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46 Cups Of Coffee In 46 Hours: An Ongoing Expedition

“The bean’s juice gives me my power, and allows me to write the good sentences.” -Honoré de Balzac (probably)

I stand here overlooking my fourth and final THON as a Penn State student. As I gaze upon the dazzling sights, sounds, and spirit, many memories come flooding back: my sister Jess dancing back in 2012, the canning trips I took with Club Swim, my friends Nader and Nathalie’s journey to becoming independent dancers, and, of course, the first event I ever covered for Onward State, as well as my first post.

And yet, I can’t help but feel afflicted by accustom.


It is fabled that nineteenth-century French writer Honoré de Balzac would consume 50 cups of coffee each day. A true slave to the bean, Balzac would consume this copious amount of caffeinated sludge before constructing such literary masterpieces like La Comédie Humaine, which came to define the realism movement in post-Napoleonic France, a literary movement for which he had the utmost devotion.

To surrender one’s comfort in exchange for the trepidation of the unknown is the truest display of dedication.

At this point, while ruminating my acclimation with THON weekend, the allusion among Balzac’s coffee craze and this dance marathon became quite clear to me: it’s time to try something new. Something I’ve never done before.

Following in the footsteps of Honoré de Balzac, I am going to drink 46 cups of coffee in 46 hours.

“Why?” you may ask. “What’s the point?” “You’re not the founder of realism in European literature, what could possibly result from this?”

My dear reader: the greatest wonders in this world have no simple solution. It is through adventure and experience that we discover the secrets of the unknown.

Without further ado, here are my reflections upon drinking each of my 46 cups of coffee:

No. 1: My bean-fueled journey has commenced. The time and location of its destination is known to none. There is but one certainty of what lies ahead: uncharted wonder and discover… and also maybe some extra bathroom trips.

No. 2: My first cup came and went with feverish excitement, even though the caffeine has yet to kick in. My first cup was eagerly followed by cup No. 2. The anticipation of what is to come is quite exhilarating!

No. 3: “So I’ve started out for God knows where. I guess I’ll know when I get there.” -Tom Petty. As Tom Petty resonates throughout the BJC, I can’t help but ponder what road the glorious bean will take me on. What untold stories will I discovery and be able to share on this online journal?

No. 4: Cup número cuatro has been consumed. I am ready to start my excursion on-foot. Onward to my first foray!

No. 5: My first foray was to the bathroom.

No. 6: Well that certainly wasn’t exciting, but it was relieving. Now it is time for one more cup of coffee before I depart for my journey of THON far and wide.

No. 7: The greatest perk of drinking coffee black is not having to worry about that abominable cream ratio.

No. 8: The greatest loss of drinking coffee in the BJC is having little to no resources to brew a proper cup of coffee.

No. 9: The bean twas strong in that one. Is the bean my friend, or is he an adversary?

No. 10: My decennial cup of sludge: the first milestone. As I finish my first double-digit serving, I raise my glass the beautiful bean. May we join forces and cooperate as we embark on this unprecedented journey of self.

No. 11: I realize now that I previously raised a glass to the substance which I subsequently consumed. Odd.

No. 12: Is it the bean’s calling to be consumed? Can one possibly comprehend the calling of someone or something other than themself? Even then, are we even able to comprehend our own callings…?

No. 13: Wow I should really start producing some THON content instead of knocking on the door of an existential crisis involving me and coffee beans.

No. 14: What better way to get the THONtent juices flowing than by drinking a cup of coffee.

No. 16: I need the strength from the bean in order for my imagination to create wonders.” -Balzac. It is true! I am starting to feel an incredible propensity for creation. Surrounding me is a plethora of stories to be told: from individual’s own unique endeavors,  to the meaning behind the echoing line dance, to how to take a shower in the BJC bathroom. We are surrounded by such curious intrigue at this university.

No. 17: BJC tap water makes the funkiest tasting coffee.

No. 18: Cafe Bustelo was a good choice. I feel like a true Italian enjoying some quality espresso bean.

No. 19: Turns out Cafe Bustelo is actually Cuban espresso. I have failed my Italian ancestors.

No. 20: There is nothing quite like drinking a piping hot cup of coffee without getting a horrible headache from it.” -Balzac. Fun story: I actually stopped drinking caffeine in 2016. Since then, all my sodas have been caffeine-free, and my coffees decaf. Beside the occasional round of Yager Bombs bought by my friends, I really don’t drink caffeine. And I’m fine. This is fine.

No. 21: A true coffee addict can rhyme “French press” with “bench press” over 15,000 times in a 900 page epic poem. I can do no such thing.

No. 22: At last! I have found a solution to the funky BJC sink water: More Bean. Ya boy likes his coffee strong.

No. 23: The forsaken midway. 23 cups down. 23 remain. I feel as though I have developed an indescribably relationship with the dark brown sludge. A partner in crime. A companion. An Ally.

No. 24: I fear R&R, the Cerberus of THON, have discovered my French press and electric kettle. I must protect my precious bean from being dragged into the underworld of the BJC (the trash). The bean would do the same for me.

No. 25: I am the protector of the bean.

No. 26: Huddled beneath the overhang of press row, I brew my forbidden bean juice. From the cold, cement floor arises my delicious, hot sludge contrived from crushed coffee beans.

Stay tuned and check back for more updates from Alex’s continuing caffeinated caper.

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About the Author


Alex graduated in Spring 2018.

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