If Pedro Pascal told me to jump, I’d ask how high. If he told me to try his Starbucks order, I’d probably be a bit more hesitant.
The Last of Us star was filmed leaving Starbucks last week when observers online took notice of his order. The now-viral drink was a venti quad espresso — four espresso shots with two additional added — bringing the drink to a total of 450 milligrams of caffeine.
For students with schedules as busy as Pascal’s, caffeine can become a convenient alternative to resting. But how much caffeine is safe to consume on a day-to-day basis?
The Mayo Clinic says 400 milligrams appears to be safe for “most healthy adults,” but caffeine content varies from drink to drink, and its effects are similarly diverse across personal caffeine needs and body types.
But is the amount in Pascal’s drink an uncommon intake? To figure this out, I turned to some University of Maryland students to ask about their personal caffeine habits.
“I feel like my caffeine tolerance is pretty high, so I think I could handle it,” Dominic Flocco, an applied mathematics and statistics and scientific computation graduate student, said. “Depends on how tired I am.”
For Flocco, stress levels and workload affect his caffeine intake the most. He said his consumption has grown since starting college and increased as he entered graduate school.
“I probably drink about four or five cups a day … I really started drinking coffee during COVID when I was in undergrad,” he said. “I guess at any point in the semester when I have a lot of work to do and a short amount of time to do it, I insert an extra boost.”
A cup of coffee is an average of 95 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the brew. If your drinking habits are similar to Flocco’s, that’d be about 475 milligrams — slightly more than Pascal’s 450 milligram order.
Junior community health major Melissa Thomas said she’d be open to having the drink, but only as a one-time thing.
“I think I might try it just once … just once to see what it would feel like,” Thomas said. “I think that would just be the most productive, most intense day of my life.”
Thomas said even as someone who enjoys caffeinated drinks, 450 milligrams pushes the limit.
“I feel like if I took that, I would literally be off the rails,” she said. “I don’t know if I can risk having that much at once.”
Sam Elkins, a freshman math major, said he’d try if someone else paid for it.
“I wouldn’t order that, that’s the way I’d put it,” he said. “I would drink it, I guess, if someone gave it to me, but I would not choose to order that.”
Elkins said his caffeine intake varies by the day, but he’s had amounts similar to Pascal.
“[My caffeine intake] varies widely. Right now, it’s probably a minimum of 200 milligrams and a maximum of 600 spread out throughout the day,” he said. “I’ve had [450 milligrams of caffeine] before. It’s not very pleasant.”
With the stress of university life, many of us could be pushing the limits of what’s a safe amount of caffeine. Even I can’t say for certain that when deadlines need to be met, I wouldn’t turn to Pascal’s order for support.