Teeth whitening costs $650 on average now, but it costed over $1,000 on average when I got it done 5 years ago. The process involved 30 minutes of chemical application on my teeth and my mouth being forced open with a plastic device. I couldn’t even swallow . My teeth were not severely stained or anything, but my parents decided to even out the tone after I finished wearing braces. They wanted me to get pretty before going to college. Braces themselves, costed over $3,000, so it turns out that I spent almost $5,000 on teeth for both cosmetic and medical reasons. Due to such experience, staining my teeth became one of my worst fears.

We all know that coffee and tea stain your teeth. For that reason, I managed to survive three years of college without drinking coffee. Being an economics major with minors in biology and chemistry and pre-med concentration, I had to endure many sleepless sleepy nights. Resisting coffee was extremely difficult. Free coffee during finals, knowing that they could keep me awake, was almost irresistible. But I was determined not to stain my teeth, so I walked away. The summer after junior year, though, everything changed.

On the first day of my corporate banking internship at midtown NY, a man in the perfectly ironed Armani suit sets completely changed my opinion on coffee. I don’t even remember his exact position—perhaps, a VP of Capital Markets. But I clearly remember what he told the interns. He said, “Drink coffee. You will have to. If you don’t like coffee, force yourself. Coffee is the key to energy and networking.” After that, working nearly 60 hours a week, I drank countless cups of coffee.  From instant coffee to Starbucks Americano to Australian flat white. They kept me awake and helped me to meet more people. It was a magical drink—that tasted bad.

To this day, I cannot get used to the bitter tannin taste and the acidity of coffee. I drink my coffee, therefore, only iced with a straw, or cold brewed. Those are the two most effective ways to consume coffee and avoid stains on teeth. I drink it not for the taste, but to survive and carry on with my daily routine. Although my teeth seem fine, I still fear getting stained teeth, so I chug the coffee as quickly as I can.

I don’t know exactly how they taste except that to me, they taste burnt and biter. But now that I will go back to banking after graduation, I will consume more of this magical drink. Hopefully, I will make enough to be able to afford teeth whitening.


Ellie Kim