how to get people to make more coffee after they drink the last of it

A reader writes:

Any advice on how to pleasantly ask folks who drink coffee to make the next pot? This seems to be a universal dilemma in every office I’ve ever worked in. Why do people think they can leave a drop in the bottom and not replenish? Full disclaimer: I’m not even a coffee drinker, but I do witness the chaos.

It’s the unsolvable problem of our time. Millions of offices before you have tried and failed.

It’s what’s known as the tragedy of the commons: When it’s everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job.

Does anyone have an office where this isn’t an issue, and if so, how have you solved it?

{ 259 comments… read them below }

  1. nuqotw*

    I used to work in an office where there were widely varied opinions about how strong to make the coffee, but only one coffee maker. The result was that people made it when it was empty because that way the maker could have the coffee at his/her desired strength.

    1. Elaine*

      Exactly. Plus, I’m really picky about fresh coffee. I don’t want coffee that’s been sitting on the burner for hours. I’d rather make a fresh pot of strong stuff.

  2. Chrissi*

    One of our satellite offices does not have this problem. BUT, that’s because there are only about 6 people in that tiny office, the coffee maker is centrally located so everyone knows who took the last of the coffee, and they are all terribly nice, responsible people. When I’ve worked up there, I’ve noticed that when someone takes the last bit or almost the last bit, they’ll ask everyone else if they should make another pot or turn off the coffee maker. They also take turns buying the coffee beans and when it’s your turn, you get to choose the brand and flavor, no questions asked. I bet most of the success can be attributed to the fact that no one can “get away” with it.

      1. Chinook*

        There are also other single serve machines out there other than the brand names (Sun Cafe does one where there is not plastic cup). Check with your coffee provider for options).

        I agree that this is the only solution that has a chance of working. It also has the advantage that, if someone is working later, they can still have a cup of coffee without having to brew an entire pot.

        The other advantage is that, if someone is particularly picky about what they want to drink, they can buy their own coffee (and store it at their desk) and use it in the machine.

      2. Jessa*

        Pretty much. Single serve machines are the way to go. Not only do they make everyone do what they want. They allow people to bring their own flavours in and people who do not like coffee (yay hot cocoa or tea) can have that.

    1. jubileejones*

      You would think. At my old job, we had Keurigs put into our meeting rooms and started the new problem of people not removing the K-cups after they got their coffee and not refilling the water reservoir *sigh*. It got to the point that every time I went to a meeting room I brought a jug of water with me for the Keurig…and I was only at that location once a week.

      1. KarenT*

        Ack I could see the water reservoir being an issue! The old cup wouldn’t bother me, but I could easily see myself being the person to always fill the tank.

        1. Andie*

          We have a Keurig as well. The same thing happens with the water only a few people actually refill the water dispenser.

        2. TychaBrahe*

          Someone needs to invent an office Keurig that connects to a water input like an office coffee machine does.

          1. Laufey*

            The Flavia brand machines hook directly into a water line.

            But I am told (often) that the coffee tastes like dirt, so YMMV.

            1. Frances*

              Yeah, we have one and it’s not great coffee (although I can tolerate the French Vanilla, especially since it smells wonderful). It has pretty decent tea, though, and a foamy milk/sugar add in for lattes, which helps with the taste.

            2. De Minimis*

              Had one of those at my old job…it was funny, as the recession went on, our flavor choices became fewer and fewer.

            3. Anonymous*

              A chococino (hot chocolate mix with cappucino “foam” packet) with a shot of espresso made with hazelnut coffee isn’t too bad. But it isn’t too good either. I only drink the coffee at work if I’m desperate.

            4. Jessa*

              Filter on the water line. If you’re going to line in, you need an inline filter. Brita and other companies make these.

              The solution to that however is a rota about doing the reservoir fill thing.

          2. Twentymilehike*

            Yes, the “industrial” keurig has the waterline connection! I want one for my house .. Because I am that lazy. :)

            1. Erin*

              My parents *bought* one of those for their house and LOVE it. At first they weren’t going to do the water hook up and then the next time I was at their house, lo and behold – it was all hooked up to the water line. : )

      2. Bryan*

        We solved that problem by getting a commercial model that is connected to the water line and flips the used k cups back when finished. Although we have the new problem of nobody wants to empty the used K-cup container. I’m starting to notice a trend.

        1. KarenT*

          What? There are Keurigs that connect to water lines? I want this for my house! (not because I’m too lazy to fill the reservoir but because really, that’s just cool!)

          1. Jamie*

            Yep – that’s what we have. Don’t tell my husband though, because he will want one for the house. I almost left him because of how crabby he was trying to connect the water line to the fridge …I’m not going through that again.

              1. Jamie*

                Try getting mine to pay for one “when I can do it myself…” seriously. My next husband is going to be a plumber.

        2. Anonymous*

          We got one of these and the cleaning lady took out the trash after hours. Boom. Problem solved.

      3. Chinook*

        If you get a commercial machine, you can get it hooked into your water system. As for not removing the the k-cups, it is a pain but the reality is atleast they are not disgustng and growing things.

    2. Sascha*

      We have a Keurig, too, and it’s been working pretty well, people are even refilling the resevoir! They usually don’t remove the old cups but that is fine to me. There is still a coffee pot, and one person will make coffee in it every day, but only a few people drink it, so now our problem is, who gets to clean out the half-pot of coffee.

      1. Shelley*

        We have a Keurig too! Love it. Have one at home as well.
        As soon as I read this I thought, this office needs a Keurig!
        You’d think I worked for the company!But I don’t :)

    3. CathVWXYNot?*

      The Keurig in my office broke last weekend and flooded the kitchen. They had to shut all the water off in that kitchen for a whole day. Luckily we have two other kitchens and one other coffee maker, so no caffeine-withdrawal-related deaths were reported.

      I’m a tea drinker, which is obviously superior in every way ;)

      1. Chinook*

        Tea drinkers are superior only because they seem to be able to figure out how to fill the water kettle and the only time I see a tea bag in the sink is when I am at home.

        1. Jamie*

          They are a very civilized people.

          We’ve discovered Midsomer Murders and are going through the seasons at home, so in keeping with my nightly virtual romp through the British countryside I’ve been drinking tea in the evenings. With a drop of milk. It makes me feel very grown up. Took me 3 nights to remember to switch to decaf though – that was less civilized.

          1. KarenT*

            So true! Tea drinkers really do refill the kettle and clean up after themselves.
            I play both sides of the fence. Coffee is for mornings and tea is for afternoons.

          2. CathVWXYNot?*

            The great thing in Britain is that everyone drinks tea – not just the posh people in nice little villages in the South of England like in Midsomer Murders, but all classes, all ages, and in all parts of the country. Although there are regional and class differences in preferred strength, milkiness, and sweetness.

            1. Jamie*

              Even Karl Pilkington drinks tea. Twinings, drop of milk. No sugar. I don’t get the no sugar thing.

              And yes, I’m ashamed to know the above.

              1. Chinook*

                Can I just add that English Breakfast and Earl Grey are not the only options when it comes to black tea? I can’t stand the taste of those (I think one of them has bergemot in it) and prefer Orange Pekoe (a.k.a. Red Rose) but it seems to be too “low end” for most Canadian offices to stock (though the tell tale blue or red box can usually be found stashed on a top shelf somewhere)

                1. CathVWXYNot?*

                  As a British immigrant, I can’t really understand the Canadian obsession with Red Rose tea (although it’s far, far better than Lipton). Give me Tetley’s any day of the week – also Orange Pekoe, although in the UK it’s so obviously the default that it’s just called “tea”.

                  In fact, this caused me great confusion on my first morning in Canada. I made the very smart (not) decision to start my new job at 8 am, having arrived at 11:30 pm after a nightmare flight (Manchester-Chicago-Dallas-Vancouver – yeah), going through the whole immigration process, and meeting my new boss for the first time. So I stopped in at a Blenz for a much-needed caffeine fix before going to meet my new colleagues. I asked for a tea, and when they said “Orange Pekoe?” I said no, because I’d never heard of that and assumed it was orange-flavoured. It took a while to sort out… after I kept asking (with increasing desperation) for “just normal tea!”, the poor guy persuaded me to try a cup of Orange Pekoe and see if that was what I wanted.

                  It was, so I decided *not* to go straight back to the airport and have been here ever since.

                2. Chinook*

                  I had the same reaction to Orange Pekoe – that I thought it would citrusy – until I had tea at a Newfie’s house. She wanted a taste of back home, so she took out her box and brewed us both “a cuppa”. One inhale and I suddenly realized why the tea I was making at home never tasted like what my Irish grandmother brewed.

                  And for the record, the brewed tea at Tim Horton’s is Orange Pekoe.

                3. Portia de Belmont*

                  I discovered a restaurant supply tea in Canada called Mother Parker’s. I think I would
                  trade my house for a box of that stuff. It’s just that good!

                4. Rana*

                  Erf. I loathe Orange Pekoe, I have to admit. I associate it with the cheap bad tea that motels offer. I’m more of a breakfast tea person (which I prefer with milk and either honey or sugar).

                  Being a tea drinker in the US can be rough sometimes; even tiny places usually have somewhere you can get decent coffee, but tea often manifests as a combination of stale Lipton and lukewarm water, with non-dairy creamer. Ugh. (This was something I loved about traveling in Australia – tea was everywhere, and even the cheap tea was good, and the water was always hot.)

              2. Liane*

                This tea sideline reminds me of my late dad, a World War 2 vet, quoting a British soldier he knew, on Americans and tea: “I don’t understand you Yanks. You boil it to make it hot, add ice to make it cold, add sugar to make it sweet, and lemon to make it sour.”

          3. Another Anonymous*

            I have to say I love the other information I get from this blog…such a another murder mystery series to check out. Thanks!

            1. Ruffingit*

              On that note, be sure to watch Murder in Suburbia, another British murder series. I loved it.

              1. Julie*

                Are there more than two seasons? Netflix only has seasons 1 & 2 of Suburban Murders. I’ve been watching a lot of the various British mysteries on Netflix, &. I’d love more suggestions.

                1. Ruffingit*

                  No, unfortunately they only made the 2 seasons. Another series you might like is Doc Martin. It stars one of the actresses from Murder in Suburbia. It’s not a murder series, but it is a cute British series.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Tea drinkers are superior because tea doesn’t taste like nasty burnt toast. :)

          Ok, it’s probably also because tea usually starts out as a single cup process, so there’s no pot to refill, only your own cup to wash, and avoids all of the other woes of working with other people.

          1. Chinook*

            Even if you make tea the same way you make drip coffee, you still don’t get a burnt taste. Tim Horton’s brewed tea sits on a burner and all it does is get stronger as it sits. Coffee, on the other hand, will burn to a crisp (though of course that never happens at Timmy’s – we really did throw out the coffee after 20 minutes. We tried to remember to do it with the tea but too many people prefered it stronger).

            1. Marie*

              Tims SAY they throw the coffee out after 20 minutes, but it’s mostly not true. When ever I look at the time on the pot, always more than 20 minutes, except in the mornig rush

    4. Bea W*

      Last two employers had a Flavia machine – the office version of the Keurig. Problem solved. The Flavia is plugged right into the water supply, so there isn’t the issue of having to refill the reservoir. The individual packets are discarded into a bin in the machine. People don’t even have to remember to clean up after themselves.

      At an employer with the shared pot, it didn’t seem to be an issue. Whoever came in, found the pot empty, and wanted coffee would make it. Some people actually preferred it that way, since it wasn’t always easy to tell when the last batch had been brewed. Now, changing the jug on the water cooler, that was another issue.

      1. Tina*

        Sounds like we have what Bea described. Plugged into the water supply, so no need to refill, and packets go into the bin. However, that still leaves us with the situation of no one bothering to empty the bin so eventually someone gets stuck emptying it!

    5. tcookson*

      Has anyone tried the single serve coffee machines with the “as seen on TV” permanent k-cups? I’ve never had a Keurig or such because it seems so expensive, but if the permanent k-cups would really work, I might consider getting one.

      1. Chinook*

        I haven’t tried the “as seen on tv” ones, but there is a permanent k-cup made by Keurig that you can use your own coffee in. The key in using it is experimenting the first few times to figure out how much coffee you need to get the flavour you want as the provided isntructions never make anyone happy (as per the many customers who complained to my mother). Your best bet is to google for directions and not be in a rush the first few times.

        tcookson, since you are wondering if it is worth the price, let me add that, for home brewing, you have to ask yourself how often you throw out coffee in the pot. If you normally use a full pot of coffee or like to grind your own beans or have a french press, then this is not for you. But, if you rarely drink coffee or always make too much, then you need to not look at just the money but also the quality of the coffee you are drinking because the coffee in single served machines is sealed soon after is ground and is only exposed to air when it is brewed. So, the coffee will always taste the same, unlike the difference you get in quality from a freshly opened can of coffee vs. the bottom of the can.

        The other thing to note is that this may actually decrease your coffee consumption if you are like my father who hated to throw a pot of coffee out, so he would just drink it until it was gone. He is also penny conscious (even he does have access to it at wholesale prices) and is no longer just drinking the coffee because it is there but because he wants to (it also helps that you have to consciously make the coffee rather than just top up your cup). Even after having the machine for years, his coffee consumption has never returned to the level it was at with a drip coffee maker.

        1. Chinook*

          And yes, this is the spiel I learned hawking these things at my mother’s store but it also happens to be true.

        2. tcookson*

          Wow, Chinook — thanks for the great coffee run-down! We’re currently using a French press with our regular, cheap-o ground coffee, because our drip coffee maker broke. This makes it sound like using a Keurig with our regular ground coffee (and a few different flavored ones just for fun) might be worth considering.

      2. Aimee*

        My mom has reusable k-cups for her Keurig. She also found some lids that work with the regular k-cups – you just clean them out, add your own coffee and the reusable lids.

        My husband liked her Keurig so much when we were visiting, that we just got one for home too. I don’t like hot coffee (I’m an iced latte person), so I didn’t think I would use it. I’ve made about 30 iced coffees with that thing in the less than 2 weeks that we’ve had it. I think I’m going to drastically reduce my Starbucks budget!

        We haven’t gotten the resuable k-cups yet, but we will eventually.

        1. BellaLuna*

          There are other vendors who sell reusable cups that fit the Keurig that I purchased on Amazon. I only drink one cup/day and couldn’t live without my machine. I used to buy a cup of coffee every morning at a local store so the cost of my daily coffee dropped 95%. The two most used items in my kitchen are the Keurig and the Soda Stream.

      3. Melissa*

        Keurig sells reusable filters for their machines – I have one, although I never use it (it came with the machine).

  3. Jamie*

    Does anyone have an office where this isn’t an issue, and if so, how have you solved it?

    Non-issue here – Keurig. Although since someone here posted how unsanitary the lines are I’ve been bringing mine in from home.

    But what I love about the Keurig is no more smell of burning coffee residue turning to tar in the bottom of a pot someone left on. Ick.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      YES. I hate the smell of burnt coffee.

      This has never been a problem anywhere I’ve worked (N=5). I don’t know what they’re doing right that other people are doing wrong.

    2. Anonymous*

      Who cares if the lines are unsanitary (if they really are?). First, water standards are very high in most developed countries. So I’m not sure how it is “unsanitary”. Second, the water is being heated up to hot right at the point the coffee is being made.

      1. Another Emily*

        I don’t see how the lines would be unsanitary if only water ever passes through it. Water here is a bit hard so we have to clean them out sometimes because of that, but there’s a product for that.

      2. Kaz*

        I think they mean the lines that go through the Keurig. They have to be cleaned out with vinegar now and again to keep from filling with gunk. I wouldn’t want to drink gunk even if it’s not going to kill me.

        1. Jamie*

          I’ll have to search the site – I know it was here and I haven’t used it since.

          I’m highly susceptible to suggestion when it comes to icky things – doesn’t take much to freak me out.

        2. Pussyfooter*

          I’ve got a friend with a plumbing business which gives out free bottles of pickle juice (vinegar and salt water) to customers. It’s the best, safe way to remove hard water deposits–even on stuff that looks like it needs to be thrown away.
          I don’t think the “gunk” you’re referring to is any slimy bio-film, I think it’s hard water deposits (stalagmites?). Here’s Keurig’s vinegar/cleaning instructions:

          *it’s gonna be ok Jamie*

          1. Chinook*

            I have to point out that the “gunk” people refer to is hard water deposits (or, as it is known in Calgary, ” a little part of the Rocky Mountains”). It is not bad for you but it does build up on the machine. You can get filters for your machines (for Keurigs they float in the resevoir) or run vinegar through it every so often.

            Unless you are in one of those places without a working water filtration system (been there, done that on a reserve), the water is safe to drink even if it is not clear. On the odd occasion it isn’t safe (due to flooding, etc)., you will hear about it.

        3. Pussyfooter*

          Hey Kaz, Hey Jamie,
          My link to the Keurig site is “waiting moderation”.
          I don’t think there’s anything “icky” in your machine, Jamie–the vinegar thing is for hard water deposits.

          1. Jamie*

            This makes me very happy…and it includes pickle juice which is definitely on my list of accepted foods! Much appreciated!

        4. ThursdaysGeek*

          A lot of that gunk is calcium and other minerals — gunk that’s good for you! (At least, that’s what I keep telling myself when I see the floaties in my well water ice.)

        5. Joanne*

          fun fact: when I was a drug counselor, I had someone tell me their BAC was the equivalent of 2 shots of liquor because their mom uses vodka to clean out the coffee maker. I have wondered ever since what would happen if I actually tried that!

          1. Another Anonymous*

            Another interesting thing…this weekend I carried the ingredients for margaritas to a friends house. I premeasured the tequila into my coffee thermos. Now this thermos gets washed every use (practically daily) with a bottle brush and hot soapy water. When I washed it out after the event, it was sparkly clean inside. I guess alcohol does a great cleaning job!

        6. Bea W*

          This is true of any drip coffee maker. The water is sucked out of the reservoir and pours over the grounds and filter. The lines can accumulate gunk (mineral deposits).

    3. NBB*

      At one of our offices, the Keurig machine became infested with cockroaches (in the water reservoir area). We discovered this, after we all had a cup. So um, yeah. GROSS!!!

      1. Jean*

        Yuck indeed–unless somebody manages to persuade the world that it’s the next new thing (and makes a fortune). Pasteurized cockroach essence + hot water + milk, anyone?

    4. tcookson*

      As soon as I read the title of today’s post, I did a big, out loud, “HA!”, because nobody is ever going to make coffee after they take the last; it is a fact of office life that whoever finds the pot empty has to make the next coffee. The sooner everyone becomes resigned to that, the less time they’ll spend angry, frustrated, aggravated, peeved . . .

      About the burnt smell, we brew our work coffee directly into an insulated carafe, so it doesn’t sit around and burn.

    5. Lora*

      Errrrmmm I hate to burst yo use guys’ bubble, but Jamie is absolutely right. Water lines, even water lines with ultra-pure water (e.g. Water For Injection, the highest quality water you can get) and electro polished stainless steel piping, will get fouled with waterborne bacteria. Pseudomonas spp. are notorious for being able to survive on very little carbon; there have been multiple incidents of dentists’ and hospital patients being infected by contaminated water lines–for example the discovery of Legionnaire’s Disease.

      In food & drug manufacturing, we sanitize our water lines daily by heating the steel lines to near-boiling. That is pretty extreme for a coffee maker, but flushing the lines with drugstore peroxide once a month or so is a good idea. Ditto for office water coolers–found algae growing in several of ours after people complained the water suddenly tasted bad.

  4. Shelley*

    We have those K-cup pods at the office for coffee or tea, so this is not a problem for us – everyone just makes their single cup of coffee!

    We do have a similar problem with the water cooler though. Usually replacing the water falls on one particular person by default (I avoid the task because I have a bad knee, and while I can lift it with my back I don’t want to do it very often); the bosses generally don’t do it unless there is literally no water coming out when they want some water to drink.

    1. Windchime*

      We don’t have a water cooler at this office, but at the previous office, people would drain not only the jug but also the reservoir in the dispenser. Even after a sign was put up to please replace the jug when it was empty.

      Current job had terrible tap water and no dispenser, so I bought a Brita filtered pitcher to keep at my desk. They eventually installed a filter on one of the taps, and now we have yummy clean tap water.

      I don’t drink coffee so I don’t make it. Simple for me! :)

  5. Sydney Bristow*

    My current office and the last one I worked at had those machines with the coffee pods. Problem solved although I’m sure it was much more expensive.

    I don’t drink coffee, but I tend to see this as one of the things in personal or professional agreements that is worth letting go of. It annoys me when I seem to be the one always changing the toilet paper roll or remembering to buy kitchen sponges, but its more work to get upset about it every time than it is just to take care of if. I try to remember that for anything that would take me less than 2 minutes to do. If it would take longer (always the one doing the dishes, for example) then I’d definitely be annoyed and try to change it somehow.

  6. Mike*

    I’m not part of the coffee club but my office sits near the coffee maker. I laugh when one particular colleague comes by about every 5 minutes checking to see if someone has made coffee. Of course, he doesn’t start a pot…he’ll just come back in a few minutes. If there is a pot of coffee made, you can count on him coming by every 10 minutes from 9:30-10:30 to fill up his mug. I’m assuming he stores up these 6 mugs of coffee for the rest of the day.

    1. AdminAnon*

      I have a co-worker who was doing the same thing–I have a straight line of sight from my desk to the coffee pot–and after a week or so of watching her, I finally asked what she was doing.

      Her response? “I don’t know how to make coffee”
      (Note: she is in her late 30s and has been working in offices for her entire career, so I’m not sure how she missed out on that particular skill….)

      I taught her and that solved the problem! Not saying that’s your colleague’s issue, but it’s worth a shot.

      1. Marigold*

        I don’t understand people who don’t know how to do something but won’t read instructions, or google it.

        1. Jamie*

          Me either. That’s why my license plate says P R T F M. I should get a little plate holder that says (or google) underneath.

        2. Chinook*

          I think that, in the case of basic appliances, no one wants to admit they don’t know how to use it or they think that it is much more complicated than it really is. I had the same thing happen when I showed a partner how to use the photocopier – he had always thoguht it was so much more complicated than it turned out to be.

        3. Anonymous*

          Fear of the militant coffee snob, who’ll complain about how the coffee is made and then complain about the fact that no one else makes it. :-)

        4. Bea W*

          I don’t understand people who drink coffee on a daily basis and don’t know how to operate a coffee maker. Huh?

          Some offices post instructions by the coffee machine. It works. People who are looking for a fix, will attempt to go through the steps rather than go without and hope the coffee fairy comes by soon.

        5. Anonymous*

          For me, it’s not the issue of the coffee maker – that’s easy. I am not very good at determining the amount of coffee to water and my coffee is always no good. Trust me when I say I don’t know how to make coffee.

          1. EW*

            That’s why there are measuring scoops and trial and error. Also Google. For every 2 cups of water, I use one rounded tablespoon, so if you’re making 12 cups (the size of a typical pot) I put in 6 rounded tablespoons of coffee. Easy peasy. Of course, it’s much easier to not pay attention and do a crappy job so you’re never asked to do it again. Whatever works for you. ;)

      2. jlf*

        I just want to say that I also have no idea how to make coffee despite working in offices for many years. Before this year, I very rarely drank coffee, so I never needed to know this. And I bought a K-Cup machine for my apartment and there is some kind of single-serve packet coffee maker here, so I doubt I will ever learn how.

      3. Lalaith*

        I’m 31 and I’ve never made a regular pot of coffee. I just don’t drink enough of it to ever need to (and now I have a Keurig). Although, this means I also don’t go around looking for coffee and hoping someone else made it…

        1. KarenT*

          That’s an important distinction. I don’t care if people know how to make coffee if they don’t drink it. But if you drink coffee that other people are making for you…

      4. Rana*

        Hell, I don’t even drink coffee much myself (when I do, it’s in the form of a tiny scoop in instant espresso powder in milk), and I know how to make coffee.

        (Grinding beans daily and making the morning pot was one of the key duties of my first office job, in fact.)

      5. Tina*

        I don’t know how to use a coffee machine, but I also don’t drink coffee. But at a previous job, a colleague was running around like crazy getting ready for a meeting, and asked me if I could just bring the coffee down when it was done, she had already started it. I said sure. Then realized I didn’t know how to identify when the coffee was done, and had to ask someone else! lol

  7. Jamie*

    I love open threads – I usually don’t post my own questions but I’m just filled with curiosity about stuff today.

    ISO Management Reps out there – do you guys have that on your cards along with your title? We’re getting new card done and I was asked if I wanted it on there and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it – but I don’t pay much attention.

  8. Jubilance*

    I worked in an office that didn’t have this problem and I genuinely can’t tell you WHY everyone chipped in to make coffee. Generally most people had a cup in the morning, and everyone stood around talking for a few mins while getting that first cup. So I suppose having everyone look at you while you poured the last of the coffee in your cup and the risk of public shaming was the motivator for people to immediately brew another cup. There were only a few people that wanted coffee later in the morning so they generally took care of brewing a new pot if it was needed.

    I’m sure it also helped that everyone (besides me) was over 50. Maybe a level of maturity to know not to leave an empty coffee pot?

    1. Chinook*

      Jubilance, I think you have found an office where everyone hated the employee who never made coffee and vowed never to be that person. Statistically, it is bound to happen.

      Tell me, do they also add paper to the copier?

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Strangely, my co-workers are always willing to make the next pot of coffee. Never been a problem.

      On the other hand, don’t get me started on the fridge/sink/dishwasher.

  9. the gold digger*

    Non issue here because the company does not provide coffee. There are coffee pots, but you have to bring your own beans. The pots are almost never used. Almost everyone takes a half an hour to walk to the coffeeshop nearby and just buy their coffee there. So by saving money by not buying coffee, my company is losing productivity.

    1. Chinook*

      Saving time by keeping people from walking to the local coffee shop was the arguement used to get a single serve machine at the accounting office. Everyone complained about how bad the drip coffee tasted (because they were used to the stuff that was either over roasted or didn’t sit around for hours at a time) and refused to drink it. We went through a few different brands before convincing TPTB that K-Cups were the way to go. We even found a coffee service that recycles the plastic cups and has a wide variety of flavours (I recommend the Chocolate Raspberry but nothing will beat the Highland Grogg from a lesser known company that does pods instead)

      1. Steve*

        Ugh … Don’t drink anything raspberry flavored as it often has castoreum in it – and it’s only labeled as “natural flavoring.” Okay, it’s natural, yeah, but there is nothing natural about consuming it. (Often used in vanilla and strawberry “flavored” foods/drinks as well).

        1. fposte*

          Vanilla’s apparently an even more common use.

          But it doesn’t strike me as any worse than cochineal or shellac.

          1. Pussyfooter*

            I never heard of castoreum before…..mmmm, beaver pheromones.
            ps. We have cochineal on the cactus in our front yard and I adore them because I like both historical clothing and biology. I would totally eat them, if it didn’t feel unkind.

        2. Chinook*


          I do get what you mean about being wary of anything labelled “natural.” Whenever I hear someone say that, I just think “so is arsenic but I won’t drink that either.” But, in this case, I chose my risks and weigh them against my wants.

  10. Rebecca*

    We have the 2 tablespoons of coffee left in the pot problem too. We have the Bunn machines with upper and lower burners, and we get packs of coffee that you just dump into a filter, no measuring needed.

    A few of us have tried to to alleviate the problem by putting a filter basket out, complete with filter, emptying the coffee into the filter (leaving the wrapper upside down on top so people can tell if it’s regular or decaf), and putting a full pitcher of water right next to the machine.

    Results? 2 tablespoons of coffee in the bottom of the pot, because the lazy inconsiderate dolt who took the last cup of coffee is a special snowflake who can’t be bothered to spend 10 seconds of his or her precious time to be nice to the next person in line.

    Yes, this bothers me. I see it as a lack of respect for one’s fellow man or woman.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      “special snowflake”
      I’m using this.
      This story makes me want to set up a security camera and nab the evildoer. “We have you on camera, Fred….”

  11. Anon*

    We have this universal problem at my workplace also. Right above the coffee maker someone posted a picture of the coffee pot with a minimum amount of coffee left and wrote, “if the coffee is below this level, you need to make another pot.” This actually helped significantly with the problem of the pot being empty, but created another one. People swoop in on a fresh pot and in minutes it’s down to the minimum level, where it will sit for an hour until someone is motivated enough to take it and make more. I think most instances now of it being empty result from people in a rush to a meeting where there is only so much coffee and not enough time to make another pot.

  12. BCW*

    I think part of the issue is at what point you need keep to making more. My office is fairly small, so after the first pot no one really needs more, until maybe 3pm when everyone is dragging. In a bigger office it might be after the 2nd pot. Now I know coffee isn’t a precious commodity, but at the same time, making a new pot if it won’t be drank is somewhat wasteful.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          They do make reusable ones that you can use ground coffee in if you’re opposed to cup waste.

        2. Chinook*

          The k-cups can be recycled (our suppleir does it). Kienna Coffee out of Calgary also created a special K-Cup adapter that you can put their biodegradable pods in ( I use it at home because the pods are cheaper and I get Highland Grogg for breakfast!!

  13. Laufey*

    My current office has one of those single serving coffee packet machines. Instead of making coffee, the issue become refilling the coffee drawer with packets when you take the last of a flavor.

  14. WorkIt*

    My reason for not making coffee at the office is really dumb (and no longer an issue, thankfully). I am a bit of a dummy with machines and psyched myself into thinking I’d mess it up somehow. That and I’d never really made coffee before. I learned.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      I used to be scared of pay phones after the first I tried to use ignored me…

      Long time ago, I was an office temp. I don’t drink coffee, so when someone asked me to make some I was afraid of messing it up. One of the VPs taught me to make coffee for everyone, and I felt proud to be useful. It was a friendly little office.

    2. Chinook*

      WorkIt, if it makes you feel better, I once worked with a woman (back in the 90’s) who thought that she would destroy the company if she did somethign wrong on a computer. Once I showed her how (my first student!!!), she realized that she blew it out of proportion.

      1. Jamie*

        Two worst kinds of users: The ones who think they can delete the entire system by pressing the wrong key (because of course I would give them the rights to do that) or the ones who think anything they f up can be fixed in a few minutes.

        I still prefer the former – but moderation, people.

        1. Chinook*

          I think I fall into the caregory of the 3rd kind of user to hate – the ones with enough knowledge to do a lot of damage and that are required to be given some type of editor rights because they do stuff for the boss!

        2. Rana*

          Learning to recognize the difference between irreversible and reversible computer commands is a very important skill!

        3. Anonymous*

          Jamie, I am sure you are far too young to remember, but back in the 90’s deleting the entire company’s data was very possible in most small business systems.

          On ours, you could go to any network drive (including SUN) and type c:\ format

          Then run like hell of course

    3. Aimee*

      I’ve messed up making the coffee many times, both at work (when it was my job to make the coffee in the mornings. We had a very touchy machine and it wasn’t difficult to end up with coffee running all over the counter instead of into the pot) and at home (because, apparently, you really really really need to put the filter in if you don’t want coffee running all over the floor). :) You mess it up, you figure it out, you move on and make the coffee.

  15. shannon313*

    Commercial Keurig connected to water supply = no refilling or running out of coffee. Pretending I did not read something in this thread about the unsanitary-ness of the water lines.

  16. VictoriaHR*

    Now I have a new question – WHY do people, if their print jobs jam the printer, just leave it sitting there jammed? And/or, if their print job uses the last of the paper, do they not fill it up? We use a print server – I can SEE whose print job caused the problem! Grrr.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      or at least leave a note so the next person doesn’t get halfway into their print task. (We have to walk a ways to the printer, then code in and wait to be recognized.)

    2. LadyB*

      Or send the same print job again and again as if the sheer weight of printing will force it out!

    3. Aimee*

      Or why do people decide they need to print out all 1600+ pages of their phone manual (and never actually come refill the printer each time it runs out of paper, so two hours later when someone else needs to print, and they put more paper in, it resumes printing the remaining 1100 pages).

      Yes, this happened in my office a couple weeks ago. I found out who it was, and was going to say something, but their old manager beat me to it. I had to wait several hours for my measly little 7 page document to print.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        This would make me want to stab myself in the head. Hope this is not normal among your coworkers.

    4. Anonymous*

      On not filling the printer up –

      Leave the extra paper where I can reach it, and I’ll fill it up! I’m 5 foot tall, and every single office I’ve worked in puts the paper up too high for me to reach. Or, heck, I’ll make do with a small footstool if you leave one out.

      When I’ve asked for paper to be kept lower down, I’ve actually gotten laughed at for my shortness. So now, in a pinch, I resort to stealing from another printer to feed the one I submitted my job to.

  17. Sascha*

    My office does the Keurig, and while we don’t have the empty pot problem, we do have the problem of who is going to buy the K-cups. There is one admin assistant who will always buy huge boxes, and then send us all emails that we need to contribute to the coffee fund. I will donate since I use the K-cups every now and then, but apparently it’s a big problem with people not donating. However she keeps buying them. So my thought is…stop buying them if no one is paying you back.

    1. Gemma*

      Or she could keep them at her desk and make people pay per cup. It’s ridiculous, but sometimes that’s the level people need to stoop to.

      1. KarenT*

        Or tell people if they want to use the machine, they bring in their own cups. That’s what we do. We have Keurig machines. How you get your K-cup depends on you.

        1. Sascha*

          I think that’s the best idea. It’s great that she is so generous, but people will keep taking advantage of it. Only way to stop it is cut them off.

        2. Chinook*

          My mother likes this option. Half her sales are K-Cups (she has almost every variety available in Canada and does mix ‘n’ match) and half of those sales are for people in town who have company machines.

      2. tcookson*

        The coffee club at my former office used to charge non-members $0.25 a cup for coffee. I’m not sure what the members’ contribution was, but I didn’t care . . . $.025 was a reasonable amount, to me, to pay per cup of coffee . . .

    2. Jamie*

      Fortunately my office considers coffee the cost of doing business so they provide the K cups.

      Now if only we can go back to the little cups of creamer and not the big bottles in the fridge my life would again be complete.

  18. Elizabeth West*

    There’s a sign in the break room on my floor that says basically it’s fine if you like stronger coffee, feel free to use more than one bag, but “please label the pot so that the rest of us may make a choice as to whether we’d like to drink or eat our coffee.”


    1. Arts*

      Hahahahaha. Love it! The only way I know how strong the coffee in the pot is, is when I put in my usual amount of creamer, and the coffee still looks like an ominous puddle.

    2. Pussyfooter*

      uh oh. This is passive aggressive? I just thought it was polite + funny. I would’ve totally considered doing this.

      By far the best trying-to-get-employees-to-do-something sign I’ve seen was in the bathroom of an art supply store. A normal, boring “please wash hands” sign had hand-written at the bottom,
      “it’s gross not to!” I laughed. I felt motivated.

      1. Editor*

        Well, it’s gross not to wash your hands, but when I travel, I try to remember to take along a small thing of my own soap (nothing fancy, just the standard liquid soap but without lotion or some strong perfume). I sometimes pump onto a paper towel and then sniff, because public restroom soap is so cheap it is disgusting. If the soap is blue, I won’t touch it (what do they put in the blue soap — Evening in Paris?)

        I don’t want to be driving and be able to smell my hands when they’re not near my face but on the steering wheel, and I don’t want them to itch because of what is in the soap. I don’t want to take a drink of water while I’m driving and smell that perfume each time.

        To get people to wash their hands, provide decent, nonslimy, unscented lotion-free liquid soap.

        Except for one small office, all the places I’ve worked have had problems getting people to refill the coffee machine, change the toilet paper, clean the refrigerator, and refill the water cooler. However, even the small office had a male who refused to change the toilet paper in the single-seater bathroom because it was the cleaning staff’s job. Maybe the places that issue work-readiness certificates should refuse to certify anyone who can’t change a toilet-paper roll or make coffee.

        1. Pussyfooter*

          You’re making me wistful for that powdered soap they used to put in dispensers when I was kid. It felt like (not-ouchy) sand, but magically turned into bubbles. sigh.

    3. Jamie*

      I love this. The only passive aggressive signs we have here are the posters I printed up from the CDC telling people to wash hands and wear masks if they are germy.

      I put them up in a fit of pique and they are still there…laminating works! Still haven’t seen anyone in a mask, though.

      1. Emma*

        The Alleghany County Health Department made up signs for bathrooms with passages from various classic novels (Moby Dick, etc.) that took the average person about 30 seconds to read…the amount of time you should spending washing your hands! Very clever.

          1. anonintheUK*

            According to a friend of mine who teaches small children, you can buy a special kind of glittery liquid soap. The idea being that if your hands are glittery, you have not washed them thoroughly enough.

            1. Pussyfooter*

              I bet there’s more than one kid who just wets their hands and never touches the soap…if wimpy me can figure it out….

      2. Viola*

        We have passive-aggressive signs everywhere in our office. The latest: “We are not your house elves: put your dishes away!”

        It wasn’t until much later that the people blaming the younger interns realized that the culprits were our volunteers and visitors…

        1. Emma*

          On the subject of passive-aggressive notes, can we please talk about bathroom signage? Reminders to flush?! I can’t believe that’s necessary.

          Let me morph into my mother for a moment and ask these non-flushing coworkers, were you raised in a barn?!

    4. Chinook*

      ““please label the pot so that the rest of us may make a choice as to whether we’d like to drink or eat our coffee.” ”

      Around here that is called “camp coffee” and is best drunk when wearing a moustache to strain it through.

      Cowboy coffee, on the other hand, usually has a shot of Bailey’s and Kahlua in it. K-Cups come in Kahlua flavour (sans alcohol) but no sign of ones with Baileys yet.

      1. Lily*

        When I started drinking coffee, I made tongue-numbingly strong coffee, because I had always been told that American coffee was too weak and I am American. I didn’t notice because I always drink my coffee with lots of milk.

    5. tcookson*

      HA! Our dean put out an edict that we couldn’t use two bags because he didn’t plan on us doubling the cost of the “free” coffee we’re drinking.

    6. Twentymilehike*

      We do that, too. And the great thing we have is on our industrial machine there’s the little red handle that dispenses hot water, so I just water it down if its too strong for me.

      Honestly, I’m really surprised that coffee making is really such a huge ordeal! I am now considering myself very lucky to work in an office were everyone pitches I and everyone cleans up after themselves and no one complains about it. It also really helps that we have a coffee supply service that maintains the machines for us, an offices services department, and a building porter that walks around and cleans things all day. It gives usage opportunity to focus on work instead if bickering about the coffee pot. :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I guess it’s other workers who make the coffee at our place, but we have house elves that come in after hours and clean. AND we have a dishwasher–I put my cup in it when I’m done with my tea and they press the button every night, and in the morning, I have a shiny clean cup.

        I’m sure they are well-taken care of (my company is legendary as a fabulous workplace overall and even made this years America’s Top Workplaces list–whee!). But I feel a little guilty almost; is it lazy to not wash my own cup? I did it when the dishwasher was broken. Sometimes I’m tempted to start leaving hand-knitted caps around the place at night….

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Our headquarters has a cafeteria where you swipe your badge and they deduct it from your pay. Someone told me they had planned more buildings at my office and I was all, “Make us a cafeteria first!!!”

  19. Me*

    At my office it’s the receptionist’s responsibility to keep an eye on the coffee levels in the pot.

  20. Cat*

    We have a hybrid system that works pretty well. Most of us make new pots of coffee when we empty it. A few people don’t (I suspect some combo of people who normally would being in a huge hurry and new people who don’t know how to use it – it’s easy but not intuitive). But it’s a quick-brewing pot, so it’s easy to just start another one when you want it and have coffee a minute later. And the office services people also periodically rotate through and make a new pot if it’s empty (they also make the first pot in the morning if someone didn’t happen to get in early and do it). All-in-all, you really barely ever have to wait for coffee unless you happen to empty a pot halfway through getting yourself a new cup and want a full one Right Then.

    1. Cat*

      Oh, we also have a K cup machine, but I think it’s undrinkable sludge so I try to pretend it doesn’t exist, and don’t even get me started on those god awful hazelnut-flavored things.

      I will note that we did have a problem when someone tried to switch our normal French Roast to Breakfast Blend, and we also had a problem when our K cup machine broke and its proponents had to drink the aforementioned French Roast. So all is not always smooth on the coffee front.

      1. Chinook*

        Cat, I agree that hazelnut and french vanilla are horrible things to do to coffee. I pity you for an office that has not explored all the flavours available (which are ginormous in the U.S.). If you like your coffee less sludgelike, you need to add more water to it (Keurigs all have this option and if you don’t take out the cup, it will continue to go through it)

        And yes, I am the office coffee expert. Between my mother’s store, working at BB&B and having to order coffee for 3 different offices, I have picked up a few things.

        1. Jamie*

          I agree. Hazelnut and French Vanilla are crimes against humanity. We had someone once who went wild on the flavored coffee. So we had billions of K cups of blueberry hell and hazelnut slaughter…AND all flavored creamers…but couldn’t get a decent normal cup of coffee to save your life.

          We all rose up in protest that month.

          1. Chinook*

            Sure, someone gets on my case about raspberry flavouring and yet no one bugs you about the non-food item known as “creamers”? The only thing worse is when it comes in powedered form.

            Now, for flavoured coffees, you have to try “Jamacain Me Crazy” (no longer available in Canada *sniff*), “Kahlua”, or “Pumpkin Spice.” I can’t recommend unflavoured coffees, though, because there are so many, but Jamaica Blue Mountain is actually quite good. Also, their hot chocolate is pretty good.

            Jamie, if they aren’t bringing in regular coffee (atleast one light, one dark and one decaf), you need to get on good terms with whomever is doing the ordering and see if they can bring in some others. They probably have an inventory list they order off of and probably don’t know what would work so they just order what the coffee company says is popular. Because they are only ordering in boxes of 16 or 24, there isn’t much of a risk if they try something different.

        2. Al Lo*

          Where’s your mother’s store? In Calgary? Does she, by chance, stock Dolce Gusto pods? Specifically the peach iced tea pods, which seem to be out of stock everywhere in Canada?

          My office has a communal coffee maker, but many of us have our own Keurigs/Tassimos at our desks, so it’s kind of moot.

          (I actually don’t like my Keurig as much as my Dolce Gusto at home, but it was cheaper. I’m actively looking to replace it, as soon as I work through the Keurig pods in my desk.)

          1. Chinook*

            My mother’s store is up in Edson (2 hours from Jasper) and she only sells K-Cups. But, you can go to the local Home Hardwares and buy the Kienna adapter for the Keurig and try some of their flavours. I think Dolce Gusto is only available through Home Outfitters/the Bay but I seem to remember Home Hardware having different types of coffee and even the Loblaws branching out in what they carry.

  21. Eric*

    We’ve solved this issue by having people who don’t know how to make coffee that doesn’t taste like battery acid, necessitating a new pot. It’s not a solution I would recommend. :)

  22. CoffeeAnon*

    Turn everyone in the office into a coffee snob who values a freshly made pot over one that is always available!

  23. April*

    We solved it with a coffee service at 2 offices (one office had less than 20 people, one had hundreds – different employers). Water reservoir – no problem, the service hooked it into our water line to the sink (plus they had a filter in their line). Make a fresh pot – no problem, they use a kind of packet (like the tassimo or keurig). Not taking out the packet – no problem – it self ejects into a discard box under the machine. Discard box full – no problem, janitorial staff empties every night (or the service when they come through an replenish all the packets, sugar, creamer, stirrers, etc.). Occasionally we’ll run out of something and someone complains. The complainer will then get a chorus of people saying, “boo hoo, there aren’t any stirrers until Thursday? How will the world continue to turn?” Everyone loves the service.

    1. Chinook*

      The coffee service is the best idea and yoru office has it down to a science. That is what it is like here and, while it isn;t the fancy keurig coffee, the reality is that it is always fresh, always available and, most importantly, free to me. Plus, they even have decaf available for somethign hot in the afternoon.

  24. Frankie*

    Our resolution was to take away the coffee maker altogether. Seems sad, but now people either buy their coffee at the kiosk next door, or bring from home. No issues now.

    1. clobbered*

      This is an excellent canididate for throwing technology at the problem.

      We rent commercial coffee maker hooked up to the water line – with a large reservoir of coffee beans that it grinds fresh for each coffee cup. The coffee user merely presses the button and has no responsibilities. Eventually it will run low on beans or its filter roll, there’s an admin who services it as part of his duties – certainly no more than once a day. Yeah it takes longer than just pouring from a pot to a cup, but people take than into account so they don’t try to rush in and get coffee 30 seconds after their meeting has started.

      1. Lalaith*

        This is exactly what my company does. In my infrequently-coffee-drinking opinion, it’s kind of overkill for a <15-person office, but it's pretty cool anyway. Our current model also does creamers and whips the coffee, and makes hot cocoa :)

    2. Meg*

      That’s what my current office does. But we also have three different coffee shops on campus, so people still have plenty of options.

      At my previous job, I worked as the receptionist, and over the course of time it just became the receptionist’s job to make the coffeee whenever it was empty. People would let me know it was empty, I’d make a new one. It was annoying at first, but I got used to it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had to do this for meetings. I would fill up boss’s fancy thermos with coffee (he drank most of it himself–the man guzzled coffee like water), and put a giant pitcher of water on the table.

    3. kelly*

      I work in a building on a college campus that officially bans food and drink in the building. My boss is the only head that enforces it. My coworker and I are both big coffee drinkers but she isn’t. She won’t let us have a Keurig or any coffeemaker/hot water kettle in my office, which is where all food and drink can only be consumed. Her reasoning is if there is a spill, it might affect the books. I also don’t think she likes the smell of coffee, either. My coworker takes two nearly half hour breaks a day to go get coffee from several coffee shops. I usually bring mine from home in a thermos or build a coffee run into running errands.

    1. AdminAnon*

      My office just implemented a rotating cleaning schedule. Every Friday, a different person cleans out the fridge. So far (3 weeks in) it is working really well! Of course, it’s a small office–maybe 20 people) so there’s a certain level of accountability.

    2. Jessica*

      I used to work at a place where no matter how much you warned people beforehand that the fridge was going to be cleaned out, they would ignore it and then have a conniption when the fridge was indeed cleaned out and their stuff with it.

      Just sayin’, I can understand why this is an unpopular job.

  25. Becky B*

    Add in putting a new roll of paper towels on the paper towel holder, which sits on top of the microwave, above which is the cupboard that holds the paper towels…people just leave the empty roll on the holder and vanish. It’s like growing up with my brother all over again.

    1. Anonymous*

      I was going to post this too!

      This whole thing is making me LOL. Why is it that no one can make coffee? When I was a coffee drinker this would drive me nuts. I would make it almost every day, and I’d get one mug and then the pot would be empty again. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld: “You know how to DRINK the coffee…you just don’t know how to MAKE the coffee.” We have offices on two floors and there used to be a woman here who would actually come downstairs to see if there was coffee rather than making a pot, and then would just sigh if there wasn’t any.

      I quit coffee because of migraines, and now I get to just make my tea and laugh. Ha ha!

  26. Yup*

    Nope, no idea. I have never worked in an office — and I’ve worked in dozens, if you include temping — that didn’t have some issues with empty coffee pots, shared printer rudeness, and bathroom violators.

    It’s the nature of communal spaces. I’m sure there are cave paintings somewhere that depict Gwar beating Urrrrg over the head with a bark bowl while screaming, ‘Dude, is it THAT HARD to be considerate?”

  27. JMegan*

    I just bring my own coffee from home, and watch everyone else participate in the coffee pot hijinks. :)

    Although it seems to be pretty civil at my current office. Coffee is purchased by the social committee, which is funded by voluntary contributions from the staff. The admin assistant makes the coffee, which costs an additional $0.50 per cup. As I said, I don’t drink it, but I sit close enough to the coffee station to hear what’s going on, and I haven’t heard any complaints, so I guess it’s working!

    1. Jamie*

      Speaking of coffee from home, do you ever notice how weird it is that during the week drinking it on the way to or at work it’s just a beverage. More like medication for me…but it’s nothing special.

      But the first cup out of a fresh brewed pot on a day off…in your favorite cup either on the couch or on the deck…absolutely nothing tastes better. Nectar of the gods. It just doesn’t taste the same in a travel mug with a spreadsheet on your monitor.

      1. Chinook*

        I agree. The coffee I drink at work is just somethign liquid. Drinking my “grogg” in a sunspot with nowhere to go on a Saturday morning – nothing tastes better.

  28. Carnage*

    Before going to a Keurig, we had a coffeepot explode after sitting empty on the hot burner. We took pictures of the jagged pot and glass shards all over the place and printed a poster that said “THIS COULD HAVE BEEN YOUR FACE.”

    It worked. For a while. :\

  29. Ed*

    I once had a VP come up behind me when I was making a new pot of coffee. She thanked me and said she wished that was part of your reference check because she would use it to choose between two similar candidates.

    1. Chinook*

      Ooohhh…next time I do reference checks, I am so asking if the person fills an empty coffee pot or adds paper to the copier!

  30. Gene*

    Small office (n=5), all males, no worries.

    When we run low on ground coffee someone hits Starbucks on the way in and buys a couple of pounds. The first person in in the AM brews the first pot and pours it into the airpot (no burnt coffee taste or smell), when the airpot blows air, whoever is pumping it starts the next pot and pours it into the airpot.

    We’re all adults here; no coffee drama (wish there was no other drama…)

    1. Chinook*

      I think those folks deserve to never have to make a pot of coffee if they put that much effort and creativity into avoiding it!

  31. Mander Marsh*

    Sad, this is actually a real problem? At my last office, we had a Keurig, but someone also posted a note asking people to fill the water bin back up so no one would have to wait for the water to heat up. Everyone did it for the entire 2 years I was there. It wasn’t that small an office (about 60 people), so no one would’ve known if you left the water bin empty. We just didn’t hire jerks.

    On the rare occasion that others didn’t fill the water, I really didn’t care… how long does it take to make brew a pot of coffee or wait for water to heat up? I’ve never understood why people get all sensitive about things like that.

  32. De Minimis*

    We’re lucky, it’s a smaller department and only has maybe 3-4 coffee drinkers [including me] so one pot is usually enough. Sometimes if someone wants more they’ll ask if people will drink more coffee if they make another pot.

    It’s pretty easy to make a pot with our coffeemaker, so it’s not a huge issue.

  33. Jill*

    We have the opposite problem. Every morning there’s at least 8 people that walk in and out of the lunch room saying, “Isn’t there coffee?” “No coffee yet?” “When will there be coffee?”. The coffee making supplies are RIGHT THERE yet none of these people will take the 30 seconds to set up the pot. Pathetic.

  34. Lanya*

    Honestly, I didn’t even know it was a thing that the person who empties the coffee pot is supposed to make another pot. I understand about putting new water in the cooler, refilling copier paper (or toilet paper or paper towels), etc. but I just never heard of the coffee pot rule.

    Luckily, we have a Keurig, but now I am wondering how many people I have offended in my past work lives!

  35. Joy*

    I am a little surprised at how long this thread is just for coffee…but honestly regardless of what coffee machine you have, you should just assign someone the job of monitoring it. It sounds ridiculous but I’m the office admin assistant and I basically am the person who refills the water, & replenishes coffee pods in the basket. It’s no big deal to me b/c I came into this job knowing that I have kitchen duties, and maybe it’s going to be awkward to add this to someone’s job but it’s a pretty simple task. Maybe someone could give these duties to the receptionist, or whoever is involved with office/kitchen tiding. If no one is in charge of cleaning up the kitchen in general, then maybe that should be done?? All the other methods of posting anonymous notes or pictures seem a bit passive aggressive and remind me of college apartment living days.

    1. Chinook*

      Actually, the number of posts about not making a new pot of coffee doesn’t surprise me because I have been the person who was in charge of coffee supplies and making the coffee for visitors in a few places. Where I come from, offering a hot beverage (because, in Canada, you never assume coffee or tea) to a visitor is basic hospitality, especially when it is cold out. It is also a given that every office has a coffee maker and kettle available even if the actual ingredients aren’t supplied. take it away and there will be a riot! For us, coffee and/or tea is a birthright.

  36. majigail*

    We have a large airpot that makes a loud slurping sound when it is empty. If it’s empty after 11, no one cares.

  37. GrizzlyUrsula*

    We have DeLonghi Magnifica – which is an extremely expensive machine apparently ( But, it takes regular coffee beans (no need for K cups or T disks or anything), and it spits out a pretty decent cup. There are various tasks that have to be done (emptying the grinds bucket, filling the water reservoir, filling the beans reservoir), but the machine will point blank refuse to operate if you don’t do what it says when it says to do it. There is no getting your coffee and then passing the buck onto the next guy. If you don’t want to fill the reservoir or empty the bucket when the instruction comes onscreen, you don’t get any coffee.

    Everybody who uses the machine in my office does this with only very minor grumbling, since everybody has had to do all of these tasks multiple times.

    Disadvantages: It’s pretty loud, and not super fast – small coffee pileups do occur every once in a while in the mornings

  38. Mike C.*

    We have seven Tully’s* shops on our work site, so there are folks who are paid to take care of those issues. Managers even hand out small gift cards for jobs well done and stuff like that!

    *Think Starbucks competitor from Seattle if you aren’t familiar.

    1. Windchime*

      We have a couple of coffee machines in our kitchen, but since I’m in the Seattle area, there is a Starbuck’s on every corner. Most of the people in our building make a Starbuck’s run every morning for coffee or tea, in addition to drinking the kitchen coffee.

      We also have Tulley’s here. But way, way more Starbuck’s.

    1. Becky B*

      I love this! I’ll have to print it out.

      It was only now that I remembered a higher-up co-worker had filmed himself making coffee, with narration, so people would know how. Unfortunately, he put the video on the company intranet, which few people know how to get to, let alone use.

      This sign would be much more direct.

  39. Lee*

    Get a Keurig!
    Have the company supply 1 or 2 boxes of K-cups per month for employees.
    If the employees don’t like it, tough…traditional “manual” coffee makers are a thing of the past.

    Employees can also feel free to bring in their own K-cups. Problem solved!

  40. Brton3*

    Just put up a sign that says “please make a new pot if you finish the last of the coffee!” I don’t think you can realistically do anything else. The sign may not work, in which case, you have lame coworkers. But what else can you do? Put in a hidden camera? Shame people you catch draining the pot?

  41. Suz*

    At my office, the problem was solved for us when Starbucks moved into our building. Most people prefer to buy their coffee than drink the crap the company provides for free.

  42. Ramona*

    Wow! Guess my question hit a nerve. Plus a few other assorted nerves. Looks like we’ve got some universal gripes. Thanks everyone & thanks Alison!

    1. Chinook*

      This is just the N. American contingent as well. I wonder what the Europeans and Aussies have to say about the issue. Is this a universal problem?

      1. Anonymous*

        I’m in Aus and I don’t think pots of coffee are popular here at all, I don’t recall ever seeing one. It’s either instant or a coffee machine that brews on the spot from either a “reservoir” of beans or individual pods (I think that’s what you mean by k-cups). Some machines make cappuccino and latte but then you have a milk reservoir which grosses me out way more than the idea of coffee from a pot that’s been sitting around.

      2. Derps*

        UK person here! I’ve only known two offices but in both, only a kettle and sink and milk were provided by the company, and people had their own mugs, tea bags/leaves, instant coffee, or French presses. When you go to make yourself a drink, the convention is to ask the people around you if they’d like anything, and take their mugs with whatever inside with you so you can add water too. Usually there’s a tray. Sometimes they’ll join you for a chat.

  43. kristinyc*

    We have two full-time cleaning ladies who pretty much spend all day picking up after us, and they usually make the coffee too. But for people who come in before them, usually if they want coffee badly enough, they’ll just make it. We also have a kegerator for iced coffee.

    I drink tea, so I never really have to worry about it.

  44. Steve G*

    I am one of the people who doesn’t make coffee after I use it, the reason is that I’ve often made it and it sat for hours before someone used it. Other times, people have made it at 4:00 on a friday to avoid being called rude, and I’ve thrown out the pot, being the last person to leave.

  45. Skye*

    We have the opposite problem. The people here who actually drink coffee never bother to pour out the remainder of the day’s coffee when they leave, leaving it to someone else to reset the machine (turn it off(!), throw out the grounds, empty the pot) for the next day.

  46. Marie*

    Someone tried humor at my workplace by putting a sign on the coffee maker: “If you drink the joe, please make some mo’.” That got mixed reviews and limited success!

  47. Cassie*

    We have an industrial-sized Bunn coffee maker – one pot is made in the morning and that’s it.

    We used to have a Keurig in the break room – to save on costs, they bought a reusable K-cup thing, but people kept (accidentally) throwing it out. The machine broke after a while, so they bought a regular coffee maker (this is in addition to the Bunn I mentioned above). I’ve seen people make single cups of coffee DIY-style. And nobody empties the coffee grounds out of there, until the next person comes along.

    I have a single-serving-coffee maker in my cubicle which suits my purpose (I don’t mind cleaning out the grounds since it’s mine) but something’s wrong with it – I put in 8oz of water but only 6 ounces comes out. The last 2 ounces stays in the reservoir. If I put less water in, there will still be some water left in the reservoir. Is it a heating/timing issue? It’s not a bells-and-whistel model, just very basic. I had a problem with coffee grounds getting stuck and clogging the pipeline – I finally cleaned it out (including disassembling some parts) but maybe something else got messed up instead…

    1. Chinook*

      If your machine seems to not be processing all the water, try running plain vinegar through it a couple of times (without the coffee, of course). This is the cheap way to get rid of hard water and other sediment build up (which naturally occurs and is not harmful to humans, just machines). I had the same issue with my machine and it fixed it right up.

  48. Erin*

    We buy the cheapest, crappiest coffee. Admin staff makes one pot of decaf and one of regular each morning. Nobody drinks it. We dump it out at the end of the day. Then we all walk down to the coffee place on the corner.

  49. Nelly*

    Instead of filter coffee, which is horrible, get espresso machines. They cost as little as $40, and I have one on my desk. You fill it yourself, you get better coffee, you are responsible for keeping it full and clean. Easy fix!

    (Mine’s the Nespresso De Gusta by De Longi – pardon my spelling – $49 at Coles. Bargain, and it only takes a tiny bit of space on the desk).

  50. Anonymous*

    Okay, so at my work it’s the receptionist’s (my) job to brew the coffee. That solves the question of who is responsible… but then no one SAYS when coffee’s out. It becomes especially problematic when the receptionist doesn’t drink coffee, thus has fewer reasons to check!

  51. Anon*

    Oh this was such a problem at my old job, but not because of all the coffee drinkers though. It was outside the US, where the coffee drink of choice is not “American” style coffee, but we had a tyrannical director who drank it and figured we would all be grateful for this little “perk,” while at the same time finding another way to boss us around and get us to make her coffee. No one drank it except her, yet she was insistent about other people refilling it if they came into the break area and found it empty so that it would be ready for her when she deigned to have a cup. I started not changing the grounds when I made it and she stopped asking me to do it- apparently I make terrible coffee :)

  52. Betsy*

    My office has 2 pots in rotation. So if the pot in the machine is full, you move it to the top of the machine and start a new pot, and everyone pours from the top part. There is also a flow chart posted prominently above the machine which leads to inevitable consumption by velociraptors if you deviate from the SOP. :D

  53. James W*

    I’ve thought about this before, and it seems like a good candidate for being part of an office “gamification” system.  E.g., earn points every time you refill the pot, earn points for cleaning the fridge, filling the printer paper tray, etc.

    Just have a sign in sheet where you can point out when you did this things, and each task could be worth either points or a ticket toward some kind of reward system. (Yes, there’s the potential for abuse, but I think that’s extremely minimal, and if you catch someone cheating, that’s a pretty good sign that person probably isn’t an honest employee overall.)

    Anyway, little things like this can improve common areas, as well as adding little bits of fun to otherwise mundane tasks.

    Personally, I enjoy filling the coffee machine at work; it gives me a couple minutes’ break from work, and I usually run into people I don’t usually talk to, giving me a chance to socialize a little bit. And honestly, I like being seen as one of the people who are helping out.

  54. Tara T.*

    I agree with Lee: “Get a Keurig! . . . If the employees don’t like it, tough…traditional “manual” coffee makers are a thing of the past.” There was a Keurig in one place where I used to work. Everyone had his or her own favorite flavors. Mine was French Vanilla and another person’s was Columbia, and someone else liked the Hazelnut. Also, it is better to buy bottled water instead of the heavy giant water jugs. Then no one puts in a workers comp claim for back strain trying to lift a heavy jug. Everyone can have a bottle of water whenever they want. The company paid for and supplied it all for the employees during the workday. Refilling the printer tray with paper never bothers me because it is not messy or heavy. I am happy to refill printer paper!

  55. Tara T.*

    I think what Erin wrote happens a lot too: “We buy the cheapest, crappiest coffee. Admin staff makes one pot of decaf and one of regular each morning. Nobody drinks it. We dump it out at the end of the day. Then we all walk down to the coffee place on the corner.” A lot of employees would much rather buy their own coffee from a coffee shop than drink coffee in the work kitchen.

  56. Liz*

    Like a previous poster, somehow coffee in our office just works. We all take turns buying coffee, whoever’s in first makes it, if you finish the pot – or there’s just a dribble left – you make a new one and whoever leaves first makes sure the pot is clean. (I rinse it out whenever I finish a pot.)

  57. Tara T.*

    What Lora wrote above (Sept. 1) about the “air-borne bacteria” in water lines, and the algae in the giant water coolers – The best solution is the bottled water. Another nice thing about bottled water – the bottles have the lids on the top, and as long as the lid is replaced each time, the water will not spill all over the desk if the bottle is knocked sideways, like a cup or glass of water would do. I have knocked over my glass of water on my desk before, and there is all the water, all over the papers on the desk.

  58. MaryTerry*

    This reminds me of the “Terry Tate -Office Linebacker” commercials which can be found on YouTube. “You kill the joe? You make some mo'”

  59. snuck*

    One office I worked at we had a part time cleaner who cleaned the kitchen, loaded the dishwashers, emptied fridges and reset the coffee machines twice a day – the kitchens were fully stocked with ovens, baking equipment, massive island benches, hundreds of coffee cups etc and people could use them as they pleased, chuck everything in a dishwasher (oh the smell of biscuits cooking!) and twice a day the kitchen fairy visited.

    The coffee machine was a cup by cup individual machine, with massive bean hoppers attached (two types) that the kitchen fairy filled, had a direct line for water. Only catch was you had to get your last coffee before 4pm because she’d then shut down, fully maintain and clean and service the machine, and switch it off until the first person in the next day. Wasn’t that big a price to pay considering if you left a coffee mug on your desk the cleaning staff would put it in the kitchen for you, the kitchen was cleaned up… slobs were invisible in this place!

  60. Anon*

    By far the best system I have ever seen for this is at one of our client’s offices – they have this huge machine that makes any type of coffee/hot drink you could possibly want – espresso, cappuccino, chai tea…everything! Everything to make each drink is somehow located inside the machine – so no refilling necessary – you just push the button and out comes what you ordered – complete with frothy milk if you want it! Then when you are finished with your cup, you just place it upside down in the sink, which is actually a secret dishwasher that descends and washes all the cups when its full. Seriously the Best. Office. Ever. *sigh*

  61. EB*

    Oddly enough, at the workplace prior to my last one, this was not a problem. I don’t know how they got people to do it, but it was strongly ingrained in the organizational culture to refill the coffee pot. It wasn’t until my last job that I realized that this wasn’t the case in every workplace! So I usually ended up being the one to refill the pots when I could. (I didn’t mind, I just found it odd, coming from my previous workplace. Now I know that was actually the exception!)

  62. happycat*

    Where I work getting people to make coffee isn’t too hard.
    Getting them to clean up after themselves, lock the door at night, set the alarm, inform me when they use the last of anything, fill the water resvoir on the seperate expresso maker, clean the grounds out, wash the milk steaming wand, load/unload the dishwasher, sort their recycling (sustainability IS our bread and butter) (and they claim it to be near and dear to them on a very personal level) empty the composting bin…. are all next to impossible. When I first started they had a rotating shift for all kitchen duties. It did not really work, seniors just refused to do it, no one would make sure their rotation was coverd if they were away and the kitchen was so untidy and the fridge was in a terrible state.
    I took down the rotating lists, and cleaned the kitchen, fridge and cupboards, recyled the old appliances (no one wanted to be the bad guy and get rid of anything) including a kettle called mr sparky.
    While at times it is irritating that I end up doing the crappy stuff no one wants to do, I take pride in how well organized, tidy and stocked the kitchen is.
    At the same time, it often feels never ending. The idea that my co workers time is too valuble for these mundane tasks but that I am the one to do them, can wear on my self esteem.

  63. Miis*

    Many of us prefer to be the one to make the coffee because the “official” coffeemaker goes by the weak amount to lessen her coffee costs! Not to encourage bad work or penny-pinching… but… sometimes you can encourage people to want to take it on themselves…

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