bitterly fought office coffee wars: share your stories

On a post last week about coffee wars, someone left this amazing comment:

Without thinking hard, I recall the coworker who made herself a fresh pot every morning then dumped the contents so no one else could have any. The coworker who charged people for coffee the company supplied (she kept the money). The coffee pot that got moldy because no one would clean it. Right now I’m dealing with people who put double coffee grinds in the machine because they like to drink mud…

We need to hear your stories about office coffee wars that have you have participated in or witnessed.

Water club and tea war stories are also welcome.

Share, and spare no detail.

{ 1,689 comments… read them below }

  1. Foreign Octopus*

    A battle was once waged in my office over cleaning the coffee cups. Not the fact that they were left out on the side to get moldy but the fact that as soon as a coffee cup was empty, just as it touched the surface of someone’s desk, one of my colleagues would swoop in and clean it immediately. The boss kept asking her to stop but she didn’t. I left before that one was resolved.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          My mom still does this if we happen to have the same day off. I’ll leave my desk for two minutes come back…where’s my coffee she saw me make 10 minutes ago? I know she wants me to use up the ground coffee we have (open bag of which is improperly stored so it’s all oxidized and tastes nasty), but…

    1. TheCupcakeCounter*

      My MIL does this and then gets really upset whenever someone asks her what she did with their cup. We actually caught her a couple of time and then got it on video to prove that she does this. She doesn’t do it on purpose (I don’t think) but every family get together if you leave your beverage unattended the contents will be discarded and the glass in the dishwasher within 5 minutes.

      1. NewBoss2016*

        My mom does the same thing, and it can be highly annoying (sorry Mom!). There is no point in drinking anything at her house, because the second it touches a surface, it is dumped out and washed. She doesn’t do that with plates or bowls, just cups. It has turned into a long-running joke.

          1. NewBoss2016*

            Wow, I absolutely will do this the next time I visit. I can’t believe we never thought to do that.

              1. NewBoss2016*

                Absolutely! I will post results in an open thread after I go over there next. Unfortunately she is out of town, because I really want to do this ASAP.

                1. Nerine*

                  This is the kind of stuff that keeps me going. I am really invested in this update and hope I’ll catch it! :D

            1. Nerine*

              This made me LOL. Can you please report back how it goes? (With my mother, it’s cooking implements. While I’m cooking.)

              1. Elle*

                Aaargh, my dad does this to me when I’m over there – I completely went off on him last year when I turned round to pick up the (clean!) spatula I’d just got out of the drawer, and discovered he’d put it in the dishwasher!

                He goes on about people not cleaning up as they go, but I’m usually leaving stuff out to reuse, in order to reduce the number of things that have to eventually be washed!

              2. whingedrinking*

                The incident that will always stick in my mind was the time I was making Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and I had everything under control. When it was time to drain the juices from the turkey, I laid everything out before opening the oven door. I swear, literally as soon as my hands were full with a hot roasting pan containing a fifteen pound bird, Mom zipped over and began moving the stuff, offering me things in the wrong order and putting them “away” in the wrong place. It’s a good thing she never became an OR nurse.

                1. V*

                  My weirdest moment was when I was making tea as a teenager. We had a fancy unglazed Japanese teapot. I put the hot water in the pot and left the kitchen to go to the bathroom (green tea takes about 3 minutes). When I came back the whole piping hot teapot was gone. Went to the livingroom to ask my parents, but both swore up and down that they had never seen a teapot in their lives. Months (!) later when I was getting our Easter baking mold what do I see at the far back of the cupboard? Someone had stuffed the obviously full, heavy and hot teapot into the baking cupboard (the teapots are stored somewhere else). Moldy remnants of the tea leaves and about half of the water were still inside the pot. When I showed it to my parents I got blamed for ruining the good teapot. To this day they both claim innocence. I’m 99% sure it was my mother, but she’d rather die than admit she did something wrong or stupid.

          2. The Other Liz*

            My roommates do this. My solution: drink out of my Nalgene. Water glasses disappear, but Nalgenes are left alone!

      2. Cadbury Cream Egg*

        My mom did this and poured out my almost full wine glass. I was livid. Whenever she is at my house she now checks carefully, lol.

        1. AsItIs*

          Why would she do this at another person’s home? Does she consider your home hers, and you are a child needing to cleaned up after?

        2. Ace*

          Why is she doing this at another person’s house at all? Your mother has serious boundary issues.

        3. KT*

          My mom goes around emptying the water glasses I leave out for my kitty cats. They have very specific spots they like to drink from, and I kept coming home to find them waterless and thirsty. She just (naturally?) assumed I was a messy person who never put glasses back, I guess. Sigh.

      3. Dr. Speakeasy*

        My stepmother does this. But she has started asking if you’re done with something after she put two glasses I’d left in the guest bathroom in the dishwasher. Why would I leave TWO glasses you ask? Because I forgot my contact lens case at home. Good thing I’d brought my glasses.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          Hahaha, oh no! I’ve totally had to use cups for contacts a few times. Luckily, no one has emptied them for me!

        2. Caitlin*

          I had to do that at a hotel. They overnighted me to another location and sent my suitcase ahead to where I was going. I used two of the hotel’s water glasses for my contacts.

      4. anyone out there but me*

        LOL *raising hand*…. I am guilty of this and it drives my husband kuh-RAZY….. “Where’s my iced tea?” Ummmmmm.

        I am just a bit obsessed with cleaning.

        1. Anion*

          My husband used to do this to me, until I finally made such a stink about it (mostly jokingly, but still) that he promised to stop.

          Then one day I left my drink on the kitchen counter and left the room. I came back, no Coke. Where is my Coke? I checked the sink, the dishwasher, everywhere. I spent fifteen minutes searching for it, while my husband watched, barely controlling his laughter. I finally asked him (accused him of taking it), and he, doubled over with laughter by this time, opened the kitchen cupboard and showed me where he’d hidden it.


          (In fairness, this was revenge for a prank I played on him. And it *was* funny. But still. He let me wander around for fifteen minutes thinking I’d imagined pouring myself a Coke!)

      5. only acting normal*

        My mother will clean up so close behind you that she’ll put the milk away before you’ve had a chance to put any in your tea/coffee. Unattended drinks have zero chance.

      6. Blue*

        My mom does this and it drives me nuts. I’m used to reusing a single glass throughout the day because I don’t have a dishwasher and why get more things dirty if I don’t have to? She, on the other hand, constantly has miscellaneous family members around who have not been trained to put things in the dishwasher (don’t get me started on that), so she’s in the habit of picking up their random used dishes. After years of me visiting and being like, “Where did my cup go??” we have come to an agreement that “my” cup lives on a particular shelf in the kitchen. Since she knows it’s mine, she can trust it will get into the dishwasher without her help, and she leaves it be.

      7. Thoughts*

        Somewhat similar and equally frustrating, my mom puts all the cans of soda and bottles of water she finds all in the same place on the counter. No one know who’s is which anymore. She wonders why there’s so much waste. I told her and she didn’t realize she did it! Now she encourages you to write your name on it with a sharpie, lol!

      1. TootsNYC*

        my husband throws out the last bit of whatever is in your glass, even if you specifically say, “I’m not done with this soda from my dinner, don’t throw it out.”
        He himself sets a glass of water on the counter to have all the time, especially overnight, but if *I* do it, he will throw it out and put the glass in the dishwasher.

        We’ve spoken nicely, explained, spoken sternly, yelled. Nothing changed it.
        Once, I accidentally threw his water out (I didn’t realize he’d deliberately set his water glass up in the afternoon). And when he asked where his water was, I pointed out that this was how we often felt.

        I think he was worried about it spilling or something.

        We never have broken him of it–we just drink everything right away.

        1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

          The temptation to throw his water out every time in retaliation would be overwhelming for me.

        2. Ice and Indigo*

          Would he knock it off if you got re-useable coffee cups, do you think? They have snti-spill lids, and they’re opaque so he can’t see what’s inside them…

      2. Teapot Tester*

        I admit I do this to my kids. However, they leave cups with water in them all over the house, and I never know which one they just filled and set down, and which one has been there for hours, or possibly even a day or two. When I loading the dishwasher to run it, any cup that’s not in someone’s hand is likely to end up in the dishwasher.

        I don’t do it to my husband’s cup though, because I know he drinks from his all day long, and he doesn’t take a new one every time like the kids do.

        1. Fan*

          Yeah, I did this to my ex, who would only bring all the mugs/cups/etc from around the house to the kitchen and wash them if she was literally out of vessels to drink from. *shudder*

          1. Specialk9*

            Vessels, lol, I’m imagining her drinking from a pot because all the glasses and Tupperware and measuring cups are dirty.

              1. Laura*

                When I was a student, I once drank gin and tonic out of a teacup because we didn’t have any clean glasses. I regret nothing.

              1. DistinctiveGait*

                I thought the pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.

        2. bookends*

          My boyfriend does the same thing! Random glasses everywhere. At least I can use the water for the plants as I carry them to the kitchen! He’ll even have 2-3 glasses out and then get confused and drink from my *one* glass, which is my pet peeve.

          1. Teapot Tester*

            Ha, I do that too, water the plants with the leftover cups.

            And yes, my older son will often grab the closest cup and drink from it, even if it’s my one cup that I refill instead of taking a new one every time.

            1. whingedrinking*

              I only wear lipstick when I’m visiting my parents, because one way to keep my mother from drinking my wine is if the rim of the glass has vivid lip prints on it.

        3. MamaGanoush*

          Pick one kid. Tell kid: go around the house right now and pick up EVERY cup. Take them to the kitchen. Then wash every cup BY HAND, dry it, and put it away.
          Ignore all whining that “but they aren’t all my cups!” or “but I didn’t even drink anything!”
          Make the same kid do this every day for a week. No exceptions.
          The next week, pick a different kid.
          I had four sibs. Five weeks (plus an occasional lapse, which meant five weeks again; lapses became rare).
          Thanks mom!

      3. straws*

        Mine does this as well. It’s not a huge deal when it’s water, but he doesn’t check the contents so it’s occasionally a gin & soda. That doesn’t go over as well…

      4. Turquoisecow*

        My husband and my brother have done this to me. My dinner drink is 95% empty but I am intending to refill it and drink again that evening. I turn away to put dishes in the dishwasher, and he’s handing me my not-empty cup. Nope.

        Thankfully I usually do the after dinner dishes and can stop him, but not always!

    2. Dancing Pangolins*

      A colleague of mine threw away (in the trash) my clean cup (that I left drying by the sink).

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I would have murdered a colleague for doing that (but I’m very persnickety about my work mugs).

      2. Specialk9*

        Have you seen the book Roly Poly Pangolin by the author of Llama Llama Red Pajama? It’s my favorite.

      3. Rainy*

        Ohhhh my goooodddddddddd. No jury on earth.

        My office has actual offices for everyone, so that doesn’t happen here, fortunately. We all keep that stuff IN our offices (and usually out of sight when not being actively used). Our big problem wrt drinking and eating vessels is that we have a “supergreen” person who insisted that the office buy reusable plates for office celebrations, which then have to be washed by someone (unsurprisingly not the supergreen themselves of course), rather than using paper plates (we had the recycled paper totally compostable ones, too!). So now most people put their cake or cookie on a folded paper towel instead, and the plates barely get used.

        1. essEss*

          If someone raised a stink that reusable plates needed to be purchased, then whenever the plates were dirty they should be stacked on that person’s desk to be cleaned. If they deliberately caused extra work, then they need to be the one to do that work.

          1. Violet*

            I once worked in an office where they bought reusable plastic plates to be environmentally friendly to avoid using paper plates.

            So everyone would need to wash their plastic plates after use… but there was no dishwasher or drying rack so everyone would dry them off using paper towels, and by saving 20 paper plates, we ended up with a trash can full of paper towels…

          2. just dropping by*

            I interned at an environmental non-profit that purchased fair trade coffee beans in bulk to lower the costs. What they did not purchase, however, was an appropriately sized coffee grinder. There was a single tiny household coffee grinder, the kind that’s about the size of a soda can, for the entire organization of about ~75 people. You had to stand there grinding coffee for ten minutes because it took three or four batches to grind enough beans for a single pot, so naturally everyone waited for someone else to make coffee. Whoever broke down first would then have to stand guard over the machine as the coffee brewed, because the caffeine addicts would start hovering once you could hear the bubbling and the entire pot would be gone as soon as it finished brewing. It was such a pain in the ass, I ended up drinking a lot of tea instead.

      4. anycat*

        a colleague of mine threw away my hello kitty mug from japan that they had used and left dirty in the sink.

        1. RueBarbe*

          People like your colleague are why we can’t have nice things. I’m sorry that your supercool Hello Kitty mug fell into unsavoury hands.

      5. essEss*

        We know from a previous letter this week that the idea of leaving personal dishes to dry in the communal kitchen has a sharp divide in opinion and is a separate war unto itself. :-D

      6. Geillis D*

        I started four years of bad blood on my first day at FormerJob when I accidentally used OfficeQueenBee’s mug (it was my very first day, the mug was in a cupboard in the kitchenette that contained a hodgepodge of mugs and glasses so there was no way to tell one of those was someone’s dedicated mug, and no one warned me). She was not happy. I was not not feeling warm and fuzzy on that first day. She never warmed up to me, even after she became my manager (what’s not to like about me, right?). Both of us breathed a huge sigh of relief when I gave my notice last summer.

        At NewJob there are distinct plain office mugs, and people’s special mugs that stand out so I know not to touch them unless I need to put out a fire. I have my own mug (incidentally, a going-away gift from OldJob) that lives in my office and will never touch the common dishwasher or sink.

      7. Wired Wolf*

        I’ve had two travel mugs thrown out at work…one I was able to rescue from the breakroom trash (one of the cleaners tried to argue with me that it wasn’t mine), the other one I think wound up in the large bin and got taken down to the compactor before I realized what happened. Luckily they were old and not very expensive to begin with, but both had my name on them in bright blue glitter paint and were obviously somewhat full/warm.

      8. NorthernSoutherner*

        That’s outrageous, Dancing. How did you deal with it?
        I worked in an office where kitchen duty rotated weekly. Don’t get me wrong. We still had the kitchen police sending email reminders and/or overhead announcements about some mess or another, or letting us know the fridge was about to be cleaned out, so if you had anything molding in there, you’d better rescue it or say goodbye.
        Once it was my week and the sink was really backed up. I used the small plunger stored under the sink and came up with, I don’t know, a dozen plastic coffee stirrers. There was no whatever you call that thing — a strainer? — to stop stuff from going down the drain. Still, how hard is it to toss your stirrer in the garbage, which was RIGHT THERE.

    3. Excel Slayer*

      I have to know. Was your co-worker in any way responsible for mug cleaning, or cleaning in general? Or were they some kind of self appointed mug police?

    4. OlympiasEpiriot*

      How did she know? Why the cup spidey sense? Didn’t she actually have work to do??!

    5. Typhon Worker Bee*

      I had a roommate who used to do this. She’d also start washing the dishes I’d used to make dinner, while I was still eating dinner, all with a huge amount of banging around, frowning, and sighing. We all tried telling her that it was perfectly reasonable to wait to wash the dishes until you’d finished eating, but she clearly didn’t agree.

        1. Allison*

          I hate it too. Angry cleaning, and passive aggressively washing dishes at someone, is not a good solution when you’re frustrated about housework.

          What generally happens with me and my roommates is I’ll go to take care of my dishes, and end up taking care of all the dishes and cleaning the kitchen because hey, why not? I’m already doing stuff, I might as well! I’m not doing it to send a message, but I’m also not purposely taking on the role of a caretaker for my roommate. I have been naively assuming that by doing it that way, my roommate will follow my lead, or at the very least, I won’t have to wash their dishes *that* often . . .

          But then my roommate and I fall into a pattern where they get used to having their dishes taken care of and they’re no longer in the habit of cleaning up, and when they do clean they seem angry about it (huffing and puffing, grumbling and moaning, slamming things around, etc.), and I realize that I’m doing way too much of the work. But I know my options are suck it up and keep doing the work without cleaning *at* them, or talk to them like an adult about how we can even things out.

          1. Specialk9*

            I had one roommate – one – who’d just simply do what needed doing without asking or negotiations. She’s just be like, ‘hey the leaves are piling up, I’ll go buy that special leaf bag and a rake, and then rake and bag the leaves’ and I was all ‘you’re magic’. Sadly for me, after a year she found a dude who adores her.

            1. SomethingFishy*

              I tried this method with my roommate. It worked okay until she went on vacation, leaving a sink full of dirty dishes. This included a sealed Tupperware full of shrimp scampi tails that, by the time I decided to just do the dishes, had been sitting in the sink in our unairconditioned apartment for over a week. When I opened the lid, I thought I was going to die from the smell.

      1. KRM*

        Ohhh, I had a roommate like that. I would tell her to leave the dishes because I would do them at X time. She ALWAYS did them before that, and then would complain that I ‘never did the dishes’. Solved that one by moving out.

        1. Typhon Worker Bee*

          She was a university-assigned flatmate, during my first year of grad school, so the rest of us couldn’t do much about her. She was extremely uptight in other ways too, and ended up dating her stepbrother (no blood relationship, but they’d grown up in the same house as siblings since they were little kids) – definitely a very strange person.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          My dad does this: You tell him to leave the dishes because you’ll do them this evening or whatever, but then you found that he’s already done them. Then he plays the housework martyr (mind you, dishes are just about *all* he does–he doesn’t sweep or vacuum or Swiffer or anything else). But of course if he feels like doing dishes later, they’ll sit until he’s ready to do them, so it’s not just that they have to be done RIGHT NOW.

          1. Artemesia*

            My experience of roommates who ‘will do the dishes later’ is that they never do, or later is days later and when you do them ‘they were GOING to do them later’ but they never do. It is reasonable to do dishes for the day after dinner. But if later is a long time from now or tomorrow — then not so much.

            1. Blue*

              Dirty dishes in the sink is the one house-sharing thing that I can’t deal with. Leaving it to soak after dinner – fine. Leaving it overnight – not fine. Once I figured that out, it was an early negotiation with every roommate. I’ll compromise on pretty much anything else!

        3. Jojobean*

          Hah, my mother does this to me. One of so very, very many reasons why I hated living at home…

          I would usually prepare a meal, leave the dirty dishes/pots/pans/whatever rinsed off and sitting in the sink while I ate, then as soon as I was done I’d bring my plate back to the sink and wash everything.

          But apparently that wasn’t soon enough, because a large percentage of the time, my mother would have swooped in while I was eating and angrily washed the dishes before I could get back to them.

          Then, of course, she would “remind” me to be sure to wash my dishes because I had been leaving them in the sink and she “had” to do them.

          Sigh…..passive aggressive parents.

          I also solved that one by finding a job and moving out (to a war zone — because that was easier than living with my parents).

      2. Oxford Coma*

        My husband was in for a surprise when he started eating with my family. My family’s culture is “eating gets in the way of being productive, so you need to cram food down your throat as fast as possible so you can get back to work”. My husband is from a culture that thinks a 3-hour nightly dinner is normal. Their holiday meals take an entire day.

        He is never done his first course before my dad gets up to start the dishes. After many years, my husband has learned to take very tiny portions and then just re-eat when we get home.

      3. Ruthi*

        Lol, I do that to my roommate all the time, but without the sighing, because if it doesn’t get done before we sit down to eat, the dishes are in the sink until supper the next day. Usually it’s accompanied by catching up on our day and lots of thank you.

    6. LBK*

      I confess I am a gross weirdo who prefers not to wash his mug after every cup, but rather generally just rinses it out. It tastes better! I can’t explain it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s how it works in my family too – I wash the mugs about once a week but otherwise, a quick rinse right after the last of the coffee is gone seems to work fine for us.

        We also keep one water glass (each) going for a couple of days at home, and have had to hide them when visiting certain relatives because sometimes you blink and it’s gone.

        1. LBK*

          I’m also notorious for leaving water cups all over the house – I’m so bad at keeping track of them that I actually didn’t realize my boyfriend regularly dumps them out and washes them for me until he told me a month or so ago, after living together for over a year.

          1. Middle of Messy and Neat*

            Ha! I love it :) It’s like that YouTube video with the magic coffee table.

          2. Is It Spring Yet?*

            I went TWO years thinking my car only needed washed 2x a year.

            My husband gave up me noticeing after the first year.

            The worst part is i bragged to all my coworkers about how i was so lucky. They really enjoyed when i told them my epiphany.

              1. Jadelyn*

                Cars don’t *need* to be washed at all, to be fair. Unless something that’s actually damaging to the finish got on it.

                …I say, as someone who was mildly concerned that taking my previous car through a car wash might’ve damaged the duct tape holding it all together. I try to wash my current car more often but it just depends on when I have time.

              2. Elizabeth H.*

                I am having the same feeling. I don’t wash the car unless it is filthy for some reason. And even so, eventually it will rain. The inside matches!

                1. Flash Bristow*

                  Right! The times I wash my car is actually after the Sahara dust has rained down on my car and made it hard to see out of the windows. A few times a year at most.I guess if you park under a tree and get berries and bird shit splattering then ok, out might need doing more often, else… Save your energy!

              3. Astor*

                It can also really depend on where you live, too. If you’re in a temperate climate with regular rains but few puddles, you don’t have to wash your car nearly as often as someone who lives in a muddy area, or where they salt or sand for snow. So, in some places it’s more about shining the car up than cleaning it, in others you’re cleaning the car so that you don’t get dirty, in others you’re cleaning the car so that it doesn’t get damaged, and in still others you’re cleaning the car even though there’s a risk of damage.

                Ditto with the style of car, some of them get dirtier and are more likely to make you dirty that others.

                1. Chinook*

                  Yup, in Alberta in spring, every vehicle is some shade of brown. We marveled at all the shiny cars in Florida because none of them had mud or even a slight sheen of dust (and few had cracked windshields)

            1. General Ginger*

              I. Don’t think I’ve ever washed my car more than twice a year. Usually only when mud was involved.

            2. Owler*

              I only wash the car when I leave my coffee mug on the roof and start to drive away. The sad drips of coffee and cream delicately sweetened are like tears of an angered caffeine goddess that must be purged before the dairy turns bad.

        2. Teapot Tester*

          Are you my husband? Because this is totally us. I don’t even know how long I go before washing my water cup. Coffee cups I do tend to wash after a day or two because the leftover coffee settles in the bottom and gets gross.

      2. General Ginger*

        I do the same, especially with my work mug. Rinse in between drinks, serious wash when it gets grubby.

    7. Specialk9*

      I find it deeply ironic that in a coffee war thread we’re largely taking about cleaning, and burning food and appliances.

    8. Deus Cee*

      I had a colleague who would get frustrated that I would use the same coffee cup for the whole day before washing it. She would wait until I was AFK then take my cup, put it on the tray with the rest to go back to the kitchen for washing, then add washing-up liquid to it so I couldn’t use it again.

      1. SittingDuck*

        WTF? Why did she care what you used?

        I use the same coffee mug for DAYS before washing it at home – probably not the most hygienic – but its MY cup and MY choice.

    9. SittingDuck*

      My dad and step-mom do this -it drives my husband and I batty! Mostly it is at their own house – but if anything is left unattended for 30 seconds it goes into the sink or dishwasher.

      I get that they don’t like having dirty things sitting around, but at least 80% of the time I (or my husband/kids) weren’t done with whatever it was in the glass/bowl/plate etc. we just went to the bathroom, or chased the baby to stop her from falling down the stairs, and we come back and BOOM – no more glass!

      They even do it at our house, and my sisters house. Its infuriating!

    10. Caitlin*

      If I were in that office, I’d pointedly keep my hand on my empty latte cup. Not because I’d want any more, but because I’ll throw it out when I feel like it.

    1. Amadeo*

      Yep, have not been part of office coffee drama (I tend to bring mine from home because all of my current and past coworkers liked to drink rocket fuel and I just don’t like it that strong), so I’ll join you with the ‘corn.

      1. RJ the Newbie*

        ‘Corning here as well. Too much coffee drama in my last two places (a former supervisor actually kept a spreadsheet to analyze how much two underperforming departments were using) led to my buying a nice thermos and brewing my Bustelo at home!

        1. Coywolf*

          Omg tracking coffee consumption based on performance is a whole new level of crazy I don’t ever want to see at my workplace!

            1. M_Lynn_K*

              Or is it the opposite? The department drinking more coffee is clearly more energetic and producing more? So maybe if folks were more caffeinated they’d work more/harder? I mean it worked for Jessie on Saved By the Bell….

    2. SJPxo*

      Same. I don’t drink coffee or tea so couldn’t give two hoots about it but I love the stories because it makes people crazy!

    3. Amber Rose*

      Me neither. I don’t actually know how to use a coffee maker. If I desperately need a coffee, which is only rarely, I just go to McDonalds haha.

      Someone did burn popcorn around here a while ago, and the reek was incredible. How about some gummy bears instead?

      1. Whoa*

        We had two people, on two different occasions, burn their popcorn so bad that it filled the entire area with plumes of black smoke and scorched the inside of the microwaves. We were surprised the smoke alarms didn’t end up going off! The smell stayed for weeks, though.

        1. Sled dog mama*

          I worked at a place that you would be disciplined if you walked away from a microwave with popcorn in it. This started after someone did set off the fire alarm by burning popcorn in an unattended microwave.

        2. Snickerdoodle*

          Somebody once burned popcorn at my job, and we had to evacuate the building. There are now large all-caps signs over all the microwaves saying employees must remain in the area while reheating food. It didn’t take, and somebody heated up pork rinds (WHY?), burned them, and then took the whole smelly smoldering mess back to his desk. He was almost run out of the building on a rail.

          1. Whoa*

            OMG. I can’t stomach the smell of pork rinds anyways, and the thought of burnt ones? So gross. I’ll take burnt popcorn over that.

          2. JustaTech*

            I have a coworker who’s a real germaphobe, so if he wants to eat chips left over from a party he will microwave the chips to kill the bacteria. At least one time when he did this the chips burst into flames in the microwave.

            1. General Ginger*

              I can’t imagine they would have a good texture post-microwave even if they didn’t burst into flames!

            2. whingedrinking*

              There are a wide range of UV lamps available that are marketed as killing germs. I don’t know if they actually work, but at least they won’t start a fire if he shines them on his chips…

              1. JustaTech*

                Yes, and we have those, but they’re in the lab, where food is 100% forbidden (we work with blood).

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            I worked with someone who put his popcorn in the microwave, accidentally punched in 30 minutes instead of 3 minutes, and walked away. Who can’t stand in front of the microwave long enough to watch your popcorn?

            1. essEss*

              Exactly. You aren’t supposed to cook popcorn for the time on the package. That is an estimate and you are supposed to turn it off when they stop popping. It even says so in the instructions on the microwave popcorn bags. You almost never go the full amount of time on the package.

            2. Nonnon*

              … I’m that kind of person. Mercifully, smartphones exist, so I can look at cat pictures and keep an eye on my food.

          4. margarita mama*

            Shrimp was over-microwaved in the cubby next to my desk. “But it wasn’t fish!” Had to throw out the microwave, the smell didn’t dissipate.
            I thought it was reasonable to assume ‘no fish’ means that other sea or freshwater foods were included in the ban. I guess…not so much.

        3. Skunklet*

          yeah, i did that, back in the early 90s… high wattage nuker, I decimated the popcorn… the department head smelled it and decreed no popcorn until after 5 pm…

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            I also once burned popcorn at work. *hangs head in shame* I’ve never eaten popcorn at work again!

        4. FoodieNinja*

          In college I had a job as a student assistant in the office of one of the university’s VPs. Our office got a new microwave, and someone came from another office in the building to use it to make her popcorn. She didn’t pay attention to the setting and wandered off. The popcorn burned and the resulting smell was so bad that the president came down from his office upstairs to investigate, and promptly banned all microwave popcorn in the building.

          1. Commenter who works at Tufts!*

            Was this at Tufts? I used to work in the main administration building and people told me this story – that a former university president had banned microwave popcorn from being made anywhere in Ballou as a consequence of a burned popcorn episode. People assumed that the ban wasn’t really still in effect after his tenure ended, but the whole time I worked in Ballou nobody ever made microwave popcorn anywhere so it seemed to have worked itself into the culture.

              1. essEss*

                Our university administration building had a rule that NO department on any of the office floors was allowed to cook popcorn because the president of the university said he was allergic to popcorn. We always wondered how true this was and how sensitive he truly was because he regularly attended university sporting events where the entire facility reeked of popped popcorn.
                The first day after he retired, all departments had lines at the microwaves of people waiting to make popcorn.

            1. Specialk9*

              This has happened at two big companies I’ve worked at.

              And please don’t guess where we work, it’s kinda creepy feeling. (Commenting rules)

          2. Harper*

            You have reminded me of a semi-cherished college memory.

            In my dorm, there was a girl who was a major scholarship winner but not so big on the street smarts. In the cafeteria there was one of those conveyor belt toasters with a big sign saying NO BAGELS and an arrow pointing to the pop-up toaster. Every day for the first two weeks of school she put a bagel on the conveyor belt, it caught fire, and the whole residence had to be evacuated. I really don’t know how they finally convinced her to stop.

            Later that year they had a “morale building” Name the Dining Hall competition that was canceled when the not suggestion was “The Flaming Bagel.”

            1. Elle*

              My dad once caught one of my sister’s friends, aged about 15, on the verge of putting a slice of buttered bread into our toaster. He, in all seriousness, had to explain to her that you buttered it after toasting it.

              She had a deeply controlling mother, and wasn’t even allowed to use the microwave or toaster at home. She was allowed to pour her own cereal, but her mum hovered at her elbow while she did it.

            2. JennyFair*

              I’m a very literal person and would probably have taken that sign to mean ‘no bagels in the toaster’, so I’m not sure the book-but-not-street-smart girl was entirely at fault here.

              1. AntsOnMyTable*

                But I feel like after the first time you probably would have figured out that a bagel catching on fire is a bad thing and stopped putting it on the conveyor belt. Or even the 5th time.

              2. FirstTimeCommenter*

                We have a sign at my workplace that says “no cheese in the toaster.” I can only assume someone did this at least once…

            3. Laura*

              Reminds me of the girl in my halls at uni who put a baked potato in the oven and went out for the evening. Unfortunately she wrapped it in kitchen roll rather than tin foil, and the thing caught fire. Cue the smoke alarms going off and the building having to be evacuated…

        5. Parenthetically*

          My school, somewhat ill-advisedly, provides microwaves to allow kids to warm up their lunches (since we don’t provide hot lunch). Popcorn is a favorite snack for their morning snack break. You can imagine that, in a K-12 school, this happens with some regularity. And yet we still provide microwaves.

          1. Middle School Teacher*

            Interesting. We also provide microwaves and I can count on one hand in the 11 years we’ve been in this building that a student has burned popcorn. I would expect it to happen more.

            1. Parenthetically*

              I don’t know if we just have particularly absent-minded students, but there used to be a couple of culprits in particular who’d save it for their after-school snack, start it popping and then get distracted and run off to play with a friend and suddenly…

          2. Beaded Librarian*

            I can top that, I was told about a community college dorm that had to ban microwaves in the dorm rooms after one to many students started a FIRE by forgetting to put water in their cup of noodles to make them. And the removing them was a last resort, they had reminded them multiple times to make sure to add water, and I believe it was all different students who did it.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Oh, we had that happen once too — a near-fire anyway! And a teacher on lunch duty once had to evacuate the lunch room and the smoldering remains of easy mac. That’s a smell that lingers.

              1. Thoughts*

                I once did that with easy mac…it really does linger. I was so embarrassed. In the dorms. We started reminding each other every time to double check there’s water!

        6. Caitlin*

          When I was in university, the burned microwavable popcorn would set off the smoke detector and we all had to go outside until the fire department dealt with it. That’s never fun but it was SO much worse on nights when the newest episode of Friends was airing (this was pre-PVR). Another time, some poor girl was in the shower and had to go outside on a fall night in her towel. Someone lent her their sweater.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            They banned hot air poppers in my residence building because it would set of the heat detectors, triggering the alarms, usually at about 10 pm. The local fire marshal was notorious for his lack of sense of humour, and his insistence on rapidly evacuating the building. There were stories of people being harried outside wrapped in sheets because they weren’t prompt enough.

        7. princess paperwork*

          I worked in a clinic ans someone burnt the popcorn. The front desk staff received so many complaints from building tenants and patients that we weren’t allowed to make toast or popcorn from 7:15am – 6:00pm.

          1. Lindsay J*

            OMG I worked with someone who claimed to prefer the taste burnt as well. I always suspected, though, that she just said that to cover for being embarrassed by burning it multiple times.

        8. Susan Ryan*

          Bring all the burned popcorn over here to me. Love it! Mom wasn’t the worst cook-but was close. By the way, I never have to buy any.

      2. Sara*

        Speaking of bad smells…the Federal building adjacent to the building where my company leases office space had to be torn down and rebuilt for earthquake safety reasons so a lot of the federal agencies leased space in our building for a few years. One of those agencies was the DEA. One day we all came to work and the entire 16 story office tower reeked of marijuana. It was coming up the elevator shafts and seeping into all of the floors. It turns out the DEA had made a huge bust and brought it all into the building. The stench stuck around for almost a month.

        1. Your Tax Dollars at Work*

          This is hilarious. How much marijuana was it? Was there one naive employee who didn’t know the smell? Was there a buttoned up boss who revealed a past love of the Grateful Dead? I feel like I need to know everything about this story.

          1. Sara*

            I don’t how much it was, but it was enough that when stored in the parking garage in the basement in full-plant/non-burning form it stunk up our entire 16 story office building. There were a few naive employees, but we were a non-profit in Portland, OR so most people knew what it was and tried to figure out how they could get their hands on some (this was pre-legalization). Also it was a director who fired up a stereo with Grateful Dead music, but he was never very buttoned-up.

          2. whingedrinking*

            When I was backpacking in England, I made friends with a girl at the hostel. She was from some very small town in Wisconsin and was on summer break after her first year at UW-M. We went to a concert in Hyde Park together, and at one point she sniffed the air and said, “You know, sometimes I smell that smell on the quad and I never know what it is, it’s weird to smell it here too!”
            I looked at her in mild shock and said, “It’s pot.”
            “Oh! Wait, how do you know that?”
            “I majored in philosophy at a Canadian West Coast university. It’d be pretty hard *not* to know what it smells like…”

        2. Specialk9*

          Does raw marijuana smell? I know what it smells like burning. (Like a skunk, you guys across the hall who I hate for this reason. Please buy better illegal weed!)

          1. Emily*

            I’m really not a marijuana expert (I’ve never actually tried it in any form)…but I do know that you can smell it when driving from the Denver airport to the city proper, presumably because some of the farms/production facilities are located further out from the city center.

          2. many bells down*

            It’s legal here, and we still have the same problem. Is there an actual skunk in the neighborhood, or did someone buy literally the worst weed they could find?

          3. Elizabeth H.*

            Oh my god, yes. It smells raw, it smells while it is growing, etc. It definitely depends on the strain, some smell worse or better than others, some smell more like the classic “marijuana” smell, some don’t smell aversive, some smell more like an actual skunk, etc. I’m in MA where it is is legal, my friends grow it, and when it’s at the right stage sometimes you can smell it outside their house as you approach, even with windows closed. That phase is pretty brief though :)

          4. ShakespearesGirl*

            Having worked next to an illegal greenhouse for the stuff for almost a year (until they were finally busted), holy Moses YES it smells. We thought there was a skunk living in the drain system for a while.

            1. Lefty*

              Tangential, but related to the “skunky” smell… I had an acquaintance who worked in Animal Control, doing dispatch. She was instructed that reports of SEEING a skunk could get AC dispatched directly, reports of only SMELLING a skunk got police dispatch with AC follow-up if needed. She said the majority of skunk-smell calls did not need AC involvement, but she had several callers argue with her that they were smelling skunk and that the police weren’t needed. There was at least one man who met the police officers and explained to them that there was no way it wasn’t a skunk- until they showed him a very impressive hydroponic grow room in the apartment next door.

              1. whingedrinking*

                The opposite happened a couple years ago in my city. The Mounties came to bust a grow-op and instead found a very unfortunate family with a crappy landlord who wouldn’t help them get rid of the skunk that had taken up residence in the basement. IIRC the family were immigrants who didn’t know what to do or who to call, so they’d just been putting up with it for weeks.

          5. PattS*

            I have a respiratory reaction to raw marijuana and can’t breathe. The raw stuff smells worse than when it is smoked. First floor neighbor must have been using the entire apartment as a warehouse because not only could you smell it 3 floors up, but right out on the street. The cops were surprised at how strong the smell was and promptly set up surveillance. We moved because I couldn’t breathe in my home.

          6. Down low for this*

            Actually, some of the strongest new American-grown strains do smell exactly like skunk. They may be smoking some of the very best. Just sayin.

        3. Batshua*

          WHOA. I would never have thought that unsmoked marijuana would smell enough to be noticeable, even in large amounts!

          1. Batshua*

            (Also, I hear that burning sage smells very similar to burning marijuana, so … That put me off even considering smudging with sage as part of my ritual practice.)

            1. Ego Chamber*

              The people who say that have never smelled weed (that they’ve confirmed was actually weed), and are often the people who also think incense “smells like marijuana.”*

              *Like my aunt, who didn’t realize incense is burned to cover the smell—not because the smell is the same—which is why her dad would always ask “Are you kids smoking the dope in here?” when he smelled incense burning.

        4. Sam Yao*

          I currently work in an office tower with a DEA office that has a storage room one floor below us and this happens two or three times a year if they get a big haul in. I absolutely hate the smell of marijuana, for one; and for two, it makes some awkward explaining to our office visitors. We are attorneys.

        5. Sam Yao*

          I work in an office tower that contains a DEA office, which in turn has an evidence locker on the floor below mine, and this happens 2 or 3 times a year when they get in a big haul. I absolutely hate the smell of marijuana, for one; and for two, it makes some awkward explaining to office visitors.

          We are attorneys.

      3. Dev*

        We had one of the bosses make popcorn once and burned it so badly that the fire alarms did go off, everyone had to evacuate, and the fire department showed up…..

        1. Not Australian*

          At one of my workplaces it was a toaster; people would put the bread in, then wander off and leave it … and next thing you know alarms would be going off and the fire engines were on their way, and we all had to evacuate. From the seventh floor. In a hospital. At least once a month.

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            I am so bad about this – well I’ve only done it twice, but both times was at my in-laws, and they are so fastidious – that would never happen to them! I carried the toaster oven outside to open it and get the bread out, which helped a lot…but the shame was deep.

          2. Tardigrade*

            Oh! This happened once at my workplace. The entire toaster oven caught fire and passed away in the arms of the very kind fireman who removed it from the building.

            1. Snickerdoodle*

              Once I left my desk to go reheat my tea, and a tangible smoke cloud hit me as soon as I opened the door to the hallway. I went down the hall to the breakroom, where the door was propped open and a toaster was in the trash can. I never found out who the culprit was. I’m just glad the trash didn’t catch fire.

              1. Specialk9*

                Imagining the scene prior to the smoking toaster in the trash has me belly laughing every time I’ve read this story. Then the guy sauntering away casually, whistling.

            2. Kelly L.*

              Not at work, but at home, from my childhood, I remember two distinct incidences of my mom carrying a flaming toaster oven outside to expire in the driveway.

          3. SarahKay*

            I asked our HSE leader if we could have a toaster available for general use. She explained she’d rather not, having suffered similar problems to yours, Not Australian, in her previous job. Although in her case at least it wasn’t a hospital; unfortunately the evacuation (complete with fire engines) took place the day the CEO was visiting…

          4. Beaded Librarian*

            Oh god I did that once working in the hospital kitchen. I don’t remember the exact reason but I couldn’t use the 4 slice kitchen toaster to make toast for the patients (I’m assuming that it needed fixed in some way) so I used the employee 4 slice toaster that was just outside the kitchen door (the plugs were different so I couldn’t just move it) I had to toast about a dozen or dozen and a half slices, never left the toaster, never even BURNED or overly darkened a single piece and STILL somehow set off the smoke detector that was about 10 feet away. They turned down the sensitivity slightly after that.

            1. ShakespearesGirl*

              Hey, at least you don’t put whole (unhalved) bagels into the toaster. Or croissants.

              1. Beaded Librarian*

                I can ALMOST see fitting a croissant in one of the wide slot toasters if it was squashed slightly but how do you fit a WHOLE bagel?

                1. whingedrinking*

                  “A bagel will not fit gracefully into an electric toaster. Or if it goes in, it will not come out — unless you employ a screwdriver. This postulate has been completely tested.” ~Robert Fulghum.

          5. Kelly*

            One office in the building I work in on a public university campus has a mini kitchen with a stove and microwave, plus a Keurig and electric kettle. There had been a drip coffee maker and a toaster prior to the incident where the new person in my office left her bagel unattended and set off the smoke alarms throughout the building. I could smell something when I came back from break and my annoyed boss informed me what happened.

            She’s very fond of snacking and eating throughout the day, which is a problem in a building that officially doesn’t allow food because we have art museum galleries and library books in it. Most people adjust to that policy but she thinks she’s special and the rules don’t apply to her. It’s not the only rule that she thinks are for others, but not her special self. I can live with her sneaking food in and eating it in her office because it’s a policy that most people break, including myself if she was more interested in doing the basic core part of her job – interacting and trying to help the public. She’s more interested in becoming a member of what some term “the committee club”, and scheduling herself as out of the office in some busywork committee meeting.

        2. LibraryLife*

          I worked in a bagel shop in the basement of our college library. We once had a microwave start on fire and since we were warned to do everything possible to avoid the fire alarms going off (displacing the entire library was a mess), a coworker grabbed the microwave, ripped it from the wall, and ran outside with it.

          1. FuzzFrogs*

            OMG, I love that. Not super safe for the employee, but definitely an efficient way to fix the issue!

        3. NCKat*

          First year I worked at my present location, people were constantly burning popcorn in the microwave, setting the fire alarms off and prompting the fire department to respond each time. And each time all employees had to go out of the building to wait for the all-clear.

          After this happened several times, an edict went out from HR – no popcorn in microwaves, period. I’ve even heard this is now part of the orientation presentation for new employees.

        4. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Once, two months into a new job, I put the wrong time into the microwave when making frozen snackers. The packaging said 90 seconds and I put 9 minutes in, or something like that. I was distracted at the time and did not double think it when I clearly should have. I went back to work (microwave was in the same room) and around minute four started to wonder why my food wasn’t done yet. I leapt up and stopped the microwave, but the snackers looked like little pieces of coal. So I threw them out in the plant so they wouldn’t smell up the office, and since no one else was around at the time I figured no one would know what happend. I closed up my work and went out to find myself another lunch. When I got back with my McDonalds there was a fire truck in front of my office and one of my managers was talking to the firemen. The fire alarms had gone off – minutes after the smoked snackers were removed from the office. I had to explain the entire thing. It was so embarrassing.

          1. Cookie Monster*

            I microwaved a cookie and decimated it, chucked the burnt remnants in the trash and walked away whistling while my coworkers asked what was that smell?

            I just wanted my cookie warm and melty :(

      4. Wendy Darling*

        One of my jobs featured both a Serial Fish Microwaver and a colleague who was obsessed with microwave popcorn and preferred hers well-done so she burned popcorn daily. I sat pretty close to the kitchen and it was not great smell-wise.

        Absolutely no coffee drama though. There was a well-established company-run coffee arrangement, and we had cleaning staff who cleaned the kitchen including putting people’s coffee cups in the dishwasher (there was a dishwasher!) if people left them on the counter like monsters. We were very spoiled but it made for a very peaceful kitchen situation.

      5. Funny Cide*

        Popcorn is banned in our workplace. It’s the only food specifically named in our employee handbook – it says the smell is “unprofessional.” Partly because it’s easy to burn, partly because even if you don’t burn it the smell does linger then too. I think the true answer is that our president just doesn’t like the smell.

        1. Artemesia*

          Our little agency moved into new quarters with a kitchenette and on the first day the gleeful admin staff fried chicken, which of course made the whole place smell like a KFC The CEO was livid as he had potential funders coming for a meeting in the new conference room and from that day on, no food was allowed to be prepared on premises. It did in fact smell pretty unprofessional.

          1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

            Waaaaiiiiit…someone brought raw chicken and breading and fry oil and a pan to work for fun? Who on earth fries food at work if it’s not part of the job description?

        2. Nonyme*

          I worked in a corporate setting where they had a popcorn machine like you’d have at the movies, and they regularly wheeled it up and down the aisles dispensing cups of popcorn. People fought over who got to make the popcorn and give it out.

          At my current job, microwave popcorn is totally banned. Full stop. Signs on every microwave.

      6. MamaGanoush*

        A former manager always walked away from the microwave when making popcorn, and often burned it. You could smell it throughout the office. Drove us crazy.

        Then one day THE POPCORN BURST INTO FLAMES. Inside the microwave.

        We never let her forget it. She moved on some years ago (not because of the popcorn — a very capable manager). We still love to talk about it — it is part of the lore of the office.

    4. Lorelai Gilmore*

      We still joke about the great coffee war in our office.

      A couple of years ago we had a contract with a delivery service that brought us crappy ground coffee in single-serving bags. It was like drinking brown water. I was the new girl so I just brought my own coffee in a mug from home and kept the peace. The office manager said that if we could find better coffee for the same price, we could switch. One guy, we’ll call him Michael, made it his mission and scored a contract with a local company that was CHEAPER than the crappy stuff. Office manager, we’ll call her Pam, has been here for 30 years and is the type that holds her ground for no reason at all. So she started making up lame excuses that no one believed. She doesn’t really have any power, just a 15 year old job title that would mean something in another office. So Michael went to the Operations Director/Accountant and made his case. She approved, and the new coffee started showing up. Pam got really upset and pitched a fit.

      They spent the next several weeks passive-aggressive fighting over which coffee was made. They basically just tried to beat each other to the office to make the first pot. If Pam was first, she would claim that it was the new stuff, but everyone could tell it was the crappy stuff. She had no reason to hold her ground, she just did. Michael would pour it out and start over. You’d think you were getting the good coffee and take one drink and realize what had happened. Finally, Michael found Pam’s supply of the old coffee and threw it in the dumpster when she was off.

      Michael doesn’t work here anymore, and to this day, Pam refuses to order the new coffee. She just pretends it doesn’t exist. If she makes coffee, she’ll use one scoop instead of three. If the coffee delivery guy comes in to take our order, she just turns and walks away and someone else has to do it. It’s so bizarre!

      1. Parenthetically*

        I just do not understand people who fuss about coffee of normal strength being “too strong”. It’s pretty easy to ADD hot water to too-strong coffee and pretty freaking difficult to REMOVE water from too-weak coffee. There were many battles waged between the Weak Coffee and Strong Coffee factions at my church growing up — little old ladies having passive-aggressive niceness contests over the percolated Folgers.

        1. Lily Puddle*

          This x 100. At my old office, people would make a whole pot of coffee with 3 scoops, which is fine if you want coffee-flavored water, but not fine for those of us who actually like coffee.

          1. JustaTech*

            At my office (back when we made drip) we occasionally had the 2X coffee wars, but we solved them by putting out a stack of little Post-its and if you made extra strong coffee, you just labeled it.
            (We also used those to say what day the coffee was made and when the carafe was last cleaned.)

        2. Kelly L.*

          Ugh, that’s my BF’s mom. A whole pot of vaguely brown water, and if I’m visiting, we all have to get through all of that before I can brew a real pot without looking rude and wasteful.

        3. gmg22*

          Yep. I had this battle once with my aunt at a family gathering my mother hosted — she insisted that the correct amount of coffee to brew a 12-cup pot was ONE SCOOP, TOTAL, and that I was going to poison everyone with my one-scoop-per-cup pot of coffee. I nicely put the kettle on and assured her she could add hot water to hers. (I also enjoyed an inward chuckle about how much this explained about my uncle’s sneaky coffee habits — she thinks he “hardly ever drinks it” while in reality, everyone in our family and around our small town knows that he finds any excuse to pop out of the house to go get his extra-large dark roast at the convenience store.)

        4. Kelly*

          My dad and I both prefer our coffee stronger and absolutely no decaf, thank you very much. My sister when she visits his house every couple months doesn’t mind and lets one of us make the coffee. His sisters, who visit too frequently for both my sister and my own liking, have been banned from making coffee at his house because they don’t like theirs strong. He’s also tossed out the decaf coffee one of them bought over, saying that he doesn’t serve that fake coffee.

          We all like better coffee, and aren’t fans of Folger’s. We also don’t like McDonald’s drip coffee, which one aunt thinks is so good. His late mother thought Folger’s was good coffee and that was the best she’d serve. His comment was “at least it’s not instant coffee”. It got to the point that when he visited his mother’s house during her last couple years, he’d have me buy a cardboard traveler full of fresh Panera or Starbucks for us and any other relatives who wanted better coffee to drink at her house. I live an hour away, so it would be fresher. The two sisters with no coffee palate would give those of us drinking the better coffee instead of their mother’s crap coffee the stink eye.

      2. Arya Snark*

        This very same scenario happened at the most horrible job I ever had! I was Michael and hated the coffee they got from Sysco so I went on a mission to find better coffee. There was a local roaster less than a mile away and I found something that, while not the greatest coffee I every had, was better and cheaper than the dirty dish water they were drinking so I volunteered to pick it up on a regular basis. Well, our version of Pam and Dwight just could not deal with the change. I chose not to die on that particular hill of beans and just brought my own.

      3. zora*

        One place I was temping, the grouchy guy in the office decided to “train” me my first week (which was not actually his job, the EA was training me) which included “teaching” me how to make coffee in the regular old Mr. Coffee coffee pot. Then he proceeded to grumble the entire time about how “‘everyone’ always uses way too much coffee, don’t they know how expensive it is,” while showing me how he only used 3 scoops of grounds to make a whole pot of coffee. So gross.

        Of course, then I surreptitiously used a NORMAL amount of coffee every morning, just like everyone else did, OOops!! (sarcasm)

        1. No longer buying the coffee*

          My boss is a picky coffee drinker and for years we made the office coffee with a specific brand and flavor. When we were running low oon coffee one time, I ran to the store to pick some up, only to see that while there were other choices for this brand, the flavor he preferred wasn’t available. So I bought a few bags of the other (still the same brand, though) and the next day finished up the remaining bag of the stuff he loved and made a pot. By the time he came to fill his coffee cup, all he could see was the new bags (not knowing that I made one final pot with his favorite). He took a sip and frowned and said, “You know I really prefer the kind you always get. This flavor isn’t good!” He was drinking the kind we always made but because he saw the new bags, the power of suggestion apparently overwehelmed him and he had convinced himself he didn’t like this “new” kind!

    5. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Same. The biggest I can think of is getting the “oh, you’ll learn to drink coffee at university” response when I told people I don’t drink coffee.
      I still don’t drink despite going to university.

      1. StrawMeatloaf*

        Me neither. I do drink tea though as I have realized I need a bit of caffeine (I feel tired 24/7, undiagnosed depression probably or the anemia) but I have never been able to get into coffee.

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          No matter what I try (and I’ve tried a lot of variants, usually take a sip when people offer it to me just because I’m curious about the taste) I cannot get the stuff down my throat. Which means I really don’t understand the coffee hype.

        2. Julia*

          Ironically, caffeine (or the stuff in green tea) can hinder iron absorption, so it could be making you more tired.

          1. Strawmeatloaf*

            That’s interesting! But I only take it 2 days of the week in the morning, so I’m not taking it all the time. But that is good to know!

            1. Julia*

              It’s best if you don’t take it within 2 hours of any coffee or tea intake (and thyroid pills if you take any). Probably more than twice a week if you’re really anemic – I know mine takes forever to go up once it’s down, even if I take it every day with vitamin B and C to help absorption.

      2. Cousin Itt*

        It didn’t happen at uni, but I made it about two weeks into my first office job before caving and becoming a coffee drinker. I think because the only options were water, coffee/tea or paying for drinks and I’m a cheapskate who hates water.

      3. chocolate lover*

        Ditto, I didn’t drink coffee in college and still don’t, twenty years later. Don’t like the taste or the smell.

      4. The New Wanderer*

        I didn’t drink coffee til my 30s, several years after moving to Seattle (coffee central). Discovered flavored coffee, never looked back.

        1. RJTinRVA*

          Same here! I always liked the smell of coffee (especially the freshly-ground stuff), but never liked the taste. About 12 years ago, I had to go on a work trip to a location about 2 hours from home to a meeting that started at 8:30 AM. I was not a morning person in those days (although now I am), and was so tired when I got there that I got a cup of coffee just to stay awake. I felt so good that I started drinking it every day, but always the flavored stuff with Splenda. My current favorites to brew at home are Donut Shop Coconut Mocha and Green Mountain Hazelnut. My dad takes his with a little skim milk and no sugar. I don’t know how he does it!

      5. Blue*

        I’ve heard that a LOT! Four years of university, five years of graduate school, and I still can’t deal with the flavor of coffee. (I drink an unhealthy amount of coke, though.)

      6. JHS*

        I used to drink coffee for the caffeine but I was perpetually disappointed that it wasn’t tea. Eventually I stopped punishing myself and had two cups of tea instead (this was in the days before I found my extra strong tea bags…)

      7. whingedrinking*

        My brother is apparently some sort of weirdo – an engineer who consumes neither coffee nor energy drinks. He can occasionally be persuaded to have a cup of tea, though.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Me, either. I’ve always been at boring offices where the coffee situation, whatever it is, somehow just works out.

    7. Burnt Popcorn*

      My first corporate job, I actually sat nearby one of the most senior managers on the floor who intentionally burnt his popcorn. He would only burn it slightly, so it never set off smoke alarms, but it still stank like burnt popcorn. A few times people asked him about it and he said he always burnt it because he preferred it that way. Whenever the departments would reshuffle, employees would beg their managers to move their cubes away from his…

      Of course, he was also the first person in corporate culture I encountered who cut their fingernails at their desk on a regular basis too…

      1. a*

        I have several coworkers who clip their nails at their desks. Every time I hear it, I’m all “WWWHHHHYYYY can’t you do that at home?!?!?!”

        1. urban teacher*

          I hate it on the bus
          I hate it and I fuss
          I hate it on the job
          I hate it because you’re a slob.

        2. 30 Years in the Biz*

          We had a guy that would clip his nails in the meeting room during meetings. Would also scrape under his nails with his clipper tool. Super gross!

          1. Teapot Tester*

            Yeah I worked with that guy. He’d also come over to my desk to talk to me about something while clipping his nails. So.gross.

        3. Trying to Understand*

          OMG YES WHYYYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!! Recently heard our building’s OFFICE MANAGER doing it and was amazed. Why would you want to live down to the stereotype of the secretary doing her nails at her desk?!?!?!!?!

        4. Elemeno P.*

          I will admit to clipping when a nail splits. I don’t do the whole hand, just the offending nail, and apologize to my cube neighbor. I can’t have it rip off!

      2. Millie M*

        I used to have a coworker who cut her nails in the office. She also cracked gum very loudly, which made me jump every time. And she burned fish in the microwave. Not just a little–it was very extremely burnt. We aired out the hall and had fans running all afternoon, and it still reeked in the morning. It was horrible. I was so relieved when she left.

    8. Jesca*

      I took do not have any coffee wars story. i do have a sort of anti-coffee war, though!

      I worked at this satellite plant a few years ago with a very small management staff and then shift manufacturing workers. None of us drank coffee. Like at all. So when visitors starting showing up, not one of us actually KNEW how to make coffee!!!! So then we would all fight over who was going to make this coffee that visitors may or may not want. The first time, all of us tried together. And we failed. HARD. We ended up using the wrong coffee pot that actually did not align with the coffee maker. The VPs from our parent company came in to the entire counter, cookies, cakes, and fruit covered in freaking coffee! Yeah we never went back and checked if it was okay. We earned our stripes of coffee brewing incompetence and when other visitors would come, they would lecture us on the importance of offering coffee refreshments. When my manager came out to visit me at this site, she learned of our incompetence and now total FEAR of making coffee that she called us all in and showed us how!!

      1. zora*

        This one cracks me up. I love picturing all of these grown adults cowering in the corner afraid of the coffee maker ;o)

      2. Plague of frogs*

        I am not a coffee drinker. I used to volunteer at a homeless shelter, and one evening I made the coffee. I followed all the instructions, and it looked OK to me…the clients drank it, and no one complained….

        At the end of the evening, I went to clean the coffee maker, and was surprised to see that the grounds had disappeared. As I was puzzling over this, another volunteer took a sip of coffee and almost spat it out. He said it was like drinking mud.

        I had used instant coffee just like it was regular coffee. The clients didn’t complain because 99% of them are way too grateful to complain about anything.

      3. Lady Blerd*

        I have a friend who absolutely hates coffee, has no idea how to make it. So when she was told it was her job to do so, she purposefully went overboard with the grinds. When they tried to write her up for it, she reminded them of her constant warmings. Her higher ups never went back to her after that.

      4. Chinook*

        As someone who has shown countless people how to make coffee (including church ladies who are using the percolator urns) I have learned that most people actually don’t know how to do it. And you haven’t truly learned until you have had coffee and/or grounds covering something outside the pot.

      5. Cornflower Blue*

        I don’t know how to make coffee and I hate the smell. Nonetheless, I once tried to make it for an aunt when I was at her house and she asked me to (pre-Internet days when you could look up instructions).

        I made it exactly how I make tea – a teaspoon for the cup, a teaspoon for the pot, steep for 10 minutes, then strain out the leaves. Or in this case, beans. Full size coffee beans.

        Unsurprisingly, she was not pleased.

    9. H.C.*

      I’m also not privy to coffee drama since I bring my own beans, mug, coffeemaker & filter (Hario V60 drip, perfect for individual portions.)

      1. MamaGanoush*

        Single serve french press (no paper filter, but then you have to clean it up) or Clever Coffee Dripper. The Hario is swank!

    10. Trillion*

      Right? I’m so fortunate that of all the crazy I’ve been a part of, coffee culture has always been sane everywhere I’ve worked.

  2. Antilles*

    I just wish I drank coffee so I had something to contribute, because if this is anything like the mess that Office Fridges are, there’s going to be some epic stories here.

    1. CTT*

      I DO drink coffee and still have nothing to contribute, which normally I would be thankful for but today I’m bummed I can’t share in the insanity.

    2. Magenta Sky*

      I don’t drink coffee, but have a very minor story anyway.

      A retail place I worked at a long time ago kept coffee for customers, fresh every morning. I was told that I had to take my turn making coffee, using the usual drip coffee maker. But I know nothing about toxic bean waste, or how to make it, But everybody had to take their turn. So I explained my theory of coffee making: The basket for the filter was the size it was because that’s how much coffee you were supposed to put in it. Fill it up level to the top, and hit Go. I really didn’t know (or care to know) better. I was told that since I didn’t drink coffee, I was excused from making it.

      1. Laoise*

        As an avid coffee drinker, that is exactly how I made my first ever pot of coffee. I have never forgotten it!

        If you were my coworker, I’d be pretty pissed that you wouldn’t learn a skill every other employee needed for the workplace’s normal business work. It’s like the office clerk who pretends they’ll never be able to figure out the photocopier and tries to make everyone else do their tasks on it.

        1. Berlina*

          I had to teach each of my colleagues how to make coffee that won’t kill everybody (1dt person to come in usually sets up a can). We have a filter machine, so now everyone’s mantra is “1 coffee spoon with 250ml water equals 1 mug of drinkable beverage”. xD

          1. Laoise*

            I don’t care if someone ducks out of the rotation for making employee coffee. It’s that she skipped a job duty meant for customer service that bugs me.

            1. Jesca*

              Well I would just chalk it up to that not everyone is good at everything, and management made a decision to not suffer through this employee’s bad coffee out of principle and then Let It Go.

            2. AMPG*

              I’m with you – if your coworkers are trying to make you do a chore that only they benefit from, that’s one thing. But in this case it was a work-related task that one person clearly thought was beneath them.

              1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I would agree with you if she actually drank the coffee too, but since she’s not a coffee drinker at all, it’s absurd to expect her to make it or know what she’s doing.
                I say this as a coffee drinker. I’d rather have it made by someone who knows what they are doing.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          “If you were my coworker, I’d be pretty pissed that you wouldn’t learn a skill every other employee needed for the workplace’s normal business work.”

          And I would be confused that my coworker didn’t bother to read the instructions on the can of coffee, or ask someone who knows how to make coffee to show them how to do it, instead of deciding that the winning strategy was to make such a sub-par effort that the manager thought they were too hopeless to even attempt to bother teaching.

      2. fiverx313*

        my first job after college was at a furniture store, and the owner only came in a couple days each month… which was a relief for all of us! he was pretty exacting about a number of things (and left detailed handwritten notes about them), but coffee was definitely a big one. coffee must be fresh (a pot that’s two hours old is TOO OLD), coffee must be brought to his desk, and coffee must be made by someone other than him.

        that’s all well and good, but neither i nor the manager had ever made coffee before. i don’t drink it… i’m not sure what my manager’s excuse was. so we’re both standing there staring at the machine like it’s a bomb we don’t know how to defuse. we decided to proceed by removing the basket, putting in the filter and coffee, and then… pouring the full pot of water directly into where the basket should go, causing it to spill out immediately, all over the floor.

        the ensuing ruckus drew the owner out of his office, and he dressed us both down like we were the biggest morons ever created. he shooed the manager off, and had me watch (and take notes) while he showed me how the mysterious coffee machine works. life skill learned, i guess?

        1. Chinook*

          In the owner’s defense, coffee served at Tim Horton’s is thrown out after 20 minutes and you can tell when it has been on the burner longer than 30.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            LOL! My husband makes a pot of coffee when he gets up for work at 4am…I drink it when I get up at 11am, nice and fresh X-D

      3. Mine Own Telemachus*

        This makes me so glad our office coffee comes in pre-measured vacuum packs so there’s zero question of how much to put in.

      4. Emelle*

        Last admin job I had, the first admin in made the coffee. On days I made it, the Office Grouch complained endlessly about how bad it was. We finally figured out it was only on my days that it was awful. He scheduled a meeting with me the next morning with him and another admin. They watched me make the coffee. Exactly they way I was supposed to. She said it was fine-ish, he said it was sludge and told me the only time I should ever make coffee is when a client that drove him up the wall was in the office.

        My husband still says something is off with my coffee. Even when I use the keurig.

      5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Sorry people are piling on you. This is a task that needs to be done by those who know and care what coffee tastes like. It was ridiculous that they expected it of you or any other non-coffee drinker.

    3. Triple Anon*

      I drink coffee, but I can’t think of any interesting office coffee stories. I’m usually focused on big picture work stuff and kind of oblivious to everything else.

  3. Cheesesticks and Pretzels*

    I worked at a company where the coffee pot would get low and would just get left on the burner until the remaining coffee evaporated and burned. The place always smelled like burnt coffee.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Ugh…that is not a nice smell. Am I the only one who thinks that Starbucks always smells like burnt coffee?

            1. A.N. O'Nyme*

              I just realized I don’t have any of the pokémon games that gives you a Charmander as a starter. I must amend this.

      1. Bea*

        They’re known for pushing shots to the near burnt stage. It’s their thing and so many live for it.

      2. Bacon Pancakes*

        My boyfriend who, at 38 finally decided to give coffee a try and became an IMMEDIATE coffe snob, looked into this. Turns out that Starbucks knowingly over-roasts the beans to the point of burning because it creates a “more consistent product”.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          My dad loves it. I’m a third-wave coffee nerd and have tried giving him a halfdozen different bags of really excellent not-burned beans but the man loves his Starbucks. He’s in his 60s and spent my childhood guzzling Yuban coffee made from grounds in a big can so I’m sure compared to that Starbucks is manna from heaven.

        2. Specialk9*

          I buy coffee from Bongo Java in Nashville, thanks to a former roommate. Made in the Shade made me start drinking coffee.

        3. Beckysuz*

          Yeah and that’s why Starbucks is hot garbage. Give me that sweet sweet Canadian goodness every time. I worship at the altar of Timmy Hos. But seriously I recall reading somewhere that SBs buys old beans and that’s why they burn them? I find their coffee intolerable. No amount of cream and sugar can mask the burnt bean flavor

          1. Vonbomb*

            Please please come to Australia and drink coffee, Timmy hortons coffee made me sad. All Canadian coffee made me sad.

          2. canadian standoff*

            Timmy Ho’s black coffee isn’t a stand-alone drink – it’s just the first stage of a double-double. It’s a sad time in our nation’s history when McDonald’s is making a better cup of coffee than all of its closest competitors.

        1. Big Person*

          Me too. I had been so excited to find Starbucks beans in the store, only to find out the coffee it made was awful. That was when I realized it was just their lattes I liked.

        2. Specialk9*

          Have you tried their Flat White? So smooth and velvety. I hate foam on a late, but micro foam is apparently thenectar the goods.

          1. Wannabikkit*

            Flat whites in New Zealand are even better. :-)
            There aren’t many Starbucks in NZ. I supect it’s because they tried to getting into a country that already had a thriving cafe culture with cafes that serve decent coffee.

      3. Alternative Person*

        I cannot stand Startbucks. It’s always burnt and too acidic. And I’m a as bitter as possible, black as my soul coffee drinker.

      4. smoke tree*

        No, and to me it tastes like burnt, stale residue from week-old grinds. I’m not surprised they have to put a gallon of syrup into most of their drinks.

      5. AOK*

        The reason why Starbucks coffee always smells burnt is because they double roast the beans. They are literally burned. My husband’s company did a job for Starbucks a few years ago and had to go out to their plant. You can smell the burned coffee beans from 3-4 miles away.

    2. Bea*

      I had this problem for only a couple times, I put up a reminder notice by the machine saying “If you finish the pot, please turn the burner off. We will not replace any busted pots due to over exposure to heat without liquid.”

      Granted as an impromptu EA I was also doing a midday drive by of the coffee station to catch it. They were really good at not leaving them after reminded.

      Over the years I’ve learned I’ve caused fewer of these gross things by just routinely glancing at the problem area in passing. So many notice the thing is still on and it’s just not their issue or job so they get to smell rank ass burnt coffee. I’m a coffee drinker and that’s the worst smell.

    3. sssssssssssssssss*

      I hate that smell of burnt or cooked coffee. Ughhhhhhhhhhh. I had a boss who loved it that way.

    4. beanie beans*

      Let’s name today as Insulated Coffee Urn Day and throw a party for its invention! I will celebrate that *most* offices don’t have to deal with the burned coffee smell and taste!

      1. Adele*

        We recently made the switch and it is a great improvement to office life and kitchen cleanliness. No one would ever take responsibility for the burned pots before. And the last cup is nearly as good as the first.

    5. Berlina*

      Due to exactly that offten recurring issue my I ordered a coffee filter machine that turns off automatically after 40 minutes. :D

      (And since I actually had the same problem at home, we know have a filter machine with a thermo pot, so no more heated plate below it.)

    6. KR*

      Ah this is actually really dangerous! If the glass gets too hot it can spontaneously explode either if it gets hit or moved the wrong way or just randomly on its own! I hope that doesn’t happen to your old employer.

      – used to work at Dunkin donuts.

      1. Victoria*

        I had a Bunn pot explode on me once, back when I waited tables. Picked up a full pot of brand new coffee, Was about to pour into a mug, BOOM, hot coffee all over myself.

        On the upside, I got to go home early that day.

    7. starsaphire*

      I also worked at a company where the guys downstairs would come up for coffee and leave “just a half cup” so they didn’t have to make the next pot… and then it would burn and stink up the upstairs. They didn’t have to deal with the smell, of course, so they didn’t care…

      The owner “fixed” the problem by removing the coffee maker entirely.

    8. SC*

      That would make me nostalgic, because that’s exactly what my grandmother did, and how her house always smelled.

  4. SallyF*

    We used to have an employee who made coffee every morning but sometimes didn’t line up the carafe underneath properly. She’d start the coffee, go off on her merry way, as the coffee brewed all over the counter top and cascaded to the floor. At least once a week someone would come into the kitchen to find the coffee flood and have to clean it up. Never the woman who mis-aligned the pot.

    1. Whoa*

      We have a large commercial style coffee brewer in our kitchenette, and people like to brew double-batches of the coffee grounds for extra-strong coffee despite the large DON’T BREW DOUBLE BATCHES sign on the wall. It ends up back flooding the brewer and getting coffee, boiling water, and wet grounds all over the counter and floor.

      1. machiamellie*

        Simple resolution – the person who does this gets to clean it (same with the merry woman above)

        1. Whoa*

          I wish that was the case- usually they just walk away and as the closest (and most visible) admin, people come crying to me about fixing the coffee maker.

          1. Ceiswyn*

            Yup, it’s never the person who does it who cleans up.

            I once stood right next to the coffee machine and told one of our Sales guys ‘Don’t get a coffee with milk, the milk’s blocked’. He glanced at me incomprehendingly, pressed the latte button, got a black coffee, aded milk from the fridge, and wandered off as the machine overflowed milk all over the worktop and floor from above the blockage.

            He returned five minutes later to get coffee for someone else in the meeting, as I was mopping up. I glared at him, gestured at the mess, and asked why he’d pressed a milk option after being told not to and left the result for someone else to clear up. He just looked a bit gormless and then got a black coffee and hurried away. Didn’t apologise, of course.

            1. Arya Snark*

              We had a sales guy who exploded spaghetti all over the microwave and didn’t clean it up. He and I always had a bit of contentious relationship because I would call him out on his work BS but no one else would stand up to him.

              I threw the glass plate from the micro on his desk with cleaning supplies and told him to clean up the mess he made. He had the nerve to deny it was him despite witnesses and a half eaten plate of spaghetti in front of him.

              Sales guys!

            2. Snow*

              To be fair, if someone told me “Don’t get a coffee with milk, the milk’s blocked,” I would assume they just meant “No milk will come out of the machine and you will end up with black coffee and be disappointed,” not “The milk will EXPLODE OUT OF THE MACHINE.” In that situation I might think “Well, I’ll still choose latte so that it gives me the correct amount of coffee for a latte, even if I have to add milk separately.” But there may have been more context that explains why he should have known that “the milk’s blocked” meant “milk will explode.”

              1. Ceiswyn*

                Which does not excuse him leaving as the milk very obviously cascaded out of the machine.

            3. JoJo*

              Years ago I brought in an espresso maker to one workplace (there were 5 or 6 of us who drank espresso drinks), thinking that in the California Bay Area everyone knew how to use one (I was young, what can I say). I came in one morning to find that someone had put milk in the water boiler, apparently thinking it would then heat up and come out of the steam wand. Never did find out who did it so I could get reimbursed. I got a travel mug and made my cappuccinos at home after that.

          2. essEss*

            And you immediately responded, “Please let [Merry Woman] that she needs to clean up her mess. Thanks.”

            1. essEss*

              Or … if you have to be a polite admin and not able to push back, then YOU say “Thanks, I’ll let [Merry Woman] know” and then you pass the message on to her.

      2. TootsNYC*

        my company has a Flavia machine, with individual pouches that have a valve on the top that will slide into a clip so a nozzle can squirt into the hole in the center. It doesn’t make really strong coffee.

        I had a freelancer who decided she wanted stronger coffee, so she put two pouches into the clip. How she thought that was going to work, I don’t know–she jammed the machine, and then came to ask me for help.

        I realized that the mindset that let her completely ignore the physical structure of the coffee pouch was also evident in the way she did her job, and the way she communicated. And I never asked her back.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          You just gave me an idea…anyone who applies for a job at my firm should have to make a batch of coffee.

          1. Work Wardrobe*

            Very sensible idea. They don’t have to cater a dinner for 30, just make one damn pot of coffee…

            1. OlympiasEpiriot*

              I don’t think it is irrelevant. (1) Ability to follow instructions, (2) Attention to simple details (3) Willingness to help out (4) Lack of “that’s beneath me” behaviour.

                1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  There are instructions. Just like on those flavia machines in the example I was answering.

                  What do you do with people who don’t follow visual instructions with words underneath?

                  I dont’ drink coffee either, but I know how to work it.

                2. Mobuy*

                  Yeah, I had that problem once. My boss told me to make coffee, but I’d never done it before. He showed me, but I think there’s an art to how many coffee grounds you pour into the filter. I guess I made it too strong? Anyway, I never was asked to make coffee again.

                3. TootsNYC*

                  Then I would get to evaluate how they handled doing a task that they didn’t understand–did they get out their phone and google it? did they read the side of the coffee package? did they ask me for directions? That’s actually an important skill–being able to ask questions and get instruction when you don’t know stuff, instead of barrelling ahead and making a guess.

              1. SignalLost*

                This is exactly why I say if I ever wind up interviewing, I want to see how my interviewees parked their cars.

            2. Leah*

              I personally don’t like this idea. I hate coffee, never drink it, and thus I have no idea how to make it. Would knowing how to make coffee really count for something in an interview for an office job?

              1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                If there are clear, visual instructions adjacent, I think it is relevant for the 4 reasons I mentioned above.

                I’m mostly a tea drinker, but every time I see someone taking the last cup of coffee from the dispenser in our office, I wait to see if they make another cup. If they don’t, I mention it. If they claim inability, I walk them through it and say that I expect they’ll keep doing it from here on in. We are an engineering firm with a lot of job requiring being in the field and a modicum of mechanical sense. I have had too many junior engineers assigned to one of my jobs who seem to have never done anything more mechanical than pressed the power switch on their computers. This is a problem. I want people who can follow instructions and do something practical (as well as pitching in w/o thinking not-my-job).

                The hot water for tea comes from the same machine, different spigot.

              2. Alli525*

                Agreed. I’d be willing to do this assuming (1) the interview is for an admin role ONLY, and (2) you give me directions on how to make said coffee. Or at least the manual for the coffee maker.

                If I were interviewing for a non-admin role, no way Jose. I’m a woman early enough in my career that I don’t need anyone getting ideas about my ability and willingness to make coffee.

                1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  Ah, that last bit is a really good point. I definitely have pushed back on typing for that exact same reason (many years ago when I first joined this firm and we had few computers for word processing).

                  Ok. I’ll ditch this idea.

                  I am just SO frustrated with junior engineers who don’t even have to take a one-semester mechanical drawing class anymore! There are SO many who have no mechanical ability whatsoever! We have to use tools in the course of our jobs, these guys all are bewildered and then act like it is beneath them as a defense!

                  And the higher-ups don’t see the value of actually giving people some kind of a mechanical test during the interview.

                  Back to the drawing board. (no pun intended.)

                2. Kendra*

                  OlympiasEpiriot, you could try having candidates put together a basic Lego model or something like that? That would test mechanical sense and ability to follow directions without unfortunate implications.

                3. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  To Kendra, maybe that would be a good idea. Really, if we have to come up with a test, I’d rather it be sketching something. There are a lot of situations (that would be easier to demonstrate rather than describe) when a simple sketch — I’m not talking Mannerism Still Life here! — is absolutely needed. Photographs don’t always do the job. Also, sketching something in front of you makes you *observe* it. Taking a picture doesn’t force that the same way. (Of course, a real photographer IS observing and framing the picture to make sure the observations make it in. That’s different.)

                  Also, if you learn to observe well, you can plan in three dimensions — four if you add in time, like over the course of a stage of a project’s construction. We do a lot of planning. (Not the same as designing. Again, easier to demonstrate than describe.)

                  Sketching and planning can really be related to using tools and basic mechanical sense.

                4. Mad Baggins*

                  @OlympiasEpiriot, I see what skills you’re trying to go for, but I really think things like conscientiousness, resourcefulness, attention to detail and the ability to follow directions are skills you can test for in other ways.

                  Why not have them sketch a Lego model that would match certain specifications? Give them a Master Builder sort of test to see how they think things out.

                5. Nessun*

                  I agree that watching people make coffee would give insight into problem solving abilities and common sense, but I balk at the notion that it’s for an admin-only role. It personally burns me up that people think admins should take care of all the coffee stations/coffee making paraphernalia. If it’s an actual assigned duty of the role, fair enough – but so many staff at my office think “I can leave the cups for an admin”/”I’m too busy”/”My time is worth more”, which is degrading and not entirely accurate, and can lead to resentment and the kitchen in a mess (the admins have pressing responsibilities to their clients too!).

                  Basically – admins aren’t there to clean up after people, or make them coffee (unless it’s explicitly part of the job) and far too many non-admin staff seem to think it’s part of the role.

              3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I wasn’t a coffee drinker until I was over 40, and had no idea how to make it, either.

                If someone had asked me to do that in a job interview (that had nothing to do with the coffee industry) I’d have thought were out of their damn mind. XD

          2. NacSacJack*

            Read Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell, at least the first couple chapters of it. That is exactly how the main character gets his job on the ship and eventually from there rises to the rank of Captain and Owner.

          3. TheOtherJennifer*

            I actually implemented this for newbies. As a non official hazing ritual. I’ve never seen a Falvia machine before and frankly I couldn’t figure it out at first. So now I show it to the newbies and say “here’s the coffee machine”. Knock yourself out, kids.

        2. Arya Snark*

          Flavia machines are great for avoiding the coffee wars. The coffee isn’t the greatest but it’s better than Keurig.
          I love strong coffee so I always used the strong setting and made two packets of espresso but the thought to try to make two packets at the same time never crossed my mind!

          1. Snark*

            I confess, as a non-coffee person, that I’ve gotten totally satisfying results from a Nespresso machine. It’s still pretty wasteful and terrible, but it’s not a bad shot.

        3. gmg22*

          We had a Flavia at one office where I worked, but you were supposed to pay for your pod — honor system, they had a little locked cash box next to the machine. The free-rider problem was predictably rampant, and from time to time little guilt-inducing signs reminding people to pay would appear next to the machine, and then other people would add witty remarks to them. (The company has since changed hands to the ownership of a very, very, very wealthy person, so I am pretty sure the coffee is now free — it’d look pretty chintzy if it weren’t.)

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Off-topic…but, I have a friend named Flavia and every time I read this coffee maker brand, I think of her instead for a sec.

        4. SC*

          My office has one of these. My boss came in at 10 am the day before the Christmas holiday and told me I could go home if I made him a cup of coffee. I was only at work to avoid burning a vacation day, so I did it.

        5. AntsOnMyTable*

          I don’t drink coffee. I actively hate the smell of coffee. The only time I have had experience making coffee is when I am required to do it through work and yet I have always managed to figure out how by looking at the instructions/pictures that are usually posted somewhere on the machine or commonsense.

          At my hospital system we have these individual packets for coffee. You push a button saying what you want to make and a slot opens up in the front. You put the packet in and the same thing as your machine, it squirts into the center. Well some patient’s family decided to make coffee and on top of the machine is a little indented area that has a cover you can flip up (no idea what it is for). He proceeded to rip open this packet, which isn’t at all designed to rip open, and pour it in there. And then just stare at it haplessly and expect me, as the RN, to clean it all up. If you don’t know how to make something either ask or look for instructions! And if something is difficult you are probably doing it wrong. So many people have no sense of anything. It amazes me how some people make it through the day.

    2. KimberlyR*

      Same! Although it was one of the big pump thermos looking things? I don’t know what they’re called. And if you don’t want to remove the lid, you have to line it up just perfectly over the top part. Not everyone was so precise…That thing holds A LOT of coffee.

      1. Say What, now?*

        I worked at a coffee shop and I know exactly what you’re talking about. Even people whose job it was to make coffee in those things would mess it up on the reg.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      Okay, this was me at my first job. If I got there in time, I of course cleaned up my own mess but usually someone beat me to it. On behalf of all of us inattentive coffee brewers, my apologies.

    4. Collarbone High*

      When I was an editorial assistant at a newspaper, I came in one Sunday morning to discover that someone had forgotten to put the pot under the spigot while brewing decaf the night before. They just put newspapers over the enormous mess and left it.

    5. Amber T*

      I’ve done that at home…. what a mess. I’d be pissed as hell if someone did that at work (and didn’t own up to it and clean it – accidents happen). Clearly, since it keeps happening, she just doesn’t care.

    6. ContentWrangler*

      This happened at my work too right after they got this new big “fancy” coffee machine. The carafe wasn’t clear like the old one so someone obviously set the machine going and walked away, not realizing the carafe was already full. I don’t drink coffee but I walked into the kitchen to put my lunch in the fridge and did a double take when I heard this loud dripping sound. Total coffee flood. It even poured down onto one of the microwaves (luckily not damaged). Me and another worker cleaned it up. No idea who actually started the machine and walked away.

    7. Lady Phoenix*

      I would do that sometimes when Inworked at the store. But I at least cleaned up the mess!

    8. Ilsa*

      We used to have problems because sometimes someone (occasionally me, I admit!) would forget to empty the (opaque) coffee carafe from yesterday’s old coffee, so the new coffee would overflow and create a coffee lake on the floor. Not to mention the carafe was then full of half old, half new coffee…

      …oh, and we had the cheapest pre-ground coffee. But my boss would always tell clients we had really good coffee.

    9. RottenRedRod*

      Our carafe broke and we had to order a replacement, which isn’t QUITE the right shape, so you have to put it in slightly off-center or it does this. I made a sign with photos showing how to do it and it hasn’t been a problem since!

    10. Snickerdoodle*

      That happened in the breakroom at a theatre where I used to work. Somebody flooded the coffee maker, resulting in instant signage on correct coffee maker usage. I am glad I am a tea drinker.

    11. Tuesday*

      I’ve twice set my personal, at-home coffee machine to brew in the morning…then forgot to put the carafe in place at all. So I got up in the morning to the smell of freshly-brewed coffee and the sight of a huge mess. And no coffee to drink.

      You’d think that would be the kind of dumbass thing you would only ever do once, but nope.

      1. dawbs*

        the problem with making coffee in the morning is that I have to do it before I’ve had my coffee.
        (says the person who occasionally runs the keurig without the cup in it)

    12. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      At oldjob we had a huge problem with people making a new pot of coffee without throwing out/finishing the old pot of coffee, so the entire thing would overflow everywhere. Which I have had to clean up a bunch of times even though I don’t drink coffee.

    13. vck*

      On two different universities campuses, I’ve worked in pretty old buildings. In both places, my office was located directly underneath one of the faculty lounges on the floor above. When folks were careless and spilled or overflowed their coffee pots, the excess liquid would drip through the ceiling onto my desk. I have been known to infiltrate other departments specifically to leave extremely miffed notes in response.

    14. bohtie*

      I did this exactly once, in grad school, and actually TWO of us were involved and we still messed it up and got coffee everywhere. The irony of being too tired and therefore in need of caffeine in order to correctly operate a coffeemaker was not lost on either of us.

      My grandboss at that job used to always ask me to make him coffee, which I found incredibly annoying, so one time I politely asked him (to the best of my ability anyway) why he didn’t do it himself, and it turned out that the guy with two PhDs literally did not know how to operate a coffeemaker. We had a very enlightening training session and he never asked me again.

  5. Penny*

    This isn’t that egregious, but at my last job, people would get pissed if you left your K-cup behind in the Keurig. I never take them out right away at home because they’re hot enough to burn you if you’re not careful – I just let it cool down and then take it out next time I make a cup. So I’d forget to do it at work too, and then people would passive-aggressively complain about it. I never understood what the big deal was about having to take a little piece of plastic out of a machine. At my current job, most people leave theirs in and the next person removes it, and it’s fine.

    1. MLB*

      Yeah that’s a little extreme. I have a baby Keurig in my office and the K cup is in there from last Thursday because I don’t take it out until I make a new cup.

    2. Breda*

      I think this is like reclining airplane seats: as long as everyone’s in agreement, either way works perfectly fine. It’s when you get caught in the middle that problems arise.

      1. TootsNYC*

        or like removing the lint from the dryer screen. In my small apt. bldg, we had a new family move in. The print on the dryer screen says, “remove lint before operating” or similar, so when they were done w/ their laundry, they didn’t clean the screen. (That’s how I remember doing it at laundromats before I moved in here.)

        but everyone else is programmed to clear the lint screen before they walk away–to leave it ready for the next person. “clean up your own mess” that kind of thing. I’ve never seen the lint screen be uncleaned when I’ve gone to use it.

        So the people who came after them would just start the dryer without checking the screen, and they’d end up with double the lint, which means that their load was a bigger fire hazard. Plus, less effective.

        It wasn’t THAT dangerous, but our laundry-room caretaking tenant was emailing people about cleaning the screen. (I don’t think she realized that it was simply a matter of the new folks cleaning the screen before, and the rest of us cleaning it after–neither is morally superior, it’s just best when everybody does it the same)

        1. Cedarthea*

          I remember using the dorm/apartment dryers and I always check the lint trap before I start and I always clean it after I was done just because I was so afraid of setting everything on fire!

        2. Iris Eyes*

          This is exactly where my mind went. Dryer lint, check before, clean after. Usually means I clean twice but oh well

          1. Jesca*

            Yeah, even at home I check before and after. A good friend of mine lost her house due to dryer lint, so I guess the fear is in me now!

        3. Anon Chemist*

          Yes, but it can be dangerous if they were to do several loads without cleaning the trap. I personally know two different people whose dryers both caught fire. Damaged the laundry rooms too. So I’ve been paranoid about the issue myself. Obsessive about emptying the lint trap!

    3. Rogue*

      This drives me batty when my husband does it at home, because why can he not throw his trash away?!? So, maybe that’s where your coworkers are coming from. They don’t want to be someone’s maid or mother at work.

      1. LouiseM*

        At my office, everyone leaves the K-Cup in the Keurig and the custom is for the next person to throw it away (but not their own). I think the idea is not to put something piping hot into the trash.

        1. Robin B*

          Our office has 2 large Keurig machines that automatically removes the pod after each use. Pretty good idea.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        But if *everybody* does it, you throw away the cup from the person before you, and the next person throws yours away, so it’s not like someone is acting as your maid.

      3. mediumofballpoint*

        At a previous job, it was usually the tea drinkers who objected to leaving the pods in. Sometimes they wouldn’t remember to check for a pod before they ran hot water for bagged tea, so they’d get a cup of second pass coffee + tea.

        1. StrawMeatloaf*

          At my office we have a Keurig and a hot-water maker (a clear kettle-boiler thing that doesn’t whistle and you just press a button it to work) so that doesn’t happen.

        2. Typhon Worker Bee*

          IME, every cup of tea made from water from any coffee machine tastes like coffee, no matter what you do. Thank goodness both my current offices provide kettles, too – I had to bring in my own in my last two jobs!

          Now to get North American hotel rooms to provide kettles as well as coffee makers… I had a kettle in my hotel room in Banff a few weeks ago and was so incredibly happy!

          1. Annie Moose*

            Yeah, if you want to get hot water out of a Keurig that doesn’t taste like coffee, you gotta do two or three pod-less runs. Even then, it’s still got a coffee tinge.

            Source: did you know they make hot apple cider K-cups???

            Anyway, my current job thankfully has kettles so I can get whatever temperature water I want, whenever I want, no gross coffee flavor involved.

          2. blushingflower*

            My solution to this is that I have my own collapsible electric kettle that I take with me when I travel.

        3. tinyhipsterboy*

          That’s so odd to me–I love both coffee and tea, but the few times I’ve used a Keurig for tea, my first instinct has been to run it empty first to make sure no coffee gets into the tea. I guess that’s an unusual instinct?

          1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

            Nope – I always run it empty before I make hot chocolate. But that is mostly because I don’t want it infected with the taste of coffee.

        4. essEss*

          My husband did this to me at home. I was really hungry, not much left in the house to make quickly (we needed to do a grocery run) and I scrounged and found 1 single bag of instant oatmeal in the back of the cupboard. I was really looking forward to that oatmeal. So I dump it into a bowl, and go over to our Keurig and set it to pour hot water. I took one bite and discovered that he had left the coffee grounds in it. I tried to eat it anyway but gave up after 2 bites. I was really upset.

      4. JB (not in Houston)*

        Eh, I’m with you. It feels different somehow–it’s not the effort of throwing away someone’s trash because that could balance out by leaving mine behind. It’s the fact that I’m throwing away someone else’s trash. Plus, that’s one extra step standing between me and my coffee. Plus, what happens to the kcup for the last cup of the day? It sits there breeding bacteria and mold.

        No, none of these are that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, and no, I wouldn’t pitch a fit about it at the office. But it would irritate me for sure. We all have things that irritate us that don’t bother other people.

      5. Teapot Tester*

        Same, though it’s my sister-in-law when she visits. The Keurig at her office is one of the ones that automatically disposes of the K-cup, so she forgets she has to take it out of ours.

        IDK, I have no problem taking a hot K-cup out, they’re not *that* hot that you’ll burn your fingers. Sometimes I’m lazy when I’m the only one home and don’t take it out until the next time I’m making a cup, but if my husband is around and will also be using the Keurig, I try to remember to take it out when I’m done. Because it really is annoying to have to take someone else’s K-cup out of the machine.

        1. Dove*

          I usually wait until the next time I make a cup before I toss the pod out, because the machine does give an explicit warning of “please wait, the pod is hot enough to burn”. And it probably only takes about five minutes for it to cool enough to safely touch it, but…without setting up specific reminders for myself, I am *not* going to remember to go back in five minutes and toss the old K-cup. It’s not going to happen.

          So instead, I’ve just created the habit of always checking if there’s a used cup in there. If I weren’t the only one in my house who even uses the coffee maker, I’d be more embarrassed about it and try to put more effort into not leaving used pods sitting in there.

      6. chocolate lover*

        Rogue, that’s kind of my thought. I don’t want to be tossing someone else’s trash. I use the office keurig for hot cocoa, and I just wait a few seconds after it’s done and throw out the cup. I don’t have to wait that long at all and it it’s not even warm enough to register on my fingers (though I don’t know how hot other machines get.)

      7. Ray Gillette*

        I always throw it away because I have that thing where I can’t remember if the cup is a new one or an old one.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          My one-year-old likes taking the old one and throwing it away for me. It’s the only time he’s allowed to touch the big kitchen trash can.

      8. RJGM*

        Neither Mr. M nor I drink coffee, but he has dubbed himself the “Keurig police” at work — anytime he walks into the break room and sees the Keurig closed (not running), he opens it up to check for an empty pod. He’s found several!

        There used to be a “Keurig Rules” sign up, since the machine is someone’s personal one that they brought from home, but someone else took the sign down…

    4. BlueWolf*

      We have the big Keurigs that have a disposal bin inside, so when you go to make a new cup the old cup automatically gets dumped into the bin within the machine. No touching of Keurig pods needed.

      1. AMPG*

        But then you have the standoffs over emptying the disposal bin. I’ve definitely chosen to forego coffee that morning rather than deal with it. I understand and accept that this makes me a bad person.

        1. BlueWolf*

          We have people who stock and clean the kitchens, so I think they take care of that (it’s a large office).

        2. Luna*

          Yeah I hate cleaning the disposal bin (even though I realize it’s not hard). It annoys me when someone makes the last cup before the bin needs to be emptied and then just walks away!

          1. Just Employed Here*

            We have a machine that grinds the beans and makes espresso, with a little refrigerated milk thermos attached to it so you can make (an approximation of) lattes as well.

            The machine may run out of water or beans, or need to be cleaned. There is frequently a 2 or 3 person line for the machine. It’s become a bit of a sport to joke about whether your cup is the one that leads to one of the aforementioned issues, leaving the person behind you to fix it. If “you’re lucky”, that person will even have to do all three.

            No one ever assumes it’s the person who used up the water or whatever who should fix it after they’ve made their cup. Everyone understands it might go the other way next time around.

      2. Penny*

        Fancy! Ours is connected to the water line, so you don’t have to fill up the water chamber, which is really nice. But I didn’t know there was a type that disposed of the cups automatically.

        1. rldk*

          The bin does need to be emptied, but it just tells you when it’s full and it’s easily removable. Would definitely recommend – you can get the kind with the water line with the bin too!

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Apparently, there is a panel at the bottom of the machine that can be removed because we have removed it, cut a rectangular hole in the counter top and have a tall cabinet underneath with a trash bin behind the door into which all the cups fall.

            Even easier.

    5. Bea*

      There is a sign reminding everyone to remove their kcup. I never knew it was a thing until I saw the sign.

      There’s even the snark on the sign that “because your mom doesn’t work here.”

      I don’t get it and people don’t say anything when it’s forgotten. I think an old employee made the signage. I just roll my eyes and try to remember.

      I don’t let most minor things get to me so I just shrug but can see it’s a peeve for others.

      1. Ms. Annie*

        Giggle on the “mom doesn’t work here”.

        I used to work in a large doctors’ office and about half a dozen people had mothers that did, indeed, work there.

        Someone put up a “your mother doesn’t work here.” sign and someone wrote on it “Yes, she does.” and added a list.

        The sign came down.

        1. Bea*

          LOL This backfire delights me.

          I have had moments where I’ve stated “I need to remind you that I’m not your mother despite my mother like qualities.” when co-workers would complain bitterly that were BEC level stuff.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          I would have doubled down by adding “well then, ask your mom if she’ll clean it for you – otherwise do it yourself.”

        3. Little Twelvetoes*

          I’m a mother who doesn’t clean up after her kids. (Not because I trained them right; because I am a lazy slob.)

          So my kids would wonder what that sign meant…

      2. Manager-at-Large*

        We too have a sign – but it explains that leaving K-Cup can drip in the internals and this leads to issues in the machine. And this is with the kind that has a water line and an internal waste bucket – so all you have to do is open the head to eject the cup afterwards.

      3. Plague of frogs*

        I never understood the “your mom doesn’t work here” thing. My mom was the one who always made me clean. If she’s not here, I can be a slob.

    6. Samiratou*

      What’s the difference between taking your own cup out of the machine afterwards and taking a cup from someone else out when you put yours in?

      Does not compute. People make no sense to me, sometimes. Leaving your cup to cool down make sense to me, and if you need to remove a cup no matter what, who cares whether it’s yours or the previous person’s?

      1. I can do it!*

        I’m with you, you’re either removing a pod before you make your coffee or after. One trash per transaction either way. Who cares? I do know people who get FURIOUS about this issue though.

      2. Teapot Tester*

        It’s all about cleaning up after yourself, and not making other people do it. Take the K-cup out is part of making your own cup of coffee. Taking someone else’s out is cleaning up after them.

        1. essEss*

          It’s the principle of being an adult, and a professional and it is easy to get furious when you feel that you are following the rules of being an adult but your coworkers aren’t. You clean up after yourself and you dispose of your own trash. Its the same as flushing your own toilet in the office, picking up your trash from the table after your meeting. You are deliberately leaving work for the next person (cleaning up YOUR trash) instead of completing your task.

      3. Breda*

        The problem is when it’s not “either throwing away your own cup or someone else’s” – it’s when you’re throwing out both. A minor annoyance, but the kind of thing that can build!

    7. Ella*

      This is like complaining about people who take food out of the microwave before the time is up and fail to his “clear” on the pad to clear out the remaining time.

      1. Penny*

        Haha, I remember a post about that on passiveaggressivenotes back in the day. Seriously, what is the big deal?

        1. LCL*

          I think, speaking as someone who always resets the timer, that machinery should always be left in its ready to use state, unless there is a reason not to. Or rather, as a tech person, that is a core belief I don’t normally have to think about. Seeing time left just looks wrong, because the job is not finished.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            This. I am not a tech person, but years of church summer camp burned it into my brain that when you use a communal thing, you leave no trace of having used it so it’s ready to go for whoever comes after you. Works with nature, works with the office kitchen.

        2. blushingflower*

          Well, I don’t really understand why people would set a timer for more than they actually need and then stop it (except when making popcorn).
          But mostly it’s because as other people have said, if you’re used to using the clock on the microwave, the remaining time on the timer can be misleading (esp if it’s like 1:00). And depending on the microwave, how loud it is and how bright the internal light, it can make it seem like the microwave is still in use when it’s not, and someone might end up waiting longer than necessary.

        1. Just Employed Here*

          I guess there is a risk that not clearing the time could break the microwave if it was accidentally started while empty. The microwaves have to go somewhere and if there is nothing in it to heat up …

          Hmmm, I was always taught this, but as I’m typing it out it seems to me that microwave manufacturers can’t be that oblivious to how stupid and easily distracted human beings are.

          I guess I just lost my reason to keep pressing cancel both at home and in the office.

        2. Kristy Lane*

          My mom thinks that too!
          And god forbid you don’t run to the dishwasher the SECOND it finishes to open it and press the stop button. Because otherwise the “done” indicator light stays on and, well, we just can’t have that. I’ve double washed many loads of dishes because I thought it was dirty.

      2. Lizzy*

        I CAN’T STAND THAT!!! lol – if you’re going to take the food out before time is up, PLEASE press “clear” so it goes back to the clock setting. But I’m at least aware it’s a quirk.

        1. tj bag dog*

          my work microwaves don’t have a clock setting, but the microwave at my mom’s house does and it is our main “clock” for the kitchen. we both go nutty when my dad doesn’t clear his timer/microwave time, because then we can’t see from the living room what time it is, and have to get up and walk all the way over to clear it.

        2. LavaLamp*

          You aren’t alone. I HATE it because I have a thing about clocks needing to be on the proper time.

        3. Alli525*

          THANK YOU. This is my biggest office-supply pet peeve at my current office. Also sometimes there will be HUGE amounts of time left, like 7:34 minutes, and what on earth are you microwaving that leaves that much time left??

      3. Meg Murry*

        I’ll admit that this is a pet peeve of mine, but since all it takes to correct is one quick push of the “clear” button, I just push the button and move on.

      4. Elizabeth H.*

        Yes! I agree completely. I also have a major thing for setting the time accurately on microwaves, ovens, coffee makers, rice cookers and the like. I am constantly going around fixing the times in my boyfriend’s house and at work. I don’t know how people can stand to have them all be different.

      5. smoke tree*

        What used to annoy me much more was when my desk was right next to the kitchen and everyone would abandon the microwave, letting it beep until infinity unless I went to turn it off.

    8. Viktoria*

      Yeah, I think the method of removing the previous person’s k-cup is far superior. Both because you don’t have to touch it when hot, and because it’s impossible to forget that way. Each person still has to remove 1 used cup per 1 cup of coffee brewed, so it all works out in the end.

    9. SNS*

      one of my coworkers told me leaving the k-cup in longer leaves grounds behind that clog up the machine, so you should always remove it after. but considering he never remembered to remove his k-cups, there’s a good chance that was bs

      1. Bea*

        LMAO that’s not how a pod works. It’s confined to a POD and doesn’t clog anything up. Worse case the grounds are flushed out and end up in a cup. The system is set up to make clogging not an issue.

      2. LBK*

        But…how….unless you have a very unusual Keurig where the hole is made in the bottom of the K-cup?

        1. Browser*

          All Keurigs make a hole in the top *and* the bottom of the pod. That’s how the coffee comes out.

          If you leave the pod in until the grounds have dried, there is a chance that some loose grounds will be shaken out as you remove the pod. Remove it right after when the grounds are still wet, it won’t happen.

          1. LBK*

            Huh, I guess I never realized it makes a hole in the bottom, only in the top, but that does make sense.

          2. Victoria*

            I know this because I’m the only person in the office that will take the paperclip to the needle and clean it out so we can have coffee again.

    10. Pollygrammer*

      Speaking of K-cups: I had a coworker who was a fairly intense environmentalist, and started putting out a bin for used k-cups so she could take them home and compost them. It was accompanied by a big self-righteous sign about how terrible k-cups were for the environment, and the fact that she would go absolutely insane if she saw someone absentmindedly put one in the trash.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          Oh, she’s absolutely not! I would definitely have preferred a normal coffee maker. (Or a coworker who composted them but wasn’t…incredibly aggressive about it).

      1. Work Wardrobe*

        The time spent opening the cup, fishing out the grounds and composting them, then (presumably) throwing away the plastic…?

        1. Teapot Tester*

          There are companies that make compostable K-cups – you just toss the whole thing in the composter.

        2. Starbuck*

          Coffee grounds can be a needed/wanted item if you’ve got a worm bin or whatever going, so especially if she wasn’t a coffee drinker they can be useful to collect. Better than throwing away the whole thing, anyway.

      2. Bea*

        I would spitefully dump the whole thing into the trash each time I saw it. That’s my kind of shht stirring.

        And I taught my mom to recycle while in Kindergarten. I came home and told her all about the program the school used and she was like “damn good idea, I’m in.” However do not get self righteous, my love for the environment is not as strong as my loathing for being told what to do by someone else who isn’t signing my checks.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Oh man the drive of Kindergartners. When I was in Kindergarten I started bullying my dad into wearing a seat belt. They said we had to wear one at school so he had to wear one too. It took years of me forcing him to buckle up every time I went anywhere with him, but now he wears one all the time, no prompting.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        We recently switched to compostable K-cups which I am even more resentful of (and I think I have legitimate reasons). First of all, YES, I am aware that “compostable” K-cups are, as best as I can tell, only rated for industrial composting which is very different from backyard or home composting. I believe that a lot of people think that “compostable” means “backyard or kitchen compost” which it doesn’t. So, I did the research into how my employer collects trash, recycling and compost, and what facilities they send it to, and was pleased to learn that we DO send the compost to certified industrial composting facility. So that checks out.

        However, my objections are that no matter whether they’re compostable or not, it creates waste that takes energy to compost, uses packaging to ship, and uses a ton of fuel to ship compared to a coffee pot setup. You could pack the same amount of coffee for many, many coffeepots into the same size box as it takes for 14 K-cups. Not to mention the costs of producing K-cups with processed components. It’s so much packaging. And I feel that people like the idea of compostable K-cups because it makes them “feel good” and they can forget about it. Research shows that people who believe they’ve done something virtuous tend to compensate for it in other ways, like “Oh, I composted my coffee cup, so it’s not a big deal to leave my house lights on all day or that I never carpool.” I think that focusing on the compostable cups which barely make a difference, is an opportunity cost for caring about initiatives that have more impact. If the energy was focused on switching us to coffee pots instead, or to a coffeemaker that didn’t use individual packaging, it would make a bigger difference. Argh! I have become really obsessed with this lately.

        1. anycat*

          as someone in the environmental services industry you are correct. ;) even the “plantware” items have some form of plastic coating over it that takes longer than 30 days to compost, so we recycle them.

        2. PersephoneUnderground*

          Lol- but the cost of switching the system may be an escalation of coffee wars that keurigs otherwise (mostly) obviate the need for. Though of course I have to plug the more obvious re-usable K-cups that you fill with coffee if you want a better but almost-identical single-serve system. The composting thing seems like an inefficient way to deal with the problem. Oh wait! I remember this from elementary school! It’s Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle (or compost) in that order of priority! So composting the cups is way inferior to getting re-usable cups in the first place or one of your other suggestions. I feel like I just earned a gold star for actually remembering that!

        3. MsSolo*

          It’s like lego switching to bio-plastic for the bricks. Sure, it’s better than using oil, but actually it’s a whole ‘nother energy intensive process, doesn’t allow for recycling, and they still don’t biodegrade, which is a really big issue with plastics.

      4. Former Govt Contractor*

        I am one of those annoying environmentalists (9 BILLION K-cups went into landfills last year ALONE) so I bought the office a new coffee maker that has a single-brew feature. You just put your little grounds in the holder with a screen, brew your single cup of coffee, toss (or compost, if you’re at home) the grounds. Bonus – it’s cheaper, and you can choose the coffee you like and the strength you prefer. Alternatively, they make re-usable K-cups that work in Kerig machines.

    11. Q*

      I would prefer everyone remove their own K-cup but I wouldn’t make a big deal about it. I feel it gives the chamber time to dry out and thus is less likely to be gross.

    12. Al Lo*

      I have, on more than one occasion, run the Keurig for hot water without checking for a used pod and ended up with old-coffee flavoured oatmeal. Gross.

    13. Lujessmin*

      Oh, that was one of my biggest pet peeves at my former office – one guy NEVER removed his K-cup when he was done. I know I passively-aggressively snarled a few time, “Boy, I wish whoever left their K-cup in the machine would take it out!”, but it never worked. I often wonder how they are making their coffee now since I was the only person who filled the water bottle for the machine.

      P.S. – I was also ther person who bitched about people who didn’t clear the time on the microwave when they were done.

    14. Lola Banks*

      At my last job people would remove their K-cups…and leave them on the counter. So at the end of the day there’d be a dozen or so used cups just sitting there and staining the counter. Not sure what their rationale was for that.

    15. Faith*

      My office has the Keurig model that automatically disposes of the old K-cup when you pop it open to insert a new one. There is still a sign asking people to pop the thing open when they are done brewing their cup because leaving it in will clog the nozzle. But you don’t actually have to touch the hot K-cup. The disadvantage is that sometimes you end up inadvertently disposing of the new K-cup if you insert it and the machine doesn’t work right, so you pop it open to check what’s wrong.

    16. Dunder Mifflin*

      I work in workplace supplies, including office coffee, and there actually is a reason for this. Hopefully I’m able to provide a decent explanation here, as I don’t manage our technical services department, but I have heard from them why removing the cup matters. There’s a tiny needle that punctures the bottom of the k-cup through which the water runs to get into your mug. The longer you leave a k-cup in the machine, the more that little needle gets clogged with tiny grains from the k-cup that are then just sitting there, and eventually (over many cups) it has to be flushed. It’s not complex, but generally we have to send out a tech to do it for people. Of course, that’s a long explanation, so our customers generally just put out the snarky notes instead.

      TL/DR: Yes, there is a reason to throw away your used k-cups.

    17. ALBA*

      well…. i have to admit. I am someone who did this. My office does not have a large amount of use on the Keurig. Maybe 4 or 5 drinks on average a day.

      What happens with our office Keurig is that if a kcup is left in the coffee drippings dry blocking the hole and make it a mess for the next person. It also flavours the next cup made. There are varrious types of beverages made from regular coffee, flavoured coffee, hot chocolate, to brewed over ice drink. Trust me, there is nothing worse than having a nice refreshing glass of lemon iced tea ruined by the leftover slightly burnt taste of Hazelnut Coffee.

      Our biggest culprit of leaving kcups in and just messes in general in the kitchen is the company president. It is a smallish (20 – 25 people) “family” business so everyone is on a fist name basis and knows things about peoples lives outside of work from top to bottom. He is the type to pout and carry on if something is mentioned to him directly that is not rah rah positive (trust me i know what you are thinking) so a passive aggressive way was the only way to go. It was mentioned when he was in earshot and the kcup cradle was taken out and washed in hot water when he was around so he could see the caked on dry coffee that was left over. The point got across and myself and other were able to stop tossing our badly 2nd hand flavoured drinks.

    18. Tea*

      My boss buys ground coffee for the refillable Keurig cups and won’t buy K-Cups. The staff freaks any time someone loves the refillable pod filled with old grounds. One girl bangs the pod as hard as she can against the trash can when dumping it, “HOW-bang-HARD-bang-IS-bang-IT-bang-TO-bang-CLEAN-bang-“and so on. But that’s worse than just dumping the k-cup, having to shake the wet ground out of the pod.

    19. Oxford Coma*

      A lot of people at my job have the re-usable cups, so if they forget and leave them, they get stolen (in a light-hearted, badge of honor sort of way). It’s an excellent motivation to clean up after themselves.

    20. Kate H*

      It’s the same way in my office. I’ve always left the K-cup in my home Keurig because, like you said, the thing is hot enough to burn. Taking it out of the work Keurig makes me anxious that I’m either going to burn myself or set the trashcan on fire.

    21. Anon Chemist*

      We have a few Tassimos at our place. Those evil pods explode if you take them out right away, with coffee grounds and hot water spilling everywhere! They seem to be pressurized. I mostly leave them to cool in the machine and toss them upon brewing the next cup. But I also dislike the thought of them mouldering in there overnight, that’s for sure. Quite a conundrum!

    22. Shortie*

      The people in my office complain about this too and put up passive-aggressive signs, and it drives me batty. I comply so I’m not seen as the jerk, but it makes no sense at all to me to sit around and wait until the K-cup is cool enough to throw out. Makes way more sense to leave it for the next person (including when that next person is me).

  6. PNWCoffeeFiend*

    I had a coworker who forbade us from using the company coffee pot. The smell of coffee was unpleasant to her so she made a big deal with our boss and HR till they removed the coffee pot. Employees were told to bring from home – thankfully a coffee kiosk went in down the street around the same time.

    1. LouiseM*

      WOW. That’s looney tunes, although I feel like we’ve had a letter about a similar situation before.

    2. blackcat*

      The only thing that would make this not crazy is if she were pregnant. Coffee is a common source of sent-induced vomiting in the first trimester.

      1. Teapot Tester*

        This was me during my first pregnancy. However, I just avoided coffee myself and didn’t take it away from an entire group of people.

      2. Luna*

        I could understand someone asking to not have the coffee pot near them if they were bothered by the smell, but banning the entire rest of the office from being able to make coffee at all is a whole other level.

    3. Lorelai Gilmore*

      I would start a revolution over this. Wars have been waged for less serious offenses.

    4. Q*

      When we moved office locations they tried to put the coffee pot on the cubicle next to mine. I politely explained that I don’t like the smell of coffee and could it please be moved elsewhere. They moved it a few rows over. I could still smell it but that’s my issue and it was nowhere near as bad as it would have been right next to me. It’s not like it was fish in the microwave!

    5. Dragoning*

      That’s crazy. The smell of coffee gives me migraines and I’ve never demanded to get rid of someone else’s coffee pot. I just won’t sit anywhere near them while they have it.

    6. JerryLarryTerryGary*

      I would be tempted to put used coffee grounds in the office plants. Because I care.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      I can’t comfortably be within five feet of coffee. But the solution is for *me* to move, not to get rid of everyone else’s coffee.

      1. M_Lynn_K*

        Right? Also I LOVE the smell of coffee and would happily sit next to the machine. That is a prized seat for some people!

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Same! I love the smell of coffee. I’ve had to cut back on my caffeine intake for health reasons but being able to smell it would make me happy!

    8. Kate H*

      My fiancee’s mom is like this. I’m only allowed to make coffee at work as long as she lives with us.

  7. Amber Rose*

    What about donuts? One coworker got so mad at people who would cut donuts in half that he bought a huge box of donuts and cut a quarter piece out of all of them.

    1. Jam Today*

      I used to have a mystery coworker who would slice the muffin tops off whenever someone brought in muffins, so if she got their first all that would be left were the paper-wrapped muffin carcasses. The pure selfishness of that act enrages me to this day.

      1. Future Homesteader*

        That’s a crime against baked goods. I know people here often jump to legal solutions when things aren’t illegal, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that *MUST* be actionable!

        1. Luna*

          If I was a manager I would seriously fire someone over that if I could. I mean, what kind of a person does that?!

        1. Alice Ulf*

          Ahahaha, muffin stumps.

          “It’s not Top of the Muffin TO YOU!!1!1!”
          “No, no, it is!”

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            I mean, the top is the best part. Even the food kitchen didn’t want those stumps!

      2. Clever Name*

        She’d take ALL the muffin tops? Taking one is weird, but technically, it’s not that different from taking half. Taking all of them is truly bizarre. Like, how many muffin tops can one person eat?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          It is *very* different from taking half. If you want half a muffin, you slice it from top to bottom, so both halves have part of a muffin top.

          1. Triumphant Fox*

            I think I would take the whole muffin and just eat the top if I only wanted the top…no one wants your topless muffin stump.

            1. pugsnbourbon*

              Thanks for making me giggle at “muffin stump.” I know you can buy just muffin tops now, but muffin stumps seem much less marketable.

              1. Just Jess*

                This thread is baffling to me. If the muffin is good then it is soft and scrumptious throughout. I’d be perfectly happy with any part.

                1. Anon Chemist*

                  It’s because the top is both soft and scrumptious, and also crunchy and delicious! But I confess I’d eat either part…

              2. Younger Sibling*

                No, I do too. My older sister is convinced it’s because she convinced me when we were young to take the bottom half of a muffin so that she could have the top half. But I like the bottom because the top is spongy and has a weird texture.

        2. LBK*

          I mean, I could probably eat a solid 20 muffin tops before I started to feel sick. I wouldn’t, but I probably could.

      3. Midge*

        Ack that is so rude! Years ago when I was volunteering at a non-profit, I went into the break room to heat up my lunch. I noticed that there was a basket of leftover baked goods on the table, clearly up for grabs. But when I got close I could see that the only thing left was muffin bottoms. I just don’t understand who’s like, “Oh someone will definitely want the bottom of my muffin so I’ll just leave it here.”

      4. Amber Rose*

        To me, that’s much worse than eating a piece of a donut. It would be like slicing the donut in half lengthwise and eating the icing.

        1. CMart*

          That… is a genius way of eating donuts I have not previously considered. *takes furious notes*

      5. Where's the Le-Toose?*

        I would go totally mental if someone did this at my work. Must … control … fist of death!

      6. Iris Eyes*

        *raises hand

        Yes, Yes it really is that bad. Baked (and in the case of donuts) fried foods have a shell that contains their moist delightful interior. When you cut the darn things and expose them to the air within a short time they start getting all dry and crusty. I want my muffins moist dang it not half way to a crouton.

        Don’t even get me started on the bagel shards that some people think are appropriate or desirable.

        Especially donuts, they already have like an 18hr period of decency when you cut them that fractures into maybe 2 hrs, maybe.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          I prefer my donuts slightly stale, so I like the “exposed to air” effect of cutting a donut in half – the remaining half is chewier and more enjoyable to me.

          It takes all kinds!

      7. Rachel*

        I’m the weirdo who actually prefers the bottom part of the muffin. The top often has a sticky texture that I don’t like. But knowing that someone touched the food would bother me.

        1. All. Is. On.*

          Ah, I didn’t read down the thread far enough! I also prefer the bottom part of the muffin!

      8. Robin B*

        That sounds just like South Park when Cartman stole all the skin off the KFC chicken pieces… but wait.. that’s a cartoon.

        1. Dove*

          I could understand the horror of having the fried chicken skin stolen! (But not, specifically, the *KFC* fried chicken skin; I never seem to manage to get any fried chicken from there that actually has crispy skin! Which is incredibly disappointing, when I’m expecting something with some crunch to it.)

      9. A Nony Mouse*

        Related: I have no fewer than two coworkers that will take the top half of a bagel with toppings and abandon the unseasoned remains. Monsters, I tell you.

      10. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Huh. Just yesterday there was a leftover box of baked goods in the kitchen which had only half a pastry and a muffin cut in half (both half’s were there) with the top removed from one of the halfs. So someone cut the muffin in half, then took the top off of one half and left the rest. I was so puzzled. Ate the in-tact half though.

    2. Kyubey*

      I don’t get that… did he just not like them being cut in half but he didn’t mind them being cut in quarters?

      I did have a coworker at my last job who complained when someone brought donuts but no flavors she liked left/ ordered in the first place. She claimed they shouldn’t buy any jelly filled or Boston creme donuts ever.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I think it was like a passive aggressive “see how annoying this is” message. I didn’t really care though. 3/4 of a donut, as long as it was cut with a clean knife, is fine with me.

        1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

          I love my donuts and hate it when people take half a donut, but maybe donut quarters are the new donut holes?

          1. CanCan*

            What’s wrong with half-donuts? Would you rather somebody take a whole donut, eat half and throw out the other half?

            If you don’t like halves, just pretend the person took the entire thing.

            1. SignalLost*

              Because it’s frequently a component of food morality, and I am a staunch advocate of removing morality from food. I don’t, per se, care about half doughnuts, but they are so often accompanied with the knowledge that a woman cut it in half because she’s being “naughty”, and also, she couldn’t possibly eat a full doughnut because only fat cows do that. That grinds my gears.

              1. Owler*

                Not morality, but a sense of adventure! I love half doughnuts, but mainly so I can try all of the flavors.

        2. EddieSherbert*


          I’d pause for like 2 seconds in confusion (why did someone cut ALL the donuts?)…. and then eat the donuts anyway and be happy I got 3/4 of a donut!!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        You people secretly want 3/4 doughnuts! Like taking half is oh-so-diet-conscious… but put a 3/4 doughnut before you, and we’ll just see who cuts it in half now… *rubs hands* *shuffles to cave*

      3. CMart*

        That’s crazy talk. Boston creme are the only donuts worth eating! I’m the jerk who sees a donut box being carried through the hallway and then lurks like a creep nearby to ensure I can swoop in and get the Boston creme.

    3. Manders*

      As weird as this is, a part of me would LOVE to have a tasting flight of donuts instead of choosing just one.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        At the office where I work now we sometimes have what we call a “truffle buffet.” There’s this place not far away that makes amazing truffles in all sorts of flavors – conventional flavors, slightly odd flavors and very odd flavors – and they’re delicious, but they’re also about a zillion calories each, and anyway, with all those flavors to chose from, it’s very difficult to chose just one or two. So what we do is get a selection that includes mostly conventional and slightly odd flavors and maybe one or two of the very odd flavors, and we slice them up, like teensy little cheesecakes, so that everybody who wants to can get a taste.

        Which is how I found out that gorgonzola-dark chocolate truffles and balsamic truffles are *amazing*, at least as made by this place.

        1. Midge*

          Sea salt olive oil truffles are one of my all time favorite things. Sadly, the place where I used to get them no longer makes them.

          1. Snark*

            When we were in Barcelona recently, my wife ordered a dessert that was three little dollops of a firm dark-chocolate mousse, doused in forest-green olive oil, sprinkled with flaky salt, and served with three crispy little toast rounds. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

                1. new day new name*

                  I live in DC….and work adjacent to a Jaleo… apparently I need to peruse their dessert menu more often

                2. Snark*

                  Jaleo is friggin’ amazing. I had one of the best coffees of my life there, to bring this full circle, and the food was great too.

                3. SarahKay*

                  Sadly I am in the UK, so a very long way from DC indeed, but useful to know if I ever visit :)

            1. zora*

              At Zero Zero in San Francisco, they have a soft serve icecream dessert where you can select your toppings, which include olive oil, sea salt, a homemade brownie, etc. It is really that amazing.

        2. JanetM*

          I must admit it took me a minute to correctly add “chocolate” in front of “truffles.” I was briefly very confused.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        We did this in my office once! Boss went to one of those trendy little donut shops and picked up four different varieties and we cut them in quarters so each of us could try all four.

        1. SoCalHR*

          Did I used to be your boss? lol We totally did this once for a team members bday. It was fun (and kind of pricey cuz its a super hipster donut shop)

          1. Fergus*

            Yea there’s a place in DC called Georgetown cupcake. There are lines around the corner sometimes.

            1. LBK*

              There’s a Georgetown Cupcake in Boston that used to be down the street from my office, and I admit that for a while when it first opened I would be there at least 3 times a week to get the secret cupcake.

              1. LBK*

                I always liked Hello Cupcake in Dupont – the cupcakes weren’t quite as good, IMO, but the punch cards for free cupcakes evened it out, especially as a broke college student.

        2. Teapot Tester*

          We’ve done this with a place that sells bundt cakes in different sizes for our bi-monthly birthday celebration. We got a bunch of the muffin-sized ones in several flavors and cut them into quarters so people could try different ones.

          1. motherofdragons*

            We have a place like that (Nothing Bundt). Before our wedding, we invited a group of friends over and bought a bunch of different flavors of the mini cakes and cut them into quarters. People got to taste them all and vote on their favorite flavors, and the 3 winners were purchased for our wedding! We also had a couple of different types of sparkling wine to try out, same deal, people got to vote. It’s our best-attended party to date.

        3. Parenthetically*

          Yes, this is what you DO! We did the same at my work when a new donut place opened up the street.

      3. paul*

        We’ve done that here a few times. It’s frigging glorious. Quarter them, everyone grabs 4-8 pieces of all different flavors.

        I’m feeling a bit like Homer Simpson now…I really want a damn donut

      4. Adlib*

        At the last Yelp event I attended (last weekend), we did a wine and donut tasting. Yes, it was fabulous!

      5. CAA*

        We do that at home and at work. We have this amazing donut place with unusual flavors like maple bourbon, cap’n crunch, chocolate euphoria, lavender lemon, etc. Most of the donuts are huge and everybody wants to try multiples, so we cut them in quarters before diving in.

      6. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This reminds me that I saw an advertisement for Rita’s Italian Ice that you can now buy a flight of Italian Ice.

        Tasting flights should definitely be more of a thing.

      7. CMart*

        I feel this way about soups. My office cafeteria usually has 3-5 really good sounding soups/stews/chilis on any given day, and I hate that I have to get 12oz of ONE. Why can’t I get 3oz of four of them for the same price??

      8. bookends*

        I once saw this referred to as “donut charcuterie” and I’ve wanted to do it ever since.

    4. the_scientist*

      Hahahahahahaha this is an inspirational level of pettiness.

      We don’t have coffee wars at my office, but we did have a period of cake thievery! The cake for someone’s baby shower mysteriously vanished from the fridge and the organizer was understandably livid.

        1. Liane*

          Worse than the story I’ve told before about the third-shifters at Old Job who mutilated and/or had a food fight with THREE full sheet cakes (2 clearly labeled for the other shifts).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Stealing cake is bad, but stealing cake from a pregnant woman… I will stab this plastic fork through your hand.

      2. gmg22*

        Great story: My dad was a teacher at our local high school, and when he turned 50, my mom ordered a nice bakery cake and dropped it off in the teachers’ room with a note that people should help themselves to a slice of cake — but didn’t let my dad know in advance she was doing this. Dad arrived in the teachers’ room an hour later. Cake was gone. Box was in the trash. We still LOL about this 25 years later.

    5. fposte*

      The anger people have at slicing always surprises me, and I’d be perfectly pleased with a box of precut donuts. I mean, I get it if people are taking the top half of a cupcake, but the left half of a plain bagel is perfectly reasonable. Lots of people don’t want the full American-sized portion of things, and if the objection is that it means the other half sometimes gets thrown away, it would get thrown away at the person’s desk if they took a whole one anyway.

      And yes, I work in an office of half-takers. It works fine :-).

      1. ContentWrangler*

        I agree. My office has donut Wednesdays and people cut the donuts in half all the time. People bring them in from all sorts of different bakeries and sometimes they’re huge – cutting them in half is necessary.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Exactly. Half a donut (nicely cut, with a knife) means the next person can take half a donut too. It also means I don’t have to decide between cinnamon and blueberry, since there are halves of each waiting for me.

        1. TootsNYC*

          at my church’s coffee hour, they routinely cut all the donuts into quarters. It works. And if you got a variety, it would work even better. If you want the equivalent of an entire donut, you take 4.

          1. Parenthetically*

            My grandparents’ church did this when I was a kid. A dixie cup of Tang, half a cinnamon donut, and half a powdered sugar jelly filled donut were all I needed in the world.

      3. Teapot Tester*

        I don’t understand the ire here either. We do donut Fridays and while whole donuts are consumed in the morning, if there are any left later in the day they’re often cut in half.

      4. WillyNilly*

        If someone wants half a donut, go ahead & cut the one you want half of. But its beyond rude to cut all the donuts.

    6. ballpitwitch*

      I would never do anything about it, but I do find it enraging when people cut donuts in half. The other half always just sits there until it is the only thing left and gets thrown away. Because no one know what was done to that half so no one will eat it! You don’t know if it was halved by a dirty knife or dirty fingers – or by the one of the notoriously unhygenic people in your office. I totally sympathize with only wanting half a donut – when I feel that way, I get one of my friends in the office to split it with me so I know I’m not wasting it.

      1. ContentWrangler*

        When we put out the donuts, we also put out a handful of plastic knives – maybe that would help in your situation? Overall I think my office just trusts we’re being careful not to manhandle the donuts.

        1. Antilles*

          My office does that and nobody AFAIK is super crazy about hygiene issues and the like…but even so, any time someone cuts a donut in half, that other half donut lasts forever. I think it’s just that people sort of view it in the “well, if I’m going to have a donut, I’m already being unhealthy, so why am I bothering to get half a donut anyways?”

      2. Sara*

        I shamed someone into taking both halves of a doughnut the other day by telling her no one was going to eat it. I felt bad afterwards, but come on, just eat the whole thing.

        1. fposte*

          But then you’re getting into shaming people into food habits–shaming somebody into eating something they don’t want seems uncomfortably analogous to shaming somebody out of eating something.

          1. AMPG*

            I agree. Maybe YOU won’t eat that other half, but someone else might (I certainly would), so why should your own desire for no half-donuts on the plate override theirs to not eat a whole one?

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Yep, your leftover donut half will never just sit there if I’m around. Unless it has coconut on it, and even then I would probably just pause for a second.

            (My definition of will power is not eating a third donut.)

          2. GG Two shoes*

            me too! As a calorie counter, I can make room for 150- 175 calories of donut. 300 or more is not worth it to me.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Eh, policing people’s food choices seems an odd response over something that cost AT MOST a buck, honestly.

        3. Let it go*

          I hate when people do this. Just let people eat what they want and leave what they don’t. Maybe they’re on a diet. Maybe sugar gives them bad headaches so they just want a little. Maybe they have a problematic relationship with food or are recovering from an eating disorder. I had an old boss who would comment on every. tiny. thing. I would eat. Just leave it be.

      3. AMPG*

        I’ve never really understood the hygiene argument here, unless you know your coworkers are like, licking the knife they use before cutting the donuts, or something. They’re already touching all the same surfaces throughout the day that you do. Maybe I’ve just generally been lucky enough not to work with gross people?

        1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

          I’ve got one coworker puts their fingers on say, the left side of the donut (usually leaving a divot with their finger), cuts the donut in half with a plastic knife, and then grabs the right half that doesn’t have the finger divot.

          That’s the moment of rage!

          1. AMPG*

            OK, that’s genuinely infuriating. But if I saw someone doing that, I would just call them out in the moment.

        2. LBK*

          I’m one of those weirdos who wouldn’t like eating the other half of a pre-cut donut and there is absolutely no logic to it – I know it’s irrational and that I probably eat much less hygienic things all the time without thinking about it, but it is what it is.

          1. fposte*

            That I get–I don’t feel the same way, but I understand the “I wanted an unopened one!” impulse. It’s the feeling that people who take half are somehow despoiling the landscape that I can’t get my brain around. (OTOH, my bitterness about people who don’t clear the microwave timer isn’t a ton more logical.)

          2. Amezilla*

            Same! I would rather have no donut than half of a pre-cut one, and I love donuts SO MUCH. I have no idea why I feel this way.

            Although, sometimes they do get all dried out where they’ve been cut.

        3. Oxford Coma*

          Only about 1/3 of the people I work with sit at a desk and shuffle paper all day. The rest are running greasy machinery, working with caustic chemicals, or covered in tiny metal shavings.

          1. As Close As Breakfast*

            Same here. And maybe it just /looks/ like they don’t wash their hands all day… but yeah. I have genuine fear (chemicals, metal, etc.) of what might be on that already cut donut half.

      4. fposte*

        But it’s still going to waste if it’s thrown away by the person eating the other half–that’s the part that perplexes me. Is it ultimately that people feel that if you’re not going to eat the whole thing you shouldn’t take any at all?

      5. TootsNYC*

        That’s why it works if the organizer cuts every one of them in quarters==it’s easier to trust that the cuts were all made with a clean knife, etc.

          1. ballpitwitch*

            Honestly, most of the time I am going to eat a whole donut if I am eating any at all. If they were all cut into quarters, the people who want a whole donut would be irritated that they can’t just pick it up and walk away. They now have to waste a paper plate to put their donut pieces on haha. It’s an unsolvable situation – but luckily I just moved to a very small office where I am not constantly tempted by donuts and bagels so this is no longer my problem.

          2. Where's the Le-Toose?*

            Representing the whole donut camp, part of the enjoyment of eating the donut is the way I eat it. Maple bars, for instance, I eat whole starting at one end and going to the other. Old fashioned donuts are my favorite because it’s like two donuts–I first eat the tapered outer ring, leaving a remaining inner ring as second donut. I wouldn’t mind if cake donuts were cut in quarters though.

            But for me, donuts, oranges, bananas, sleeves of Fig Newtons, are all the same–it’s either the whole thing or not at all.

              1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

                Sounds like the making of a weekend thread of how people eat various foods! Bento boxes, burgers (bite of burger and then some fries versus whole burger then fries versus fries in the burger), home made pudding (in a mug, then eat the center, then eat the edge), etc. I could go on all day!

            1. smoke tree*

              I’m with you. I can’t really enjoy something unless I have optimized my strategy for eating it. If there is no clear best part, it’s very frustrating!

            2. As Close As Breakfast*

              I’m here for this! I eat old fashioned donuts the same way, because is there really any other way to eat them? My preference is chocolate bars though, and this is where you and I diverge. I like to eat around the whole edge, bite by bite, until there is just the long center part that I then eat from one end to the other.

              I want a donut now. I already made myself a rare afternoon cup of coffee…

              1. Where's the Le-Toose?*

                I will have to try that technique. What I like about eating straight through is that I go left/right left/right (very organized) until the very end and then the donut nub at the end gets consumed in one bite.

            3. Elizabeth H.*

              I’m so confused! I always thought that old fashioned donuts are CAKE donuts. A google search for “old fashioned donuts” (with quotation marks) reveals mostly, but not entirely, cake donuts and Wikipedia also identifies “old fashioned donuts” as cake.
              I’m a firm believer in cake donuts – I will not eat yeast donuts. I am always a fan of the outside or the “crust” of baked goods, but it’s never occurred to me to eat around the outside before going after the middle. I was trying to describe what I thought the difference might amount to in terms of amount of outside per bite, but am now getting confused thinking about donut physics.

    7. RottenRedRod*

      I like it when people cut donuts in half – I’m usually happy to eat the other half.

      1. beanie beans*

        Plus, if I eat one half, and then another half, it feels like I haven’t eaten a whole donut because they were just these two small pieces.

        I know the logic doesn’t make any sense, but neither does getting angry that people are cutting donuts in half. Seriously.

        1. Dorothy Zbornak*

          reminds me of that episode of The Nanny where Fran stacks two pieces of pizza on top of each other, to look like one thick slice, and says, “The body doesn’t know!”

      2. AMPG*

        Me too. My current office seems to be the opposite, though, so I’ve become a whole-donut eater since working here.

    8. Allison*

      I think some people do this because they don’t want a whole donut*, and I don’t mind that. We once had a whole bunch of donuts, all different kinds, and pretty much everyone was cutting off a piece of this and that so they could sample different kinds.

      However, sometimes I wonder if taking only half a donut is expected, and I wonder if people think I’m a greedy pig when I do take a whole one.

      *I keep thinking “don’t get me started” but I feel like getting started so here we go: every time there are pastries, donuts or otherwise, up for grabs in the office I have to hear a whole bunch of people recite the “oh they look so good, but I shouldn’t . . . I’ll just take a piece” monologue, or they declare that they won’t have any because they need to be good today. Eat it or don’t, take a half or whole or small piece, do what’s best for you, do what you want, but I am so sick of the diet talk. I get the assumption that this is how all women bond with each other, but it’s not true, I actually have a hard time bonding with someone who thinks eating a donut is “bad.” Please, just stop.

      1. Parenthetically*

        I haven’t lived with my food-shamey mother for a LONG time, which is perhaps why cutting donuts into pieces no longer registers to me as “oooh this is so baaaaad I really shouldn’t oh I guess just a half is fine” but as, “OK, donuts are GREAT, how can I taste as many as possible without hogging them from everyone else and making myself sick — hey Coworker, want a fourth of this apple fritter? Should I just cut them all in pieces?”

        1. Allison*

          Oh no, I think cutting them is fine! If you want some donut but not a whole one, for any reason (maybe too much sugar gives you a stomach ache, or you already had a donut earlier), taking some and leaving the rest for someone else shouldn’t be a bad thing, although I get why it bothers people so it’s sort of a know-your-office thing I guess. It’s when people bring their diet talk into the process that makes me mad.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Oh no I didn’t mean to seem to disagree, just a reflection that it’s nice not to be in that mindset like the women in your office. It feels freeing to see a half a donut as a purely neutral or pleasant thing, rather than “I MUST NOT GIVE IN TO BAD EVIL CALORIES!” :)

        2. Fur Princess*

          NOOOO! You have it all wrong. You cut the things that are baaad for you in half so all the calories drain out. Didn’t your mother tell you that?

    9. StrawMeatloaf*

      The only problem I have with half donuts is that whenever I see someone do it they’re always like “Oh I’ll have the other half later…” and they never do.

      Just take the whole donut with you, it will last a few hours. I also won’t take a half if I haven’t seen in cut in front of me, but I don’t mind if someone is like “Hey, I’m only taking half of this anyone want the other half?” So they’re at least offering it.

    10. AvidReader31*

      I worked with someone who would do this, but instead of cutting them in half, she would take a third or some other odd fraction. It didn’t matter what it was – cupcakes, pizza, cookies, etc. – she would always take an odd section and it looked like someone just took a bite and left the rest. Finally, someone yelled at her and told her to take the whole piece and divide it herself – stop leaving it for others. She was an odd duck.

    11. Cacwgrl*

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One of our fellow managers here would die at the passive agressive/outright aggressiveness of that action. I’m gonna go read him this the next time he’s losing his mind over stupid shht in the office.

    12. Liz*

      I came in the other morning to find half a Tim Tam (the high king of chocolate biscuits in Australia) in the fridge. Half.

      It looked like it had been snapped, not bitten (CSI: Office Fridge), so I can only assume that someone was doing the biscuit version of cutting the last doughnut in half?

      I was confused, but not so confused I didn’t eat it.

  8. Manders*

    I’m currently in one of those trendy coworking spaces. They provide both hot and cold-brew coffee, and every time they make a change to the beans they set up an event to allow people to taste-test new varieties and vote on the best one. We’re in Seattle, so people take their coffee seriously, but that surprised me.

    I knew someone who worked at a Starbucks within the Starbucks HQ building. She said that every floor of the HQ had its own coffee-making stations with all the trimmings, but employees would come down to get a coffee made for them anyway. She served the CEO a lot, apparently he’s a pretty nice guy.

    1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

      “Starbucks within the Starbucks HQ building”

      Mind. Blown.

      1. Meh*

        Well, it makes sense to have it for guests and folks who don’t want to make their own. But it is still pretty wild.

        But now I’m picturing Starbucks HQ and having their little interior coffee shop be … Dunkin’ Donuts. And now I just can’t stop laughing at that mental image! XD

      2. Manders*

        Yes, she had to explain it to me a few times too! It looks like they now have an extra fancy Reserve store:

        Seattle is full of really odd Starbucks experiments–the Starbucks that serves wine, the Starbucks that’s pretending to be a different store called Roy Street Coffee, the “Roastery” with a rope out front like it’s a nightclub. I don’t even like Starbucks coffee!

        1. smoke tree*

          I went in the Reserve store when I visited Seattle! I don’t like Starbucks coffee, so I didn’t want to pay the big bucks for a Starbucks tasting flight, but it was an interesting place to look around.

          1. JustaTech*

            The nifty percolator with the light show is pretty awesome to watch, even if I don’t want to drink it.
            And the Roy Street thinks they’re being all sly with the Starbucks connection, but you can still pay with the app. (It’s actually a really nice shop.)

            1. Manders*

              Hah, yes, the Roy Street location is a pretty nice store. I actually think Starbucks isn’t so bad as big corporations go, it’s just weird to see them pretending they’re not really Starbucks.

        2. former foster kid*

          I worked at an east coast (boston!) starbucks that was based on the seattle reserve store….but with fewer new things (we were the east coast test market tho).

          seattlites would come in all upset that we didn’t have wine etc. we had a bunch of stuff literally no other store within 2000 miles had, but not wine and we’d get yelled at :-(

      3. LCL*

        Starbucks HQ is a giant multi story brick building that used to be a Sears store. There is a lot of foot traffic in the area during lunchtime.

      4. Fergus*

        Yea there’s a starbucks at the CIA and the pentagon. You want coffee with your morning terrorist briefing and is that one or 2 sugars.

      5. essEss*

        Our office has a starbucks coffee machine that dispenses free starbucks coffee. I still see my coworkers in line getting coffee at the actual Starbucks store in our lobby. I have a valid reason for being there because I prefer chai which I can’t get from the freebie machine, but I watch my coworkers paying for the same thing that our office supplies for free .

      1. Tuckerman*

        We bought a simple $15 cold brew pitcher and the coffee we make is seriously just as good as the expensive coffee shop cold brew.

    2. Some*

      Can confirm. Have been to an interview there. The problem is that most of the drinks that people get are pretty complicated and they can’t make them. Professional espresso machines are not easy to work with.

      On the other note, Starbucks is a customer of mine. I went to a meeting there – 8 am in the morning, the meeting began with french pressed coffee. We were ask to smell the coffee before tasting and tell them what we smelled and what we noticed when we drank it (think wine tasting). Then processed to tell us what we should have smelled and tasted. The meeting had nothing to do with coffee.

        1. Free Meerkats*

          One of the companies that I work with produces smoked salmon, all meetings there have a platter of various types of smoked salmon, some kind of bread, and usually cream cheese.

          I have more meetings there than I should.

    3. Antilles*

      Your story actually reminds me of something I heard from my dad a ways back.
      In the early 2000’s, my dad worked at the world HQ of a Fortune 200-esque corporation (we’ll call it MegaCorp). This is when Starbucks was super-hip and trendy, particularly among younger employees. As a service to their employees, MegaCorp set up a subcontract with Starbucks to provide coffee for the employee cafeteria. Starbucks provided the coffee machines, beans, and even baristas to make the coffee for you – just like going to a store except it was free. The only catch was that they didn’t have the Starbucks logo cups, so you’d have to either bring your own mug or they’d put it in one of the usual plain white styrofoam cups used in most offices.
      Despite all this, there was still a regular contingent of people who would stop at the adjacent mall on their way into work at a Starbucks and pay their own money for the *exact same coffee* you could get in the building for free.
      Still baffled by why; we ended up concluding that some employees were so interested in being SEEN with the then-trendy Starbucks logo on their cups that they were willing to pay for the privilege of having people see that they drink Starbucks coffee.

      1. tinyhipsterboy*

        That’s not surprising to me. When I worked at Starbucks, we tried for a short while to restrict water cups to refillable containers only; our location was incredibly heavy in foot traffic to the point where we’d have to give out 3 water cups for every 1 drink served at times. People would throw the biggest fits even when they clearly had an empty water bottle on their person–they just wanted the green straw and Starbucks logo.

    4. tinyhipsterboy*

      God, the bean-voting sounds heavenly. I used to work for a tech company that had plenty of free food and cold brew, but whatever coffee they used for the cold brew was…… not the best. It wasn’t even that it was a blend I disliked (I don’t like African coffees much, too tart), it just actively tasted old.

    5. Le Sigh*

      I dreamed a dream in times gone by
      When coffee was hot (or cold-brew) and life worth living
      I dreamed, that beans would never die
      I dreamed that votes would be (un)forgiving
      Then I was young and unafraid
      And coffee were made and used and wasted
      There was no ransom to be paid
      No bean unsmelled, no coffee untasted

    6. MrsJ*

      In Seattle, as well. We also do taste tests when it’s time to switch to new beans. The voting gets rather heated!

  9. Collarbone High*

    Not so much a war as a one-time Braveheart-level battle, but while I was out on medical leave at OldJob, my colleagues moved the coffee machine to my desk for some reason. The machine frequently malfunctioned and spewed coffee everywhere, which they did not clean up.

    I returned to find coffee soaked into the carpet under my desk, molding coffee spills in the drawers and in my keyboard, and pretty much everything on the desk stained. Did I mention the smell of coffee makes me dry heave?

      1. Collarbone High*

        I told them I was working from home until they got the carpet and desk cleaned and replaced my keyboard. We weren’t technically allowed to work from home, but I was so mad I didn’t care, and it got done within a week.

  10. AnonEMoose*

    I’m not a coffee drinker myself, but one thing I have learned over the years is to never, ever get between people and their coffee.

    At my current workplace, the company supplies the coffee, sugar, powdered creamer, etc. Some departments have purchased Keurigs, and mostly don’t care if others use them as long as you don’t leave a mess and supply your own coffee or whatever. I’ve tried a couple of non-coffee things, but mostly wasn’t impressed; if I want hot chocolate, I’d rather go to Caribou.

    The biggest coffee controversy here seems to be that, as mentioned in the OP, people were putting two bags of coffee into the coffee maker, because they wanted it stronger. This doesn’t always work out well with the coffee makers, and can result in wet coffee grounds all over the place. So for awhile, there were post-it notes on the machines, telling people not to do that. I haven’t seen them lately, so maybe people have learned not to do it.

    1. Breda*

      You’re not alone on that; Keurig coffee is just…not good. But it is EXTREMELY easy. (I’m not a coffee snob! In fact, I don’t like most coffee, so when it’s real bad I find it a very unpleasant experience.)

          1. Big Person*

            Anything marked BOLD. That is as opposed to being darker roasted. I hate dark roast myself, and finally investigated the difference between bold and how it’s roasted. I learned that bold means they have put more coffee in the pod. Also, if you can choose the level of water in the cup, press the 8 oz. size with a bold coffee, and you’ll get it a bit stronger even. I find the No Name brand, while not marked bold, is pretty strong.

          2. kimberly*

            Newman’s Own
            It is extra bold and medium roast, so it is strong enough to brew on the large setting but not bitter at all. I love that stuff.

          3. Not Seriously?*

            I am not Seriously, but Major Dickason’s Dark Roast from Peets is my current favorite. But I am not a coffee snob and have been knows to put a peppermint in the cup before brewing coffee into it.

        1. Dove*

          The ones I tried, when I first got a one-cup machine (Tassimo, not Keurig, because the Tassimo was on sale), had a very…distinct taste that reminded me of the instant coffee I used to make myself during college. It was memorable enough that I actually did wonder if the contents were just instant coffee!

      1. Iris Eyes*

        *grasps pearls* you take that back right now!

        Powdered creamer is amazing esp in that it allows you to not actually water down or cool down the coffee.

        1. gmg22*

          How do you keep it from forming little lumps of powder once you get it in the cup? Am I adding too much creamer at one time?

          1. Browser*

            Put the creamer in the cup before pouring the coffee. As you pour, the hot coffee will dissolve the powder and mix it in at the same time.

            1. As Close As Breakfast*

              I like to put my sugar in with the powdered creamer before pouring the coffee, too. I mix them together, not sure why tbh. If I’m using a Keurig, I find that it’s a good idea to give a quick early stir while it’s dribbling in the cup because otherwise it can form a sort of crystallized lump that becomes hard to break up later as it feels like the bottom of the cup. This is maybe due to mixing up the cream and sugar… so I’m really questioning why I do this…

        2. Fur Princess*

          Powdered creamer = handful of sand in your coffee. If I go to a client site and that’s all they have, I decline coffee, no matter how caffeine starved I may be.

        3. Elsajeni*

          On, like, August 15 last year, my husband brought home a jar of powder creamer. “I don’t know,” he said, “I just feel like we should have some. For emergencies.” Creamer emergencies. Okay, fine.

          On August 29, our power came back on after a multi-day Harvey-related outage and we could run the coffeemaker again, but we’d lost everything in the fridge — BUT BY GOD, WE HAD EMERGENCY POWDER CREAMER. I will never question his grocery decisions again.

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            I think that is the only situation where powdered creamer would be acceptable.

            1. Kjtrue*

              Not true. Powered creamer is also acceptable when backpacking, as powered milk is not tasty. Powered creamer makes everything richer when you have been hiking all day with 40lbs of gear on your back.

  11. Jen*

    Our department has a Keurig and we all pitch in to supply the K-Cups and supplies. Other companies have a Keurig too, but instead of buying their own supplies, they sneak over to our area early in the morning and steal our stuff!

    1. MLB*

      It always amazes me why people feel so entitled to steal from others at work. At my last job we had a department Keurig, but I always kept my K cups, sweetener and creamer at my desk. I didn’t mind if someone used some, but ask first. I also had a mini fridge because I was tired of people stealing my lunch from the kitchen fridge.

    2. mediumofballpoint*

      That’s one of the few perks of being a decaf drinker: even a hard up thief doesn’t want my fake coffee!

      1. SarahKay*

        I genuinely like instant coffee. My huge jar of Kenco instant (basic, not millicano or anything like that) is likewise entirely safe from coffee scroungers.

        1. Nescafe!!*

          I do too. I also like really good hot brewed coffee, and a nice strong espresso – I’m not a person who knows nothing about coffee. But I love the taste of instant dark roast nescafe, mixed with just a tiny amt of water, a pinch of salt, a sugar, then shaken with ice and milk. I discovered this when I got a $4 greek iced coffee frappe drink at a little bakery near my house and I watched them make it with a jar of nescafe and whole milk and an industrial milkshake-shaker machine and was like “I CAN DO THIS AT HOME!”

          1. SarahKay*

            Hmm, that sounds tempting. I don’t like milk in my coffee, but a milk drink flavoured with coffee and salt and sugar could be rather good.

            1. Nescafé!!*

              It’s very strong but also really milky. You use the amt. of coffee grounds you’d use for a huge cup, but just a little bit of hot water so it’s extremely concentrated. Then add the salt and sweetener, and pour over ice and milk, then shake! I make mine in a cocktail shaker then pour into a to-go tumbler. :)

    3. Not a Morning Person*

      I used to work at a place where our department had one of the Keurig machines that was attached and water was piped in directly and we also had a hot cocoa one, a separate machine. It required a special hot chocolate pack that would make like a week’s worth of hot chocolate. The packs were big and only fit into the special hot chocolate Keurig. We were the only department that had the hot chocolate machine and for whatever reason, the hot chocolate packs got stolen ALL the time. We’d get a new order and before the next morning they would all be gone. The admin had to lock them in his desk to keep them from disappearing. It was ridiculous.

  12. Ihmmy*

    My favourite was how our boss behaved about coffee at Old Toxic Job. She would continuously ask us to make coffee for her in the afternoon but would only drink one cup, and no one else did (we were a team of 4). She asked the new guy to make coffee one time despite him saying quite regularly that he never drank coffee, but no one else was in the office and she didn’t know how to operate the coffee machine.. despite regularly drinking it. He figured it out through googling it but suspected it was the worst coffee our boss had ever consumed.

    We got a Keurig shortly after that because we didn’t want to fuss with her coffee needs anymore

    1. Cacwgrl*

      I once was in that position, prior to my coffee drinking days. We had three prior military managers who loved dark, thick nasty coffee. Typically, someone in the office would come in before them and make the coffee and whoever those people were, would cater to them so everyone suffered through their coffee standards. One day, we had a bunch of people out and I filled in at reception until one of the interns came in. The worse of the three managers came in subtly complaining about the coffee not being made because usual suspects were out. I simply confirm those people aren’t there so they obviously didn’t make it. He continued to make a fuss until the head of the company, one of said three, quietly asked me to make it. He knew how I’d take that and was fine with what he knew would happen and at that moment chose to walk over to Starbucks for his coffee, which was like a block away. I honestly didn’t know how to make coffee, and still don’t if were being real as I am a Kcup girl, so I filled the pot up with tap water and put way less than what I knew the @$$hole liked and set it to brew. When he complained, with the big boss in ear shot, I stated again I don’t know how to make coffee and he should redo it himself if he can’t live with it because that will never be part of my job in the office. Knowing he couldn’t take it too far with HR, my boss, and seeing the big boss turning away to walk up the hall before he got caught laughing, caused little man to literally spin on his foot and STOMP the other direction back to his office. It’s truly a highlight of my time working my way up the chain of HR…

    2. PersephoneUnderground*

      Baha- she would have regretted asking me to do that (until recently I didn’t have a coffee maker at home and was a 90% tea drinker). I used to always pour the water in the basket if I had a random need to use a coffee maker (like trying to make hot water in one in a hotel) since that *made sense* (I assumed it wouldn’t go through until you pressed the on switch, I was wrong!) and make a huge mess since of course it would immediately pour through cold. It still seems counter-intuitive to me to pour water into what looks like the guts of the coffee machine, but now I know. I would always forget what my mistake had been by the time I needed to try again, and then make the same mistake. Ooops…

  13. Kyrielle*

    I kind of wish we’d had a water club with water bottles at $PreviousOffice. Instead we had a company-supplied water dispenser that used tap water with a filter.

    It had a problem after a while where the water came out really slowly…which is when we learned that no one had been in charge of changing the filters, or even really aware that this was a thing. It had been _years_ with a single filter.

    I wish I’d just been going to the sink and getting tap water directly. *shudder*

    1. Rosemary7391*

      I’m kinda baffled by this water club concept. I mean, isn’t that what taps are for? I get the need for a filtered machine if you’re somewhere where tap water comes with a healthy helping of chalk, but how that becomes a club I do not know…

      1. Woman in Finance*

        It’s also nice to be able to get water that’s colder than tap.

        How it becomes a club is cheapskate offices (or government ones) that can’t/won’t pay for it…

          1. pandop*

            Also, H&S legislation in England and Wales requires that your employer provide drinking water. I am not certain if this covers Scotland, but if it doesn’t I am sure you have something similar.

            We have water coolers in our building, as not all the tap water is mains, some of it is tanked (technically non-potable), and those taps that are mains are clearly labelled as drinking water.

          2. Media Monkey*

            also tap water in scotland is delicious! my brother still lives there (i live near london now) and they buy bottled water and i am always like NNNOOOOOOOOO!

      2. Kyrielle*

        If you’re someplace the water is gross (it isn’t here, but besides chalk, I’ve lived places where the metallic taste is overwhelming) and you’re working for an entity that can’t (government) or won’t provide water at their own expense, I gather.

        I really, really wish I’d just drunk the tap water at that last job. I mean, the water dispenser could dispense water hot or chilled, so it was good for tea and a nicer temperature than the tap water, but having to microwave my tea water would’ve been better than learning I’d been drinking water that had been ‘filtered’ through years of detritus.

        And that’s STILL better than Boo Bradley’s Keurig story just below. Ew.

      3. CAA*

        Water clubs usually form at places like government offices where employees prefer chilled and/or filtered water and the employer can’t pay for a water cooler because they aren’t allowed to spend taxpayer money on a luxury.

      4. Guacamole Bob*

        I’m in a water club at my office, where we all chip in for a water cooler with water from a delivery service. It’s government, so water coolers are not provided. The water in our building tastes a little off, can be cloudy and suspicious, and the water fountain nearest me seems to be used as an ineffective garbage disposal far too frequently. Plus the water from the cooler comes out actually cold, unlike the water fountains, or hot enough to make oatmeal or tea without a microwave. When I was in a different department with no water club it wasn’t that big a deal (I bought an electric kettle for my desk), but I would only drink the tap water as tea because of the off taste, so the cooler is a nice convenience. The water cooler is also much closer to my desk than the bathrooms and water fountains.

        I feel a bit bad about the environmental impact – it’s better than buying disposable bottles, at least. If my organization had better water available from the tap and clean, cold water fountains I’d skip the water club.

        1. caligirl*

          Gov’t location too – our place is OLD and the pipes are lead (!) I try not to think about it when washing hands.

      5. PuffleK*

        In my old unit, we had a water club, and it was fantastic. We would all pay a nominal monthly fee for a water cooler + jug delivery, so we had access to clean, filtered water with hot and cold tap options. The city I live in is notorious for having not super clean tap water, so drinking filtered water is kind of a must (my friend has actually been experiencing medical issues she believes may be related to the tap water in her office). The club aspect is necessary because no one person could afford the water cooler on their own. In my new unit, everyone just has their own filter pitchers, kettles, etc, and it’s just more of a PITA. Also, since I can’t keep my filter pitcher in the fridge due to space issues, so my water is never very cold. Not having the water cooler isn’t a super big deal, and I manage just fine, but having it sure was nice!

        1. HeyThere*

          I have a hydroflask I bring from home. It keeps water cold for something like 24 hours, and it has changed my life.

      6. Det. Charles Boyle*

        The water where I work is suspect. It comes out of the tap pretty cloudy and I wouldn’t want to drink it. So that’s why I joined the water club.

      7. Cacwgrl*

        I work in one of the gov mentioned spaces. While our water “technically” meeting environmental standards, even our environmental guys won’t drink it. But because it’s not technically unsafe, the gov’t cannot use tax payer dollars for water. We choose to not want to dehydrate or bring gallons upon gallons in for each person, so we pay something like $5/month for delivery. We’ve got hot and cold water on demand and we all love it.

      8. Cornflower Blue*

        In some countries, it’s not safe to drink the tap water.

        My home has a water dispenser and we get huge barrels of water delivered weekly so we can drink safely. If the week’s delivery doesn’t come for some reason (riots, floods, etc), then we have to boil water, wait for it to cool and then drink that. Of course, if the water and power have been cut off, then that’s not an option either and we all resort to buying small bottles of water.

        Officer has the exact same set up and same water supplier.

    2. sssssssssssssssss*

      Ohhhhhhhh……no, no, no. We had a filter and it got changed every six months or once per year (can’t quite remember). And if I recall correctly, it was provided by our coffee supplier!

    3. a*

      When we moved to a new building, we got a new refrigerator with a built-in water filter. But since I work for state government and our building engineer was a jerk, I knew that filter changes were unlikely. I just fill my water bottles at home and keep them in the refrigerator.

      I did have a passive aggressive war going with one of my coworkers, because I also kept a 12-pack of Mt. Dew in the fridge. He thought I was taking up too much room. It got pretty epic when we started leaving notes with calculations of square footage/cubic footage of space that should be allocated to each person. I have considered getting a mini-fridge, but haven’t had to do that yet.

      1. essEss*

        Unless you are drinking 12 in a day (2 days tops), that does seem excessive space to put into a communal fridge. unless you only have 2 or 3 employees using the whole fridge.

    4. CanadianDot*

      Even water dispensers with the jugs of filtered water need to be cleaned on a regular basis. In my first office job, one of my colleagues had her own personal water cooler, but she’d never had it serviced until it started running really slowly. The guy showed me what he was cleaning out of there, and it reminded me of tapioca pudding. I have a strong stomach, but even the memory of that makes me want to throw up.

  14. Boo Bradley*

    Not a war, but at my husband’s last job, people weren’t cleaning the Keurig. Finally one day, someone decided to take the thing apart and clean all of it because it was looking nasty. In the chamber between where you put the K-cup in and where the liquid comes out, they found a dead cockroach.

    All their coffee had been filtered through a cockroach.

    I told my husband they were getting La Cucaracha blend.

    1. sometimeswhy*

      I’m not sure I realized I had muscles in my face that would make it do the things it’s doing now. yeeeeeeeeaaaauuuuuuuuuuugh.

    2. SoSo*

      I friend of mine saw this happen with one of those coffee-brewing vending machines you see at hospitals and other large waiting areas. To this day when I see one I get a little queasy.

      1. Teapot Tester*

        This is apparently very common in those coffee machines in hospitals and other waiting areas. I refuse to use them no matter how bad I want a cup of coffee.

      2. MsSolo*

        Way back when, when I was at school, the GCSE students were bestowed the privilege of one of those big coffee vending machines, which we all used for hot chocolate because 16 year olds aren’t actually that into coffee, especially cheap and nasty coffee. One day we thought it had had an upgrade, because the hot chocolate had these little dark brown lumps in – like, it came with chocolate sprinkles! Only it didn’t come with chocolate sprinkles. It came with macerated ants. Lots of little pieces of ant, because the thing that broke up the lumpy chocolate powder had torn their bodies to pieces.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      I have a Keurig at home I clean regularly so I am not squicked out right now. I am, however, laughing so hard at La Cucaracha blend that a coworker came over to read this and she is very green at the moment. Apparently she did not realize that she should be cleaning her 2 year old Keurig.

    4. Hank*

      I had a Bunn Machine in my office – Same thing. Cleaned the thing after a few years and found the huge cockroach body – it was almost translucent by then.

      1. Like The City*

        We have that same type at our office…given how well the rest of the building gets “cleaned” sometimes, I’m now giving some serious side-eye to the coffee maker. Good thing I make mine at home!

    5. AnonEMoose*

      When I was in college, the campus had those machines where you punched in what you wanted, it dispensed a cup, and then the drink would get brewed and dispensed into the cup. One day, someone got a bonus cockroach with their hot chocolate.

      To the college’s credit, they did clean the machine and investigate the issue, and it turned out that the roach had gotten into the hot chocolate powder at the originating company (which was, I think) in Texas. It was awhile before I used one of those machines again. But when it’s 3 am, it’s the middle of winter, and you’re absolutely FREEZING because you’ve been outside for several hours…the lure of a hot drink is powerful.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same, except the lucky winner of the cockroach cup only had some of the parts. As the evening office monitor, I taped a sign on the machine that it was out of order, not sure who got it fixed after that.

        1. MsSolo*

          Same, but with ants, and they’d got into the machine because it was next to an exterior door. Lots of pieces of ant in the hot chocolate powder that were initially mistaken for chocolate sprinkles…

    6. paul*

      Wait a second: I haven’t looked into this because I can’t stand coffee. But we have office keuric thingy that I *know* I’ve never seen someone clean. They’re supposed to get cleaned?

      1. Boo Bradley*

        I feel like any vessel/machine you’re getting consumables out of ought to be cleaned on the regular….

      2. Adlib*

        Yep, and descaled! Gook from the local water can clog things up so you have to let it soak with vinegar. I bet no one ever does that unless the light comes on or they’ve read the manual.

        1. PSB*

          My wife only uses distilled water in our Keurig at home for that very reason. It works but it sure seems like a lot of trouble and a (fairly small) unnecessary expense to me.

    7. Tableau Wizard*

      My sister had this happen to her home Keurig and made quite the stink about it to the company – that it wouldn’t be air tight enough to not let in a cockroach or something…. *Eyeroll* I just think she didn’t know to clean it and seriously grossed herself out when she discovered it.

    8. Liz in a Library*

      I have a friend who saw one climbing out of her home keurig one morning. The wet/dark/coffee smell are apparently very attractive to roaches. Clean your machines regularly!

    9. Elizabeth H.*

      Cockroaches in Keurig machines are really common! They crawl in there because of the warmth and humidity. I tell EVERYONE this when the opportunity comes up. I delight in sharing the knowledge.

      I should probably clean the machine myself sometime, because I am not afraid of or grossed out by or averse to cockroaches. Once one came into my yoga studio and someone found it on her bolster in the middle of class. (I agree that it’s somewhat horrifying to think that the cockroach remained on the bolster throughout the first half of class, and was only found when the bolster was flipped over into a different position or something.) It caused a brief commotion, the teacher quickly saw what was going on and then asked us if there was anyone OK with cockroaches who could deal with it, and I was like, I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT MY WHOLE LIFE. I said “I am!”, seized the bolster, calmly carried it out of the room and into the bathroom, opened the window, picked up the cockroach, and put it out the window onto the roof. I then wiped off the bolster with a paper towel and replaced it in the rack.
      I know the cockroach surely just came in again somewhere, but I didn’t want to kill it – not very karmically sound, no?

      1. Molly*

        I fully approve of your method! I wouldn’t have it in my heart to kill it, either. And I can’t stand cockroaches.

      2. MsAlex*

        I catch and release everything I find in the house, even stink bugs (and we are having lots of problems with stink bugs right now but I just can’t kill things). So you’re not alone. :-)

    10. EddieSherbert*

      Not an “at work” story but when I was leaving for work I college… when I lived in a really badly maintained old house… with mice… I went to pour myself some leftover coffee only to discover a mouse had drowned in my coffee pot overnight. *shudder shudder*
      Thank goodness I didn’t actually drink it. I probably would have cried (even without drinking it, I woke up my roommate who’s room was right off of the kitchen with my freak out!). *shudder*

      1. Typhon Worker Bee*

        Horrible flashback to the time we had mice in the basement of our old house (despite four cats living there at the time – seriously, you have ONE JOB, cats) and I ran the dryer without checking… There was this horrible smell when I came back down to get my clothes, and a dead mouse sitting on top of one of my towels. I feel so, so bad about that – not exactly a humane extermination method :(

      2. Mad Baggins*

        I had a major ant problem at home (turns out they were coming in through a hole in my bedroom wall) and would regularly spot ants marching across my tables, the floor, even my pillow…I started to get nightmares about ants.

        But the absolute worst thing was when I made a pot of coffee with my glasses off, and as soon as I turned it on, thousands of ants spilled out of the coffee maker in all directions like shaking an Etch a Sketch.

        I had successfully blocked out this trauma until you reminded me, so, thank you for that…

    11. Can't Sit Still*

      I’m very glad that I’ve personally seen housekeeping cleaning our coffee makers and coffee machines on a regular basis, or I might never drink coffee at work again.

    12. bweaver*

      I know I can’t be the only one who dropped everything and cleaned the machine after reading this.

    13. zora*

      When my mom taught in an elementary school the teachers went in together on a Keurig machine. And one day when my mom came in early and went to open the top to put in a new cup, a whole bunch of cockroaches came pouring out and ran down the drain of the sink right next to it. So horrifying.

      For a while they just started cleaning it with a bleach solution every morning, but when they thought about all the layers in between where there cleaning wasn’t getting to, they were too grossed out and finally just gave up and threw it out.

    14. Ray Gillette*

      We had an ant problem and ran a cup through that came out filled with drowned ants.

      So I went to Starbucks that day.

    15. Dove*

      I’m making a note for myself to google how to clean out my Keurig tomorrow. (Because it came with instructions on how, sure, but that doesn’t mean I still know where those are. And I suspect “just run hot water through it until coffee grounds stop coming out” isn’t sufficient.)

      1. Political staffer*

        Fill the reservoir with vinegar and just run it through the machine.
        (I put food dye in the vinegar so I know when it is complete as vinegar and coffee is a very nasty combination).

    16. Jay*

      This is actually pretty common. Roaches are really attracted to coffee. I won’t drink coffee from any machine that i don’t know for a fact is cleaned daily. Typically I just make instant at work, or I make my own in a French press at home. Commercial coffee shops that are regularly inspected by the health department should be ok; if the health department is halfway decent where you live they will shut a place down if it has a cockroach infestation or if it’s not cleaning the machines daily. But most workplaces have zero standards for cleaning the coffee machine.

  15. Rita*

    My old (open plan) office put the water cooler next to my desk – I could touch it if I stretched my arm. It was one of those that also heats up water, so it made this grinding, humming, headache inducing noise ALL DAY. I requested that it be taken back to where it was (a few feet away, behind a closed door) but was told that everybody was too lazy to “walk that far and open a door”. After a week of it, I picked the thing up, put it back, and told my boss that she could deal with the fallout herself.

    One month later, I gave my notice. They moved the thing back to my desk the day I left, and clapped.

    1. Q*

      At my new job I sit about 15 feet away from the water cooler. I thought all the bubbling from when people got cold water would bother me but I barely notice it. What I do notice is that grinding, humming, headache inducing noise when the hot water reserve is refreshing itself. Luckily its not all day though!

    2. WonderingHowIGotHere*

      My desk in our open plan office is next to the water cooler. It’s plumbed directly into the mains water supply and electricity, so my moving it isn’t an option. There’s one of these at ONE END of each floor of the office, so there’s a lot of traffic by my desk – I don’t always know who’s coming to me for a question, or getting a drink, so I’m pretty much always distracted. I do, however, have EXCELLENT bladder control – listening to that much running water all day, I pretty much have to, but at least I’m never thirsty.

  16. Cambridge Comma*

    If you don’t want to completely exclude the British readers, you will need to include tea-related conflict, such as the coworker who got out of the tea rota by claiming not to drink hot drinks, and was later caught red-handed.

    1. KimberlyR*

      Oh, definitely include tea wars as well! All beverages and the conflicts that arise should be included.

      1. President Porpoise*

        I heard about a bunch of guys who were so mad about the increase in the amount that they would have to pay for their tea that they dumped it all in the harbor and started a new country.

      2. Susan Sto Helit*

        You can tell who’s “in” at my office clique, and who isn’t, by who gets invited to go on the twice-daily tea pilgrimage to fill their mugs with hot water (we have hot water on the floor, but apparently it’s better if you go somewhere else).

    2. Kathleen_A*

      I agree, but in the U.S., we tea drinkers tend to be a self-effacing lot. We kind of have to be, though perhaps that’s changing. But currently, people around here get all het up about the kind of beans used or whatever, whereas I am reasonably content if I can find a tea bag for regular tea in addition to the mango-raspberry-green tea-antioxidant blend things that so many “tea” drinkers around here usually favor. I mostly just bring in my own tea from home, though.

      1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

        For a while, I was one of two tea drinkers in our office, and got basically the full ear of the secretary who did the ordering.

        Then came the Great Coffee Blend Debate, (emails for weeks! Polls! Complaints! Two carafes or one! The Coffee Making Video!) and everyone who was under-invested in the outcome switched to tea. The tea got very picked over, and the secretary started buying much cheaper stuff. Then, one of the new hires started bringing and making loose tea, and I suddenly developed a taste for it too. Own-brewed jasmine creme brulee beats out Bigelow every time.

        1. Kathleen_A*

          I am very much with you with the loose-leaf own-brewed part, although I prefer my tea a bit less fanciful. OK, a lot less fanciful – Earl Grey, Irish breakfast, etc. I recently got a couple of ounces of a new semi-fancy one (it has rose and cornflower petals in it), and it is pretty, and it’s not bad, but you can’t beat Earl Grey.

          And anyway, to drag myself back on topic, at least tea drinking isolates me from the coffee wars!

        2. Kathleen_A*

          Although I am not with you on fancying up tea with jasmine, creme and brulee flavors – I am a do-it-plain-but-do-it-*right* kind of gal, so I drink almost entirely Earl Grey or English breakfast, brewed loose-leaf in a pot, as God intended – we are as one on the own-brewed part.

        3. Beancounter in Texas*

          I visited a cafe a couple of times where mint was super cheap. They’d take a bundle a mint (on the stalk), the size of a bouquet that would fill your whole fist, stuff it into the kettle, and cut off the stems. They’d put a tea bag in and brew that in the kettle. It was like drinking liquid spearmint – no sugar needed. Delicious! Mint is too expensive here in the US to do that.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            It’s really easy to grow, though. So I can definitely do that during the growing season.

    3. Fan*

      I have two English co-workers and one Welsh co-worker and today at lunch they got into the most AMAZING row about tea that I didn’t understand a single word of.

      (Apparently people put milk in the teapot…or something?)

        1. Fan*

          Oh, no, I am well acquainted with the milk first or tea first debate. Timeless, much like Jaffa cakes. :-) This was something entirely different. Apparently there are people who put milk directly into the teapot, and even though none of the three co-workers do this thing, they still managed to have a fight about it.

          1. WonderingHowIGotHere*

            No, no, no, that’s all kinds of wrong!

            (although I love the fact that three people can argue the same side and still disagree!)

          2. Justme, The OG*

            One of my exes would do this. Or make tea entirely in milk. I somewhat understand this if you are having a tea latte, but not really.

            1. nym*

              Making tea in milk is acceptable if it is chai.

              I’m a bring-tea-from-home person; bonus: no office coffee wars. I even bring my hot water from home because the electric kettle at the office takes ~5-10 min to heat (it’s slow) and I am routinely running from meeting to meeting with only two min to stop in the restroom and also refill my teacup.

              I have the most amazing on-the-go steeper/strainer. I have never seen anything quite like it in America. Put the tea leaves in, pour the hot water in, let steep. Then there’s a screen that snaps tightly into the mouth of the steeper, and you pour the tea out into another mug, and all the leaves are left behind the screen for another round. Bought it off a roadside hawker in nowhere, Africa; made in China. I bring it to work every morning with fresh leaves in it, and my quart size thermos of hot water, and I’m set all day. Plus it makes it easy to carry my used leaves back home for the compost bin!

          3. Cousin Itt*

            I once put milk in the kettle and boiled it because I thought that was how you made hot chocolate… it did not go well.

        2. MilkOnTheSide*

          When I was living in the UK I used to get a pot of tea at one cafe that didn’t always have little milk jugs available, so if you wanted milk you either had to have a very milky first cup, keep going up to the register, or add it to the teapot…I always went with putting it in the teapot, but I hated it so much.

    4. NoMoreMrFixit*

      I had a nice selection of tea stored in my desk at one job. Too nice actually, as I started getting pestered by people begging for a teabag. Most of them would never repay the favour and the few who did replace a bag handed over the cheapest junk they could find at the grocery store.

      My revenge was to quietly take all the bags home one Friday and come back the following Monday with tins of loose tea. When the moochers came up to filch a teabag I showed them the tins and casually mentioned my strainer was locked away and not loaned out even under threat of death. Everyone was too cheap to buy a strainer of their own so I finally got left alone to enjoy my much better mugs of tea!

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        My grandboss at OldJob did this to me! He was the kind of person who really thought he was being cute and palling around, but given that I was living on a shoestring budget with two roommates, I had such profound resentment of him hitting me up for tea bags. I never actually spoke up to quibble because I was afraid of gaining even more of a “Boochie hates everyone” reputation than I already had, but boy did it piss me off.

    5. mediumofballpoint*

      I’ve always wondered why making tea for your colleagues became a tradition. It seems so much simpler for everyone to make their own so they get their modifications right. Is it a teambuilding thing? A politeness thing? A timing thing? I’m so curious about this.

      1. Finance PA*

        Brit here – it’s a mix. Mostly it means each person is only making tea once a day rather than 4 or 5 times, especially since our office culture leans more towards being stuck at your desk – easier for each person to escape just once. Usually it’s just people who sit together who buddy up, so you only need to remember how those few people like it. If someone gets it wrong they will be told how to do it differently in future and the person who made it pays attention because tea is Serious Business, so we aren’t really suffering tea that we don’t like. It does give some small sense of bonding, it’s a slight break in the day whereby we’re actually happy to be talking to someone because the result will be tea.

        It’s not that hard to get someone’s tea right, there’s only so many ways to have it and most people when asked say they want ‘builder’s tea’ so anything else sticks out. I do remember a coworker who would only drink out of the white cups ‘because it tastes better than from the blue cups’. That was over 10 years ago and I’m still wondering how that works. But we all complied!

        1. Marillenbaum*

          That’s amazing! I spent this last summer working in Barbados, and the office had communal tea, but it was this horrid cheap stuff that had clearly been bought by someone who didn’t know anything about tea–if your cuppa got cold, it would turn grey. Next day, I brought in my spare box of PG Tipps from home. I also kept a packet of rich tea biscuits in my desk, for snack-related emergencies (which were surprisingly many, since my coworkers had kids and would sometimes need to pick them up from summer camp and have them sit in their cubes for the last hour of work).

        2. mediumofballpoint*

          Ah, okay! If you’re having tea that often, it makes more sense. I was imagining once, maybe twice during a day. Thanks for the info!

        3. smoke tree*

          Everything that is in me calls out to the tea-obsessed office cultures of my ancestral home

        4. swingingaxewolfie*

          Always one person in the round that makes the most *horrendous* tea though (and not in an obvious “oh I take more milk than this” way). I hate having to decline tea when I’m desperate for one, but if Horrendous Tea Maker comes by you can bet I’m saying no and waiting at least 30 minutes before offering another round. Been one in every office I’ve worked in. Maybe I’m Serious Business tea drinker though.

          That said, I do love the culture behind it for the most part – really good for a quick social break in a world where we are pretty much chained to our desks as you rightly point out.

    6. smoke tree*

      I’m not British (although I am Canadian, so British-lite) but I am very particular about how I make my tea and the shape of the cup it goes in. I have engaged in a number of passive-aggressive battles with other tea-drinking coworkers for the best tea cups. The key strategy is to never stop drinking tea once you obtain the cup, so it never leaves your desk.

    7. Sam Adams*

      One time, our old boss had a penchant for getting into a lot of petty arguments with some nearby companies and it ended up running the whole company into debt. In order to pay it off, he decided to start deducting money out of our paychecks for it without consulting us. Only our branch.

      So, when the delivery guy showed up with the tea, we not only refused it, but destroyed the whole shipment.

      This made the boss completely mad so he decided to withhold our pay entirely. Well, the rest of the company got mad about it, so the boss decided to cut off everyone’s pay and then send new management to all of the offices to make sure everyone worked. It was kind of disturbing because all of us had been with the company since the beginning but, ultimately, the individual branch managers decided to form our own separate company.

      Old boss didn’t like that so he sent his own employees to take over our branches and try to force us to work for him. We had to fight for quite a while but we finally got our company to ourselves.

        1. Sam Adams*

          (In the interests of not confusing people, it’s just a joke – I described the Boston Tea Party)

      1. MissCarrion*

        As someone who is not from the US and somewhere that unless you specifically choose American history at university you don’t learn it, you’re the first person to explain the Boston Tea Party to me in a way that I could actually understand.
        All those tea in the harbour jokes now finally make sense to me!

      2. Cornflower Blue*

        As a non-USian, I took this 100% seriously and was agog wondering how the hell you FORCE people to work for no pay. So glad it was just a joke! XD

    8. KimberlyInOhio*

      US worker in financial services. Tea person.
      My company used to provide regular and decaf coffee for the coffee people and regular and decaf tea bags for the tea people. A few years back, they stopped providing tea bags for the tea people, so all that’s left is ancient decaf tea bags in PAPER WRAPPERS. Granted, the tea bags were pretty terrible, and I’ve always brought my own tea anyway, but still. Shocking disregard for the tea-drinking minority, who need caffeine as much as the coffee people!

  17. Elizabeth*

    As a cost-savings measure, my employer announced that the previously-free coffee in the cafeteria would now cost about $0.50/cup. Around 30 days later, they were surprised at not only how little coffee had been sold, but also how much the electric bill had gone up. Almost every office in the facility suddenly had sprouted a single-cup coffeemaker, all of which stay plugged in all the time.

    1. CAA*

      Hah, that’s great! At DH’s office, they would have confiscated all the coffee makers though. It was a LEED certified building and they had rules that you couldn’t plug in anything that wasn’t company issued so the security guys would go around nightly and take any cell phone chargers, electric fans, etc, that they found. It turns out that there’s an amazing number of gadgets that can run off your computer’s USB ports though.

  18. KimberlyR*

    Coffee cliques-
    I worked at hospital in an ICU on the night shift (nurses on night shift are SERIOUS about coffee!) There were different mini-nurses stations and nutrition rooms scattered around, so there were multiple coffee pots. This one nurse always brought her own coffee grounds and brew in her coffee station. She would only allow you to have some if you were a favorite. Otherwise, you had to drink the worst coffee ever! I would mix hot chocolate mix in mine just to make it drinkable. Obviously, I became a favorite of hers out of self-preservation.

    1. Nurse Ratched*

      Also a night shift ICU nurse here! God help the person who brews a too-weak pot of coffee! Our motto is “if it won’t put you in to SVT, you didn’t do it right.” We staff a circulating nurse who doesn’t have a patient assignment but assists all the other nurses on the unit, and one of the official duties of that role is to make sure there’s always a good pot of coffee on.

    2. Sigrid*

      Oh my god, the worst coffee I have ever had, bar none, was the coffee from the less-often-used break room when I was on the labor&delivery night shift. THE WORST. Its taste still haunts me.

    3. Marlene*

      Our daughter recently had to spend the night in the ER during a big snowstorm. We had to wait for a radiologist to make it in to run tests. The coffee vending machines didn’t take cards (we had no cash), the cafeteria was closed, and we weren’t venturing out in a snowstorm and leaving our daughter alone anyway. Finally at about 4 am, I got up the nerve to ask a nurse if I could use their coffee station to make a cup of coffee for myself and my husband. She made it and brought it to us with cream and sugar. THE BEST COFFEE I EVER HAD!!! She was an angel.

  19. sometimeswhy*

    We share our space with other organizations and there used to be one of those touch-screen made-to-order coffee/espresso things on each floor. Then one of the lease holders signed a non-compete contract with another company (who served coffee and espresso drinks) that was moving in and we were going to have to get rid of them. Except… we weren’t a party to the non-compete so we bought all the fancy machines and moved them out of public areas and into ours.

    At which point people from all the other companies started casually walking into our kitchenettes (we share other things like meeting rooms so there aren’t restricted access issues) and using the machines. There were polite reminders. There were pointed, “OH ARE YOU NEW TO [OUR COMPANY] WHICH SECTION DO YOU WORK FOR?” barbs. There were postits. There were signs. Signs got torn down. There were new signs. Someone in [other company] took a picture of one of them and sent it to their entire distribution list inviting them to come drink our coffee. There were executives talking to executives about how to stem the invasion. There was talk of PUTTING BADGE READERS ON THE MACHINES. It was bananacrackers.

    And it’s not over yet. We have no resolution. I think most of them have just gotten bored but we still see people furtively ducking into the kitchenettes periodically.

      1. sometimeswhy*

        You can set them up to vend for a fee (though we don’t have the money-accepting attachment) so I’d guess there’s a way to attach something that does RFID access then tie it to our badges. I dunno. It’s so much.

        Best? Everyone still has free, unlimited, brandname coffee to brew, creamers, an assortment of teas. It’s ONLY the fancy coffee/sugarbomb espresso drink machine that’s changed.

      2. Peggy*

        Our printers work that way. You can initiate the printing from your computer, but it won’t actually come out of the printer until you swipe your badge on it and it logs you into the printer.

        1. MissCarrion*

          Our printers do that too, and I can’t tell you how long it takes to explain to every new employee (especially the consultants) that they can stand next to the printer as long as they want, if they don’t swipe it won’t work!

  20. Coconutty*

    At my internship last year, somebody used the Keurig and threw away their K-cup after, but a piece of the machine came out with the cup and ended up in the trash! The next person didn’t realize the part was missing, tried to brew their coffee, and the coffee basically squirted all over the counter and floor. It took maybe 6 people (5 too many in my opinion) to figure out that there was a piece missing, and one person volunteered to dig the part — with the K-cup still stuck inside — out of the trash. This was after lunch too, so the trash was gross and full of food scraps. The whole ordeal lasted about 10 minutes but we will always be amazed at how somebody threw away their K-cup without realizing that there was a whole part of the machine attached to it!

    1. Coconutty*

      In retrospect, this isn’t a bitterly fought war, but it was definitely more drama than necessary for a Keurig.

      1. Irene Adler*

        But it was a tough fight for the person who dug through the trash to score the Keurig part. Yuck!

    2. Ihmmy*

      My boss at Previous Toxic Job also did this, but we didn’t realize it until our garbage had already been taken out…
      that place was an experience

    3. Alli525*

      This reminds me of the time my (now-ex) boyfriend and I were on a road trip in his car. At one point we got out at a rest stop to toss out our fast food trash, and an hour later I looked down and realized that my cup had been so large that it’d suctioned itself to an apparently detachable part of the cupholder… so that detachable part was now in a rest area trash can more than 60 miles away. Whoops.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        That has happened to me, too, except I’m still unsure of where that piece of the cupholder ended up. My cups never fit in that cupholder correctly again.

  21. all aboard the anon train*

    At a previous company that was awful in a lot of ways, we used to have little individual packets of Starbucks ground coffee (imagine a much smaller version of usual ground bag coffee). Certain blends were so popular people began stealing them. Management would lock their preferred blends up in their office, people would take full boxes back to their desks, and a lot of people would shove it in their bags to take home. So most days the only thing left on all four floors was boxes and boxes of decaf. The company eventually moved towards catering sized carafes to deal with the problem, but a few of those were stolen as well. I left before they moved to whatever new coffee scheme as well.

    Granted, this was a place where the lower tiers (myself included) were so poorly paid that people regularly stole toilet paper, paper towels, utensils, and the gallons of milk or large cartons of creamer that were put in the fridge or the bags of bagels and bread put in cafeteria. It was also the place I mentioned in a former story about free food where people would go berserk whenever it was free cookie day and stampede down the halls and grab platefuls of cookies instead of one or two. It was almost always management I saw hoarding the free food or coffee.

  22. sfigato*

    I worked at a place where the COO was kind of a jerk that a lot of the junior staff hated. Said place also had an espresso machine. When it died, the COO decided that it was too expensive (which was accurate – it was a fancy machine and it was serviced pretty regularly and was kind of a significant expense given that we also had a nice coffee machine and could just drink that), and people could just buy their espresso at a nearby cafe if they wanted it.
    This caused a near-mutiny. The junior staff, who were already desperately trying to get the COO fired, used this to declare war on him. It got ugly. In the end, we got a new espresso machine, and it became a pretty significant dent against the COO, who was demoted not long after.

    On a similar note, at another place I worked, the Operations Manager, who many of us disliked, would buy the cheapest, grossest coffee beans, so we started buying decent coffee and using that in the coffee maker. Again, it was a proxy battle between junior staff and the Operations Manager.

    Finally, at my current place of business, we have like five coffee makers because of coffee wars among our board. X only likes Starbucks beans, Y only likes Peets, Z only drinks decaf, so we’d have three pots going at meetings. We finally bought a pod coffee maker.

    People have strong opinions about their coffee.

    1. Ella*

      Office coffee is one of those things that doesn’t seem to buy office goodwill or morale…until you take it away. After that it seems like a very sound investment.

      1. JustaTech*

        My coworkers and I (who have been through so many rounds of layoffs, mergers and de-mergers it’s not even funny) have said in all seriousness that the day that coffee is no longer provided is the day we quit. Because a company that is so cheap it won’t provide grounds for us to make our own coffee is a company that is likely going to be cheap on other things too, like safety.

        1. CristinaMariaCalabrese (do the mambo like-a crazy)*

          OH MY GOD, THIS IS REAL? My grandfather complained about this until he died at age 92, but he was a very grumpy man, so I just assumed he was justifying yet another baseless grudge.

    2. As Close As Breakfast*

      I imagine there were other things going on, but I’m tickled at the thought of a COO being demoted because he refused the masses espresso!

      Also, Peets is my favorite coffee and I can’t stand Starbucks (decaf doesn’t even deserve consideration) so I’m totally with board member Y here!

  23. ExcelJedi*

    Not that bad, but turning into a problem. At my current job the first person in usually makes the coffee in the regular drip machine. Unfortunately, the early birds here are also the ones who don’t drink coffee themselves. A few people will drink the swill they brew up, particularly one exec who always expects a pot of coffee going in the kitchen and who apparently has no problem with burnt, overly acidic coffee.

    The rest of us have a quiet arms war going on, filling up the kitchen cabinets with every alternative. Someone brought in a Keurig. Someone else brought in a french press and electric kettle. There are stashes of personally labelled fancy coffee in every cupboard EXCEPT the one coffee belongs in, because none of us will drink the Folgers or Maxwell House the office tends to buy.

    No one says anything, because it’s clear that the company won’t pay more than the absolute minimum to caffeinate their workers, and we know they think we’re divas. But our small kitchen is getting kinda cramped as a result.

    1. Enough*

      I had one place where I was not allowed to make the coffee. It was always bad. In my defense I am not really a coffee drinker. I drink tea at home and only drink coffee at work or with breakfast at restaurants.

    2. Tardigrade*

      Why would anyone expect non-coffee drinkers to make coffee just because they got to the office first?

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, this makes no sense to me – it should be the first person in the office *who wants coffee*, not just the first person.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        I was wondering the same thing. I stopped drinking coffee a few years back and ngl, I’d be annoyed if I had to make coffee even though I didn’t drink it just because I happened to be first into the office.

      3. EddieSherbert*

        That used to be the set up in m office – and it was more like the first couple coffee drinkers just made enough of a BIG DEAL of it to us non-coffee-drinkers when they got in, that one of the other non-coffee-drinks just started doing it. He wasn’t TOLD or REQUIRED, exactly.

        But he did a crap job of it, and after like a month one of the early coffee-drinkers asked him to stop making it ;) and makes it himself now (as it should be!).

      4. Fiennes*

        25 years ago, when I took my first admin job, the boss told me that among my duties would be making the coffee every morning. I replied honestly: “I don’t drink coffee, so I don’t know how it’s made or what it should taste like, but I’ll try.”

        After a long pause he said, “someone else will make the coffee.”

      5. Kit Kendrick*

        I used to do that when before I picked up a coffee habit of my own and was simply using the hot water spigot to make tea. I figured that it didn’t take long, and I could just walk away instead of waiting the five minutes. I’d also re-make coffee if it was morning and someone had left less than half a cup in the carafe, because that’s just wrong. (Honestly! If you finish the pot, either turn off the burner or start a new pot, don’t leave the dregs on a burner to dry out and scorch!)

        Mind, one of my first jobs included being responsible for making sure there was always coffee for guests, so I know perfectly well how to make coffee in an industrial machine so that it comes out the way the local office likes it. This office likes one and a half packets of pre-ground coffee (one is too weak, two is too strong). The previous one liked a pinch of cinnamon in the grounds as well, but you’d mark the carafe if you did that (and whoever started the practice provided the bottle of spice.)

        In retrospect, I probably should have let it be the coffee drinkers’ problem, but it’s a reflex like wiping up spills or fixing paper jams instead of leaving them for the next person.

      6. Cornflower Blue*

        Same, it seems like a weird mini-punishment. Oh, you arrived early? Here, take some time out of your day to make a drink you won’t enjoy for other people, instead of using that time to set up, destress and get ready.

  24. Katie the Fed*

    As has often been the case in my career working in a fairly male-dominated field, I was the only woman in an office. When I started I would make a pot of coffee in the morning and then have some. After a couple weeks I noticed nobody else would make the coffee – they would just wait until I came in to make it.

    So I started bringing my coffee from home because I didn’t want to be the office coffee maker. The first day they just waited…and waited…

    “So there’s no coffee.”
    “Guess you have to make some then.”
    “You do it so well!”
    “I sure do – this cup is delicious!”

    It was all passive aggressive as hell. Nobody made coffee that day. The next day someone finally did it.

    1. Coconutty*

      This is amazing!! I’ve made a huge point about how I don’t drink or like coffee, mostly to avoid becoming the office coffee girl. If someone asks, I tell them (truthfully) that I’ve never made coffee before and don’t know how. It’s so much easier for the guys to just make the coffee themselves rather than attempting to teach me something I’ll never even know if I’m good at.

      1. MLB*

        I do drink coffee but I don’t think I could make a decent pot of coffee from a regular machine. I always have to look up the water to coffee ratio and it never tastes right. I like the single serve machines much better. We have a Ninja at home and it makes 5 different sizes, and there’s a “cheat sheet” on the scooper so it’s very easy.

      2. Temperance*

        It’s honestly not that hard, and no one really needs to be taught how to operate a coffee maker, but by the same token, you really just don’t want to become the office Coffee Girl. The only reason they would “teach” you is because they think it’s a woman’s job.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I had a job at a small nonprofit where it made sense for me to be the one to make coffee for committee meetings and things. I’m not a coffee drinker so someone did have to show me how, but it’s really not that hard and I was fine with doing it. But I kept telling the rest of the staff to tell me if the coffee was terrible, because I really didn’t know if I was brewing weak brown water or total sludge.