HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Non-Coffee Drinkers Left Out in Workplace

I do drink coffee, but I prefer to drink my cup while I get ready in the morning. Plus, I really prefer not to drink the drip stuff when possible...anyway, to my issue. I work in a very coffee centric office. Coming up the stairs to the suite, the coffee smell always hits you. There always has to be at least one pot (if not two) made at any time of the day. Our budget covers bags of premium coffee at full retail price that we get from a local roaster. Even as a coffee lover, I think it's a little out of hand because of the fact that this is an office, not someones' home. So, now that you know the environment, here is my issue. The office is smallish (less than 20 people), and only about half of those people drink coffee. Those that do drink it at work drink copious amounts in excess of what seems normal. The rest of us have to either make do with the provided water, bring drinks from home, or buy from the vending machines or grab and go places in the area. I personally think that considering there is $100 worth of coffee in the pantry at any given time, there should at least be a few cases of soda in the pantry as well for the rest of us. Budget is not an issue here, as we spend way to much money on some ridiculous things. So, $30 or so a month on soda seems like it wouldn't be too much to ask, considering that we spend way more on coffee. Any opinions?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, I wouldn't go to soda, personally, but having some quality tea available sounds like it would be fair. Provided bottled or water cooler water would be a huge step up for my office.

    1. Our office is small (25 people). We provide bottled water from the cooler (with which we make the coffee, as I think the tap water isn't good in my workplace town), coffee, and tea. If someone wants sodas or fizzy/fruit waters, they bring it themselves.

      Having worked at a company back in the late 90s that provided coffee, tea, water, and also bought cases of soda for "company gatherings", as well as buying fresh fruit on a weekly basis, I can say that there are those that always used the free items in excess, and sometimes took sodas when they weren't for company gatherings...until the President caught them at it and put a stop to it. :-)

      But providing bottled water and/or teabags for tea is the least the company should do for you if they provide coffee for everyone else. Have you approached whoever handles buying the premium coffee for the company?

      1. I've only worked in one place that provided sodas, and it got completely out of hand. People will drink as many cans of soda in a day as the coffee drinkers drink cups of coffee. Coffee, even the gourmet stuff, is far less expensive than sodas when you look at it ounce per ounce. It would take a lot more than $30/month to fuel your office with sodas. But I do think that regular and decaf teas and bottled water/cooler water is appropriate.

        1. Since budget is not an issue, I don't think it would be unreasonable for the company to provide some nice refreshments for the non-coffee drinkers. We actually have the opposite problem in my office - we have sodas, bottle water, several flavors of sparkling mineral waters, hot chocolate, a variety of teas AND some sort of brown sludge that they try to pass off as coffee. I have mentioned that if they spent a little more and bought reasonable coffee, that we would save a lot in lost productivity because people wouldn't be running down to Starbucks all day long. But it has fallen on deaf ears.

          1. I would agree with the others that tea should be provided -- both regular and herbal. At one of my workplaces, they too have pots of coffee out. I bring my own tea and don't mind doing so as they would probably stock Lipton. About the soda, my sister worked for a firm that offered water, soda, coffee, tea, fruit, potato chips, pretzels, cookies and granola bars. While she was able to refrain for the most part (think she just had an occasional seltzer), she said that it probably hampered worker productivity with the employees muching and drinking all the time.

            1. I worked at a place where the kitchens are always stocked with soda (about 10 varieties), bottled water, milk (regular, low-fat, chocolate), and 4 types of juices. In addition, there is coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. People tend to gradually switch away from coffee (except for that first cup in the morning). Half the time the coffee-maker isn't even turned on after the morning hours.

              The first thing that got taken away was bottled water since people drink probably 2 or 3 bottles every day (multiply that by 100+ people). Water coolers were put in place and everyone was given a free Nygene water bottle.

              Newbies tend to drink a lot of soda when they first arrive. Then they realize the pounds they are packing on from the soda and would switch to water.

              1. I pack in a 2 liter diet Coke each day in my briefcase. As for me, I am thankful my employer provides an icemaker...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                  Being in the evending/office refreshment business, I can tell you that it is very rare for a company to provide complimentary cold beverages for employees. Coffee seems to be a standard "perk" in office settings while vending is the option in factories. Almost all offices provide water via a cooler (either bottles or filtration systems). We also see a lot of coffee clubs (employees chip in $5 / week to be in the club) or coin operated units such as single cup Keurig brewers. It all comes down to what the owner/management view as important. In the cases where soda/juice is provided, it almost always is abused and eliminated at some point when accounting sees the cost. We also offer subsidized vending where prices are lower than normal and the company pays a subsidy to us to keep prices low. I like that approach as a compromise.

                2. Have you asked and your company's said no? They may go for providing other beverages. Hopefully they won't take away the coffe to make things "fair" or you'll have 10 angry (yet sleepy) people after you.

                  1. What about suggesting one of the pod machines, like a Senseo? We have one and it seems to work well. You can make coffee or tea-- and the fact that it's one cup at a time cuts down on consumption because it's not just sitting there. It even does cappucinno! I bre the green tea-- add ice-- and voila-- iced tea!

                    1. I usually have this problem because I'm a tea drinker, but I usually walk with my own supplies and sometimes my own kettle (because I don't like coffee flavoured water for my tea) in that case. I guess the world has a strong coffee culture now that it's just assumed that everyone will drink it...however it doesn't help with dehydration or thirst at all so there should be healthy options in all work places....I wouldn't get soda because I don't drink soda, but soda is one of the cheapest drinks you can get on the market today, so if they were going to supply a coffee and water alternative, then I don't think it would be a really big jump for them. You know your employer however and will know best how they will react.

                      1. I work at a big company which is well known for providing free beverages to the employees (2 big drink fridges in every breakroom full of all sorts of different sodas, juices and milk.) This is so well entrenched that it's widely considered to be an untouchable benefit (I think I saw an estimate at some point that this program costs the company something like $7-8 million on an annual basis.) I find that these days I hardly ever drink soda from the drink fridge anymore though. Mostly I opt for milk (I keep a couple of different types of cereal at my desk and use the milk for that) and maybe an occasional can of juice. In addition to the soda, there is also coffee provided. I don't drink coffee at all (and I'm trying to cut out caffeine entirely, for that matter) but from what I understand, for quite a while the coffee provided was fairly low-grade stuff (Farmer Brothers) although a recent morale initiative has led to it being replaced with Starbucks, which is made by 1-cup brewers.

                        Either way, I don't care too much one way or the other, although if I ever wanted to drink soda it would be there.

                        1. As an employer, it is this sort of entitlement that makes me crazy.

                          non-cofee drinkers want soda, non-soda drinkers want juice, non juice drinkers want crystal light, non crysal light drinkers want Atkins bars, etc

                          And no one ever says thanks.

                          fwiw, for 20 people you'd easily spend more than $100 on soda a month

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: orangewasabi

                            It would seem to me the easy way to handle it would be provide water and space to put a coffee pot and perhaps the pot with a hot water spigot and let the employees sort out bringing coffee/tea on their own.

                            1. re: orangewasabi

                              As an employee, I have to say I kinda agree with you, it does seem a bit whiny (my dad certainly never got free coffee at his job.) But I do think you could put a cap on the soda cost at say $40/month if you were inclined to supply soda.

                              If it makes you feel better, when our company switched to Peets, there were lots of emails of thanks.

                              1. re: writergirl

                                I think the only issue with putting a cap on it is that then you'd have some employees who drank a lot of soda very quickly and other who had none in a given month. And you'd quickly end up back at the same place as the OP. People who feel that their individual beverage choices aren't being covered at the same rate or in the same way as others' beverage choices.

                                Personally, as one who is in an office that provides a small fridge and a microwave, but nothing else, any provided beverages (even water) sound like a real bonus and mostly I think people should be happy for what they get.

                                I should note that it never occured to me that my office should provide anything in particular.

                              2. re: orangewasabi

                                I agree--and I'm talking from an employee's perspective! Many of the places I've worked for provide bottled water, tea bags, a microwave, a frige, and, in some places, a mid-sized toaster oven. It's nice to provide all the extras as a morale booster, but it can get out of control and distracting. One place I worked for had pizza every Friday, bagels every morning, and Starbucks coffee every other day (in addition to its gourmet coffee bar, which was available every day). It got to the point where some people would gather in the kitchen first thing in the morning even before they put down their coats and bags and wait around for the bagels and coffee to arrive! It was like a soup line for the privileged.

                              3. You can always bring it up, but personally, I don't feel my employer needs to provide me with anything, and if they do, then it's extra. I think the companies that provide the sodas and snacks, along with free lunch/dinner started because they were using VC money and not their own, and it's a terrible waste of company resources. If it were truly a start up, I doubt even coffee pots would have been provided.

                                I do understand what you are saying though about the soda, and jokingly, I've whined to my previous manager about this before, especially when all the dot coms were booming with their high salaries and many freebies, and there I was working for a conservative company (and salary). He bought me my own stash of Coke ($4?), and I was SO happy! But as someone else said, I'm happy when I can get ice!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: boltnut55

                                  Oh man, ice would be great to have! That would make my day on a regular basis.

                                2. What got me is that at my pervious employer, my department was charged for a share of the coffee and water cooler expenses as part of overhead costs even though no one in my department ever used either. Granted it wasn't much every month, but it was irritating because we had a pretty tight departmental budget to begin with.

                                  1. I'd think that soda would be very expensive to provide even for a small office... but if the office is going to provide coffee they should be willing to shell out for some herbal/regular teabags for the non-coffee drinkers.

                                    1. It wouldn't hurt to ask if tea could be provided as well, but I'd stay clear of asking for soda. I would definitely avoid being at all confrontational about the matter (I'm not saying you are being confrontational here, just be careful). It's very easy to get management tetchy about an issue and any implication of "it's not fair" is more likely to get the coffee yanked rather than any additional beverage options. And you'd forever be known as "the jerk who caused us to lose our coffee".

                                      Tea seems to be a reasonable request since it's still in the hot beverage department.

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: foodstorm

                                          I work in a small office where everyone is on a diet. They drink specially roasted starbucks coffee and water. Every month my employer goes to Sam's and buys items for the office pantry. He inevitably buys diet soda and water. I can only drink so much water in a day and don't drink diet soda at all. Once I tried some soda that I found in the back and wondered why it gave me a headache until I saw the expiration date was 2005. (Did I mention they never throw anything away) They do have "tea", but its bigelow or lipton. Which for a person who ends her day with a cup of tea, is repellant. Our employer requests that we toss some money in the pot for the snacks, which later gets donated to charity. Inexplicably, last week he bought a huge box of fritos that no one will touch.

                                      1. I work in a two-person office. I drink coffee; my secretary doesn't. She generally drinks on a big water all morning, and takes care of that herself. I drink coffee some mornings, including Tuesday morning when we have a prayer group that meets and we all have a cup. The coffee maker is mine and I provide and make my own coffee. (I could drink what the church ladies buy for the kitchen but I don't like it, so I get what I like. Some of the church ladies say they've acquired a taste for "my coffee"--something dark-roasted and "strong," usually.) There's usually tea and hot cocoa available in the church kitchen if someone wants it--I don't know where the tea comes from; someone apparently picks up some from time to time, but in the winter I drink a lot of cocoa so I generally buy some from time to time.