the 18-month coffee debate, and other stories of office coffee wars

A few weeks ago, I asked for your stories about office coffee wars (or tea/milk/etc. wars). Here are 10 of my favorites.

1. “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 Post Its. 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.”

2. “My company provides coffee machines on every floor but charges 20 cents per cup (except for ‘meeting coffee’ which is free). There are lists. People on every floor whose responsibility it is to refill coffee, sugar, and milk. Deputy people for this job. Monthly bills. Cash boxes on every floor where you are supposed to pay your bill. People who manage the cash boxes. Somebody in housekeeping whose responsibility is to manage cash logistics. Some other person in sales who hands out coffee, sugar, and milk (but needs a receipt for everything). Probably substitutes for these people too, I don’t know – you get the idea.

At some time someone made an official ‘proposal for improvement’ to eliminate the charge for coffee, the lists, the cash boxes and the whole system. Have a single person whose job it is to refill the coffee machines daily and be done with it. There was a short calculation how much time and effort could be saved. (A lot.)

That proposal has gone through the improvements committee (yes, that’s a thing), the sales people, the union, the CEO and back to the improvements committee. It is still under consideration after 18 months.”

3. “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.”

4. “I bought my own coffeemaker/pot to keep in my office after the brutal territorial battles of the teacher’s workroom became too much for me. Word got around, and now many of my colleagues (in my department, who have access to my office) share my coffee, most of them contributing creamer and coffee.

People around campus are outraged! Outraged that I keep my office locked at all times due to FERPA laws that require student documents to be secured. I’ve found sticky notes on the door, asking me to bring coffee to people in their classrooms, had people say rude (and quite stupid) things to my face and had multiple administrators come by my office to say: we’re investigating your office coffee pot on the basis of a complaint. Keep your coffee pot.

The people who want my coffee are not my friends or close colleagues – they are people I barely know! And nothing is stopping them from using the break room or bringing their own coffee pot. When people complain about people acting ‘like they’re in middle school’ sometimes I think they are talking about the staff.”

5. “We just got an all-staff email sent around to say that someone had taken some other team’s milk from the fridge and it had not been returned. Our building has been consumed by milk wars because the kitchen is shared by a university department and a bunch of charities who all have different rules and milk clubs (especially since the university USED to provide milk for staff for free but now does not). The fridge is literally stuffed full of half-used, meticulously labelled milk bottles to the point where you can’t put anything else in there.

I mean, I know the British love their tea but it’s reaching levels of parody.”

6. “In our tiny office there’s a Keurig and a pot. Only two of us use the pot daily, but we do make coffee every day and drink it (a third person drinks it as well, but flies under the radar). When I was going to be out on vacation, the office manager asked my coworker if she could refrain from making coffee that week so as not to waste it. Keep in mind none of us have had raises in several years. I now pride myself on making financially ruinous pots of coffee.”

7. “My dad was a middle school teacher. As the first one in the building most days, he was usually the one to get the pot of coffee going. I think at some point, a group of teachers wrote a note on the coffee maker that requested using half the number of scoops that he normally used.

Then … my dad’s coffee sent someone to the hospital. Another teacher drank a cup from a pot that my dad made, and he started getting heart palpitations. This guy went to the school nurse, who suspected that he was having a heart attack. She called 911 and the teacher got taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Testing revealed that he thankfully hadn’t had a heart attack. He was just REALLY not used to the strength of my dad’s coffee. My dad got some sort of comedic ‘Dumb Ass’ award for doing the stupidest action that month. I think he slowly gave up coffee making at work after that.”

8. “LastJob had a coffee club. I was not a member.

There was one coffee maker. There were coffee wars over caffeinated vs. decaf coffee. Regular coffee vs. flavored coffee. Regular caffeinated vs. flavored decaf.

This was slightly mitigated when the company expanded to another floor of the building and we gained a second break room and a second coffee maker. One floor’s coffee maker was designated for decaf only, and the other for caffeinated. The flavored vs. regular battle waged on.

Two employees ended up getting disciplined (separately) for spending too much time each day ‘making coffee.’ They were in the kitchen for hours, cleaning the carafe, waiting for coffee to brew, organizing the containers of coffee, walking around polling people about what flavor of coffee to try next.”

9. “I work at a small college, the pretentious kind that loves to call itself ‘elite.’

About two months after I started, I walked into the kitchenette to get my lunch and found 3 faculty members puzzling over the Flavia coffee maker – none of them could figure out how to get it to work. I don’t drink coffee, but I walked over to offer my assistance.

There was a sign, with pictures, hanging on the wall over the machine with instructions. I followed the instructions and voila, coffee! None of the faculty said thank you; instead, they all loudly exclaimed to each other how ‘complicated’ it was and how ‘you need a PhD to operate this thing!’

Between the three of them, they had at least three PhDs. I had had my B.A. for less than a year. I still wish I had pointed that out to them.”

10. “Ok so there is this guy at my work who is a contractor, he develops this particular bespoke computer system that my organisation uses. He is kind of an asshole, doesn’t come to team meetings, doesn’t really consider himself one of us.

Anyway he has for the past couple of years planted his personal espresso machine in the shared kitchen. With its own coffee grinder and shit. He also brings his own milk in (the organisation provides milk). But he gets very angry if someone uses his gear. Once someone used his milk and he hung the bottle in a noose from a shelf with a big sign DO NOT USE THIS MILK.

Anywho one day he really lets rip at a new guy who used his coffee machine, really balls him out in front of everyone. He puts up a sign saying THIS EXPRESSO (sic) MACHINE IS A PRIVATE APPLIANGE, DO NOT USE. This really pisses me off.

So I bring in my own espresso machine from home and plonk it on the counter next to his with a big sign YOU ARE MOST WELCOME TO USE THIS ESPRESSO MACHINE. I even provided some coffee. People use it and leave a donation and I buy more coffee, it’s a great system.

So he puts up a little hand written note on his sign THE OWNER JUST WANTS HIS WISHES TO BE RESPECTED AND FOR PERMISSION TO BE ASKED BEFORE USING THIS MACHINE. Haha, what a baby.”

{ 574 comments… read them below }

  1. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Beverages are Serious Business

    (she says, sipping her loose leaf tea)

    1. Hills to Die on*

      I’m pretty grateful to be a tea drinker with my own tea and French press at my desk. I’ve got enough to do without Beverage Drama.

      1. Jadelyn*

        I like this Vietnamese instant coffee packet stuff that my partner’s coworker introduced him to. My partner doesn’t care much for coffee, so he brought a packet home to me, I tried it and love it. And it’s super cheap – it’s like $2.50 for a bag of 20 packets or something, which gets me through a week or two. So I drink that, all I need from the office is hot water, and I keep myself happily isolated from the beverage drama.

        (I’m still bitter about the time someone FINISHED MY FLAVORED CREAMER AND THREW AWAY THE BOTTLE before I got to the office that morning. I don’t mind people taking a bit here and there when they’ve run out of their own, it happens to us all, I’ve borrowed creamer before too, but if I come into the breakroom to get some coffee and can’t find my creamer *at all*, only to find the empty bottle in the damn trash…gods help that thief if I ever figure out who it was.)

        1. Merci Dee*

          I work for a Korean-owned company, and have a number of co-workers who are sent over from HQ for management positions. They’ve introduced a lot of foods to the office; the most popular seems to be those little tubes of Maxim instant coffee. I understand that they come in a couple of different flavors and strengths (unleaded, leaded, don’t-sleep-for-a-week). Lots of folks say they’re really good. I haven’t tried them. I can’t deal with freeze-dried coffee powder.

          1. fort hiss*

            Yessss I love Maxim sticks in Japan too! I don’t honestly know which country had them first.

        2. New Job So Much Better*

          Board Chairman at old job used to empty my creamer too. Also, if there was a new one waiting in the ‘fridge, he’d open that first before using up the old.

        3. Witty Nickname*

          Oh, the drama we had over the hot water dispenser. People would put their cups all the way up to it so the part their mouths touched got all over the dispenser.

          I avoided all of the drama by deciding I only like iced lattes anyway. I do my part to keep Starbucks in business.

          Back when I drank regular coffee, I brought in my french press and fancy expensive coffee and went to an office supply store and bought those individual flavored creamers that don’t have to be refrigerated so I could just keep them in my desk instead of have them stolen from the fridge.

          1. myswtghst*

            In our office, new hires are provided with a reusable coffee cup on their first day. We also have a stash of little plastic cups near the water dispensers for when you just need some cold water, which are clearly of the disposable thin and flimsy variety. In spite of signs and email reminders, we keep having problems with people losing / forgetting their reusable coffee cups, and trying to have hot beverages (either hot water from the water dispenser, or free coffee from the machines in the break room) in doubled-up disposable plastic cups, which inevitably ends with said hot drinks melting said cups and making a mess.

          2. Say What, now?*

            Same, I keep our local coffee shop in business. I have had it with the drama and I refuse to be a part of it. I used to keep those creamers in my desk until I read about how unhealthy they are for you. It still makes me sad because it was the perfect amount.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I have an electric kettle on my desk and teabags in my drawer. I usually make my loose leaf at home and bring it in my ToasTea mug.

      3. Xay*

        Same. I use the office hot water machine, bring my own tea bags and sweeteners and stay away from the coffee skirmishes.

        We have an office Flavia that I occasionally use for hot chocolate. It’s gotten pretty nasty when people forget to restock certain flavors and types of coffee.

      4. Anonymoose*

        Can we talk about the french press? Okay, so I brought mine in from home (I bought a large one for camping but never used it so though ‘why not’), and every time I make it I find that not only am I having to use waaay too much coffee for a decent cup, but it’s also a major PITA to clean at work. Nobody has time to meticulously clean coffee grounds.

        1. KarenH*

          A medium sized strainer, fitted with a conventional coffee filter works pretty well to dump out a french press (and even to add more water to the press, swirl it around and rinse out the majority of the ground.

        2. RB*

          Yes, French presses actually require more grounds to get the same strength of brewed coffee than drip machines or pour-overs. I prefer a pour-over using the brown Melitta plastic cone and a glass pot or even just my coffee mug.

          1. Jeanine*

            I love using my Chemex pot at home. I have french presses too and used them for years until I discovered how good a Chemex can make coffee. I love the pour over method.

        3. Proofin’ Amy*

          Well, that’s why I pledged a Kickstarter for a new kind of French press. The bottom unscrews, so theoretically the grounds drop right out, making it easier to clean. Fulfillment’s not until July, so it remains to be seen if 1. It makes good coffee. 2. It really is easier to clean. 3. The bottom still screws on tightly enough to prevent any coffee explosions or leaks during the brewing process.

    2. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      Seconded. I have a small tupper with teabags, coffeebags, powdered milk and sweetener in my work bag, just to avoid this level of drama.

    1. earl grey aficionado*

      That’s so completely inappropriate in a workplace, I can’t even. It’s funny to read about as a third party but I would be genuinely disturbed if I walked into the kitchen and saw that!

      1. she was a fast machine*

        Seriously! And if there were POC at the company/using that breakroom there could be all kinds of racial elements suspected by anyone who didn’t know the full story.

        1. Specialk9*

          Oh God yes, in the fire service we weren’t even allowed to LEARN the noose because it’s so fraught culturally and in relation to suicide. Dude, when you’re making FIREFIGHTERS look sensitive to cultural no-nos, you’re a raging grasshole. Like, we had PORN playing in our common area, routinely, and a noose was too far for them.

          1. GRA*

            “when you’re making FIREFIGHTERS look sensitive to cultural no-nos, you’re a raging grasshole” As someone who has a lot of firefighter friends, this comment made me spit water all over my desk! YES!!

            1. Specialk9*

              Alison, feel free to kill that prior message, it got too dark for this fun post.

              ( so you see this)

              1. GRA*

                Yup. Have you ever been to a firehouse? Not surprising at all. (I do love those guys, though!)

          2. Like The City*

            My husband used to be a firefighter and my dad still is one. All that to say, I have never read a more true comment in my life!

          3. nnn*

            Does that mean that, if it weren’t for the unfortunate connotations, there would be some legitimate firefighting-related reason for firefighters to learn how to tie a noose? Does it, like, have a function other than killing?

            1. Indoor Cat*

              Yes; it’s useful in boating (for example) because you can easily adjust the loop circumference to fit different sizes of posts, and the knot tightens automatically with the ship’s movement. So, anything you need to attach tightly but remove easily later. It’s also used as a bowline knot: toss the loose loop over an object that’s fallen overboard, then tighten and pull the object back up.

              Generally people just call it a bowline knot, even though there are more than one kind of bowline knot including the noose. But noose is just so ominous sounding, and the ropes used in boating are vibrantly colored to attempt to avoid those connotations.

        2. earl grey aficionado*

          This was my first thought! Between that and its connection to suicide, it boggles my mind that someone would consider that an appropriate symbol to bring into the workplace. Especially for something as ultimately trivial as friggin’ coffee.

      1. Seriously?*

        It sounds like he was the only one able to help with the custom computer. He should have been banned from the kitchen at least.

      2. Anonymoose*

        I can’t think of why a ‘noose’ should automatically get someone fired. Can you explain?

        1. GlitsyGus*

          It is best to just avoid any kind of imagery that references murder in the workplace, and a hangman’s noose is rarely used for anything other than killing a person. Historically, in the US especially, killing someone with a noose was often not done within the realm of legal execution and was used, and is still viewed, as racial intimidation.

  2. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    The first one is just insane!

    Were the coffee machines so much better than the other company’s?

      1. Abe Froman*

        My guess is it’s not the coffee but everything else. Flavorings, milk, etc. I can see flavored coffee drinkers losing their minds over not having that as easily as before.

        1. Susan Sto Helit*

          I have a fancy coffee machine at home that I got cheap off ebay. I’ve bought the flavoured syrups and a bunch of glass bottles – now every night I make myself up a nice iced latte (currently salted caramel; I’ll probably go back to cinnamon when this bottle of syrup is done), leave it in the fridge overnight, and bring it into work the next morning. I’m saving a fortune on our expensive in-house coffee shop.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Oh, that sounds nice. I got a cappuccino machine as a gift once and used it about twice? I’m not sure if I still have it, actually.

            1. Susan Sto Helit*

              Mine is a Lavazza, but I’m sure you could do the same with any espresso machine (it has a steam wand as well for heating the milk, but I rarely use that as I prefer iced coffee). You just fill your bottle (or glass or whatever) most of the way up with milk, add the syrup, then pour the espresso straight over the top. If it’s for right away I add ice, but if it’s going to be left overnight the fridge is enough. I’ve even been known to fill an empty wine bottle with a bumper load of coffee when I was off to my parents’ for the weekend so I’d still have my fix!

    1. The Indomitable Snowman*

      To me it sounds like the other company brought in a coffee vendor (like starbux) who sold coffee and said no free coffee could be offered. So then that company effectively lost their free coffee.

      1. babblemouth*

        I’m surprised Other Company’s employees didn’t start a riot over this. If my office suddenly started making everyone pay for coffee, people would lose their minds. It’s such a small perk that makes such a big difference.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          The obvious solution is for Company to provide free Starbucks (or whatever company) two or three times a day as a perk. **

          Everyone can just get whatever they want and there’s no fighting over flavored/unflavored, caf/decaf, milk/creamer, liquid, powder, sugar/splenda…etc. <—(I was going to keep going but the list seems endless).

          I know…

          ** Keeping in mind that it's usually only one, maaayyybbbeee two other people working with me at any given time…I generally bring in coffee for everyone in the mornings and then either go or send someone for coffee in the afternoon. I'm not Google, I can't afford to provide everything for free (dry cleaning…really?) but wide awake and productive works for me and whatever I can (legally) do to help ensure that…small price to pay.

    2. Specialk9*

      They posted a sign asking people not to steal, and the other company took a picture of the sign and sent it out to everyone encouraging them to steal. The mind BOGGLES at the sheer temerity.

      1. Lance*

        How I’m reading it, I think they took a picture of the machine, rather than the sign? But I’m not completely sure, to be honest. Either way, it’s… yeah, good work to them?

        1. SometimesALurker*

          Before reading the comments, I read that bit three times trying to determine whether they took a picture of the machine or the sign!

          1. Anonymoose*

            But either way it’s a shit show because the person who sent it out was already part of the non compete company. Idiot? Genuis? I haven’t decided yet.

    3. lew*

      Personally, I’d report the company to whichever third party they have their non-compete with. Normally this would be a MYOB situation but it becomes my business when they start stealing my coffee.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I loved this one so much. I’m inspired to create financially ruinous pots of coffee across America!

      2. Jadelyn*

        I just love that phrase, even more than the story itself. “Financially Ruinous Pots of Coffee”, title of my sex tape.

        1. Kate*

          LOL! I just started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine after the cancelled/uncancelled debacle (yes, I hate myself for not starting sooner), and those are my FAVORITE lines.

    1. Nines*

      Seriously! I am highly impressed with both of these people. I only hope I will be as awesome as they are one day.

  3. Trout 'Waver*

    I’m a snob about quite a few things: beer, whiskey, oysters, cheese. But I consider myself quite fortunate to not care about the quality of coffee I drink.

    Thanks for this column, it and the original thread were very entertaining.

    1. justsomeone*

      Same here. If it’s coffee and there’s some kind of creamer, I’m set. I do LIKE fancier coffee, but I’ll drink the crappy stuff if it’s there.

    2. SKA*

      Seconded. I’ll drink a fancy cup of coffee and enjoy it. But not significantly more than I enjoy a coffee from a gas station.

      I’m a little bit snobby about tea, but it’s easier to have a private stash of that around the office (*points to her drawer of loose leaf tins*).

      1. Specialk9*

        Have you tried PG Tips? I definitely prefer loose tea in froofy flavors like purple flower Earl Grey, but am lazy. PG Tips is a plain tea in a bag, but it’s good enough that I now drink it, almost exclusively. It has just started filtering into some local groceries, but I’m in a big city. Amazon though.

        1. rldk*

          My tiny, woodsy hometown in MA had PG Tips arrive at our local grocery. My parents have never been so pleased – our English friends had got them hooked years before and the only way to get it way shipping across the pond!

        2. Your Weird Uncle*

          Oh yes, second the PG Tips! PG Tips is the brand I used to buy when I lived in the UK and stock up on it whenever I get a chance. Usually you can find it in Walmart or Target! I saw it at Whole Foods too, but it was way expensive.

          1. Paquita*

            I saw PG tea in our Publix. We have one with an ‘International’ section. About half of one side of the aisle. Interesting to look at. (Marmite anyone?)

      2. KatT*

        I am particular about my tea in that I’m sort of an anti-snob. You can keep your flavours/earl greys/perfumed loose leaves. Give me bog standard black tea in a bag please. Preferably Yorkshire but I will accept english breakfast. Anything too fancy and no thanks. Which is why I tend to travel with at least 1 tea bag and a pocket full of sugar sachets

        1. Chinook*

          I am a tea snob not in the type (Red Rose tea bag of indeterminate age is good enough for me) but in how it is made. You need to steep it in a prewarmed container and I prefer an actual pot where you can remove the bag when it is ready. It is why buying a tea in a restaurant is an unknowable experience and why I can relate to my grandmother not only returning a cup of lukewarm water with a tea bag next to it but then taking the waiter back to her station and showing her how a proper cup of tea should be made when dining at nice restaurant (i.e. one with real tableclothes).

          1. Turquoisecow*

            My mom also insists that it needs to be made with boiling hot water, and most places don’t get the water hot enough, so the tea doesn’t taste right. She likes tea, but rarely drinks it out.

            1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

              I’m the same. It’s been such a delight when I’ve traveled in the UK because you can step into any little corner place and get a cup of tea that suits me, well, to a T. It may not be a fancy brand, but it’s brewed with nice hot water or even pre-steeped.

          2. Rachel Paterson*

            My mum insists on having the teabag outside the cup, because she likes the weakest-ass tea ever. Like, 3-second-dip tea. With nothing else in it. I’m not sure she actually likes tea?

        2. Turquoisecow*

          My mother will only drink plain Lipton tea. She’s not interested in anything else, although she will occasionally have plain tea at a diner or restaurant. She has been known to bring it on trips as hotel rooms usually don’t have tea. She also switched at some point from sugar to Sweet n Low and she sometimes carries those in her purse just in case the hotel or restaurant doesn’t have them. I keep a box in my house just for her as she won’t drink any of the flavored teas we keep on hand.

    3. Wendy Darling*

      On the other hand I’m so far into coffee snobbery that unless the breakroom has a La Marzocco machine and a grinder I’m too snobby to drink the breakroom coffee, which takes me out of the coffee wars entirely.

    4. Mr Cholmondley-Warner*

      I dislike all coffee equally. Tastes like mud.
      So I’m always fascinated when I read about coffee wars. It’s just bizarre.

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        Mr Cholmondley-Warner
        May 18, 2018 at 5:18 am

        I dislike all coffee equally. Tastes like mud.

        That’s because it was ground a minute ago.


    5. PhyllisB*

      Not a “snob” about coffee; don’t really care what kind as long as it’s strong enough. What I care about is real half and half or cream. Went to stay with my SIL and she uses skim milk (shudder) for hers. Now I know to just bring a small carton with me.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        I actually do care about the coffee, that said, YES real half and half or cream…liquid, not powdered. Skim milk? So chalky-ish water then? I don’t even like whole milk in my coffee. When I get a coffee at Starbucks or somewhere I always order a café brevé (half and half instead of milk) for which I am fine paying extra. Especially since they tend to make it with 2% anyway. Not even whole milk the cheap bastages.

  4. Cheeky*

    I have never in my career consumed office coffee. Those carafes and machines never get cleaned, and the coffee is basically burnt garbage, from what I’ve always heard from people who do drink it. I don’t understand why companies bother to offer it.

    1. LadyL*

      I’m a coffee snob, except once it’s free all snobbery goes out the window. Can’t work without the caffeine fluid, can’t afford to be buying my own all the time. I’ve drunk some pretty nasty stuff, but it was free.

        1. Kuododi*

          I have gotcha beat…. I used to work as a hospital chaplain at a very large Level 1 Trauma hospital. Ive actually consumed community coffee from the staff lounge in the Emergency Department while doing a 24 hr call. Desperate times called for desperate measures!!! GACK!!!!

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Did you consume vending machine coffee too? Because that’s got to be up there in yuck levels.

            1. SarahKay*

              I used to drink vending machine coffee, and liked it.
              I don’t drink it now because we got a hot water dispenser so I can make my own instant coffee in my own mug, which is cheaper and removes the plastic cup waste.
              But I loathe milk/cream/creamer in coffee (or tea), so at that point, I don’t think there’s much difference between vending machine black instant coffee and a mug of instant coffee.

            2. Kuododi*

              I don’t remember if there was vending machine coffee available at my particular hospital. (This was back at the Dawn of recorded history!!!!). I have painful memories however of the vending machine coffee in the student center where DH and I went to seminary. That period of time was “before” the dawn of recorded history!!!) Also quite horrible!!!!

            3. RUKiddingMe*

              Oh god..grad school flashbacks! In the anthropology department there was one of those machines that had an assortment of coffee (black, cream, sugar, cream and sugar) and hot chocolate which was all just powdered product with hot water added. I think it was like 50 cents per cup or something.

              It came in those little paper cups decorated with a poker hand. It was nasty, but this was way back in the day before Starbucks et al. on every corner and anywhere to get food/coffee was too far away to be practical (also at night it was kind of a no go anyway) so very often the only option. I drank gallons of that stuff.

              Oh yeah there was also an option for chicken “bullion.”

              Instant coffee, Doritos, and Coke…brain food.

          2. Chinook*

            That is right up there with teacher staffroom coffee of indeterminate age that has sit on your desk for 2+ hours before you can drink it (which is why I learned to accept lukewarm coffee to slightly cool coffee). something liquid is better than nothing.

            I also learned to skip the creamer and have cup with a lid after 2 incidents where I caught students smirking at me as when I went to take a sip. Lessons learned – whiteout makes coffee look like it has a lot of creamer, dish soap leaves a rainbow slick, and if you dump it out in front of the kids before it hits your lips without showing any emotion, the students think you are psychic and never try to pull another fast one on that particular substitute teacher again.

        2. Sarah*

          Completely. When we’re down to the truly terrible stuff while we wait for the coffee to get restocked, I’ll spend $3 and bring my own creamer to mask the taste. But I cannot work without the energy bean water.

        3. hermit crab*

          Same! I started drinking coffee in high school when I worked in a museum; the staff break room was on the same HVAC system as the collections floor so it was cooooooold all the time, no matter where you were in the building. I basically learned to see office coffee as a caffeinated hypothermia-avoidance strategy. Taste is a distant third behind temperature and strength. :)

      1. Nan*

        Exactly. I’ll drink nearly any coffee if it’s free. Except McDonald’s, because it tastes like old cigarette ashes.

      2. Hlyssande*

        When I temped briefly at one of the Big Cellphone Companies, the swill they called coffee was terrible – but free. I hate coffee, but my coffee-drinking friends let me know how bad it was.

        Fortunately, they also had free hot cocoa packets. Add two of those to a cup of terrible coffee and shazam, vaguely drinkable chocolate caffeine.

        1. Artemesia*

          Since microwaves are in almost every office, it is easy to brew up a couple of cups of what you like in the morning and bring it in and then just heat it up when you need it.

          I drink lattes and have since long before starbucks; it is a pain to get them at work, so I just got in the habit of bringing in a giant one in the morning and two small cups of that was perfect.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      My company has a relatively fancy coffee machine that runs on pods. Anyone can take a pod, and is expected to leave a quarter for the privilege, but it’s the honor system so I think if you leave a dollar one day and nothing other days they don’t mind.

      Anyway, kitchen cleaning duty rotates through employees, and the main task for the cleaner is the coffee machine. There are specific and detailed instructions you have to follow, and if you don’t do it properly, the machine won’t work right and people will know who is at fault. The task is done daily.

      I don’t drink coffee, but I’d think once a day would be sufficient for cleaning a coffee machine?

      1. Specialk9*

        My dept took over a cubicle that’s far from the main walkway, and has a sneaky down-low coffee center. Keurig, jug of water, creamers, sweeteners, some snacks, etc. People brought in some things from home, and it’s pretty decent.

        The one thing I found interesting is that some people find it really rude to leave your K-cup in the machine. There are irate signs to the effect. Personally, I figured my job was to remove the cooled used pod before putting mine in, and leaving my hot pod for the next person. It’s the Cycle of Coffee, guys! But now I know it bugs people, I remove pods on both ends.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          Ours kicks out the previous pod when you lift the handle. Pretty nifty.

        2. Artemesia*

          I think the thing that is least likely to cause issues is t leave it in. If everyone has to remove it before brewing then everyone removes one each time — no one is ‘forgetting’ and thus forcing angry co-worker to have to remove one before and after. We do the same thing with our dryer. You remove the lint before doing a load; that way the lint screen is always clean because we always do it that way. There can be no forgetting and not checking etc.

          1. Khlovia*

            It has been 15 years since I last lived in an apartment building, but I deliberately retain the apartment-dweller’s habit of checking the lint screen both before and after. (Spouse and I each do our own.) It isn’t that spouse neglects it; it’s just that I think it’s a good idea.

    3. Nita*

      Yeah. So gross. Its only redeeming quality is that it’s hot, free, and right there. IMO the best coffee is in diners and coffee carts, but if it’s the middle of winter and I’m drinking cup after cup to get the chill out, I’m not going to get dressed and run out for coffee every time! So here comes the burnt stuff, it’s still better than office tea!

    4. Coffeelover*

      Depends on the office. I’ve worked in two offices now with pretty fancy machines. The current one grinds fresh beans to make 1 cup of coffee at a time. We have someone that comes by twice a week to do a full overall clean of the machines…. Pretty sure he works for the coffee company and that’s his only job. Refill, fix and clean the machines. We take our coffee seriously here.

    5. Optimistic Prime*

      Normally I agree with you, but at my current company our coffee machines are professionally serviced and I’ve watched them be cleaned, so I’m more comfortable with this office’s coffee.

      But at every other office I’ve worked at – yeah, it’s just been better to bring my own from home in an insulated carafe.

  5. Amber Rose*

    I want to start a “creamer club” since the company only purchases that whitening powder crap that is so, so gross. But I’m worried that it’ll turn into the ongoing drama that is the bathroom towels.

    Our new office is a two second walk to a coffee shop so I might not bother.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Don’t mention paper towels. I have to order three different kinds because people prefer certain ones (and we have different dispensers for each in the bathrooms and kitchens). Once, ONCE, I tried to streamline it and only order one kind of paper towel.

      You’d have thought I slaughtered their loved ones in front of them.

      So now I’m back to ordering three varieties of paper towels.

      1. Pam*

        Our work building is LEED certified, so only hand-dryers, not paper towels. Therefore, we keep a supply of paper towels in our office.

        1. Observer*

          Talk about unintended consequences. Those dryers turn out to be incredibly unsanitary, even when they work and don’t chap people’s hands.

          1. Kuododi*

            I love the line from Big Bang Theory when Sheldon is asked something or another about hand dryers. “It would be more hygenic to have a plague infested Gibbon sneeze my hands dry!!!”

            1. Specialk9*

              That’s hysterical. I didn’t know they were unsanitary. I just know the sound hurts my ears.

              1. Kuododi*

                Actually, now that I think about it I believe the Mythbusters guys did a spot on dryers vs. paper towels in public restrooms. I am pretty sure their conclusion was in favor of paper towels.

          2. Liane*

            I have a friend who cannot use the dryers at all. Her multiple sclerosis makes her extremely heat sensitive and when she gets overheated, she goes pretty limp. And a dryer that is warm enough to actually dry hands is enough to overheat her.

            1. Wendy Darling*

              I like the Dyson hand dryers that dry by BLASTING THE WATER OFF YOUR HANDS rather than heating them, car wash dryer style.

          3. myswtghst*

            We’re trying to bring that to management’s attention in my current place of work, because after some unfortunate toilet-clogging incidents where people attempted to flush paper towels down the toilets, we had all our paper towels taken away.

            The only time I vaguely enjoy using the jet engine that masquerades as a hand dryer in our work bathroom is when someone is taking a personal phone call on speaker phone in the bathroom.

            1. Squirrelgirl*

              This is EXACTLY what happened at my place of work, leaving us with only the disgusting dyson dryers you have to stick your hands into (seriously- look inside one of those, both right under the blower slots, and the very bottom. I will never use them again). At the height of cold and flu season. Also we’re a food service establishment.

              Thankfully we’ve had paper towels restored, but it was after months of sneaking napkins, using toilet seat covers, or just my pants to dry my hands and exit the bathroom with clean hands. A brave soul in middle management also put together a compelling (if not paranoia inducing) presentation about the importance of hand washing/food safety that had some impact, but was received poorly by higher ups since it basically placed the blame on them, and they had no ready solution at the time.

        2. OtterB*

          Our building is also LEED-certified, but we have paper towels as well as hand dryers. But the trash bin by the paper towels has a large notice that ONLY paper towels should go in that bin, which will be composted. There are receptacles in the stalls for used hygiene products, but any other kind of trash has to be taken back to the office to put in a regular trash can.

          1. sam*

            Our building went eco, and replaced our old manual paper towel dispensers with the fancy eco-electric ones that dispense, like, three-inches of paper towel and then make you wait 30 seconds to get more. Of course everyone stands there waiving their hand over the sensor because IT’S NOT ENOUGH PAPER TOWEL, so i’m not sure how the electric dispenser is more eco friendly than the old version where you just used human energy to pull a paper towel from the slot, but I just work here.

            They also installed those fancy dyson hand dryers, but they’re ridiculously loud and the only spot they could put them was WAY too close to the sinks, so you can’t actually use them if anyone else is trying to wash their hands at the same time. So no one uses them, and the only time they get turned on is when someone washing their hands accidentally stands too close to one, sets it off, and jumps three feet in the air from the noise.

            And I’m not even going to get started on the sensor sinks and toilets that only work half the time.

            We are eco-geniuses.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              We have sensor toilets. They don’t work right. One flushes while you’re still sitting and the other doesn’t flush unless you actually push the button.

              We also have sensor faucets. The water is freezing in one sink that hardly anyone uses and hot in the other sink that everyone uses. I think it’s set to come out as hot as possible but usually a single person using it means the water is cold. Next person comes along and it’s a little warmer, and so on until it’s burning your hands off. Also, one of the sensors was malfunctioning last week and so the water just kept running. Thankfully the drain wasn’t clogged.

                1. dawbs*


                  As the parent of a child w/ sensory issues (inopportune flushes are a significant problem), I’ve learned to carry post-its. Place a post it over the damn sensor.
                  Use the bathroom.
                  Remove post-it.
                  It will, at that point, either auto-flush or I can push the button.

                  Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work for the dreaded blow dryers of doom.

                2. Rana*

                  And if you forget post-it notes, dip a square of toilet paper in the water (just enough to get one edge wet). This will make it stick easily to the wall.

              1. ADirector*

                We have those, too. We have one in particular that gets feisty every once in awhile. It starts to flush and then continues to flush, nonstop, for the next 10 minutes. It’s both hilarious and disconcerting.

            2. Rat in the Sugar*

              So those automatic paper towel dispensers…since you should absolutely not mess with your employer’s facilities, you should not find a way to jimmy open the cover, and after that you should not find the small switch on the side that definitely doesn’t determine how much paper is dispensed, and of course you should never change that to a longer setting. We used to have those in my old workplace, of course set to 3 inches like yours, so I just wanted to give some advice on what not to do. ;)

              1. sam*

                Oh, I’ve never done that. Unfortunately. After I’ve *never* done that, the cleaning staff has never reset it immediately on their next visit through the washroom.

                1. Rat in the Sugar*

                  Dang, foiled by the cleaning crew. At my old workplace, I was actually the one responsible for refilling those things so I figured that gave me license to set it how I want. They would sometimes reset it on other shifts which always annoyed me–I once ripped that sucker open right in front of a customer and slammed the switch all the way to the longest setting. The customer was startled at first but then highly pleased to get over a foot of paper towel with a single wave.

            3. BlueberryHill*

              My company put in those sensor-towel dispensers, and because of the drippage that occurred when people went to dry their hands, someone slipped and hit their head on the sink. The employee ended up needing stitches, and sued the company (successfully) for $150k.

            4. Oxford Coma*

              I freaking HATE sensor-activated anything in the bathroom. Can I please pee and wash up without having to do jazz hands?

                1. Millie M*

                  This happens to me, too. I think part of the problem might be that the sensors are in places that don’t make sense, like one I used recently that was really close to the faucet. You put your hands in what you think is a reasonable place to turn on the sensor, but the sensor is in a different place, so it’s not you, it’s a bad design.

                2. Also invisible*

                  I feel your pain. I hate auto sensor sinks and soap. If I can get them to work for me (which usually requires “jazz hands” and/or tries at multiple sinks/faucets), I still don’t get enough soap to lather well or enough water in one cycle to rinse off all the soap. I usually fare better with the paper towel dispenser.

                  Airport bathrooms are the worst because I never know if they’re out of soap or I’m just doing it wrong.

          2. Sarah*

            Our university has switched to this system. Of course, it’s a university, meaning full of students who can’t just go back to their offices, which has meant people just use the “composting” cans for everything and then they can’t be used for compost at all. Or sometimes people just pile their trash on the sink next to the trash cans. No one has yet come up with the brilliant solution of just providing an actual trash can in the restroom! How many PhDs do we have working here again??

      2. Amber Rose*

        We have a company that delivers a particular kind of towel that goes in these special towel holder dealies in the bathrooms. The kind that’s like a rolling towel holder, so you have to pull down to reveal clean towel space. There are instructions with pictures on how to change out the towels when they’ve run through, but people are like, afraid of it. They just leave the loose end dangling on the floor, and the two or three people that end up changing them every time get pretty salty about it.

        They also get salty about people who wipe their hands and don’t pull down so the next person has clean towel.

        So much drama.

      3. SoSo*

        I have this happen almost weekly with the office supplies. Everyone has their “type” that they apparently can’t survive without- pens, notebooks, post-its. It might not be great office etiquette, but I had to look at someone earlier this week and tell them “I am not Staples.”

        1. Susan Sto Helit*

          I used to do the stationery order for our office. I will tell you, the difference between the stationery I, a woman, ordered (oooh, this looks nice! And it comes in different colours!) and the stuff the current person, a man, orders (which of these is the cheapest?) is vast. I recently found a stash of coloured post-it notes in my desk that I’d forgotten about, and now I am going to have to HOARD those things.

          1. Birch*

            I strongly believe gendered social norms are conflated with (also gendered socializing of) the ability to problem solve in a practical way. Color coding, pens that actually work, different sizes of post-it’s etc. are all ways to increase efficiency and productivity but they’re often coded as “women like pretty things even when it’s office supplies.” It’s 100% OK to make decisions based on aesthetics for the fun of it but I also think the practical applications of aesthetic decisions are ignored when it’s women making them.

            1. Mad Baggins*

              Woman: I shall order decadent highlighting pens in shades of butter cream and periwinkle to support my coworkers!
              Man: Get pen make write good.
              This stereotype is kind of a chicken-and-egg thing. Ignore the practical (f)/aesthetic (m) aspects of the decision by gender, reward when they stay in their lane, judge when they don’t. How do I know whether I actually want a periwinkle highlighter or if I’ve just been trained to do so?

          2. SoSo*

            I try to order a decent variety of things, but I once ordered plain yellow post it notes because 1) they were cheaper and 2) they were made of recycled paper, there was an unofficial boycott. It’s been almost a year and people will pick around them. There’s at least half a dozen pads still left. I have also started hoarding all the lysol cleaning wipes at my desk and issuing them on an as-needed basis because people can’t follow instructions and put the canister back when they’re finished.

            My favorite is also when someone comes up to me looking for something random that we don’t have (and likely haven’t ordered before) and they get upset because Why Wouldn’t I Have That Specialty Item Just For Them??

            People are so weird with supplies….

            1. Annie Moose*

              This is why you always make friends with the Keeper of the Office Supplies! At OldJob, I was one of the few people blessed with the knowledge of where the spare batteries were kept (the bottom drawer of our admin’s filing cabinet); apparently there was a terrible rash of people from other floors stealing them before she hid them.

            2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

              My old boss will not use anything but super sticky post its. I thought she was a little over the top at first (like she’d literally curse and throw the entire pack of cheap ones away if she found them in her stash of super sticky)… until I saw the results of a two day workshop done entirely of sticky notes on the floor one morning.

              Yep, a process map that took 2 days to build with the help of an outside expensive consultant was in a nice little jumbled pile on the floor.

              That was an expensive lesson to learn for someone (luckily not me) to always use super sticky. I didn’t need to learn that one the hard way.

            3. myswtghst*

              I just get sad when our admin orders cheap knockoff post-its with terrible adhesive. I don’t even care what color they are, I just want them to stick to things for more than 30 seconds.

              1. SoSo*

                I should clarify- the plain yellow post its I mentioned above were the name brand, super sticky kind. I would NEVER purchase the store-brand ones for all the reasons above… The boycott was just because they were plain yellow and not bright colors.

            4. adminlifeinaustin*

              this is literally my life. the number of times someone asks me for this wildly specific and seemingly odd item and then are wildly annoyed that we don’t stock it is ridiculous.

              also, i hide the cleaning wipes because people act as if they are gold and hoard them like crazy.

        2. Jadelyn*

          This is why I just order my own damn office supplies for anything I’m picky about. I buy my own post-its (I like pretty colors and have a dispenser for the folded kind, but they only buy plain pad style), my own pens (don’t get me started – I am SO PICKY about pens), and whiteboard pens (I hate the thick chisel tip style that’s all my office stocks, so I buy super-fine ones for myself). I could try to get the office to change up the ordering, but it’s just not worth the effort for a few bucks worth of supplies every couple months.

          1. SoSo*

            Yeah, even though I order the supplies for my entire department, if there’s something very specific I want, I bring it in myself- I supplied my own pens, desk organizers, and wireless keyboard and mouse!

            My biggest issue with the super-picky complaints from people is that most of them don’t understand that 15 other people want their own types or brands of pens/post its/notebooks, and its just not feasible or economical to order that many specialty things. I try to keep a variety of brands/colors/types of everything to cover the majority of needs (or desires, sometimes), but I’ve had to draw the line a few times.

            1. tangerineRose*

              I’m surprised people think it’s OK to tell you what to order. Where I used to work, I wasn’t thrilled with the selection of pens they had, so I brought in pens from home – problem solved.

              1. Lurker*

                I’m surprised it’s not. Maybe the difference between for and non profit? I’ve worked at all non-profits and while there were standard supplies (pens, post-its, highlighters), if you needed something different from what was offered, you just filled out a supply request form and ordered it. (With the money coming out of your department’s budget.)

                I remember one time when working for a Smithsonian, the director of my department wanted some sort of fine line, felt tipped writing pens. They were maybe $4/box instead of $2 for the BIC/Papermate whatever. As I was the admin for the department it was my job to request supplies from the woman who ordered everything for the entire museum. She was former military and ran a tight ship. When I gave her the request form, she raised her eyebrow and said, “$4 for box of pens?”

                I said, “Dept. Director wants them.”

                She said, “Hmm. Ok, so [Your Department] got it like that.” and ordered them.

          2. SarahKay*

            When I worked in retail the stationery supplies were stored in the cash office, presumably to ensure people really only got what they needed.
            A few years into my time there, I became cash office manger, and I admit, ownership of the stationery cupboard was the big thrill there. I mean yes, access to the cash safe holding (at busy times) tens of thousands of pounds, but naturally I wasn’t allowed to take the cash. The thrill of being allowed to go to the stationery cupboard and take out a pen for myself instead of having it issued to me!
            And I confess, I abused my powers as controller of stationery very slightly, in that I ordered a 20-pack of my favourite Bic ballpoint pens, which must have been ooohh, all of two pence (approx three cents) dearer per pen than our usual cheapest-possible-ballpoint-we-can-find.

            1. FormerHoosier*

              I worked as an admin for a department once and did all of the ordering. My boss told me to order everyone 1 mechanical pencil. Everyone was given one and then I ordered the lead to replace. I couldn’t buy regular pencils or issue anyone an additional mechanical pencil.

        3. Wendy Darling*

          My particular rage issue at one job was that they only ordered store-brand sticky notes from their office supply company and those suckers didn’t stick to anything. My team used sticky notes to mark things and needed them to actually stay put for a few hours so we had to buy real post-its and expense them.

        4. krysb*

          I buy my own pens for the office. No cheap Bics for me. I need the Bic Velocity 1.6mm point pens, because they are boss. And if I see anyone using my pens (only my boss and I use these pens), there’s hell to pay.

        5. Bee's Knees*

          Ooh, we had this issue in our office recently. Fergus couldn’t believe that the Person Who Orders Supplies didn’t get yellow legal pads, they got white. The white ones don’t work the same, didn’t we know? They must be yellow. So now there’s a big pile of white legal pads, because no one but Fergus uses them. And every time he needs a new one, he acts like we’re out, because he doesn’t bother to look on the sides and see what color the paper is.

      4. Mad Baggins*

        In my country it’s common for people to bring their own hand towels. Your hands actually get dry and it’s energy efficient.

        (Now if only there was soap and warm water in every bathroom…)

      1. Queen of Cans & Jars*

        Not exactly sure, but I believe I saw a Mythbusters where they proved it’s flammable.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Any sufficiently fine powder is combustible, it’s not exclusive to creamer.

              1. Barley*

                If we’d been allowed to explode a custard factory as an experiment at school, I’d have enjoyed physics class a lot more :-)

        1. Irene Adler*

          Blech! And that’s supposed to mimic the taste of creamer?
          Better off lighting the stuff on fire.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I was going to say the dried tears of abandoned children and old chalk dust, mixed with trans fats for good measure.

    2. LadyL*

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a milk or creamer “club”. Is that just like, people chip in to buy creamer and share it?

      I’ll be honest, if you don’t get a badge of some kind I dunno if I’d call it a club ;)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes. It tends to be a feature of academic/government jobs where they are prohibited from providing free beverages to employees. I’ve also seen water, juice and coffee clubs.

        At my job, we do group mango orders, but that’s more of a perk.

        1. Jilly*

          I was visiting a federal government client a few months ago. The person I was meeting with asked me if I wanted some water. She was a member of the water club so she could give me some. However, related to the federal gov’t not providing water, that also meant that there were no glasses (technically they do have to provide potable water, but the water fountains on the other side of the security door meet that requirement). So we had to ask around to find a drinking vessel. Luckily one of my coworkers who sits onsite with this client had an extra cup.

      2. EMW*

        My dad shares his heavy whipping cream with his coworker. Typically, for the real stuff, you can buy a bigger container to save money but still use it up before it goes bad if there’s multiple people using it. He just buys it and let’s others use it though – no official arrangement.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I’m poor. I’d go broke sharing cream with everyone who drinks coffee in this office.

          1. EMW*

            I’m not saying that’s what everyone should do. He shares it with one coworker, so it’s not really a club. But there’s also no one else who wants to put heavy whipping cream in their coffee.

            1. teclatrans*

              I do! But, can confirm, it’s a small club, unless you have a lot of low-carbers atound.

            2. SarahKay*

              In coffee, no – Yuk! I like my coffee black. But I would totally bring in cake to have with any spare real cream. And then take a fair turn in providing said cream, naturally.

        2. oldbiddy*

          I work at a university and used to do that with milk – a gallon of whole milk is $2 here and I got tired of seeing all the containers of milk, creamer, etc in the group fridge. That worked for several years until one of the students started putting two cups of it in her oatmeal every morning. I asked her to leave the milk for the coffee and tea drinkers and bring her own, but she kept taking it. By that point I had my own office with a fridge so I stopped bringing it in. Now we’re back to 4 things of milk and six things of creamer in the fridge.

    3. Specialk9*

      I bought a big package of MiniMoos online. It’s better than powdered, though of course fresh is better. It’s not a bad compromise though.

    4. Dairy is serious business!*

      I got a small reusable water bottle (one of those kids size Contigo ones in a color so you can’t really tell what’s in it) and wrote my name on the side with Sharpie. I fill it with real half and half at the start of the week and bring it home to clean/refill it when it’s empty, and it’s worked out ok so far. People don’t seem interested in drinking an unidentified liquid from the fridge door.

    5. Prairie Dawn*

      Have you tried the shelf stable little cups of half and half? They’re called Mini Moo’s at my grocery store. I keep those and Starbucks Via (instant coffee) in my desk.

    1. HR Recruiter*

      Me too! I only drink water…reading this I realize there’s a whole world of drama I didn’t even know about.

    2. Ali G*

      Me too! Also so thankful I have always worked in offices with free coffee, tea, hot and cold water and all the trimmings. Even the teeny tiny non profit that can only pay me $15 an hour has a full set up for employees.
      I will be sure to ask during future job interviews about the coffee and tea situation!

    3. Jennifer*

      ME THREE.
      On a related note, Doris Egan’s “The Complete Ivory” is a fun sci-fi trilogy, but in the middle book, our heroes are kidnapped and forced to join a Robin Hood-esque band. When the leader throws a brainstorming party and gets everybody wasted to come up with some ideas as to how to prevent themselves from getting eventually hanged, the eventual idea is to annoy everyone by making off with the entire stash of their coffee equivalent. Boy, does that work.

  6. LadyL*

    I’m with your dad, #7. Weak coffee is essentially just very bad tasting water. If the coffee isn’t strong enough to send your body to a different plane of existence, why bother?

    1. Espeon*

      Yeah I don’t drink coffee to be better at work I drink it because I’m not allowed to get drunk at my desk.

      1. LadyL*

        I’ve never heard it described quite like that before but YES!!

        Coffee is my legally/socially accepted substance to abuse.

      2. Gabriela*

        I have a coffee mug that says, “I drink coffee until it’s acceptable to start drinking wine” that I occasionally bring to work.

    2. Alternative Person*

      Yeah, if I drop below a certain level of caffination the results are, not pretty.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I drank SO MUCH coffee when I was in Mexico for this reason. The stuff the resort served was thick and powerful and so good.

      I’ll drink weak stuff if that’s what there is, but the best stuff I can pour cream in and it won’t change color.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Same thing in Japan. For a nation of tea drinkers, they make AMMMMMMMMMMMMAAAZING coffee. When I was there in the 70’s it cost the equivalent of $1.00 a cup (in the US South it was like, maybe 25 cents a cup?) Didn’t matter, it was so worth it. Have never had any that good anywhere else.

    4. Joielle*

      Also – can’t the weak coffee drinkers just water down the coffee a little? Like, take a partial cup and add hot water to fill the rest if that’s how you prefer it. Isn’t that what weak coffee is? Just water with fewer coffee particles in it? (Please forgive me if there’s some other difference, I drink coffee strong enough that it’s practically a solid.)

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        Yes. They can. They just either don’t have sufficient imagination or they like to make drama.

      2. Yorick*

        Not really, if you brew the coffee with too many scoops it has a texture like mud

          1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            If I don’t have coffee silt when I reach the end of my mug, it wasn’t strong enough.

      3. OhNo*

        They can, and I do. I’m not supposed to have much caffeine, so I usually get a quarter cup and fill the rest up with hot water when I need coffee. I won’t go so far as to say it tastes good, especially when you’re watering down what amounts to caffeinated tar, but it’s no worse than crappy vending machine decaf.

    5. ILoveLARandyNewman*

      “If the coffee isn’t strong enough to send your body to a different plane of existence, why bother?”

      This is poetry.

    6. Millennial Lawyer*

      My family has an anecdote where my grandmother (since passed), who was a hoity-toity type, kept complaining about the quality of the hotel coffee “It’s waaaayyy too weak.” It was coffee you make yourself.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        I’m with Grandma on this one. I hate the coffee in hotel rooms. The only ones that I will use are the Kuerigs, the little automatic drip pots or one cup auto drips just don’t make a strong enough pot.

        If I have no other choice of an auto drip pot I will put in the packet of regular and the decaf. It’s the only way to get something resembling a decent cup..,. and this is only to get me to a place where I can find a real cup.

    7. Anon attorney*

      I’m going to print this out and put it on my team’s cafetiere. We have a pretty relaxed system with minimal drama but for some reason some of my colleagues think I am a little heavy handed with the scoop… I say being able to sleep at night is for the weak :)

    8. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

      My grandboss has a Keurig I use occasionally and I brought some K-cups I got from Sam’s. Best deal I’ve ever gotten at $28 for 100! However, they were a very dark brew and he thanked me for bringing some in, but told me that it was impossible for him to drink and they were all mine. Admittedly I had to use a little more creamer (hazelnut girl!), but I LOVED it and will take super strong over weak any day.

  7. Myrin*

    People like 9 make me very exasperated. I have to admit that I’m a particularly handy person by nature, I grew up with all kinds of tools and have always liked to tinker, so I can absolutely see how I might have an easier time with instructions like the one described than others. But come one. You can read and look at the pictures just fine, it shouldn’t be that impossible to interpret their meaning at least to some extent.

    (Coincidentally, I spent some time this morning putting a raised bed (for herbs and thelike) together for my neighbour. It was literally just sticking planks of wood on top of each other; you didn’t even have to nail or hammer anything. But for some reason, when I got over to her flat, she’d put planks 1, 4, and 5 on top of each other, completely disregarding that the manual said to start with 1 and 3. Like. How.)

    1. Snubble*

      People are extraordinarily bad at following instructions. I don’t understand it, because to me writing down every step in a process in the correct order with appropriate branching options is a dull but straightforward task, but I have learned to accept that for most people, it’s very difficult. The mental circuitry that takes words and turns them into actions that precisely match the words is genuinely difficult for most people, and it’s not something school really teaches you, because at school you do variations on the same task the whole time. Answer these questions, write an essay on this question, take notes on this lecture – the subject matter changes but the verbs are the same and they follow the same basic pattern every time.

      So… yeah. People just generally suck at this.

      1. many bells down*

        It’s true. I’m a cosplayer, and probably at least 50% of the cosplayers I know cannot work from a commercial pattern. The instructions are just overwhelming. My daughter can’t use patterns, but she can assemble a pair of pants without them and I still need the instructions after 30 years of sewing.

        Me, I’m the daughter of an engineer. Following a list of instructions makes me happy. Flat pack furniture? Give it to me! Time to do the taxes? Great, those have nice neat boxes and instructions!

        1. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

          I put two loft beds together in the last week as well as made a dress. I used directions and a pattern. My husband, who appears to think that instructions are optional, teased me about how happy I was doing these tasks. “Give you an instruction manual and a complicated task and you’re happy as a clam” were his exact words. :)

          1. Nanani*

            When I was a kid the adults around (relatives, friends of my parents, even school staff) would give me the instruction manual for various things and then ask me questions when they had issues with the thing.

            I not only enjoyed reading them, but also had the kind of memory and disposition that made it easy for me to remember what the manual said and save people time finding it again.

          2. Bleeborp*

            I am not a generally handy person but I like putting together piece of furniture -deciphering the terrible pictures and unclear instructions is very satisfying to me and I don’t get easily frustrated. My husband opens the box and immediately starts sweating and getting grouchy, he just can’t handle it!I put together a shelf and he had to leave the room because watching me was stressing him out!

        2. I Coulda Been a Lawyer ;)*

          My father always assumed I was the daughter of an engineer (meaning not his lol)

        3. The New Wanderer*

          For things like furniture, I’ll absolutely follow instructions. To make clothes, I reverse engineer the design from my existing clothes and sometimes follow advice from blogs. I had bad luck once with a pattern (that I’m pretty sure I didn’t follow exactly) and now I’m skeptical of patterns.

          I used to be the go-to person for printer/fax machine unjamming because I could figure out the instructions.

      2. fposte*

        I think a lot of it’s a spatial thing–my dad couldn’t navigate his way out of our backyard without getting lost, and he also was thrown by directions. (That said, I also agree with neverjaunty that a lot of instructions are written very badly indeed.)

      3. Annie Moose*

        As someone in IT… could not agree more.

        Oh, your computer is showing an error message? What does it say? Oh, it says “an error occurred, click here to retry”? Have you tried clicking there to retry?

        Oh, you’re installing a new piece of software? And it won’t install? Hmm that’s a thorny problem, perhaps you should try clicking the only button on the screen, the one that says “Install”?

        It’s just like… I understand when instructions are confusing or unclear. But can you at least READ WHAT IS ON THE SCREEN? I don’t understand why some people’s brains just shut off as soon as they look at a screen (or a physical sheet of instructions, for that matter).

        1. Zweisatz*

          Yeah, I believe there is a learned helplessness thing going on in some cases where people don’t even investigate because “They’re bad with computers.” or “This stuff doesn’t work for them anyway.” Which can be frustrating for everyone involved.

          1. myswtghst*

            I definitely think this is part of it. At my last job, I had several coworkers who were consistently impressed by my trouble-shooting abilities, in spite of the fact that I tried multiple times to teach them that my secret weapon was Googling it.

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          I made an Excel spreadsheet that was meant to speed up the design review process (most of it just calculating fall and determining whether it was in the correct range). I taught it to quite a few people, a few who had been in the field for forever all the way to a few that had started last week. All you do is enter in the right data in the data cells, and it spits out an answer. I even color coded (and locked) the cells. Enter stuff in Blue. No touch the Orange. There was even a step by step with screenshots how-to as the first page in the spreadsheet. Worked great for everyone….but one person. One person could not figure out why she couldn’t enter data. She was trying to enter data in the orange locked spaces. Then couldn’t figure out where the result came out. Didn’t try to scroll the page. Wait why is this design failing? Probably the big flagged RED cells, where it says FAIL. All of this in the how-to page.

          She also couldn’t figure out why everything was failing when she put in the numbers in the wrong spots, or for whatever reason changed units on only half the numbers. Or she’d only fill it out halfway and then loudly complain that it just doesn’t work. Well….yeah?

          And she’d been in the field for (she said, loudly) 15 years.

          1. myswtghst*

            Ugh this drives me bananas. We have several Excel tools I have to teach new hires to use, and in spite of them being color-coded, with instructions next to each field, and the new hires receiving in-person training on how to use them, I still inevitably have multiple people tell me “it’s broken!” when they very clearly have inputted data in the off-limits fields.

      4. Iris Eyes*

        Yes, technical writing is apparently something that people are largely expected to just pick up rather than something that is taught. I wonder if people’s ability to read and follow instructions would be improved by learning to write them.

        1. Rana*

          Agreed. IKEA instructions are the clearest I’ve found for that sort of assembly. The pictures match up with the actual parts, and the steps are usually straightforward (occasionally there’s a fiddly bit, but usually it resolves if you stare at the picture carefully).

          The instructions for cheap stuff, though… OMG it is BAD.

      5. FloralsForever*

        I’ve worked at universities and definitely the whole “clueless professor” is a stereotype for a reason. Thankfully I was always able to train my profs not to do this. A quick “would you like me to give you a lesson?” would really set them straight, coming from someone who only has a BA in philosophy who answers their phones. Although I loved when my profs would see the irony in it, and many of them did.

      6. Lindsay J*

        We actually did do activities to help with this in school on occasion.

        It would normally be in the form of tests that said something like:

        Read through all the instructions before starting.

        And it would have tasks like:

        1. Cross out the #3 wherever you see it on the page.
        2. Underline the letter U.
        3. Stand up and yell “I love school.”

        And so on.

        And then at the end,
        25. Skip all even numbered tasks.
        27. Disregard task number 3.

        We also had activities for giving clear instructions. Most often the: making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich one, where the teacher would interpret your instructions exactly as you said them, or make the wrong assumption. Like if you said, “Spread the jelly on top of the peanut butter,” they would dip their hands in the jelly jar and then spread it on top of the peanut butter jar, or similar.

    2. Parenthetically*

      I’m not a very handy person by nature but I can follow directions, for heaven’s sake! People like #9 really get my goat as well, like, I didn’t come out of the womb with this knowledge, I figured it out and SO CAN YOU

      1. Specialk9*

        Just imagining someone coming over to voluntarily help you make coffee, just to be nice, and not even thanking them? Wow. It’s so incredibly rude.

        (Although I’m mentally throwing that up against my objection to non-consensual chivalry, and how one should hold the door without expectation of thanks. Hmm.)

        1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

          I think there’s a key distinction that lies in whether you’re actually being helpful to the person. If I’m standing outside a door, hands full of things, clearly struggling to get it open, then someone who comes over to help me definitely deserves thanks, even if I didn’t ask for it. Same with coffee – they’re standing there puzzling over the machine but obviously desirous of a tasty beverage.

          Versus if I come in early and make coffee for my coworkers who don’t actually drink coffee and/or didn’t ask for it, I don’t think I have much justification for getting mad if they don’t thank me.

    3. Pam*

      You can read and look at the pictures just fine, it shouldn’t be that impossible to interpret their meaning at least to some extent.

      I am in higher education, and this doesn’t surprise me at all.

    4. Elemeno P.*

      People like 9 make me look like a technological supergenius so I’m okay with them.

      1. Genny*

        Haha. I’ve worked with people who think I’m a PPT genius on par with the military because I can do a couple basic tricks (grouping, centering text/pictures, a few keyboard shortcuts – nothing major). It makes me laugh every time.

      2. The Other Katie*

        I sometimes get the “what wizardry is this!” reaction when I show someone styles in Word. It’s simultaneously hilarious and soul-destroying.

    5. blackcat*

      Everybody complains about building IKEA furniture, but all you have to do is follow the pictures carefully.

      I bought a kitchen shelf that actually had the worst instructions ever, like they had been mangled by BabbleFish, circa 2001.

      “Fasteners attach fasters.” (Are these fasteners supposed to be fast? Are they fasting?)
      “Nut place on wall.” (I suppose I could use the shelf to store nuts, making it a nut-place.)
      “Sleeves insert holder.” (Why would my shelf have sleeves? There is nothing sleeve like?)

      There were no pictures.

      It’s a nice shelf, so I bought a second anyways. It took like 2 hours to put together the first one, though.

      1. sam*

        hee. we had a volunteer day at my company the other day, and I was at a community center where the options were to paint or put shelves together – I immediately volunteered for the shelves. When we opened the box and the first thing I did was organize all the pieces and start going through the instructions, someone else said “I thought this was you’re thing?”

        and I said, “yes – my big secret is that I carefully read the instructions!”

        1. Irene Adler*

          Pops always said to read the directions, count your pieces and gather your tools before starting in on any assembly project. Then follow the directions.

          1. Bryce*

            One time not doing that, and winding up holding something together with both hands while you need to go across the room and grow a third hand for a part you missed, will teach anyone to step through the project on paper before doing anything.

        2. Media Monkey*

          when we moved into our first flat, we bought loads of ikea furniture. we had 2 wardrobes with loads of integrated drawers, 6 chairs and a table. my FIL refused to read any instructions and it took him almost an hour to put together 1 chair (it came with the black and 2 back legs assembled, a seat and 2 separate front legs). about as long as it took my and hubs to put together a wardrobe and 6 drawers. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!

        3. Science!*

          That’s my secret to IKEA furniture as well. I start by sorting all the screws and bolts and read through the instructions once. Then I just put it together. My MIL thinks I’m some sort of IKEA prodigy, and 5 years later *still* talks about how good I am at putting furniture together.

          My favorite was one christmas eve, my ILs had bought a mini kitchen set for my 2.5-year old and it was 8pm and we hadn’t put it together yet. I jump on one of my mom FaceBook groups and someone posted a picture of the same kitchen set that we had, complaining that she’d just finished, and it took her and her husband 4 hours to put it together. I turned to my husband and said we’d better get started. So we put on Die Hard and got started. We finished before the movie ended.

      2. Snowglobe*

        Ugh, I am one who has trouble with pictures. Give me written instructions, assuming they are accurate and complete, and I’m fine. But those IKEA instructions that are pictures, but no words? They make no sense to me. .

        1. Specialk9*

          I find them baffling too. And yet I appreciate the nod to people who don’t read – way more common than people realize, even in developed countries- and to the huge variety of languages spoken, and the gender / ethnicity neutral nature. It’s both elegant and confusing.

          1. Just Employed Here*

            They’re not gender neutral, though, they’re male. They tried to have some female “characters” in there at some point, but then backtracked because it wouldn’t have been possible to sell those products in Saudi Arabia.

            1. Specialk9*

              Oh, I read them as agender – it’s a vaguely human outline with lil dots for eyes and a giant smile, and only 3 lines for legs and hands.

        2. BookCocoon*

          I once put together a shelf, and the pictures clearly showed a piece that was attached in the center jumping far to the side in the next picture and then jumping back to the center in the following picture. I went over the directions multiple times to make sure it wasn’t me (like I needed to turn the shelf around at that point or something) but ultimately concluded that no, they just drew this piece way over on the side in only one picture.

          1. sam*

            Oh yes – as someone who is a religious instruction follower, there is nothing worse than wrong instructions.

            My company once had a promotion that involved teaching people how to put together a little paper version of our mascot. The highly detailed instructions (with words and pictures) were literally missing a step in the middle. Aside from the general proofreading issues, it drove me personally crazy for days.

        3. Strawmeatloaf*

          Same with LEGOs for me. Mostly because they always have the darn LEGO pics at the same angle (you see the top right corner) and so when you have to put a piece in the back of it, they may show a more zoomed in pic at the same angle, but much more likely it will just be a pic of the step but completed.

        4. Koala dreams*

          Last time I assembled an IKEA thing, there were two pictures, very similar, one crossed over, one not crossed over. It drove me mad! Should I do it like the picture, or should I not? I had to call customer support to find out. Later, it turned it there was also a step missing in the pictures.
          That being said, I find lots of problems with the written instructions too. I’ve been trying to learn how my radio alarm clock works, and it goes slowly. There is a lot of text in several languages, and I just get confused.

      3. Environmental Compliance*

        My coworkers are looking at me funny for snorting with laughter. Those instructions are pretty awfully fantastic!

        1. Rana*

          Oh, that bloody thing. I usually love IKEA and am good at it. But we got a couple of those chairs, and I thought, oh, simple, and sort of just blasted through assembling them. It wasn’t until a couple days later that I realized that one chair had a concave (curving in) back and one had a convex (curving out) back because I hadn’t realized the backs weren’t just flat. Oops.

      4. Galatea*

        there’s a running joke in my friend group that I’m the Alpha Butch because the number of times I’ve heroically swooped in to save a fellow gay person from their own furniture through the twin powers of

        1. owning a hammer and/or a drill, depending on the task, and
        2.reading the instructions all the way through before committing

        is surprisingly high

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I used to (as a female) live with 4 men. 2 of them engineers. The number of times that they were trying to fix something or put something together and yet didn’t have the basic tools, and then were flabbergasted that *I* owned the tool and even knew how to use it…or figured out how something went together (I think it was a coffee table) because, gasp, I read the instructions.

          1. Artemesia*

            my Dad was an engineer and my Mom a nurse who had a thing about how bad she was at math and technical things. Yeah, it was my Mom who could fix, install,build, put together anything. My Dad was always terrible at it.

            1. Kuododi*

              My Dad’s a mechanical engineer-(retired). He’s one of those freaky machine savants. Can diagnose, fix or build anything! There’s an old family story about the childhood clothes dryer breaking down and Dad fixing it by cutting the rim off a trash can and using that for the dryer drum. (I have no idea!!!). All I know is he kept that washer/dryer set running from my childhood until it finally died for the last time the summer before my junior year in college. Of course it might have helped that the man designed washer/dryers professionally for approximately thirty years!!!

        2. sam*

          My dad (my DAD!), who has an entire garage full of tools*, had to borrow my drill once. He lost the power cord and has never returned/replaced it.

          *including a table saw that my stepmom bought him for his birthday that sat in its packaging for six months until I could come visit and assemble the entire thing for him (sigh).

        3. V*

          My grandfather’s were both engineers/mechanics. For either of them I’m the only grandchild (by blood). It’s a running joke that all of their craftsmanship was passed down directly to me, because everyone in the previous generation is awful with tools.

    6. EMW*

      Based on the number of people who can’t figure out how to clear a paper jam on copiers, this does not surprise me at all. I’ve stopped doing this for other people. My go to response is now “I think it provides prompts on the screen – you should do that or give IT a call…” Unless I need to print something of course.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        There’s a handful of people in my office who cannot get the copy machine to function as a scanner. They need to scan things almost every day, but I constantly hear them at the printer complaining about how the machine did something they didn’t want it to do, or won’t do. I honestly don’t know if they just like complaining or the machine is broken or what it is.

        Thankfully I can hear them, but do not sit in view of the machine, so they don’t ask me for help.

      2. Purple Puma*

        Lol I do the same thing. For awhile I was helping folks clear out the jams on the big fancy copiers and my colleagues (all lawyers) started hailing me as The Person In The Office Who Knows How To Fix Everything (And Also Knows Where Everything Is).

        Then one day one of them was like “How do you know how to fix the copier jams?” And I just gave him a blank look and said, “The instructions are on the copier screen.”

        He started clearing his own jams after that.

        1. Jo0*

          SO annoying. I sit by a printer, so obvs I’m part time printer tech too. As soon as the red error light flashes they turn to me all like “what do I do?”

      3. Strawmeatloaf*

        Sometimes it’s the machine though.

        Like when you have 100% gotten all of the paper out of the jam, even the little ones that tore off and are now gone from it. And the copier still thinks it’s jammed.

        When will we be able to get better printer and copier technology?!

        1. Chinook*

          We already have the technology – the problem is that it is mildly sentient and remembers everything good or bad said to it. As a result, it will cause delay for those who are mean to it yet work flawlessly for those who whisper sweet nothings to its insides while gently caressing various buttons, dials and levers.
          Want proof? How many times have you had a copier just stop and give an error message to open a random drawer or door, which you do, find nothing, close said drawer/door and then it works? It just wanted a little attention and only knows how to do it by beeping – sort of like how some small children only know how to get attention by crying or throwing a temper tanturm.

          1. As Close As Breakfast*

            I can confirm this is true. Why, just this morning our copier, affectionately known as Pat, kept jamming while trying to print the same 2 page document over and over and over and over and over. At the end of my rope I started to pet Pat and tell Pat that they could do it. And, in what I can only describe as a modern day miracle, that 2 page document came out all warm and un-smooshed.

        2. Chinook*

          We already have the technology – the problem is that it is mildly sentient and remembers everything good or bad said to it. As a result, it will cause delay for those who are mean to it yet work flawlessly for those who whisper sweet nothings to its insides while gently caressing various buttons, dials and levers.
          Want proof? How many times have you had a copier just stop and give an error message to open a random drawer or door, which you do, find nothing, close said drawer/door and then it works? It just wanted a little attention and only knows how to do it by beeping – sort of like how some small children only know how to get attention by crying or throwing a temper tantrum.

          1. Skunklet*

            I have a coworker (my age, so 40s) , who was at the copier one day, kept trying to copy something and it wasn’t working the way he wanted it to… he was trying to copy the screen of his Samsung S7 Edge…. I own a regular S7 and taught him how to do a REAL screen shot… :)

      4. Adlib*

        About 17 years ago I taught my mom how to change the film in her elementary school’s lamination machine. (I worked at my university’s media center so knew the process well. She brought me in one summer to teach her!) She’s retiring this month. At her party earlier this week, the staff was having a mini-freakout about who would do that from now on. (Also, I now feel old remembering that…)

    7. Papyrus*

      I’m generally good at following directions, but I’ve also been guilty of being overwhelmed if there’s too many steps. If I just wanted some coffee and there were more than two steps (that is, 1. Pour Coffee 2. Drink Coffee) I’d be tempted to just give up and drink water, like an ANIMAL. There’s been so many times where I’ve put something off because it seemed too difficult, but when I actually started following the steps, it wasn’t so bad. Perhaps a small piece of paper with instructions is more manageable then giant diagrams that make it seem more intimidating than it actually is.

    8. tinyhipsterboy*

      9 baffles me. I know some people get really, really confused with instructions unless they’re written perfectly, but from what I’ve seen of Flavia machines, they’re almost the exact same thing as Keurigs… only *more* user-friendly. You put the packet in where it’s marked, and then you hit a button on the machine that corresponds to what you want. A big cup of coffee? A hot chocolate? A tea? It’s all there. It all says it right there on the screen. You just push the button that, in essence, says, “PUSH ME IF YOU WANT COFFEE”.

    9. Nonnon*

      Based on that and the comments made by the other people, I would have been tempted to make an obviously-fake PhD in the field of Coffee-Making or something, and hang that on my wall.

  8. Snubble*

    My organisation offered free teabags, instant coffee, and milk to staff until eighteen months ago, when it was withdrawn to make savings. The adjustment to bringing our own teabags went ok, because those keep. The milk drama has not stopped since. Different teams have dveloped different systems.
    We’re moving to a new building soon and consolidating into open-plan offices. We will have a lot less fridge space per person. The free milk is not coming back.
    It’s going to be ridiculous.

    1. Lil Fidget*

      I noticed that at a lot of these wars started when something that used to be provided or free was taken away. I wish companies would think a little about the cost of providing some tiny luxuries, versus the time wasted in angst when people have to individually resolve their need for coffee / napkins / water or whatever.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        I used to work at a place that provided free coffee, and then stopped, to save money. So instead of a two-minute stroll down the hall for coffee, everyone built a 45-minute stroll to the nearest Starbucks into their day. Even if everyone was being paid minimum wage, which they were not, tell me again how much you’re saving on coffee and creamer.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        I used to work at a place where coffee was provided free, and then they stopped to save money. So instead of a two-minute walk down the hall for coffee, everyone built a 45-minute stroll to the nearest Starbucks into their day. Even if we were being paid minimum wage, which we were not, tell me again how much money you’re saving on coffee and creamer.

    2. Blank*

      After years of shared houses and perpetually stolen milk, I’ve learned to enjoy my tea and coffee without it. What started as a defense against frustration has turned out to be a great strategy for neutrality in the office milk wars.

    3. Mad Baggins*

      Fridge space battlegrounds!
      This is my band name and the bane of my existence.
      I remember the game of Tetris x Jenga that was trying to fit everyone’s lunches in the tiny fridge when it was already crammed with forgotten, half-drunk plastic bottles… next to it was a bigger fridge provided by a catering company with nicer drinks you had to pay for. No one was brave enough to stick their lunches in there. Thank goodness I left that company before I became too desperate…

    1. Specialk9*

      #3 was my hero too. And really, putting down one’s foot on not getting pushed into lone coffee duty because of gender is really important to do, especially in a male dominated field, and this was a fabulous solution.

  9. EmKay*

    Good lord.

    This is fascinating to me, as I don’t drink coffee. I enjoy the smell, hate the taste. And yes, some people stare at me with their mouths open when I tell them this.

    I’m an admin assistant now, but I started my career as a high school teacher, and holy hanukkah balls are those people serious about their coffee. (Can I just share that Google spit out the hanukkah balls entry on this site when I was double checking the spelling on hanukkah, LOL)

      1. Kelsi*

        Yes! People bitch about Starbucks/other “fancy coffee” places not being REAL coffee…and I’m like YES EXACTLY THAT’S WHY I LIKE IT. Coffee-flavored sugar and cream for me, please!

        1. Brittasaurus Rex*

          I like coffee a lot, but nothing beats a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha for me.

          Embrace the coffeelike nature of Starbucks!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      My third period class is VERY excited to my story included (#4). They required me to have a cup of coffee to celebrate!

      They are in almost unanimous agreement that they will never start drinking coffee because the workplace seems daunting enough without adding this extra layer of social navigation. So much drama and treachery!

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Better that than deciding never to get a job to avoid the drama and treachery! :-)

      2. justsomeone*

        Hah, until they join a company where not getting coffee every morning with the team is weird and alienating. They will begin drinking coffee in order to fit in. (That happened to me.)

    2. Irene Adler*

      Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t do coffee.

      Occasional cup of tea, though.

      But I get the stares of disbelief too. And questions like what I would order at a Starbucks. Hot chocolate, of course!

    3. she was a fast machine*

      It’s okay, I think those of us who don’t drink coffee have a little club of our own where we DON’T pitch in to buy coffee and supplies lol

    4. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I drink coffee, but only because my husband makes it and it’s ready when I get up in the morning. Coffee smells good but the taste is awful to me. I have the same problem with beer, smells spicy and amazing but is always hopelessly bitter and awful, no matter how ‘malty’ and ‘sweet’ people claim it is.

      So, thankfully, I am not very involved in the coffee wars here at work, which center around no one ever cleaning the coffeemaker or throwing away the Keurig cups. Many passive-aggressive signs have been posted, the most egregious one was a huge printout of the Uncle Sam wants YOU pointy finger guy, it interfered with actually using the machine and had to be removed.

      I don’t really think signs work in shared spaces generally, but we did suddenly have a non-flusher in the women’s restroom not long ago, and a new sign with a cheerful toilet graphic saying “please flush after use” seems to have taken care of that. But based on my personal observations of who has been here when it happened, I believe it was a cultural difference of a new employee, rather than jerk behavior.

      1. On Fire*

        WRT your non-flusher – could have even been someone whose previous workplace has auto flush toilets. My office does, and sometimes in other places I race back into the stall after washing my hands, panicking that I forgot to flush. I *did* flush, but one quickly adjusts.

    5. Specialk9*

      I was the same for years – I love the smell of coffee, but the taste is like the cruelest joke possible. I drink it now, but use 3x the sweetener as in tea.

      (A trick that works is to put a tiny pinch of salt in coffee, as salt helps block bitterness receptors on the tongue. I only use 2x the sweetener when there’s salt around.)

  10. BadWolf*

    We have coffee in the morning and people rotate through making it. We have 2 big light/dark blend carafes and a 3 pot holder for flavored coffee (you make 1 pot and there are 2 additional warmer plates). We only make coffee for 2 hours and the flavored coffee goes fast. So the oldest is pot maaaaaybe 10 minutes old if its at the beginning or end of the coffee run and the run isn’t started/is over. Some people still think that the coffee on a warmer plates must be Old and Stale and Hideous. I have watched people wait for current pot to finish brewing rather than take coffee from one of the two available pots.

    When I make coffee, I amuse myself by rearranging the coffee pots in “not oldest order” so the Must Get Freshest people are getting the oldest coffee. Tiny victories.

  11. neverjaunty*

    ‘You do it so well!’
    ‘I sure do – this cup is delicious!’

    You are my hero.

    1. Myrin*

      That was Katie the Fed, if I remember correctly – I was not surprised by that formidable response.

    2. Adlib*

      I also love that no one made coffee that day. I can’t decide if that was them throwing a fit or just hoping she eventually would make some. At least it only took a day for them to get off their butts and do it themselves.

  12. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    I read a lot of them in the original post, #3 was my favorite. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to see their faces when she said, “I sure do, this cup is delicious!” Classic…

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I’m glad Alison did a post – I missed a couple in the original thread! (and my life would be so much sadder without #10. That was gold!)

  13. Birch*

    TBH I can sometimes understand the sentiment of “you need a PhD to work this very simple machine.” I have a PhD and I have done some really dumb things, but it’s often because the way things are set up is REALLY counter-intuitive or instructions are missing information, or the device buttons are needlessly complicated/badly labeled. I keep saying this is why product developers need to hire psychologists to handle cognitive affordances so they can design things that are compatible with the human mind. Example: a coffee machine with three levels of options where you have to choose type of drink, strength/size, and add-ins but your choice at each level changes the available options at the next level and also it’s like saying I want a cappuccino but then having to build it yourself (why even have that original option then?) And does the picture of two cups mean double espresso or a larger drink because if you choose the wrong size cup in the first place it’ll explode in a giant mess. Ask me how I know.

    Point is, sometimes people are too lazy to read instructions and sometimes things are designed to make no sense.

    1. Bostonian*

      Yeah, I’ve seen those Flavia machines before, and they are not intuitive (though I think the directions were OK).

      In any case just because there are directions, doesn’t mean they’re clear!

    2. Specialk9*

      I love that you said that, because my BFF has a PhD … in … human factors. (Ie designing products to fit how humans actually think)

      It’s a whole field.

    3. periwinkle*

      I’m ABD and can operate a Flavia machine. The real problem with it is that it makes crap coffee.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      Most directions are written by people familiar with the object or process, and never tested by anyone unfamiliar. And that thing where, when you’re an expert at something you completely forget how it is to be a beginner at that thing? That’s a thing. (If you know someone who cannot give good directions to their own house, this is an example of that.)

      I’m a technical writer. I feel very strongly about this extremely crappy state of affairs. I may trip over my own tongue sometime in speech, but my “how to” instructions are thoroughly tested and they work.

  14. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

    These are outrageous and make me so glad that I don’t drink coffee. :)

  15. LBK*

    #10 …am I in the minority in thinking that it’s perfectly reasonable for someone not to want something they brought from home to be used by other people? I mean yeah, he probably shouldn’t have kept it in the shared kitchen, and he wildly overreacted when people did use it, but if it was widely known that it was something he’d brought in him and not a company appliance, then it seems pretty rude to just start using it without asking.

    I’m struggling to see how this is that different from #4, where having a personal coffee maker that you don’t want everyone using is framed as normal.

    1. SoSo*

      The difference though is that he stored it in a shared space, not his personal/private office. If you leave something in a shared space, people are going to assume that it’s free to use and up for grabs, regardless of if they knew it was his or not.

      1. LBK*

        Most people don’t have a private office, though, especially since he was a contractor. He may not even have his own desk.

        1. SoSo*

          True; but that doesn’t excuse him from not understanding the norms and assumptions of working in a communal office space. Your desk/space = yours, the shared/open space = for everyone. You might not agree with it, but that’s how most people code things.

            1. Observer*

              What everyone else does. Either do without, bring your coffee from home, or be a bit more reasonable when you someone actually uses your machine.

            2. animaniactoo*

              Deal with the fact that you don’t get to take up that much of a shared space with your personal use only large equipment. Either let other people use it, or leave it at home and drink regular coffee. Or go out for breaks to pick up more from the shop down the corner (if there is one).

              When you share a space, you can’t act like an entitled jerk and not be called out on it.

              Because picture – every other person brings in THEIR personal coffee-maker, toaster, etc. whatever – and pretty soon, not only are they coating every counter, but people run out of room for their own items because there just isn’t that much counter space. So what is that person supposed to do? Just be SOL? First come first serve? (In which case, a contractor would be long down the list of people who got a spot for their device next).

              That’s why his large small appliance is out of line and the butt of jokes here.

        2. Observer*

          So? It’s still a shared space, so you need to expect that stuff will get used. And, these are fairly large machines, so it does burden people. Also, his reactions are waaay over the top. I mean – a noose?! And then new guy who didn’t know?

          1. McWhadden*

            ” It’s still a shared space, so you need to expect that stuff will get used. ”

            If this were true then we wouldn’t have so many letters about food thieves. Because stuff in the fridge would be assumed communal.

              1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                Or if you routinely stored an entire sheet cake in the communal fridge. Only, like, a magical sheet cake where there’s still just as much left even after someone has eaten a piece, since an espresso maker doesn’t get “used up”.

        3. Blue Anne*

          But how much counter space does an office kitchen have? I’ve never seen one with more than a few feet. One person taking up a whole appliance worth of space in an office kitchen, only for themselves, is pretty selfish.

    2. serenity*

      The difference being that #4 was in someone’s private, locked office. I think having it in a shared space and getting pissy if someone is using your own personal appliance is a bit different.

      1. LBK*

        So he puts up a little hand written note on his sign THE OWNER JUST WANTS HIS WISHES TO BE RESPECTED AND FOR PERMISSION TO BE ASKED BEFORE USING THIS MACHINE. Haha, what a baby.

        I dunno, I think saying “haha, what a baby” is a pretty obnoxious attitude, too. It’s not childish to expect an office of grown adults to ask permission before using your stuff. This feels more like a BEC situation that developed based on other behavior.

        1. Genny*

          Assuming the OP reported what the notes said verbatim (and we have no reason to believe they didn’t), his notes are all overly aggressive. It probably doesn’t help that he already has a reputation for being standoff-ish, so his notes are being read with that mind.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      The difference is the location. I don’t want people insisting on coming in to my office to use my stapler. If there’s a stapler in a public area, it should be assumed to be communal. If I bring my own stapler from home, leave it in a public area, and then get mad when other people use it, I am ridiculous.

      1. LBK*

        If it were a genuine misunderstanding then that’s one thing, but it sounds like people knew it was his and used it anyway.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, it sounds like the reverse. Using someone’s milk could easily be a mistake – milk bottles tend to look alike. And the new guy clearly didn’t know.

    4. lisalee*

      Imo, if its a personal thing, you should not be keeping it in the common spaces. If you put your large electrical device in the common space, its only polite to allow others to use it.

      1. McWhadden*

        But, increasingly, people don’t have personal spaces to keep it. Not only is open office almost the norm at this point but now even hot desking is catching on.

        I think the guy is totally in the wrong in how he handled it. But I also think we should acknowledge that his only real option was to not have one. Not pretend there was an alternative space for him.

        1. McWhadden*

          And I’m one who brought in an electric kettle to keep in the kitchen and made sure everyone knew they can feel free to use it. I would NEVER behave like this dude. But I think it’s disingenuous to pretend he absolutely had somewhere else to keep it and he’s just keeping it in the kitchen as part of his jerkiness. Putting stuff in a communal kitchen not for communal use is the norm. It’s just that this item takes up so much space.

        2. Observer*

          We don’t know whether or not he had a space to keep it. But that doesn’t justify his behavior.

          This is actually one of the reasons I think that too many companies have gone too far with shared spaces, etc. I don’t think that it’s actually reasonable to expect companies to give everyone enough space to put large items like these machines in their space, although it’s nice when you can. But, when it gets to the point that people don’t have space for anything personal, that’s really not a good idea. And we’ve seen enough stories that there are real costs to companies that do this, even though it’s hard to quantify it.

        3. Autumnheart*

          So. What. It’s literally not employees’ personal space. It is office space, to do the work required by the business. The space does not exist to cater to employees’ personal habits and preferences.

          I feel like I’m taking crazy pills sometimes with people who expect to be able to treat the workplace like their own house.

        4. Artemesia*

          Then you don’t get to have a personal espresso machine at the office, or your own set of weights, or your own karaoke machine or a cot to nap on.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Yeah, if it was something small, I agree – if employees don’t have desk/office space to store a coffee mug or a breast pump or a paperback to read at lunch or whatever, then it’s reasonable to have those stored in a common area without them becoming public property. But it’s reasonable for a company to say “this is too big; you can’t keep it here” for a device that isn’t at all essential to doing your job.

    5. Temperance*

      No, I actually totally agree with you on that. I wouldn’t leave a personal item in a shared kitchen, though.

    6. Muriel Heslop*

      I’m #4. Anything in our teacher workroom is fair game for all to use (coffee maker, fridge, microwave, etc.) but things in our classrooms and offices are considered personal and private. Plus, I have to keep my office locked by law – it’s just a nice bonus that it keeps people out.

      1. LBK*

        Oh, I totally agree that people shouldn’t feel entitled to your personal coffeemaker that’s in your own office. I was saying the guy in #10 shouldn’t have been treated like a pariah because he didn’t want people using his stuff without asking, not that you should be expected to share.

    7. Vin Packer*

      I think it’s the elaborateness of the setup—that’s a lot of persnicketty gear to spread in a shared space. The noose (!) and *multiple* all-caps misspelled notes in third person creates a snowball effect.

      It’s funny like when Pam signed her microwave noted as “Disappointed” on the Office.

      1. LBK*

        I was on Pam’s side in that situation! One of the many times I had trouble relating to The Office because it treated it as funny that someone would want their adult coworkers to not act like lazy, petulant children.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, the noose was over the top.

        I can respect that he doesn’t want people using his supplies etc, because people put things in a communal fridge that are not intended for communal consumption, but a coffee machine in a shared kitchen is naturally going to be assumed to be communal. However, when people understandably use his coffee machine, he leaves aggressive notes essentially saying “MINE,” and then hangs a bottle of milk by a noose? That’s a little over the top. It’s like putting a really nice toy in front of kids and yelling “YOU CANT TOUCH THIS.” Kind of juvenile.

        And then when someone else brings in an equally nice thing that is shareable, he’s like “oh, no, I wasn’t being mean, exactly, just ask permission first!” reads to me like he’s suddenly unhappy others are getting the attention.

        I realize we’re only getting one side of the story here, but from the perspextive told, the guy seems like he wants to have the power of being able to tell others they can’t have the nice thing he has, until he doesn’t have that power anymore.

        1. LBK*

          I can respect that he doesn’t want people using his supplies etc, because people put things in a communal fridge that are not intended for communal consumption, but a coffee machine in a shared kitchen is naturally going to be assumed to be communal.

          This kind of caveat is all I was looking for out of the way the story was told. The way it’s framed currently just rubs me the wrong way; it almost feels a little entitled to using his stuff.

          1. Le Sigh*

            Right, but while I get the guy might be frustrated — he used a *noose* in the fridge and yelled at a new staffer who didn’t know any better.

            Like, I get it, you’re annoyed. Maybe you don’t have personal space to store your machine. But you don’t use threatening, racially-tinged messages and yell at your coworkers.

            1. Le Sigh*

              I think this story might not have made it onto this list without that behavior. Without that behavior, he’s more or less a colleague who wishes people wouldn’t use his stuff–without, my eyes bug out wondering what the hell.

    8. Observer*

      As others noted, #4 had it in her office. They also are not being aggressively rude and inappropriate about it. #10, on the other hand is putting a fairly big machine in a shared space and is over-reacting so badly that “wildly over-reacting” is an understatement. And, there is no “probably” about not keeping it in shared space. If you don’t want people using your equipment, don’t leave it in a shared space, especially when it’s a big, in-your-face kind of item.

      1. LBK*

        I said this above but this assumes he had personal space, which isn’t a given since he’s a contractor. Hell, there’s plenty of full-time employees that don’t even get their own desk anymore and basically just sit at a table. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that he must have had the private space to put it elsewhere and just chose not to.

        1. Observer*

          No, it assumes that you don’t hog shared space that way. No personal space? That really does stink and I think that companies who do this are making a huge mistake. But that doesn’t excuse an adult from understanding that when you put an appliance in a public space, people are likely to use it, especially when it takes up this much space.

        2. Owler*

          I guess I don’t understand the need to have it at work. If you don’t want it shared, keep it in a personal space—and that might be at home. I would never bring something I didn’t want to share to the office.

          1. LBK*

            All reasonable objections. I just don’t like the way the story is told, I guess – the tone is unnecessarily mean.

          2. EddieSherbert*

            +1 that was my first thought… why can’t he just make it at HOME and avoid the drama?

    9. smoke tree*

      I think it’s fair to assume that a coffee maker in a shared office kitchen is probably communal property, unless you’ve been specifically told it isn’t. If he had just put a note on it from the start, it probably wouldn’t have been an issue. But I also think that it’s obnoxious to take up space in a shared kitchen with your personal appliances and then get highly offended if anyone uses them. If you really don’t want anyone to use your coffee maker, maybe leave it at home?

    10. Oranges*

      I think it was his over-reaction to an accidental use.

      The coffee machine is on a counter in a shared space without any indicators that it’s personal property. This set up reads as the machine is company property due to our social norms. If it didn’t have all three indicators (eg if it was in private space, or had a sign, or tucked away in a cupboard) then it would be assumed that it was most likely a personal machine.

      So him going from 0 to 100 in angry over an understandable but incorrect assumption is the major objection that most people will have.

  16. Secretary*

    On a different note, the best system I’ve seen for kitchen/coffee was at OldJob, and what they did was they had two guys who’s job description covered anything miscellaneous that needed to be done. Their main responsibilities were janitorial, but along with cleaning the entire office (including the kitchen) they were also in charge of things like cleaning out the fridge and… [drumroll] making the coffee. In fact, no one else was allowed to make the coffee, they did it when they opened the office and they would make more when it ran out.

    One of them was a really good friend, and he would tell me about all the crazy stuff people do in there, but the way he would put it is “it’s a good thing I’m paid to deal with their crazy.”

    1. justsomeone*

      Ours is pretty great. We have a fancy machine that makes 1 cup at a time. There are three kinds of coffee available in it. Dark roast, light roast and decaf. There are four kinds of creamer available, and plenty of fridge space if people want to bring in other flavors. The two receptionists are responsible for the daily maintenance and restocking. The only time there is coffee drama is when the thing breaks down.

  17. Kimberlee, no longer Esq*

    Hahahaha I can totally relate to the flavor wars. At my last workplace, you’d find messages on the DC-wide Slack channel like “Warning: Zack has made a pot of French Vanilla, because he’s history’s greatest monster.”

    1. Kristinmagoo*

      This is the reason I keep begging my office to use Slack. Of course I frame it as a business need, blah blah, blah. But really, I like to have humorous warnings about Zack and his shenanigans.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        My husband’s company has Slack (mine does not because we are in the stone ages) and his boss is named Zac, so this comment is hilarious. A lot of the personal messages they have on slack are about Zac and his shenanigans.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          There’s been a running joke in my office because we somehow keep hiring people named Zach — and when one leaves, another arrives. There is a required Zacquilibrium that must be maintained!

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      We have both Keurig and a more traditional filter-and-thermos-drip system. That second system has three (normally) possible flavors that can go in. Apparently, one of them is anathema to a large number of people.

      Recently, the Keurig needed servicing. Because no one can figure out how to put premeasured packets of coffee into a filter basket and press the bright red lit button with the word BREW next to it, coffee wasn’t getting made and some people were whimpering. If I was in the kitchen, I — a tea drinker — took it upon myself to teach the whimperer how to make coffee. One time, one of the younger engineers who has a very strong dude-do-you-party vibe about him (and who I try to never have on my jobs after he was insufficiently communicative to the client on one a while back) got annoyed that I was putting in the “flavored” one. I think it was just not charbuck’s house blend or french roast, but nothing bizarre. My answer: “Kid, I’ve seen you drink Jagermeister. Your opinion on the flavor of this coffee is irrelevant.”

  18. Interviewer*

    #10, If I could post GIF comments, it would be Judd Nelson walking across the football field at the end of The Breakfast Club, fist raised high. How very excellent of you.

  19. pleaset*

    The seriousness of this with some people reminds me of the Rick James statement on Chappelle’s Show:

    “Cocaine is a hell of a drug.”

  20. anon for this*

    No. 10: He puts up a sign saying THIS EXPRESSO (sic) MACHINE IS A PRIVATE APPLIANCE, DO NOT USE.

    I grew up in a small town (< 3,000). My sister is married to a guy who grew up in the NYC metropolitan area and used to be with one of the Big 3 consulting firms. One of his assignments sent him into (relatively) rural America. When he came back, he reported that his sole resource for coffee was a gas station that advertised "EXPRESSO."

    1. Persephoneunderground*

      Expresso is apparently a thing/real word, though I’ve mostly run across the term in European settings (possibly a slang or marketing term). It’s a deliberate combo of espresso and express, and refers usually to espresso from a vending machine not a proper espresso maker. I actually think it’s a good term, or at least makes me smile- extra speedy espresso is of course Expresso!

    1. FloralsForever*

      YEP! Twas my favorite too! Although I work in finance and think it’s hilarious when the company is trying to save money on trifling expenses.

  21. University Employee*

    About #9: if there is anything I have learned during my time working for a University, its that degree level does not always indicate intelligence, particularly emotional intelligence.

    My favorite is #8, where the employees were reprimanded for spending too much time making coffee. I laughed so hard when I read this. On a positive note, if they get fired for it then they will be in excellent standing to land a job as a barista.
    “So, why did you leave your last job?”
    “Well, I was fired because I spent all of my time making coffee and talking about making coffee. Guess I just love coffee!”

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        When I applied for a job at Starbucks right out of college, there was a question on the application: “Why do you love coffee?”

        I did not actually love coffee; I was only getting to kind of like it at that point. I loved the idea of earning wages. But that’s not what I said on the application.

    1. user3241*

      What I learnt during my time at a university is that someone’s degree level does not always indicate their intelligence but there is a high correlation between the two.

  22. Tet3*

    My S.O. is a labor attorney in the US federal government. Because it would lead to grift and waste of valuable taxpayer dollars, the government does not provide coffee (or any food/drink ever) to its employees. However, these wise stewards of government funds did spend WEEKS discussing whether it was within ethical guidelines to purchase a Keurig machine for a conference room primarily used for new hire training. For which the new hires would have to bring their own pods, of course. And cream and sugar couldn’t be provided. And this facility is not in a place where you could just go easily acquire these items nearby. I wondered whether they we’re going to put this information in new hire communications so that they could come prepared.

    1. Autumnheart*

      I work for Household Name, and they have new hire orientation every few weeks in a particular wing of the complex. There used to be a fridge with a freezer stocked with Nestle Drumsticks. Best kept secret in the building.

  23. ComputerDude*

    I once very nearly tore into a coworker and friend over coffee. I’d been given a one-pound bag of ground Jamaica Blue Mountain as a gift, and brought it to work, planning on keeping it in my desk and using my french press to make individual batches of delicious $60/pound coffee. Well…while I was on vacation he texted me and asked if he could go into my desk and brew himself a bit. I’d been working with the guy for five years, and we were friends outside of work at this point, so I told him sure. Except…he carried my whole bag of coffee into the breakroom. And left it there. When I got back two days later, I found my glorious Jamaica Blue Mountain sitting in a corner of the breakroom with a couple of paltry teaspoons left at the bottom.

    The jerk didn’t even bother to apologize or offer to replace it. Apparently “I forgot” is a panacea for all screw ups in his world. We are no longer friends outside of work.

          1. BananaRama*

            If you’d have been there, if you’d have seen it
            I betcha you would have done the same!

    1. Kelly White*

      That’s grounds for never speaking to him again.

      (see what i did there?) But, seriously, that’s the only coffee I can drink black. I just can’t afford it. You have all my sympathy!

  24. TheTallestOneEver*

    Wow, I can’t believe the story about the Keurig and the La Cucaracha blend didn’t make the top ten list. That story had me dying for days!

    1. E*

      Me too, I was expecting that to make the list. I rarely drink coffee, but reading those stories made me glad that I prefer the instant flavored coffee, where all bug parts are ground until unrecognizable at least.

  25. milk, milk, lemonade*

    I missed the original call. Here is my story: I work for a Fortune 500 company in a creative group. A few people on my team were taking turns bringing in milk from home for their coffee or tea and sharing it. But then people outside of their 3-person club started drinking it. It drove them crazy. So they bought a milk jar to keep it. Each week one of them would bring a carton of milk and pour it into the jar. But people outside their club STILL used it. So one of the women in the group had an idea–she put a big label on the jar that said BREAST MILK. So the problem stopped. But then the guy in their group ended up getting called into HR because someone saw him drinking someone’s breast milk from the fridge!

  26. Shinobi*

    My boss likes nice coffee and buys it for the whole office, we have an espresso machine and a keurig and coffee and creamer are refilled by his assistant, it’s the shit.

    Things were not always so peaceful back in the days when there were 5 of us and no assistants. The old grind and brew was a source of much contention. It was covered with labels from the much overused office label maker.

    It started with a simple set of “No, No and No” over the tops of each of the wrong coffee size settings, presumably after someone left it on the wrong setting one too many times. Then after the grind bin exploded and destroyed half the makeshift kitchen a huge label reading “CLEAN OUT THE FUCKING GRIND BIN AFTER EVERY USE” was added. Later we got some profane sticky notes and someone added a “Fuck that” and “Fuck yeah” sticky to a few of the buttons.

    Eventually there was another grind bin disaster and we were demoted to a keurig.

  27. Nanc*

    If I saw “I . . . pride myself on making financially ruinous pots of coffee.” on a cover letter or resume I would totally interview that applicant because I just have to know the scuttle-butt!

  28. Joielle*

    All of these are funny but I lost it at “YOU ARE MOST WELCOME TO USE THIS ESPRESSO MACHINE.” Being petty through niceness is my favorite kind of petty.

    1. SoCalHR*

      I very much enjoyed that one too – not too often that you can be nice and passive aggressive at the same time :-)

  29. CatCat*

    There is a proliferation of kitchen appliances in the shared kitchen where I work. There are three coffee makers. One is clearly part of a club as they recently put up a sign for nonmembers ($2/cup… paid to who… no idea, doesn’t say). I don’t know what the deal is with the other two. Are they personal? Part of a club? For everyone? Who would I ask?


    I just bring coffee from home.

    1. aes_sidhe*

      I just get mine at the place across the street from the office when I want coffee (generally just winter months). The guys up here will make their own coffee, though, so I have to give them props for that rather than expecting me to always make it.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      2 bucks a cup?! Granted, I live outside the US, but that’s just extortionate. Sure, you’d pay more in a coffee shop which has to pay staff and rent – but if you’re making it yourself, there’s no way the beans, milk and machine cost that much! The coffee club must be making like a 500% profit on that.

  30. GarlicMicrowaver*

    What coffee supplier do your workplaces use? Green Mountain for us.. Vermont really should stick to cheese, maple syrup and being awesome in every other regard except MANUFACTURING COFFEE. Ugh. Speaking of, I’m on day 6 with no coffee due to a horrid bout of GERD….Hoping to quit forever because before that, I was having 2+ espressos a day. But this whole detox-from-caffeine thing… someone PLEASE tell me it gets better. I feel physically impaired.

    1. Owler*

      This won’t help your detox, but have you tried cold brewing your coffee? I find the acid is less with a cold brew, and it’s pretty easy to do in the fridge overnight. Google the Kitchn site for cold brew, and they have some nice pointers.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I cold-brew at home. It’s a little bit of a process, but you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, so it’s nice to have coffee on demand. It is much less acidic–and much stronger than regular coffee. I mix it into chocolate protein powder with some almond milk to make a mocha shake. Breakfast of champions!

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I used to take caffeine breaks once a year, just to see if I could do it. IME there’s about a week of debilitating headaches and generally feeling like you have a mild flu, and then it gets better. So if you’re on day 6 you’re probably close to the end.

      Also, you probably know this but don’t take any painkillers with caffeine in them. Excedrin (I think) has caffeine as a main ingredient which I didn’t realize when I took it to help with the massive headaches. That’s why it works to cure headaches, but it will not help make caffeine withdrawal go any faster.

      1. SarahKay*

        That…probably depends on how much espresso you drink.
        A few years back my stepdad took to drinking a mugful -of espresso!!!- last thing at night, and was then puzzled as to why he wasn’t sleeping well. After a few days of him sleeping badly my Mum investigated what, exactly, he was doing in the ten minutes between her going up to bed and stepdad joining her.
        Stern words were had, coffee no longer happens in their house in the evening, and a good night’s sleep has been restored.

          1. SarahKay*

            I wasn’t there, but my guess is that that was probably pretty much what Mum said to him. Probably at length!

  31. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    Here’s my husband’s coffee war tale:

    He is a firefighter, as such he works 24 hour shifts. He’s normally an early riser, and he found out early on in our relationship that I shouldn’t be awake longer than 2.4 seconds without a cup of coffee in my hand. Naturally he is used to making coffee in the morning. So for the past 10 or so years whatever crew he’s on, he gets the unofficial coffee maker designation. Important to note that when a new crew is formed (happens once a year) he gets all the coffee drinkers together to decide on what type of coffee they want to buy and strength preferences. Generally speaking they all like it strong, but in a dispute the old crust guys with seniority get to choose to keep the peace. All very civilized and harmonious.

    Well, there was a guy on his last crew that was a jackass (to put it bluntly) in a lot of ways, henceforth referred to as Other Guy. My husband referred to him as a 6 and half foot toddler, they did not get along all year but the best was the morning coffee. As described everyone knew my husband’s coffee making reliability.

    One day Other Guy made some remark about how bad the coffee was and and blah blah blah… my husband fed up with Other Guy and the next morning he didn’t make coffee. One by one all the guys came into the kitchen and just sort of froze at the sight of my husband at the kitchen table and no coffee brewed. Other Guy came in and lost it… he started slamming things around, complaining loudly about having to make coffee and went so far as to go to the crew Captain to complain. All this while my husband sat back dunking his tea bag in his nice cup of tea.

    The rumors and controversy this act of coffee defiance caused was epic… I was hearing about “The day the coffee died” from his coworkers. It was a well played coup by my husband, because everyone blamed Other Guy for the lack of coffee in the morning, because he was the one who complained.

    To this day if my husband is on shift with Other Guy (thankfully not that often) he will not make coffee that morning. I think it’s been a year now.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        A long, long time ago
        I can still remember how that java used to make me smile
        And, I knew if I had my cup that I could make myself wake up, and…
        Maybe I’d function for a while
        But, Other Guy made me shiver with every whine that he’d deliver
        Bad news in the kitch – We couldn’t face the sitch
        I can’t remember if I flipped when I waited for my cup to sip, but…
        Something touched me deep inside the day the coffee died!

    1. Irene Adler*

      Your husband is my hero!

      Wish I could “hold out” like he has with the complainers here at work.
      Hate whiners. Wish they’d do something for a change instead of grousing about things. If the coffee really is not to Other Guy’s liking, there’s things he could do- including offering to make it himself (and to the preferences of all who partake) or make his own.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        He’s a firefighter. They tend to have epic conflict resolution issues.

        (waves at RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone)

    2. Xarcady*

      I’m the OP for #8. At one point at the height of the coffee wars, the person who made the first pot of coffee left the company. You’d think at least one of the coffee drinkers would have been happy—now they could get to the coffee pot first and make the type/flavor coffee that they preferred.

      Nope. Just tons of complaints about there being no coffee. Mind you, I drink tea, not coffee. But just to shut all the coffee drinkers up (seriously the first 15-20 minutes of every day was full of coffee complaints), I started making a pot of regular, caffeinated coffee every morning. I got in earlier than most of the rest of the office.

      For about a week, everyone was grateful. Then the complaints started—too strong, too weak, the first pot of the day should be flavored, you name it.

      So I stopped making the coffee. And of course they complained about that. “I was making the coffee to be nice,” I said, “but no one likes it, so I stopped.”

      They were not happy with me, but there was nothing they could do about it.

  32. PsychicMuppet*

    I didn’t read the intro and for that reason thought this was one long, multi-point story about coffee drama in a single office and for a few glorious minutes it was the best, strangest work story I’d ever heard.

  33. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

    This thread just makes me giggle about the electricity crackdown we just had at my office. we’ve been limited to a certain amount of voltage per person due to the outlandish appliances that people had in their cubicles. We don’t have a designated “break room” so lots of folks (me included) have coffee pots, etc. at their cube. Apparently, it was getting out of hand and becoming quite the fire hazard when they started looking at people’s person space heaters, fans, and such, and they found that someone had a George Foreman grill, microwave, and mini fridge at their desk. Luckily, I am within my allotment with my little coffee pot and personal fan, but it cause a lot of drama for a week or two.

  34. Bunny Girl*

    I feel like I’ve been one of these people on accident. At my old job there was my boss, my full-time coworker, and myself, plus this really insufferable woman who came in once a week to do A/P. My boss and I were the only ones who drank coffee, and he took his black. I liked a tiny bit of creamer in mine, and I’m severely lactose intolerant, so I bought a small jug of non-dairy creamer (that was stupid expensive, btw) and I was the only one who used it. But the once a week lady started like using 1/3 of the container every time she was in and it was so frustrating! I asked her to stop (or at least help contribute), I wrote my name on it, I did everything and she just kept stealing it and never replacing it. She denied she was drinking it (girl why is your coffee white??). I eventually just started weening myself off it and now I take my coffee black. She had the nerve to come up after a couple weeks of there being no creamer and casually asking about us buying creamer for the fridge.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I’m not sure that I could have been polite in that situation. Just reading your story is making me want to yell sarcastic things.

      Although, I think if I were in your situation I would have continued to bring it in, but on the days she was there I’d lock it in one of those little fridge lockers.

    2. Scott*

      I know non-dairy often comes in a screw cap bottle, but before I got to this place, there was a lot of theft of cream, so people started using a hole punch in the carton, and locking the carton shut, which obviously wouldn’t prevent theft if someone really wanted it, but it was enough of a deterrent. First time I saw it I laughed, but the guy said that it worked, so whatever.

  35. Nan*

    #7’s dad sounds like he makes my kind of coffee. Black as my soul and caffeinated til kingdom come.

  36. Uranus wars*

    My favorite part of #1 is: It was bananacrackers.

    Totally adding that to my grammar bank.

  37. rubyrose*

    # 3 reminds me of when I was in a support group. The facility and the coffee was donated by the church. All we had to do was make the coffee and clean up after ourselves. Note, this was a totally volunteer operation.

    One person was assigned for one month to make the coffee; someone else would clean up. The person who was supposed to make the coffee did not show one day. Everyone else acted like the sky was falling and the earth was about to end. They came to my friend and myself (we were involved in assigning the tasks). These folks wanted us to make the coffee; neither of us drank coffee! My friend looked at them and with some disgust in her voice told them to go make it themselves.

    And no one did! They all sat their miserable and grouchy.

  38. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I love coffee & these stories are hilarious. I’m just so glad to work in big tech companies where coffee is considered an obligatory benefit. My favorite was the well-known company where I worked for nearly a decade that had espresso bars (real ones, with baristas making fancy drinks) that were entirely free to employees. You had to pay for food, but coffee/tea drinks were free. I joked that my 2 latte a day habit was prob as expensive as my healthcare copay ;)

    Even where I work now, we have an espresso machine in our building for everyone to make their own drinks. Plus regular coffee & tea. Otherwise, it’s just too much stress & time away from actual work.

  39. Technical_Kitty*

    This is why I am a huge fan of pour over or camping press. I don’t have to share, I only make enough for myself every time, and no one can come along and ruin it by adding weird crap: egg shells, salt and even pepper are things I have watched people specifically add to the grounds when brewing a pot on site. None of them help the coffee there, which is awful no matter what you do.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        If you are making “camp coffee”, like when you have a pot and are boiling water in that then adding the grounds and stirring (ie: not any purpose-built coffee maker), you add fresh egg shells to gather up the grounds and cause them to settle. I’ve seen someone do this once, I wasn’t at all a coffee drinker at the time, so, I have no idea how well it works or not. I’ve been told it does not change the taste.

        1. Lora*

          The calcium in the eggshells also helps neutralize any acidity. Tastes smoother, don’t have to add sugar to cut the acidity.

        2. Chinook*

          That explains why I have heard about egg shells for “camp coffee” but my dad never used it. He said that the best camp coffee was that which he needed to strain through his mustache (when we were kids and he was the only drinking it).

          I think his habits for camp coffee have refined as he now as a travel french press and plastic bottle of Bailey’s to flavour it in the morning in the backwoods.

      2. Yetanotherjennifer*

        It’s Swedish. Or perhaps just Swedish American. It’s a big deal in certain parts of the Midwest.

    1. Marty*

      salt can help cut the bitter if your coffee machine over extracts, so that isn’t unreasonable, and can actually improve the taste. ( at least if you aren’t relying on that bitter flavor to shock your brain into wakefulness.)

  40. essEss*

    Simple solution for story #1 – Make it known that any employee of a different company caught in the kitchenette WILL be charged with trespassing. No joke, no exception. It’s harsh, but asking nicely has obviously not worked.

    1. Specialk9*

      Or put a badge swipe on the shared conference room that leads to their area. We put those up in a day at my work.

  41. aes_sidhe*

    We recently had to get a new coffee pot for the office after the last one died. It was a nightmare. One attorney wanted a Keurig and his pods coffee, one just wanted a plain pot with a metal carafe, and the other wanted options for both. The last one then began to campaign for the pot he found at Sam’s and managed a 2 out of 3, so he got the pot he wanted by majority vote with the stipulation we can bring our own Keurig pods if we want to do that.

    Then, it was froo froo coffee vs. Folgers vs. Dunkin Donuts/McCafe. After they settled on community coffee for the carafe part of the pot (can use pods on the other side), it then became the “how many scoops of coffeee to use to make a pot and how many cups of water.” One was using math to figure it out, one just dumped coffee in and hoped for the best, and the other doesn’t make it but complains about the taste.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I shouldn’t tell you this, but I have one at home that does all 3, plus it’s plumbed into the water, and most importantly it’s cost was in the realms of a normal high end coffee maker (in other words not the German made Coffee Experience that I kept seeing that cost the equivalent of a cheap car).

      But if it ever comes up again and you want to be a hero… check out Brew Express! Just make sure you bet all three a large bonus if you can manage to find one that fits all the requirements before you show them :)

      1. aes_sidhe*

        I just interviewed yesterday at a new firm, so it’ll (hopefully) be someone else’s headache to listen to in the near future.

        They argue over every little nitpicking thing that requires a decision: getting a water cooler, having water delivered, having coffee delivered, where to buy office supplies, etc.

        I think about 99% of it is that they’ve been in practice together for 20+ years and are basically like an old married couple. They know what buttons to push and how.

        The day I started acting like I work in a daycare was the day my life got a lot easier.

    1. aes_sidhe*

      I can say, in regards to #3, some people really do make a great pot of coffee, but I’d be annoyed if it was expected all the time for me to make it. My sister makes the best coffee and tea, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve bribed her on more than one occasion to fix some. I don’t know what she does (she’s tried to show me), but mine just never tastes as good as her coffee/tea (she’ll agree with me on that one.) The coffee I make isn’t bad, but it’s just not as good for some reason.

  42. world's okayest teacher*

    I’ve done a LOT of variations on number three with a particular coworker – he just can’t fathom that some days I don’t have the time or the inclination to make coffee, no matter how broadly he hints (e.g., “some coffee would sure be nice, wouldn’t it?”).

    The best part: I don’t actually mind drinking old coffee, because I’m a heathen, so I will cheerfully drink the room-temperature dregs of the pot I made yesterday. The sight of Mr. Mooch’s dismay when he realizes that, yes, there’s coffee, but, no, it’s not fresh…if I were a better person, I’d feel bad about it, but, well.

    1. SarahKay*

      Clearly I am a bad person because even second-hand I am enjoying Mr Mooch’s dismay :D

  43. Lily in NYC*

    These were fun! At my first job, I worked with quite a few ex-cops. I was very young and usually the first woman to show up every day. My role was not remotely administrative, but the guys were very sexist and expected me to make the coffee every morning. We had a drawer full of weird flavored coffees, so I started using those. It was awesome to watch these grizzled old cops’ expressions after they tasted the mint chocolate chip flavored monstrosity I made. They asked me to start making normal coffee and I sweetly told them that I was no longer going to make it for them, especially considering I don’t even drink it. I was worried they’d make a stink over it but they were fine.

    1. Serin*

      I have a spare French press (I break things; I buy spares), and I’m so tempted to bring it to the office, where the coffee is undrinkably weak. But then I’d be dealing with loose coffee grounds, not to mention trying to find someplace to hide a bottle of actual dairy half-and-half. Just too much wet mess for the workplace.

    2. Joielle*

      I got sick of cleaning my french press at work so I bought a Clever coffee dripper – best coffee purchase ever! It uses a paper filter to contain the grounds, but the grounds still steep in the water for as long as you want. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to opt out of the coffee wars!

  44. Pamela*

    I volunteered to help with refreshments after a church Easter play. I asked for help with the coffee maker, since I had never used that type before, but everyone said they didn’t have time. Then one man came over and showed me how to use it. I said thank you, and that I hoped they did not start without him. (He was in costume.) He said, “Oh, they will wait for me.” Turns out he was playing Jesus.

    1. Specialk9*

      “They’ll wait for me, I’m Jesus.”

      A line that all of us would love to say one day.

      1. essEss*

        Of course he knew how to make coffee. It even says so in the bible… “Hebrews.” :-D

  45. Wendolyn*

    As another female who has only worked in male dominated offices, I am completely in love with the person who said, “I sure do – this cup is delicious!” <3

  46. Serin*

    I was telling some of these stories to the spouse, and I realized that office coffee is one of the places where all the anxieties of the office culture come to rest.

    I used to work for a company that had a contract with an organization that employed developmentally disabled people, so most of our cleaners, errand-runners, plant-waterers, etc., came from that organization. It was really important to the president of the company, but a lot of the employees were low-key freaked out about it all the time. And one of the ways that expressed itself was with a persistent rumor that “those PARC people” were cleaning the coffee machines with the floor mops, without cleaning the floor mops in between.

    Now, in no way do I believe that that was happening — a mop is the least practical tool in the world for cleaning a coffee machine, and wouldn’t you think the coffee would be gritty or have carpet fibers floating on top of it? — but the story was told to me multiple times. And it was always told urban legend-style, too: “Do you know what happened this weekend? Mike said Larry told him that Dave overheard Mary in her office talking to Amy and her trainer, and it turns out that when Amy was mopping the kitchen floor …”

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      At old job, actually saw the president on 2 occasions use a dish sponge on the floor and then return it to the sink, AND, use a spatula to scrape something off the floor and then toss in sink. Couldn’t bring myself to eat what coworker was frying the next day…. she was using that spatula.

    2. Specialk9*

      There’s really sad. My old work had people with apparent developmental delays to stock our coffee, and I always saw people going out of their way to thank them and say how much they appreciate having coffee. I’m having a sad time imagining the kind of person to complain. Blargh.

  47. Emi.*

    I’m going to put #3 in a book of inspiring bedtime stories for my daughters or something.

  48. Noah*

    re OP8: this is the indisputable proper order for making coffee:

    One Coffee maker: regular, non-flavored
    Two coffee makers: one regular, non-flavored. One decaf non-flavored. Unless nobody drinks decaf at your office. Then this one is up for grabs.
    Three or more coffee makers: one regular, non-flavored. One decaf non-flavored. The rest are up for grabs (as is the second if nobody drinks decaf).

    You might ask why the first one isn’t for decaf situation where everyone at your office only drinks decaf. That situation does not exist.

  49. tinyhipsterboy*

    The Flavia one. Oh my goodness. We had one at one of my old jobs, and they’re pretty simple–you put a packet into the slot and then press the button to make it go. That’s legitimately about it.

    This is definitely one of my favorite articles here I’ve read. So much drama over coffee. Another old job had a keg of cold brew coffee they provided. I hated it, so… I just brought my own. It’s really not that hard, but it never occurred to me that coffee drama would get this ridiculous?

  50. Kat*

    I’m Mormon so I don’t drink coffee (or tea) for religious reasons and these stories are so baffling and bizarre to me!

    1. E*

      I grew up hating the taste and smell of coffee, and even now I only rarely drink a cup but it has to basically taste like cocoa/dessert for me to stand it. I don’t want to be addicted to caffeine that bad, just in case the coffee supply ever dries up. Same for soda, just not worth it. But I realize I’m the odd one out on this :)

    2. Epic Flavia Haplessness*

      Just substitute “ice cream” wherever you see “coffee”, and try to picture a family home evening without dessert.

  51. Liz T*

    Oh my goodness why didn’t I think about Epic Flavia Haplessness?

    They just added a Flavia machine to our floor a few months ago (thank god they didn’t take the Nespresso away–I would’ve murdered someone). People canNOT handle just following the instructions on the screen, and I’ve several times had to deal with people jamming the whole thing by putting a red nozzle packet into the white nozzle slot and vice versa.

    These people all have BAs rather than PHDs but it’s still frustrating.

  52. Falling Diphthong*

    My favorite detail is from 6:

    A third person drinks (coffee from the pot) as well, but flies under the radar.

    It’s like Survivor, but with coffee. Where sometimes the people who go farthest are those playing way under the radar, so discreet that none of the power players even realize they’ve been enjoying a cup of coffee.

  53. user3241*

    #9 sounds very condescending to me.

    I don’t think the colleagues had PhDs in coffee making, did they?

    An adult person should understand that different people find different topics complex.

    1. Specialk9*

      They didn’t thank someone for volunteering to help them, I think they deserve unvoiced sarcasm. Especially with instructions on the wall.

    2. Brittasaurus Rex*

      People also often exaggerate for comedic effect. I doubt the person who contributed this story truly finds the colleagues stupid. You were rather condescending yourself in an above thread, correlating intelligence with level of education.

      1. user3241*

        So if someone writes there’s no link between intelligence and education it’s ok, they aren’t offending anyone, but someone writes there is one, they are condescending? :D

  54. Adlib*

    I’m so glad I discovered cold brew. I have to bring it from home or stop at Starbucks on my way in. I’m sure people are weird about coffee here even though there’s like 10 of us in this office at any given time (if that).

  55. As Close As Breakfast*

    These kinds of posts are the best! I’d love to see one about temperature/climate/thermostat wars! This would probably be because it’s supposed to be 90 deg F today. And the air conditioner on my side of our floor is currently broken. And there are people freezing on the other side as we desperately try to get that air conditioner to cool the whole floor. And there are definitely not enough fans to go around. Tempers are getting hot…

    1. Turquoisecow*

      I’ve never worked in an office where I was not freezing. Plenty of sweaters, especially in the hot summers when they blast the AC.

      I’ve been working from home this week, but I have to go in tomorrow, and today the office manager sent a note about HVAV techs being in the building, so I presume it will be freezing tomorrow.

      The worse thing about the AC in my office building, though, is how LOUD it is. Sometimes it feels like the building is vibrating, and the drop ceiling rattles. We’re on the top floor, so that’s probably why.

  56. Candid Candidate*

    I work for a big corporate company that has a break room on every floor with a corporate coffee maker and bags of coffee supplied by Aramark. It tastes awful but still does the trick when you’re desperate sleepy in the afternoon and can’t get away for a Starbucks run. Our team hired a new guy a few months ago that has turned out to be a total newb about everything – he’s constantly making social faux-pas or doing something incorrectly on his work, which is annoying enough. But he made a huge deal of whining about how bad the office coffee is (loudly for the whole office to hear), so I suggested he bring his own from home. He took my advice and started bringing his own french press, which wasn’t quite what I meant, but whatever. He was constantly leaving a mess of coffee grinds and water all over the counter. Awhile after that, the breakroom sink was clogged and maintenance tried to fix it but had no luck, so they hired a plumber to fix it and it took DAYS. The culprit? The newb had been pouring the coffee grinds MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY for months and it had created a solid brick of coffee sludge in the plumbing. I knew it was him but didn’t want to be bitchy about it, so I sent a general PSA to the team on our Slack channel, and he immediately was like “Oh, it was me! I feel so bad!” … and then a week later I saw him pouring his coffee grinds down the sink again and had to remind him. His response? “Oh well my wife makes the coffee and cleans up the kitchen at home, so I’m never sure how to handle it.” Smdh.

    1. animaniactoo*

      “Oh well my wife makes the coffee and cleans up the kitchen at home, so I’m never sure how to handle it.”

      Hey, Newb. Here’s a thought: ASK HER.

    2. Khlovia*

      The entire office needs to visit their home and have an intervention with his wife.

  57. OJ Mojo*

    Our office had a hard time turning the burners off when they finished the coffee on a standard coffee machine so the carafe would just sit there and burn. It was happening close to once a week where we’d have a fire hazard and a burnt carafe. Finally, the AP person took it upon themselves to search for a machine that would hook up to the water lines and offer a few more options. Well, their mistake was to ask people for input on said coffee machine…. They finally just presented three options and the cheapest machine won with the execs. The biggest complaint from the people in the office with this machine is that it doesn’t have decaf espresso. I wish I was kidding.

  58. Fake Eleanor*


    If you’re going to tag a common variant spelling of “espresso” with (sic), I’m automatically on the side of the person you’re trying to discredit.

    And I won’t refrain from pointing out that you misspelled “appliance.”

    1. Turquoisecow*

      Common variant doesn’t necessarily mean correct. Just as “sic” doesn’t necessarily mean the spelling was wrong, it just means that the original spelling (/formatting, etc) is preserved in this reproduction, as we obviously don’t have the original note.

      1. Fake Eleanor*

        When a common variant is listed in dictionaries, it is, in fact, correct, and does not require any kind of disclaimer when it’s used. And (sic) is almost never necessary when we all know how quotes work.

      1. Fake Eleanor*

        Weird that a whole bunch of dictionaries use the term “variant,” then. You’d think they’d have done the research.

        1. Ceiswyn*

          Dictionaries don’t tell you what’s correct, only what lots of people actually use.

  59. Caz*

    On day 1 in a new job, I was informed that everyone contributed “voluntarily” to the office fund for tea/coffee/etc. I don’t drink tea/coffee (don’t respond well to caffeine) so politely advised that I would not be joining the fund. On day 2 I brought in my nice water cup from home – the kind with a lid and a straw, nicer than a scruffy old re-used bottle. Every time I got up to get a drink I’d offer to get a round in. Every time the person who ran the coffee fund got up to get a drink she’d get one in for everyone…except me. I found this hilarious.

    1. Brittasaurus Rex*

      How very dare you! Not allowing caffeine to enter your body, the nerve.

  60. Miles*

    #1 if you know who this other company your building mates signed a non-compete with, I’m sure that company would love to know how blatantly their contract is being ignored.

  61. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

    9 reminds me of the lady who called angrily sobbing and cursing about how difficult an item was to put together. She threw out a “my husband is an engineer and couldn’t even figure out these instructions.”

    I just had to read them and give some encouragement that things would go together if the three steps were followed. MAGIC it happened.

    Then she sobbed some more about how stressful it is for her brilliant husband to not be able to put together a piece of furniture. The directions weren’t IKEA pictures of doom with 9000 pegs, it was so confusing.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Do you work for my company? Reviews on one of our items regularly read “I have no idea why people are having an issue with this. I followed the directions, I’m not particularly handy, and I managed it in less than half an hour.”

      1. Is This How We End Up On 20/20?*

        Lol I think anyone in manufacturing has ran into this. I had to tell people that beds do not just come to you fully assembled. It was like their minds exploding.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Okay, now I really think you work for my company. Beds are what I was talking about…

          I’m not really here. You saw nothing!

  62. Tony Stark*

    It makes me realise how sane my workplace is. Nothing particularly exciting here (I work at a high school and a sister primary school one day a week).

    The most exciting thing to happen was several months ago we noticed milk was disappearing rapidly and it was causing problems for the coffee consumers. Allegations and theories were made about people drinking it straight up or making cereal. It was dubbed MilkGate. It was supplemented with memes on the fridge discouraging people from abusing the milk.

    Like I said, not particularly exciting. That said at the high school we buy fairly high end instant coffee. At the primary school they buy cheap instant coffee (guess where I go for coffee when I’m working there).

  63. ladycrim*

    My coffee-adjacent story:

    I don’t really like regular coffee, but I have a sad addiction to those caffeinated milkshakes known commonly as Frappuccinos. I used to get one a couple afternoons a week and bring it back to work. I would usually offer to get co-workers a beverage when I went out. One day, a co-worker asked for a caramel Frapp, with extra caramel. No problem. I got the drinks, and brought them back. Her cup had caramel in the bottom, mixed into the drink, and absolutely covering the whipped cream on top. Good enough? NOPE. She was upset that they hadn’t drizzled caramel along the insides of the cup. She was so upset that she actually called the store to complain about it! That was the last time I picked up a drink for her.

    1. Lindsay J*

      Stuff like this is why I hate doing group orders of food for everyone.

      Like, seriously people, if you’re going to order something in a group order, order something that doesn’t have 1000 modifications. And if you do order something modified, don’t complain if it’s not made exactly to your specifications.

      I’ve ordered way too many, “I want the #3, but with fried chicken instead of grilled, extra mayo, swap the red peppers for jalapenos, can I add a side of blue cheese to that?, with sweet potato fries instead of normal fries – oh you don’t have those? – Jessica, they don’t have sweet potato fries, what do you want to do – okay, do you have waffle fries? onion rings? okay, I guess regular fries are fine. And can I swap the pickle for a side of coleslaw?”

      Nowadays I only order from places where I can order online, so I don’t actually have to state the requests on the phone, and I can go back to people and ask them about things that come up (like being out of something). Or I take my team out to eat so if they want special requests they can ask the waiter about it instead of me having to do it.

  64. FloralsForever*

    You can always publish these stories. I love coffee and there is almost always mild milk drama at work (and you know, I might also be creating just a teeny bit of drama ;) ) but these stories hoo-boy do they make me count my lucky stars!

  65. Quake Johnson*

    I will never understand why this disgustingly bitter swill causes such emotional responses among people.

    -Me, the Coffee Shop Manager

  66. Jaid_Diah*

    My unit in the old building had two regular coffee pots and the drama! Now we have a Kuireg and a electric kettle. Not as much drama, though one old lady often forgets her pod in the machine and worse, thinks the water isn’t hot enough, so she’ll pour her hot water back into the Kuireg and run it though again. And she doesn’t necessarily clean her cup between uses….
    I use the electric kettle for my noodle soup (not the 39cent packet mind you, I assemble that ish from scratch :-) )

  67. Hannah*

    A milk noose! Why didn’t I think of that?

    Wait, that wasn’t the point of the story?

  68. MissDissplaced*

    Crikey! These are some crazies.
    I’ve certainly had my share of burnt carafes and tossed away creamers but nothing that escalated in all out coffee wars.

  69. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    Man, the only conflict at my office about coffee/tea is that they put out exactly one box of each kind of tea (we’re lucky enough that they have black, green, and a couple herbals – all Bigelow, nothing fancy, but still nice) in the drawer under the coffee maker, and lock all the rest up in a cabinet right next to it. The cabinet used to be unlocked, but apparently someone in HR was convinced that people were walking off with whole boxes of tea because “it runs out so fast.” (Couldn’t possibly be because about 100 people work here and it’s been winter and cold season so everyone’s trying to soothe their throats with I Love Lemon tea?)

    Now we need to constantly send emails to the guy with the key to the cabinet because the tea’s run out again. And when the drawer is full, people do take a handful of teabags back to their own desks to hoard for when there’s none of their preferred flavor in the drawer! So it totally backfired.

  70. Wren*

    I drink coffee fairly regularly now, but many years ago when it something I only occassionally drank, strictly in the morning (usually after a late night) and I was sensitive to and a very slow metabolizer of caffeine, I worked for a small firm that was apparently really proud of the espresso machine in the partners’ area. It was a special treat for the peons downstairs to be offered espresso, and people seemed to take offense that I would decline afternoon espresso. Cheerfull “no, thank you!” was never enough. “I’d really love to, but I can’t drink coffee unless it’s before [whatever o’clock — I no longer remember what I considered my safe cutoff], or I won’t sleep all night,” was also not acceptable (and they never offered it except in the afternoon, so I never got to try it, even though I sincerely did want to, but not at the cost of insomnia.)

    Just one of the many reasons I didn’t fit in there.

  71. DietCoke4Life*

    I cannot express how much I love absolutely all of this.

    We recently had an employee create a series of instructional coffee videos. I love everything about weirdo coffee culture.

  72. crookedfinger*

    Wow. This has made me incredibly glad my company pays for all the coffee supplies and that our only annoyance is when people don’t make coffee after emptying a carafe…

    1. NJtoNYC*

      Same, but my employer employs a small staff of people whose jobs also include keeping the coffee silos filled, so we don’t even have to worry about making more coffee when one silo runs out.

      ( It’s driving me low-level nuts that I can’t remember the correct word to replace “silo,“ but I’m not wanting to google in order to figure it out. Coffee Silos is the name of my Smooth Jazz-New Country fusion band.)

  73. lychee*

    A genuine question – Why is the teacher in #4 OK but not the guy in #10; same thing really, no?

    1. DArcy*

      The person in #4 is keeping her coffeemaker *in her locked private office*, whereas the person in #10 is placing his expresso machine in a *shared public kitchen* while demanding that no one else can touch it.

  74. Penpot*

    We have a coffee pool at work, which is 20 cents a day for coffee and milk (I have no idea how it manages to stay afloat, but whatever). The person who runs it has the initially reasonable seeming rule that it is only 20 cents a day _for days when you are in the office_. This leads to them keeping their own hugely overengineered spreadsheet of exactly who is in on which day, constructed by them looking around the office and asking questions if it’s not immediately obvious. I don’t really mind this personally, but it can’t be cost/time efficient, and some people find it annoyingly intrusive. I would much rather they took my 20 cents every day and were done with it!

  75. First Time Caller*

    I recently changed jobs, from a non profit that never supplied coffee (or anything, really) to a huge, global food service and vending conglomerate. My local office has maybe 15 office staff. We have a Starbucks machine, a Flavia machine, a Keurig, and an Encore machine. Literally all the free coffee, tea or hot chocolate you could want. One of the sales reps still brews Maxwell House in an ancient Mr. Coffee machine. His office always smells like burnt coffee.

  76. sharon*

    My husband worked for General Motors on the graveyard shift. He says the coffee Sunday night in the vending machine was the worst. No one serviced the machine since Friday so it was reallly bad.

  77. Database Developer Dude*


    I feel left out for not having a coffee wars story. Every place I’ve worked since 2001, you either bought your own coffee, or there was a cooperative agreement in place (nothing formal). In my current workplace, there’s a Keurig and everyone brings their own K-cups and supplies. We’re good.

    The closest I can come is when I was active duty Army, working in an office, and someone used my mug as a spit cup for dip. Of course, the culprit outranked me, and it didn’t matter that my mug was labelled with my name.

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