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Mar 23, 2007 08:42 AM

Coffee at work: When will we hit the tipping point?

The coffee at my job is terrible. And when I think about it, the coffee at all of my jobs has been terrible since I've started working. But here in the US we've gone through something of a "coffee discovery" since the late 80s. I say this because I recall that that was when we first started to see a wide array of whole beans being provided at general places like supermarkets. On top of that there are of course the ubiquitous Starbucks and other independent coffee houses. So there is this attention given to "good" coffee these days.
I was in Italy for work and on coffee break we'd take these little individual espresso bean cartridges, plug them into the coffee maker and have an excellent espresso (khaki colored foam and all). I don't see that happening anytime soon in the American office break area but anything would be an improvement to what we are getting now. When will it tip?

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  1. Wow. I don't know what your workplace rules are, but when I worked at the office, we had our own coffee maker in our common area that we purchased ourselves and bought our own (good) coffee. No Folgers for us, thanks.

    1. Probably never, as long as good coffee is expensive and bad coffee is cheap. When the company is paying, they'd rather spend money on office supplies and rent than good coffee, which makes sense to me. I've known people who brought in their own mini-coffee makers, or even those Senseo one-cup brewers, because they hated the coffee that the office provided.
      Personally, I kind of enjoy the fact that I can get better coffee outside the office. It gives me a reason to get away from work for 20 minutes to head to Starbucks.

      1. My company has a whole building to themselves, with a kitchen on each floor, and in general the coffee in the building is AWFUL. I'm "lucky" enough to work on the executive floor, and our bigwigs insisted on better coffee for our floor only! All day I see people from other floors sneak up here for our coffee, I have friends on other floors who call me to go scope out the kitchen and see if there's a fresh brew. Ha. It's no Italian espresso, but it's not bad.

        1. I know of a few places that are using pod systems with better quality coffee, so there is hope.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jzerocsk

            I worked in an office with one of those pod systems, it was great!

          2. I work in a large research institute. Almost everyone here who drinks coffee has a grinder and a french press or drip filter machine in his/her office. Enough people have electric water pots that boil water for anyone to get water. Most have really good beans.

            I would have assumed that the situation would be about the same in offices in the US. What gives?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Sam: Does the company pay for these coffee supplies at people's desks, or do the individuals bring/pay for their own supplies?

              Because yes, in the U.S., plenty of people have their own gourmet coffee kits at their desks, but they pay for the stuff themselves. but I agree with Andiereed and Ajs228 above -- companies have other priorities than supplying gourmet coffee. I'm sure people will make the argument of "good coffee, happy workers, greater productivity" - whatever. I'd rather have more cash in my bonus (especially since I don't guzzle coffee all day long)....

              1. re: Neely_Ohara

                No, everyone pays for their own brew kit and supplies.

                I guess its pretty much the same here and there, then. Thanks.

              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I believe those electric water kettles are against fire code in most buildings.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  The last two places I worked, the owners/managers banned people from bringing their own machines, because it was a fire hazard and also unsightly to have 5 or 6 coffee machines cluttering up the kitchen.

                  Personally, I've given up hope on getting good coffee in the office. I either drink diet coke or go out for coffee if I must have a caffeine fix during the workday.

                  1. re: DanaB

                    I've also basically given up on it in the office (and it's just as well--I make my cherished first cup in the morning with freshly ground stuff and savor it while read the morning newspaper, I probably don't need any more caffeine than that)...they make it so weak that it's like tea. Occasionally, a kindred soul will double the ground coffee amount and we'll actually have a decent pot...but I have to be in the right place at the right time to even know about it. I try to tell folks that you can always fix a cup of coffee that's too strong but you cannot fix a cup of coffee that's too weak.