Sometimes I’ll order one extra shot, ‘cause my drink of choice usually comes with four espresso shots. Say I have an exam or something and I didn’t sleep well … I’ll ask for an extra shot … but I typically don’t.”

Holliman said her restraint from ordering extra espresso is “more for monetary reasons.”

“Sometimes I’ll get an upset stomach, but I feel like I drink so much coffee now that if I do have jitteriness or something I don’t notice it,” Holliman said. “There will be times when people are like, ‘Oh, Taren, you’re shaking,’ but I’m like, ‘Oh, really?’”

Jared Ley, a junior studying entrepreneurship, said he drinks about five cups of coffee per week, usually ordering from the campus cafes. His typical drink is a medium iced coffee.

Ley said he doesn’t order any espresso in his drink and doesn’t feel any side effects.

Michelle Debord, a junior studying marketing and business analytics, is nearing her fourth year as a barista at Court Street Coffee.

Debord said Court Street Coffee does not place a limit on how many shots of espresso can be ordered with each drink, and the amount of espresso per drink size varies. A small hot drink contains one shot of espresso but can hold about three, a medium contains two shots but can hold about five and a large contains three shots but can hold about seven.

After that, Debord said a new cup would be needed.

“You just wouldn’t be able to fit any more shots than seven shots into a large cup,” Debord said. “I guess you could get 14 shots, but you’d probably need to buy two large cups essentially in order to fit it into that.”

Each extra shot of espresso costs 60 cents, and each shot is about one ounce.

“(Overconsumption of espresso) is not a liability for us considering people are coming in and ordering it under their own circumstances,” Debord said. “Due to the person basically providing consent by buying the drink, I don’t believe that we’re liable for any medical harm or issue that is done to them in the future after drinking the drink.”

Debord said there’s a regular customer who orders a large coffee with three extra shots of espresso, totaling six shots. She said that can be harmful since “you really only want around five shots a day.”

“We do expect customers to know what they can handle and what they can’t handle,” Debord said.


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