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Last updated May 26, 2023

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The Biggest Mistake to Avoid When Writing a College Essay About Coffee

Key Takeaway

College essays about coffee go awry when you focus more on coffee than you do on yourself. Make sure that your college essay is ultimately about you, not coffee.

Drinks, foods, and the customs associated with each can be fruitful topics for college essays. These topics are intimate parts of our lived experience and can communicate a lot about who we are and where we come from.

With almost 50% of US adults drinking coffee daily, coffee may seem like an obvious topic for your own college essay.

But most students don’t spend enough time considering how to transform coffee from an overused topic into an effective personal statement.

Because it’s is a popular topic, you need to choose your approach wisely. Specifically, there is one common mistake that you should avoid like decaf.

What to avoid when writing a personal statement about coffee

The biggest mistake you can make is writing an essay that is, at its core, only about coffee. Your college essay shouldn’t just be about supply chains or your dad’s morning cup of joe.

Your college essay needs to ultimately be about you.

No matter how you choose to approach the topic, you’ll need to do a few key things to accomplish this goal:

  1. Develop an argument that turns the topic of coffee into a statement about who you are or what you care about. Everything your essay does will work to support this argument.

  2. Use specific examples, anecdotes, and descriptions to illustrate your points.

    This area is where coffee shines because the memories and sensory experiences surrounding coffee make it easy for you to use descriptive language.

    Maybe you despise the sound of your mom’s old coffee pot. Or perhaps your hot coffee in winter is what warms your hands up before the heat kicks on.

    Whatever it is, let your sensory experiences enrich your college essay.

  3. Avoid overused, overgeneralized, and cliche ideas. If you can picture your sentence, theme, or central message appearing in a Folgers commercial, then keep thinking.

In short, to write your college essay about coffee, you have to interrogate what coffee actually means to you.

Coffee may be a symbol for your relationship with your grandpa, whose worldview significantly shaped your own. Or perhaps you made a lot of money at a coffee stand because of your good business practices.

This meaning will be the message you want your admissions officers to remember.

Here are some helpful approaches to get you started.

How to Approach your Common Application college essay about coffee

Approach 1: Everyday Life

“Realism” is a way of describing art or literature that focuses on the mundane, daily parts of life that make up our everyday experience.

This style is appealing to people because of its ability to find meaning in things we typically take for granted.

It’s also one great approach to use if you want to write your college essay about how coffee has played a consistent background character in your life.

Think about the ways coffee contributes to daily rituals in your household. Consider the deeper significance these rituals hold. Imagine how coffee will shape your memories of high school or what your life would look like without coffee.

If you find something that resonates with you, ask yourself why.

When using this approach, remember that your essay should ultimately be about you, not about a family member.

Approach 2: Coffee Shop

Another standard approach is the coffee shop approach.

Whether you work as a barista, like to do your homework at a coffee shop, or simply enjoy hanging out at your local café, coffee shops can be important social spaces.

The coffee shop framework may also help you think about the social meaning coffee holds for you.

This approach could take several shapes.

You could focus on a specific day when you made an observation or series of observations. You could analyze what you like about the atmosphere. Or you could think about a notable memory or person you associate with time spent in a coffee shop.

As with the previous approach, keep the focus on yourself.

Approach 3: Intellectual Curiosity

Finally, you can also use coffee to demonstrate your intellectual curiosity.

Your essay can explore some aspect of coffee production or consumption that relates to one of your primary academic or co-curricular interests.

Perhaps you visited a coffee farm over spring break and became interested in the economics of coffee. Maybe your fascination with the Pumpkin Spice Latte trend relates to your interests in sociology and gender studies.

If coffee encourages you to think more deeply about something you’re already passionate about, then this may the approach for you.

The bottom line

Admissions officers consider coffee essential for those long days spent reading applications, but they don’t need you to tell them how great it is, how much you love it, or how interesting it is to grow.

So only write about coffee if it is the best way to reveal something about yourself.

If you can’t do that, then consider another topic.

But if coffee is the right choice for you, then check out our How to Write a College Essay guide for next steps.

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