the $15,000 coffee fund, the cheapskate executives, and other stories of office coffee wars

Last week, I asked for your stories about office coffee wars (or tea/milk/etc. wars). Here are 15 of my favorites … plus an update.

1. The coffee fund

I worked in a department store during summer breaks from college back in the late 80s. The break room had an old school coffee maker, powdered milk, and a refrigerator from the 1970s. Coffee was 50 cents/cup to purchase more supplies. We begged for a microwave to heat up leftovers and were told there was no money for that. When the fridge finally died, there was no money to replace that either.

One day I found a paper someone left in the copy machine showing the coffee expenses vs amount paid. There was $15,000 sitting in the coffee account (you didn’t read that wrong). The person in charge of the coffee insisted it was to only buy coffee so it continued to grow. When she finally retired years later the new person took one look at the amount in the coffee fund, used the money to make a proper break room with a new fridge, microwave, toaster oven and replacement coffee maker and still had $10,000 left in the fund at which point she made coffee free to everyone.

2. The interlopers

Recently, we were the test floor for a new single-serving coffee machine. Imagine a Keurig crossed with the hotel coffee makers that use those flat tea-bag-looking things. There was a shelf set up nearby where we had our choice of decaf, french roast, kona, breakfast blend, salted caramel, and highlanger grogg. There was a perfect storm of the rest of the building realizing we had the good coffee and the realization that the two most popular flavors (highlander grogg followed by french roast) would run out quickly.

Half of the floor was hoarding coffee in their desks because “the interlopers” (literally called them that) were “pilfering” (also used) our fancy coffee. Those who sat nearest to the elevator would send chats to their team to whenever someone they didn’t recognize from our floor got off the elevator and headed toward the kitchenette (also the way to pretty much every conference room) in an attempt to “track thefts.” The other half were hoarding specific flavors. At one point my boss called me over to her desk to show me where she’d stashed an entire box (30 servings) of Highlander Grogg in case I wanted some. It felt like someone on the street with a trench coat showing me knock-off watches, literally looking back over her shoulder like the cops were running a sting and might catch her with the coffee.

3. The ticket

I work for a giant tech company that, unlike our giant tech company peers, doesn’t offer free food. However, there are coffee shops in all of our office buildings – actual branches of good local coffee shops that are only accessible by employees. Back in April 2021, these coffee shops started offering one free drink a day (latte, americano, whatever) as a way to entice people to return to the office (which was optional). It was always advertised as a this-month-only thing, but the same promotion was renewed for May 2021, June 2021, and so on, all the way until December 2022.

In December 2022, it was announced that the free coffee for the month would end in January. Employees, including me, were distraught. Why would we go to the office without free coffee? An internal support ticket was raised with a severity level of 3, which translates to “group productivity impaired” (which usually means something more like, office WiFi is running slow).

The ticket cited a study that said when there are limited coffee options in the workplace, employees will try to find more desirable alternatives elsewhere, lowering their efficiency during the workday and decreasing the amount of time they spend in the office. Over 1,000 people added their support to the ticket.

Company leadership reinstated the free coffee.

4. The very serious issue

At my wife’s work, the company provided a coffeemaker and (my wife tells me) truly terrible coffee. Some enterprising coworkers decided to pool together and bring in a different, much better variety of coffee. Donations to the not-gross coffee fund were voluntary and nobody really kept track, as most people gave more than was necessary. All in all, it worked about as well as anyone could have asked for… except.

Turns out the terrible coffee and coffeemaker were contracted out to a supplier, who did not authorize third-party coffee in their machine. Could the employ just bring in a second machine? No, they could not, because the contract granted exclusive coffee-making rights to this supplier and they were locked in for at least the next two years.

There were meetings hijacked to discuss the coffee issue. There were meetings scheduled to talk about nothing BUT the coffee issue. Truly ludicrous amount of time were wasted on the coffee conundrum. I’m talking hundreds of man-hours from people who are paid very nicely per hour, who were willing to go to the mattresses for their coffee.

The issue was still ongoing when my wife was laid off. She avoided the issue by bringing her own in the mornings and then, during the day, going downstairs to the cafeteria where there was a TOTALLY FREE K-CUP MACHINE with a variety of flavors available for use for everyone in the building, including employees of her company.

5. The tea trolley

In my first job, our trolley in the morning (I’m in the UK) also brought toast (you had to put your toast order in the day before but most toast lovers had a regular daily order) with the choice being white or brown bread, one or two slices, with tiny pats of butter or margarine and tiny pots of jam or marmalade at a small additional cost. Everything was served on proper plates with real cutlery, all of which was collected in the afternoon when the trolley came round again. Woe betide anyone hoarding plates, cups or cutlery!

There was a massive uproar when we younger employees lobbied to be allowed to use our own mugs rather than the company-supplied cups and saucers. It was a genuine concern that the tea urn would empty too quickly if larger mugs were permitted, leading to a lengthy consultation period on the optimal mug size. Eventually, mugs were allowed but unfortunately, not long after, the trollies were replaced with hot drink vending machines where pretty much everything tasted of soup. Except the soup.

6. The soda

It wasn’t coffee, but it was soda. Someone, or several someones, kept trying to cool down their can of soda quickly by putting it in the break room freezer. There was just one small problem with this. It would freeze there, and soda does not do well when frozen. The can would then explode in the freezer.

The freezer would look like a war zone. Frozen soda EVERYWHERE. Over frozen lunches, the walls, the door… And worst of all, they started doing it at least twice a week every week for several months.

The head of one team got so upset by this, he’d go red-faced and rant for an hour. I thought one night we’d have to call an ambulance he was so upset. He even made several signs asking people not to put their sodas in the freezer. It was ignored.

The soda explosions finally stopped when the managers got tired of the complaints and sent out an email banning drinks in the freezer.

7. The fancy set-up

The most recent hire at my job was recommended by someone who used to work for my boss, so we had a lot more info on him than you normally would with a new hire. His old boss kept hyping up this fancy coffee set-up he had.

Turns out it’s a pour over set-up with a temperature control kettle and hand coffee grinder. I was like well that’s nice, but my coworkers were just amazed! They even wrote out a coffee protocol (with authors and citations). Can’t complain though because he makes killer coffee and is overall a nice person.

8. The tab

Our firm provides coffee, water, some sodas, snacks, etc. totally free to employees. The office manager is responsible for ordering things/keeping them stocked. The coffee maker is one of those large machines plugged directly into the wall that you can stock with beans and then it provides both drip and espresso, which are decent. The ‘latte’ is not, as it’s made with dry milk, but I digress.

Well, one day this thing stopped working. Office manager called in maintenance but they were estimating that it wouldn’t be online until late afternoon/next business day. No problem – I expected some mild grumbling from coworkers and for it not to be a thing.

Nope. The office OPENED A TAB with the coffee place downstairs. People were pretty good about not abusing it (it ended up being a little over ~1 drink each, and no one went incredibly overboard in fanciness). But I to this day cannot believe the lengths they went to to keep people caffeinated (or the uproar that must have resulted in the past for this to be a thing.)

9. The pennies

I once worked at an office that had a coffee club based on the honor system. The person who managed the money and purchased the coffee was upset because too many people were drinking coffee without paying. Fair, but coffee should have been free and they were known around the office for being super intense in general. They made a note saying you had to pay for coffee before drinking it so a friend started paying in pennies as a joke/commentary on the ridiculousness of the situation. A few days later there was another (angrier) note saying PAYING IN PENNIES IS A HOSTILE ACT. Over a decade later I still think of this whenever I use a penny.

10. The meltdown

I used to work for a graduate program that had the most uptight, fussy, and frankly insufferable faculty that I’ve ever met in my life. Full meltdowns over the tiniest things were common. We had regular conferences and I made the coffee. One conference I had brought in a different type of coffee from home just to mix things up because I don’t really drink coffee and didn’t want it to go to waste.

My biggest problem child had a full-on tantrum because she didn’t like the new coffee. She shoved the coffee cup in my face and was screaming and stomping her feet. Because I thought it was hilarious that a sixty-year-old woman was having a tantrum over coffee, I played dumb and just told her I wasn’t sure what happened because it was the same coffee and gently suggested there might be something wrong with her and she might want to get checked for COVID.

11. The cheapskate executives

We used to have a coffee station on each floor and cups of coffee were $0.25 deposited into a canister. Someone from facilities would refill the coffee stuff, collect the quarters and clean daily and the residents of that floor were responsible for making the pots of coffee. At some point management started sending out emails about how the amount collected wasn’t correlating with the amount of coffee being stocked. I’m sure due to a number of things – leftover coffee at the end of the day in the pot, people using large cups and still paying $0.25, people not paying because they didn’t have a quarter on them.

After a number of these various warnings someone decides to start tracking each floor with coffee in and cash out. Of the 8 floors in the building the floor that had the biggest cash to coffee gap was the floor where most of the top executives sat (salaries of mid-six figures to seven figures). We didn’t get any more emails about coffee shortages, not long after that the coffee pot system was replaced with a single pod system you had to purchase prior to brewing which led to a variety of pop-up Keurigs all over the building in various offices and desks.

12. The men

Back when I worked at an engineering company I got permission to arrive at 7, because I liked to start early. Most everyone started at 8, but about 10 older guys also started at 7. There was one other woman who arrived at 7:30.

What I learned on day one of my new schedule is all the men who started at 7 would arrive, go sit in the breakroom, and wait for the women to show up and make coffee. The first morning I came in they all perked up and seemed visibly disappointed when I made my tea and went back to my desk. On day two they started mournfully talking about how much they wanted coffee while I was making my tea. On day three they whined how hard it was to wait for the admin to arrive make coffee, and if sure would be nice if it got made earlier. On day four one of them stood up and suggested I make coffee. I pointed out I don’t drink coffee. He pointed out the instructions were posted next to the machine. To which I said yep, you’d be just as good as I would be at following those, and left for my desk.

I was there for 12 years, drinking tea and never touching the coffee maker.

13. The teabags

I worked in one office that provided coffee and, theoretically, tea. Coffee was brewed and could be grabbed at any time. However, the tea drinkers — including the ones in the other building — had to bring their used teabag to the office manager in order to receive a new one. (I am not a tea drinker, so I was spared that humiliation.)

14. Marge

I used to work with “Marge.” Marge played favourites big-time. She had her own cafetiere which made exactly four mugs. She had a locked stock of really expensive coffee beans which she would grind fresh each morning.

Then out would come the crockery and the tray, and little individual milk jugs. And along the cubicle corridor she would sail, distributing a mug of coffee and a milk jug to the three people who happened to be in her good books that particular day. She would be utterly charming and gracious. Then the very next day she would cut those three people completely dead in a really aggressive way and turn the charm on to three others.

You never knew where you stood with her and she was quite a powerful person in the organisation. And woe betide you if you refused a cup of coffee! Weirdness abounded.

15. The cold brew

My company used to provide iced coffee in the summer. Each of the building’s eight kitchens would have pitchers in the fridge that were periodically refilled. I don’t remember what the supply was like relative to demand, but it must have been pretty balanced because I don’t remember it being particularly hard to get iced coffee even if it wasn’t always available. It was just a nice little background perk.

Then one year they installed four cold brew kegerators (one per floor). They sent out an email announcing the new perk and letting us know who to contact when refills were needed. All hell broke loose. We tore through the supply and started inundating the facilities team with refill requests. Eventually another email went out telling us they weren’t taking refill requests anymore – they’d calculated expected demand based on how much of the iced coffee we’d been consuming, so they’d be supplying 80 cups of cold brew per floor per week.

It felt like a social experiment to see how quickly the scarcity could make us turn on each other. Our limited refills happened on an irregular schedule, so you couldn’t ever be sure the cold brew hadn’t just been refilled. You had to try your luck and be disappointed every time. False reports of refills spread like wildfire.

What really kicked it into a full on war: Every floor got the same amount of cold brew, but not every floor had the same number of people. My floor had about 120 people; the next floor up had about 220. We had a nonstop stream of raiders from other floors trying to see if they’d have better luck with our cold brew than their own, and there was a secondary supply issue because suddenly the freezers were always out of ice.

After a few months of growing resentment for our coworkers on neighboring floors, my department was moved to an overflow building with way fewer people, and which made those 80 cups go a lot further. I can only assume that back in the main building, the cold brew wars continued right up until COVID sent everyone home.

And last … an update!

In a coffee wars round-up five years ago, this story was shared:

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.

Last week we received an update on this long-running campaign:

The proposal for improvement was rejected, but in the meantime there was a merger, and the other company has always provided free coffee for their employees. The cash system went away quietly, and coffee is free for everybody now!

{ 433 comments… read them below }

          1. tamarack etc.*

            It wasn’t a coffee fund, it was an investment opportunity!

            (I hope no one took some of the 10k and, like, minted & sold NFTs or something.)

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            I met someone who had tried it overseas. He had no idea what “brand” it was, but he said it was “earthy and smooth”. Very small cups, very important meeting, and they treated him like the hick he was. (Don’t be the ugly American, but don’t try to hide who you are.)
            When he asked what brand it was,
            conversation stopped. Someone quietly gave him the facts.

            He said it was almost as smooth coming back up a few minutes later in the first restroom he found. (Ladies)

            1. linger*

              Sounds like they gave him coffee ipecac, rather than kopi luwak.
              Which is entirely possible, even if they weren’t trying to treat him as a “rube”. About 80% of coffee sold as “kopi luwak” is fake, and most of the civet-sourced product commercially available is farmed, which means the civets are in cages and do not get to choose their own coffee cherries for consumption; that selection process is an important part of what gave the original “wild” product its reputed higher quality. Serious takeaway, this is not an industry to support.

            2. Side slow Bob*

              Remember that “poo” coffee is complete nonsence, it’s been conclusively proven that experts CANT taste any difference between poo and.. not poo.. coffee brewed with the beans.

              It’s nonsence sold to the gullible.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I picture that coffee lady as a dragon with her hoard of fifteen grand in quarters–perched atop a mighty mountain of coins, growl-purring “my precioussssss….” as she runs her talons through the pile.

    1. Chicken'nBiscuits*

      You can get decent coffee for $10/lb today. I can’t believe they were charging 50 cents a cup in the 80s. Makes me wonder if the price of coffee has gone down rather than up over the years.

      1. another_scientist*

        I was reminded of my mom telling stories from living in the Eastern Bloc. She was working as a teacher, and you had to indicate on a list in the morning whether you wanted a cup of coffee in the teacher’s lounge later. Coffee was pricey enough that only that exact amount of cups would be prepared. That would have been in the 80s as well.

      2. Eric, also.*

        I don’t understand pricing like that.

        Can people not do simple math? Like, a 40.3 oz thing of Folgers coffee costs $13.92. A 12-cup pot of coffee is about 3.5 oz of coffee grounds….almost 12 pots (11.5) of coffee in one Folgers tub. An entire pot of coffee would be $1.21! If you paid $.50 per cup ($0.50 x 11.5 pots x 12 cups) …at the end of the tub you’d have like $70!! haha! Wow.

        1. Happy*

          I think a lot of that pricing (not this company, obviously) was based on trial-and-error rather than analysis, and because a lot of people skipped paying.

      3. Pam*

        It was definitely 50 cents a cup at a time when minimum wage was around $3.45 and I was a poor student. They told us it was a bargain compared to the .85 cents the donut shop around the corner was charging.

        1. Giant Kitty*


          The donut shop is actually in the business of SELLING coffee, to customers. It’s not even comparable.

          And considering that I learned to drink coffee at all night diners, I tend to really like restaurant/institutional blend coffee more than what you can get in the supermarket. So I’d be more than happy to spend the extra change on a fresh, hot, large cup of delicious donut shop coffee than shell out nearly as much for a puny styrofoam 2 sips cup of most likely cold/burnt break room crud.

    2. Pam*

      It paid for the coffee, cups, sugar, milk, tea and replacement pots because they were constantly being dropped. I have no idea if there was any money remaining when the store went bankrupt a few years later.

    3. RuledbyCats*

      For sheer, unadulterated, eyebrows-raised-past-my hairline, the **$15,000** (now only $10K) coffee fund is the absolute winner of these stories.

        1. Emily*

          Yep! Also, if they’re sitting in the breakroom until 7:30am waiting on coffee to be made then their start time was not really 7am. I wonder if that was reflected in their time cards…

          1. Turtlewings*

            That was my thought! The higher-ups probably wouldn’t have been happy to know they had 10 employees doing literally nothing for probably an hour every day. (30 minutes waiting for the admin, 30 minutes drinking the coffee.)

          2. GammaGirl1908*

            Coming to note this! These dudes are wasting a whole hour, at least, on their coffee vulturing.

            I have worked in several offices with standard schedules where there are people whose main personality is that they are the Early Person. Whenever someone else arrives, they announce that they’ve been there for hours. Your lunch hour is practically the end of the work day for the Early Person (they eat lunch at, apparently, 8:15). No, they didn’t see whatever TV show, because they go to bed very early to come in early. Being early is so great, because you miss all the traffic and get so much done while it’s quiet. Someone else will have to take the meeting with the west coast team, because they’ll be getting ready to head out. The Early Person has no idea how anyone can get anything done in the afternoon, because it’s just so late. They swan out in the early afternoon, pointedly wishing everyone a good night.

            Note, plenty of people arrive on the early side, like this LW, but the Early Person is the one where their arrival time is their main topic of conversation.

            Because the Early Person is — to a one — not noticeably more productive than anyone else, I have long wondered whether the Early Person gets to work and goes right back to sleep.

            No, in this office apparently the Early People arrive and wait impatiently for hours for coffee.

            1. Sister Michael*

              I’ve definitely worked with Early People, but it’s such a normal thing to be in very early at my current workplace that it’s happily not considered remark-worthy by almost anybody, at least not in a smug way. (“Yeah, it helps keep my commute down” and “I like the early-morning quiet” are common things to hear and just a piece of small talk.)
              On the other hand, because 7am is such an ordinary start time for us, I did work with a “Late Person” once! She couldn’t imaaaagine how we coped, and we should thank her for being around in case there was a late phone call, because not everyone keeps our schedules, don’tcha know! Somebody has to be there to keep an eye on things while we’re lazily heading out early! (Our whole industry keeps hours similar to ours, our work is not time-sensitive, and “core hours” such as they are end about 2pm.)
              Late Person also showed up about 11am, spent 1 hour eating breakfast, checking some email and chit chatting with people who were trying to work, and then immediately took a long lunch. Every. Day. She has moved on to other things, of her own volition.

              1. Night Owl*

                Oh my word. I’m a Late Person (partly because my spouse is a third shifter and we only have one vehicle). I’ve definitely taken advantage of my logistical inability to clock in before 9:30 as a way to delay meetings or phone calls until I can be adequately caffeinated, and I’ve also spun it as an advantage for west-coast clients (especially since my manager is much more of an early bird, so between us we have about 10 hours of coverage). However I am reasonably sure I’ve never full-on weaponized it like that woman.

            2. Well...*

              People who use Early Riser as their whole personality drive me nuts.

              One time I was staying with my husband and his roommates (he was finishing his PhD at the time and I had moved to a different country for a postdoc, but I was visiting a nearby university for a month so crashed with him, yes we were already married and yes academics live like this). One of his roommates was a big-time morning person and had had several conversations with me in the past about being the first person at work in her lab, and how much she loved the quiet and the birds or whatever (I can’t relate). I had to get up super early to make the train and get to the other university, so for this entire month I was waking up earlier than her and she Could. Not. Deal. She would constantly try to slow me down on the way out to like, chat about mornings or interrogate my schedule or try to pass messages to my husband about rent.

              I hated this because I did not budget extra time for chit chat, I like to maximize my sleep! I also learned how she was secretly very lazy in the morning… She woke up early but then wasted a ton of time doing nothing and just puttering around the house feeling smug. I will never forget how the simple act of me going to work to do my job threatened her entire view of herself so deeply. She started sniping at me in other unrelated ways. It was such an awkward month.

              I also learned that a lot of grad school types aren’t really ambitious and don’t really hustle, they just like the ~aesthetic of hard work but don’t really do any of it. They used to always make me feel less than, but at this point in my career I’ve outlasted so many of these kinds of people…

              1. MassMatt*

                I’ve known morning people like this, yeah they wake up early but they don’t seem to get anything done for the first few hours they’re up. I mean, fine, get up at five and ease into your day drinking coffee, reading the paper, and slowly getting ready for three hours if you want, but don’t act superior when I get up at 7:30 and am out the door by 8.

                I also have known one of those “first to work” people, oddly the few times *I* got in early they were nowhere to be found. Turns out they got in earlier than everyone else, but not hours earlier like they claimed.

                1. Well...*

                  Yes! I lived in a country for a while that had pretty late hours, and I got to work early because it’s my most productive time (early being like 8-9am). Another early person would come by my office every day to check to see if I got in first, and then try to enthuse with me about where everyone else is, it’s already 9:30! Like…. Who cares? Also you showed up at 9:15am, that’s not worth bragging about, but even if it where, this is the most boring measuring stick imaginable.

                2. Shira VonDoom*

                  I’m a Late Person who gets up 3 hours before I have to get to work (10 minutes drive away, LOL) because that’s the only way I avoid being late to work, LOL

                  I don’t begrudge morning people, I’m just in awe that they can just…do that, and be actually presentable visually and fully functional mentally.

                  the ONLY times I’ve been able to roll out of bed and be out the door in under an hour, I was working on farms, and it didn’t matter how bad I looked or that I was non-verbal. only that I was there to feed the horses etc, LOL.

            3. MigraineMonth*

              I am NOT an early person or morning person, but I do bi-annually adjust my schedule just because I hate the end of daylight savings time that much.

            4. Veryanon*

              There has always been one of those Early Person employees in every place I’ve ever worked. They’ve never seemed any more productive than anyone else.

          3. Random Dice*

            Honestly that one made me pretty pissed, but also SO GLAD that letter-writer drank tea and refused to be pulled into that sexist crap.

            By engineers, that just makes it worse. They couldn’t figure out the simplest machine, that had instructions posted, because they were determined to be sexist d^cks.

          4. goddessoftransitory*

            I wish I could be paid for an hour of sitting on my butt waiting for someone else to serve me!

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      And those entitled sexist idiots certainly were being productive by getting there early, weren’t they? Accomplishing sooooo muuuuuch by sitting around the breakroom waiting for a woman to come along and make their coffee for them.

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        When I started dispatching (early 90s) the head dispatcher, Jack, was an old guy, and a sexist jerk.

        He would literally holler “GIRLS, THERE’S NO MORE COFFEE” and STICK HIS LOWER LIP OUT.

        The equally terrible management insisted that when there was a woman on-shift we had to just suck it up and make the coffee.

        He would then yell that his cup was empty. And one of us would have to take him coffee.

        It took me four pots of profound and unforgivable crimes against coffee to get myself banned from the rota.

        The worst part was having to drink at least a cup of each pot to maintain the fiction that I was actually under the impression that that was how to make coffee.

        1. Inkognyto*

          I missed this request.

          Mid 1990’s my first ‘office’ job.

          I got informed on my first day that the new person made coffee for the first month. The team said this and the supervisor said “yes”. The pot wasn’t just for our team but it was near us.

          I was the new person and I’m male. No instructions it wasn’t hard. It was the contract company style. Filter+pre-mixed amount dried coffee. They kept saying I needed to do it anytime it was empty. I’d often make 2 pots due to the number of people.

          I wasn’t an avid coffee drinker. I didn’t mind a cup once in a while, but I didn’t need it. It took 3 days for them to realize I was making decaf after the first pot. I wasn’t hiding it, they could check the garbage bin to see what was made.

          I walked in the next day and some was already made. I got up when I saw it was empty once and someone else ran over and said “Noo.. I got it”

          I think someone from another team was making a pot when it didn’t taste right which helped take it that long to realize.

          A year into the job we hired someone new and someone mentioned doing it again. I spoke up and said “How’d that go last time?”

          A few groaned, and some laughed with me.

          1. Really?*

            You might want to rethink this story. Marna Nightingale’s story is one of a marginalized person fighting back against a sexist and unfair assumption that making coffee is “women’s work.” Your story reads more like weaponized incompetence to get out of a job you didn’t want to do as part of a system where every one else had presumably taken a turn when they were new to the team.

        2. old curmudgeon*

          I had a job as the office manager for a property management company back in the early aughts where the owner let a cheapskate friend of his office in the building for free. Note, cheapskate friend did not actually work for my employer – he had his own company, just didn’t want to pay rent for an office. So not only was he not senior to me in the company hierarchy, he wasn’t even employed there. Just freeloading off his buddy.

          I’d be on the phone with a client and Cheapskate Friend would come out of his office and start whispering at me “the coffee is gone. Did you hear me? There’s no more coffee.” I guess he thought if he whispered, it would be less intrusive in a phone conversation, but it was enormously irritating.

          My usual approach would be to pointedly rotate my chair to turn my back to him, continuing the conversation without dropping a beat and totally ignore his whispering. He’d usually wander off morosely at that point, but one time he must have really been desperate for a caffeine fix, because he joggled my arm and whisper-yelled “I SAID, there’s no more coffee.”

          I spun around, slapped his hand away, and in a voice that dripped icicles, replied “well, you’d better go make some more then, hadn’t you?”

          Then I returned to the phone conversation and said “pardon the interruption, an entitled brat thinks that I am his personal servant and I had to disabuse him of that notion.”

          I am pleased to report that Cheapskate Friend stopped telling me about the empty coffee pot after that episode.

        1. There You Are*

          If you stare in the mirror in a darkened room and say, “Where’s the coffee?” thirty times in a row, the sexist geezers will appear and mooooaaaaannnn about their lack of woman-made caffeine.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          On certain dark nights, when the moon is full, you can hear “but…we’re mennnnn….” echoing through the break room…

    2. Anonn*

      Totally unbelievable. Feels like something straight out of the workplace in Diary of a Void. “Oh, sorry, can’t help – the smell of coffee is making me nauseous.”

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I don’t know Diary of a Void, so apologies if my comment is totally off base, but…
        Even better if the Designated Coffee Woman can link nausea at the smell of coffee to some kind of Female Trouble. And use a hushed, whispery tone of voice when speaking about said Female Trouble.

        Examples: “I’m so sorry, but I’m Expecting and I always feel so queasy when I am With Child.” or “Pardon me, but the smell of coffee always upsets my stomach at That Time of the Month.

        1. Tio*

          DoaV is about a woman faking a pregnancy to get attention (this is in the summary, so I don’t think it’s a spoiler) so basically your first example.

        2. on the couch, with the cat*

          I am not a coffee drinker, and in fact, when I became pregnant, the smell of coffee, which had always been vaguely unpleasant, became downright nauseating. The “better”/darker the coffee, the worse the reaction, especially if the coffee was black. I had to have people move their cups away during meetings if they were too close to me (I’d move myself if possible but it wasn’t always).

          My daughter is in her 20s now and the smell of coffee can still make my stomach roil.

        3. Anonn*

          You’re not off-base at all – that’s nearly exactly the plot of the book!

          “[Thirty-four-year-old Ms. Shibata] finds that as the only woman at her new workplace, she is expected to do all the menial tasks. One day she announces that she can’t clear away her coworkers’ dirty cups—because she’s pregnant and the smell nauseates her. The only thing is . . . Ms. Shibata is not pregnant.

          Pregnant Ms. Shibata doesn’t have to serve coffee to anyone. Pregnant Ms. Shibata isn’t forced to work overtime. […] But she has a ruse to keep up. Before long, it becomes all-absorbing… and the boundary between her lie and her life begins to dissolve.”

    3. on the couch, with the cat*

      I nearly got fired on my first day of my first out-of-school job, back in the 1970s, because I wouldn’t make coffee for an older man who was clearly higher than me in the office hierarchy.

      I apologized profusely while saying No: it was my first day, I had no idea where the coffee was, I personally didn’t drink coffee, I’d literally never made a cup of coffee in my life (I was 19).

      He growled something at me and stomped off.

      A few minutes later my boss arrived and moments after that, left our shared office.

      When he came back, he explained that the man I had turned down was the CEO and that he had wanted me fired for insubordination. My boss had calmed him down and wanted to know what had happened.

      I told him and he laughed and told me to avoid the CEO for a while.

      Which I did.

      I worked there for 6 years and never made coffee.

      I can’t say I’ve never ever made coffee, because I once worked for a place where all you had to do was push two buttons and the machine would spit coffee into a cup, but I am pretty sure I can count the number of times I’ve made coffee without using all 10 fingers.

    4. whingedrinking*

      I always wonder, with these types of dudes, how aware of it they are. Like if, when they were sitting around sighing about how they sure would like some coffee, the LW had said, “Uh…is there a reason you can’t make it yourself?” what they would have told her.

    5. quercus*

      I hope#12 pointed out the instructions and measuring devices to the guy, and then said if he couldn’t follow the process, maybe he should find an engineer to help him understand.
      (OP said it was an engineering firm).

    6. ScruffyInternHerder*

      To #12: I bet you can GUESS which department here is the worst offenders at the whole “if you empty the press pot make new, your Momma and your wifey do not work here” rule of coffee.

      Frustrating parts being that its freaking 2023 AND they’re not even middle aged by any measure! What entitlement are they learning in engineering programs?!?!

    7. Katherine*

      With the patience of a saint, seeing as how she didn’t throw her cup of hot tea in that guy’s face. Then again, it would’ve been a waste of good tea.

  1. NeutralJanet*

    #9 Honestly, I’m on team coffee supplier, if the agreement is that one person will purchase coffee for the office and everyone else will pay per cup, paying with pennies definitely is a hostile act

    1. Because pithy*

      Yes, this. If one person is buying all the supplies and charging per cup, you bet they’re not being compensated by the company.

      Any shortfalls are coming out of their own pocket.

      1. Antilles*

        Bingo. And if I was the coffee purchaser and someone wanted to be a smart-ass about me reminding people to pay their fair share?
        Screw y’all, I’m bringing coffee from home for just myself, and it’s now Somebody Else’s Problem.

    2. Colette*

      Yeah, the OP said the coffee “should have been free” but I’m pretty sure the grocery stores near me charge for coffee, cream, and sugar. Maybe the company should have been covering the expense, but that’s not the fault of the person who is purchasing the coffee (and who has to count all of the pennies). I would have stopped doing that – let everyone bring their own coffee and supplies.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I agree, I don’t see why it’s the poor person’s fault who is working to make sure everyone has coffee. They probably don’t control what gets paid for from company funds. There’s nothing they can do about it except try and make it fair for everyone.

    3. Lana Kane*

      I’m thinking of the employer in GA who paid his employee’s last paycheck in pennies. That was definitely a hostile act lol

      1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

        Or the man who had a dump truck deliver his last child support payment- in pennies- to his now 18 year old daughter? Yeah, no one thought he was being anything other than a dick.

        1. INFJedi*

          Yeah, no one thought he was being anything other than a dick.
          Yikes, that’s even too nice a word to describe that “parent”

      2. Aunt Sally*

        I had to pay part of my starting bonus back to a job once, because I left before a certain number of years.
        I fantasized about showing up with a wheelbarrow of pennies…

    4. ferrina*

      Sure, but honestly, I’d just be happy they were paying a regular amount. I was treasurer for one office’s snack bar, and it was just a pain to get close to the right amount. I ended up just passive-aggressively not purchasing the things that the frequent offenders liked best.

    5. BethRA*

      Yeah, the “friend” in #9 was a jerk.

      Thinking the company should have provided coffee is one thing, mooching free coffee off of coworkers? Then going out of you way to be petty when called out?


      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        The “antagonist” of the story didn’t even do anything as “super intense” as calling out the mooches. They just put up a sign requesting people honor the honor system.

    6. Katy*

      Yeah, “coffee should be free” is not a reason to steal coffee from a coworker. What terrible self-serving logic.

    7. Lori*

      I agree! They were childishly taking out their displeasure on the wrong person. I would have handed over that duty over to him the first time it happened. Never bite the hand that feeds you!

    8. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

      The purchaser could accumulate $15k in profits like the first story if they stick with it; a few coin roll wrappers is a small price to pay in comparison.

    9. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      Yeah, and the paying in pennies literally WAS a hostile act, so the sign was 100% accurate.

  2. The Prettiest Curse*

    Tea trollies unite! I’m so glad that the person with a tea trolley story much more interesting than mine made it into this roundup.

  3. Lana Kane*

    I find these stories endlessly entertaining. Humans are odd birds indeed!

    At my last job I used my bit of capital to finally convince my manager to provide free coffee. She finally caved ariound the end of 2019. March 2020 we all went WFH for what we thought would be about 2 weeks. That department is still working from home. But hey, those were a glorious 4 months.

    1. Fed Employee*

      #10 is just evil, not a genius. The person throwing a tantrum is a total turd, but the appropriate response isn’t to gaslight someone and then imply that they might have COVID.

        1. Random Dice*

          I thought it was clever and hilarious, by someone with very little power who was being abused by someone of more power.

      1. Come on now*

        I think you want to check on the definition of gaslighting. It’s part of a very real pattern of abuse, one which many people are seriously affected by, and I don’t see how this kind of harmless prank rises to that level. Use of that languages diminishes the experiences of real abuse victims. Check yourself.

        1. Fed Employee*

          Gaslighting is intentionally making a person question their sanity or sense of reality. LW told the tantrum-er that the coffee was the same when it wasn’t, which is forcing the tantrum-er to question their sense of reality. LW suggested that the tantrum-er may have a poor sense of smell due to COVID, with the LW knew not to be true, which is forcing the tantrum-er to question their sense of reality.

          Did I capture that situation well enough for you?

          1. You're wrong*

            Gaslighting is an established pattern of abuse through manipulative deceit, not a one-off lie. “Come on now” was correct, not you.

    2. constant_craving*

      I dunno, maybe I’m no fun but I don’t think gaslighting someone and trying to get them to believe they may have a fatal disease is acceptable. The woman’s behavior was certainly outrageously bad, but that doesn’t really justify the response when you think about the fact that she’s an actual person and not just a character in an anecdote.

      1. Good Enough For Government Work*

        Nope. She shouldn’t have thrown a full-on tantrum. Anything resulting is entirely her own fault.

        1. Goldenrod*

          “Nope. She shouldn’t have thrown a full-on tantrum. Anything resulting is entirely her own fault.”

          Agreed. If you don’t want to be gaslit, don’t bully/abuse someone who you perceive to be lower than you in the hierarchy. Once someone is yelling in your face, all bets are off.

        2. Queer Earthling*

          Agreed. Responding to abusive people (and that is abusive; it sounds like she had a position of power over OP, and OP was expected to perform whatever act to try to quell the tantrum) allows for different rules than responding to other people.

        3. Katydid*

          I disagree, and I hope you will reconsider your thinking on this. Gaslighting is abusive. Responding to abuse with abuse is unhealthy for everyone concerned.

          Would you approve if they had responded by yelling back? Resorted to violence? If “anything resulting is entirely her own fault,” as one person stated, then you’re justifying all the spouse-beaters out there (who literally use the words I quoted), and I am sure you don’t mean to do that.

          Abuse does not justify counter-abuse. It’s destructive all-around. We should not be applauding it.

          1. Redaktorin*

            This is a ridiculous stretch. The fact that people who beat their spouses claim to be defending themselves does not make self-defense wrong, for example.

            Most of what that sort of person says when they’re making up reasons for their behavior is, in fact, just meaningless noise with no particular lessons for us.

            I think in your example, you’re actually the person who scolds a battered wife for fighting back after years of terror. Counter-abuse is just as bad as abuse, don’t you know!

            1. Come on now*

              Exactly. Gaslighting is a very real tactic used by abusers to control their victims. To appropriate it to label this harmless prank is, frankly, ridiculous and does real harm to abuse victims. When that and other terms (like “triggered”) are misused, it diminishes the experiences of victims.

              1. amoeba*

                Eh. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac and this “harmless prank” might definitively send me into a spiral of imagining something was very wrong with me (like, dying of a brain tumour wrong). Did she deserve it? Maybe. Harmless? Definitely not for everybody.

  4. Observer*

    #12 – The guys who wanted a WOMAN to make their coffee.

    Simultaneously hysterically funny and utterly infuriating! OP, you are my new hero.

    What other jobs did they try to pawn off on the little wimin?

    1. rayray*

      Haha I loved that one.

      I know they didn’t specify their role, but this exact scenario is why I absolutely refuse to do admin work. This is the kind of BS you put up with full-time, from both men and women.

    2. Bad at Coffee*

      This happened to me exactly once really early in my career. We were hosting an external meeting at which coffee would be provided and my coworker asked me to make it. I explained that I don’t drink coffee, so I’d never made it before. He said not to worry, because there were instructions on the coffee can and all I had to do was follow them. The instructions said how many cups of coffee grounds for each cup, and when I opened the can, there was a scoop/cup inside, so I assumed that was the cup the instructions referred to. It was not. I was supposed to be using a standard kitchen measuring cup, which was about 8 times bigger than the scoop inside the can, and I made what was essentially hot brown water.

      I was never asked to make the coffee again, which I counted as a win, but I still think that a product that comes with a scoop included should use that scoop in the directions for how to use the product.

      1. The Eye of Argon*

        Unless it was a big coffee urn that makes 20-30 cups, the scooper inside the can IS what you would use. The usual ratio is 1 scoop (about a tablespoon) of grounds per cup of water in the machine.

        But it got you out of coffee duty then that’s all to the good.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I didn’t realize you were supposed to put in a filter before the grounds, which produced very weak (and slightly crunchy) coffee. Afterwards, the coffee-making instructions became much more detailed.

    3. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

      When I started my first serious, full-time professional job, the CEO (a brilliant and very shrewd woman) told me on my first day “Don’t make the coffee.” I followed that for the 27 years I was at that job, and never regretted it! (And no, there was no pushback from the male staff members. None of them would have wanted a confrontation with the CEO!)

      1. Goldenrod*

        “When I started my first serious, full-time professional job, the CEO (a brilliant and very shrewd woman) told me on my first day “Don’t make the coffee.””

        Genius advice!

        I can’t even with post #12…I just can’t….The audacity! OP handled it extremely well.

      2. Clisby*

        My father’s first cousin (probably born around 1915) once told me that when she first got married, her husband’s mother told her: “I’m going to say one thing, and then I’ll be quiet and be a good mother-in-law. A woman’s a fool that learns to cook.”

        1. MigraineMonth*

          My maternal grandmother seems to have subscribed to this philosophy. I think she was just ahead of her time; the time she should have been living in would have had a microwave.

          1. Flash*

            My grandmother kept the snacks in the oven. Chips, cookies, etc. she claimed she couldn’t cook because her mother died when she was 14. I always found that a little…convenient for someone growing up in the 1920’s and basically having to become the woman of the house.

            Her one homemade dish that she always bragged about was a sleeve of manishevitz beef barley soup with a marrow bone thrown in. I didnt find out about that one until after she passed.

            My mother somehow turned out to be a very good cook by reading recipe books.

        2. anon24*

          I love this! I had to learn to cook growing up and my brother didn’t, because “you’re a girl and need to know this, but he’ll have a wife to do it for him.” When I got married my husband couldn’t cook much because his mom had refused to teach him and he never got creative, so I taught him, and now he is a way better cook than me and does 99% of the cooking. And my brother is single and has to make his own meals!

          1. Flash*

            I didn’t mean to imply she should have cooked because she was the girl btw. She was an only child with a dad that worked full time.

            My dad was old school when I was growing up and only grilled. He has expanded his repertoire after retirement (but isn’t a good cook despite his efforts!)

          2. CivilServant*

            My grandmother insisted on teaching my uncle to cook (or “cook,” as my grandmother wasn’t great either, but that’s neither here nor there…). My uncle refused, saying he was going to get married and she’d do the cooking.

            My grandmother asked him, “what happens if you marry a woman who can’t boil water?” So my uncle learned…and eventually married a woman who destroyed a pot making spaghetti because she forgot she’d turned the heat on, boiled the water out, and scorched it too badly to recover. He, indeed, married a woman who couldn’t boil water.

            That story stuck with me as a kid, and so yes, I learned to cook too. (And make my own dang coffee.)

              1. SarahKay*

                I guess technically she could boil water; what she seemed to struggle with was stopping boiling the water.

                And (ahem) I boiled a pot to death in my late teens.
                Worse, it was a very expensive Le Creuset cast-iron enamelled pot.
                Worse still, the item boiled to death in the pot was the case containing my soft contact lenses. The case melted onto the bottom of the pan and took the enamelling off when we managed to lever it off. All things considered, a very expensive error.
                (This was 35+ years ago when a pair of soft lenses would be kept for approx two years, so had to be cleaned and then boiled in their case for 15 mins a night to keep them bacteria-free. Teenaged me put them on to boil, got ready to go out while they were boiling and then… went out, totally forgetting to turn off the cooker before I left.)

          3. Bagpuss*

            I had the advantage of growing up without any assumptions about men not being able to cook / look after themselves. My (paternal) grandfather died when my dad was 10, and my grandmother got cancer and was in and out of hospital and unwell du to the treatment she had for a lot of his later childhood, so he and his brother learned to cook, clean etc when she wasn’t able to do so.

            My mother, on the other hand, attended boarding school and didn’t learn much in the way of cooking. When they got married, he was much better and more experienced at cooking than she was, particularly for cooking in small quantities and on a budget.

            Growing up, I was used to seeing my parents sharing the cooking and so it never occurred to me that it was a gendered skill. (My siblings and I were all taught to cook, when my brother went to university and lived in a shared house he found he was the only one out of 6 who knew how to cook anything (other than microwaving ready meals) Since he quite enjoys cooking, he negotiated a deal with his housemates where he would do most of the cooking in return for them paying for all the food and doing most of the cleaning. He reckoned it saved him a lot of money over the course of a year!

          4. Lizzie*

            My mom, was, and still is, a self-proclaimed horrible cook. I shudder at some of the meals she made growing up. Her mother too wasn’t much better.
            My dad retired early, in his late 50’s, and took over the cooking. Which he enjoyed and did well. I enjoy cooking too, although not for just me! But I’m pretty good at it too.

        3. Happy*

          I think this was my mom’s philosophy…and why I grew up on microwaved cans of vegetables.

          I’m trying really hard right now to be a good enough feminist to consider the benefit…

        4. Shira VonDoom*

          early GenX afab, and I aggressively avoided learning to cook (my mother is a great cook actually, but I HATED the messaging around being female growing up, and also I saw how little my dad contributed around the house).

          as an adult, most of the men I’ve dated have been skilled and willing cooks. I wash dishes instead, and this has always felt like a reasonable exchange to me

          I DO know how to cook, left to my own devices. however, I still prefer not to, LOL

    4. JB (not in Houston)*

      I used to work with men like this! In all other respects they seemed reasonable, but they would wait all morning for someone else to make coffee, and they would not make a new pot if they took the last of it unless someone was in the break room to witness them taking the last cup. I bought myself a Keurig just so that I would not have to deal with it because I didn’t want to start hating my coworkers. That’s the same reason I bought myself a water filter, so I wouldn’t have to get mad at coworkers for not refilling the water cooler.

    5. MigraineMonth*

      I volunteered once to take notes for a team meeting, which I think was useful. I then explained to my manager that because I’m the only woman on the team, I wasn’t going to take notes again until everyone else took a turn.

      To this day, that’s the only team meeting that has had any notes.

      1. Loredena*

        My project just brought in a new scrum master who is taking over as PM. After a client call where I and the other woman on the team had both presented he brought up that some decisions had been made and it would be helpful if someone took notes and what did I think. I replied that if he thought it helpful to take notes that sounded good – but obviously D and I weren’t taking them while presenting. Oddly there have yet to be notes taken

  5. SilkRoadDog*

    For a time during the so-called “dot com” boom in California, I worked data/telco construction and was the Assistant General Foreman for that part of the construction of Cisco systems then new south bay campus, which meant that I had access, and use of, their amazing breakrooms.

    Among other things, they each had a bank of k-cup coffee makers with a huge selection of coffees, as well as a bank of coolers full of sodas, juices, and waters, including caffinated water. Engineers on all night code benders would make coffee using caffinated water… You could see them vibrating!

    1. SpicySpice*

      Oh wow, the caffeinated water reminds me of some dark days at a former role where we were really swamped for weeks and I was brewing black tea in a cup of coffee to stay alert. It’s not terrible with a lot of cream and sugar.

    2. Zephy*

      My dad claims to have spent his final exam weeks when he was in undergrad fully in the thrall of hypercoffee, brewed with caffeinated water (brand name WaterJoe, which you can apparently still buy). He’d just mainline that shit until his last final was over, and then presumably collapse and welcome the sweet embrace of the void.

  6. Observer*

    #13 – Teabags needed to be returned.

    How was this allowed to continue? It’s the most unsanitary thing!

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      I would be so tempted to twirl it around by the string and let go, trying to >SPLAT< the teabag guardian right between the eyes. I wouldn't actually do it (I'd just bring my own teabags rather than suffer the indignity) but I'd fantasize about it every time I made a cup.

    2. ferrina*

      I can’t even imagine the stains that would cause. That would cause issues for me daily as the tea bag sat on my desk waiting to be returned

    3. TomatoSoup*

      I think the system was ridiculous, but not unsanitary. The teabag goes in a mug of hot water and is eventually taken out and placed on some surface to present to the tea-holder for replacement.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        Some of us like to over-brew our tea, and leave the bags in the cup while we drink.

        But then, I’d also bring my own tea so no one knew how many cups I drink each day.

      2. Observer*

        Right. You’ve got this wet organic mass sitting on a surface. That’s a really good way to grow . . .stuff like mold and stains.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          It’d take a while to grow mould though, so you can relax.
          I keep all my tea and herbal infusion bags. Once they’ve dried out, I open them and scatter the contents in the garden. Tea’s great for the camelia and various other plants. If I don’t use bags for a while, some of them might get a bit mouldy before I’ve filled up the “bag bin”. Not once has anyone got sick because of it, and there are no stains in sight.
          It’s actually very beneficial to come in contact with mould and decomposing plant matter. Another word for it is earth, we literally can’t live without it.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        Do your teabags not get all leaky and stuff while they’re sitting on your desk? You don’t find that mess gross to look at?

    4. Snell*

      I assume it was more for tracking, and the “returned” tea bags went straight into the trash, since the story frames it as a disparity between how tea vs. coffee drinking was treated. That’s bad in a different way, though, having to prove you used your tea bag before you can get a new one. Way controlling for the tea-drinkers, unlimited refills on coffee.

    5. Lcsa99*

      I would be so tempted to splat the wet tea bag on her desk.

      You think she might be related to the supply person who insisted dead pens be brought to her before you could get another?

    6. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      Unsanitary, drippy, cold, and just petty – why would a bag return policy even be necessary?

      1. wordswords*

        I haven’t seen this kind of policy (which is absolutely ridiculous) but I’ve seen more minor and less wildly unreasonable versions of a mindset that seems to be, basically, if you’re drinking coffee you’re just taking some out of the pot that’s already made (so the office is using one “unit” of coffee to make a pot for lots of people), but if you’re drinking tea you’re using a bag per cup, so each “unit” is making just one mug for you personally. Ergo, tea is more wasteful of resources.

        Obviously, this is comparing apples to oranges, and is one of a few reasons why before I worked from home I just kept my own teabags in my desk anyway. I can see how somebody who sees coffee as the default option could fail to stop and think about the different units and assumptions involved; I can’t see why they’d carry it far enough to want somebody’s cold, damp used teabag ceremonially shown to them!

    7. GreenDoor*

      I dunno. Some office supply managers really treat the management of their stash like a fiefdom. I worked at a place where, to get a new pen, you had to turn in your dead one. Same thing with notepads. You had to bring her the empty cardboard backer. And no, the supply budget was not that tight.

      1. Observer*

        That’s bad. Even when the budget IS tight.

        But most people go get a new pen when they realize that their pen ran out and same for pads. And they aren’t wet and prone to staining something they are sitting on. Unlike teabags. Unless someone is drinking cup after cup, the wet teabags are sitting around on someone’s desk till they are traded in.

      2. whingedrinking*

        The first place I taught, you were expected to go talk to the manager of academics every time you needed a new whiteboard marker. Handed out one at a time. And woe betide if he wasn’t there and you helped yourself to the box of Expos.

        1. Frieda*

          We had a system when I started my first job where you took what you needed, supplies-wise, but had to log it in a little notebook and then your department would be charged.

          Then: the No Pens For You era, where you had to check out a credit card to go to Staples.

          Now: boxes of pens, and you can just take what you need. So much more reasonable.

    8. Nessun*

      I would be FURIOUS if I had to account for my previous teabag before I could have a new one!! And given how much tea I can drink in a day, I’d quickly become a problem for the person I had to keep giving them to.

    9. Super Anon*

      How do you get started as a tea drinker in this office if you have to return one to get one?! LOL

      1. Observer*


        I hope that if these guys gave those out (I would be VERY surprised, though) someone a little more sane was in charge.

  7. Gray Lady*

    Did no one question paying $.50 per cup to pay for supplies for coffee made in an ordinary drip machine in the 70s? It doesn’t even cost that now in a home coffee maker with fairly high-end coffee. Sure, you have to throw in cups and stirrers and such in an office setting but it couldn’t have made that much difference.

    1. PsychNurse*

      I came here to comment on this! That would have been an extremely expensive cup of coffee at the time!

    2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Coffee was rather the luxury back in the day. Tea was dirt cheap. (Talking about the UK here)

  8. EPLawyer*

    4 and 5 had me dying.
    4 – Level 3 ticket. LOL
    5 – TOTALLY FREE K-CUPS but lets argue over the coffeemaker on the floor.

    1– GOODNESS. glad the new person had a brain in their head.

    12 — I bow down to you. I mean seriously, its not that hard to make coffee if you want it so bad.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          Work in higher ed. There is a ticket system for just about every “service” department on campus — IT, Facilities, MarComm, Purchasing, Classroom Support (e.g. the A/V equipment, which is NOT part of IT), Security (badges/keys/parking)… it’s fun to have a complex problem that requires a series of several tickets which have varying levels of importance — like an office move — because IT will show up to set up the new computer and phone, that Facilities won’t be able to move for another 2 weeks, and you won’t get your new office keys for a month after that.

          1. Dr. Rebecca*

            *nods* The HR/payroll ticketing and escalation system always manages to make me feel *slightly* inferior and ridiculous for asking, while also quickly and succinctly answering my questions.

          2. AFac*

            Even worse: those jobs that fall in-between the services. Before COVID, video cameras mounted in the classroom hooked up to the computer were one of those things. A ticket to Classroom Support to request one got a notification to tell IT, but IT would shunt it back to Classroom Support. You’d just ping pong back and forth until you escalated it to the Dean’s level, which was a waste of the Dean’s time.

            1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

              I’m surprised that Facilities isn’t included in that. I work in Comms for my university. We have digital screens around campus. Facilities installs the screen and is in charge of anything structure-related like electrical, then IT will handle screen hardware and software, then we in Comms use our web-based software to control what’s on the screens. When we have a screen go offline it’s fun pinging around on whether this is a software, screen hardware or an electrical/installation issue. A few times, it’s a Security issue…someone stole or vandalized something.

              1. AFac*

                This was just to get one. Installation involved Facilities and was a whole other thing, because (at least where I’ve been) Facilities is generally the least tech-savvy of all the departments.

                So we’d have to request an IT person to supervise the Facilities people. Which made both IT and Facilities very unhappy.

          3. Selina Luna*

            Not just higher ed. I work in a school district, and we have “tickets” for any possible maintenance problem. If an issue requires a committee (like the coffee issue), you’re going to need a whole other person to fill out the ticket for you.

        2. Lyudie*

          My company uses it for facilities requests as well as things like requesting my department assign a team to a certain training. It was very odd to me at first too haha.

        3. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          I heard a story about a particular tech company where a person hosting some kind of event filed a ticket titled something like “The tables are missing” and it got escalated as an IT ticket that the entire database was down.

        4. Peccy*

          #4 is a company named after a river in South America ;) and they use tickets for a lot of stuff; it’s how you request work, report a problem, track something across teams, etc. so you can put in tickets to facilities to say “our coffee machine is broken, HALP” or to request sparkling water machines and get declined Etc

          And you can use it to complain about the very frugal benefits and employee discounts, which is very common too

  9. I edit everything*

    #6: Either it was someone being deliberately malicious, or they’d say to themselves every single time “Today, I’ll remember to take it out of freezer. I swear!” And then they’d forget. Again.

    Side note, my partner’s car still has Coke stains on the ceiling from that one time ten years ago.

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      A coworker of my mother’s once bought several cases of canned soda on sale, and thought she could just store them in the trunk of her car until needed. In the middle of the summer. The soda went up like Old Faithful and she had to have her car professionally cleaned.

      Soda just doesn’t like extreme temperatures.

      1. Big Ba Da Boom*

        I was camping with friends and we were sitting around camp chatting nearish the cars. Sun blazing, and forgot I had glass bottles of root beer in the back window of my car. So mid-chat we all got very startled by a big boom and the inside of my car was just coated in broken glass and root beer. So fun to clean up.

    2. ferrina*

      I also don’t get why the signs on the freezer didn’t make it stop, but the email did? Did the person just stop functioning as soon as they entered the break room?

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        I’m assuming its because the email came directly from management and the sign on the fridge was just a generic sign.

        Only the most clueless employee would ignore an email edict sent from upper management.

    3. TomatoSoup*

      I can absolutely see someone putting the soda in the freezer with the best of intentions and forgetting. If I put a soda in a freezer at work, I would absolutely get distracted/pulled into something and forget. Since I know this would happen, I wouldn’t risk it. Also, I don’t like soda.

      1. Is it Friday yet?*

        My college roommate did this all the time- I’m sure her intention wasn’t to forget. We did make her always clean it up but also laughed about it.

      2. MarsJenkar*

        Yeah, there’s a reason why, the few times I put a soda in a freezer, I set a reminder on my phone to go back and get it. I didn’t want to forget something like that.

        1. MagicEyes*

          I like extra-cold drinks, so I put cans of soda in the freezer (never at work, though). The only way I’ll remember to take it out in time is to set a reminder on my phone. I’m still working on finding the perfect timing to get the coldest soda possible without exploding it.

          1. Science!*

            And you may never find that perfect timing! The temperature in your home freezer is pretty much guaranteed to not be stable 24/7. It changes depending upon how often the door has been opened and closed recently, how full or empty it is, and how much strain is currently being placed upon whatever power grid you’re on.

            (Like, it takes maybe five minutes to get my oven up to 375F when I want to bake a midnight snack, but it may take upwards of twenty minutes at 6 PM when everyone else on the local power grid is also trying to cook *their* meals.)

            In my freezer, 15-20 minutes usually gets me to some stage of slushy in my drink from the fridge. :) I’d never risk more than 20 minutes for mine, though. Especially not when I’m chilling glass soda bottles.

    4. Antilles*

      I could see someone doing it accidentally once or twice, but two times per week for months without learning the lesson? That’s gotta be deliberate.

      Even if you don’t care about ruining the inside of the work freezer, I’d expect the pure disappointment/frustration of never actually getting to drink your soda would pretty quickly teach you.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Some people really are that clueless. I had a coworker that burned popcorn every single day and say “oh shoot, it’s burned again!”. We figured eventually she’d make the connection, but she didn’t until we literally told her she needed to take it out sooner.

        1. The Eye of Argon*

          … as the rest of you got to breathe in that delightful burned microwave popcorn stench…

          My sister’s work banned microwave popcorn after three fire alarms/building evacuations within a week. According to her that one turned into an all out war, but popcorn was still banned.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            My ex-workplace had free microwave popcorn and also hosted a giant conference one week a year. You can tell where this is going.

            To avoid more firetrucks showing up during the next conference, they took away the popcorn from every breakroom a week before the conference, which is why employees started hoarding the popcorn starting several weeks beforehand.

        2. slashgirl*

          At my smaller school, whenever the private day care that rents from us makes toast, and, as we discovered a few weeks ago, the pre-primary rooms make toast, it sets off the fire alarm. We then have to evacuate the building and wait for the building to be cleared. And to clear: they do NOT burn the toast, it’s just regular toast.

          Both groups have been banned from making toast now. I hope to god they never make/burn popcorn.

        3. Happy*

          I used to work someplace where burned popcorn once required a building evacuation despite all the signs up imploring people not to leave food unaccompanied in the microwave.

          The burned-through bag was framed and put on the wall in the kitchen.

      2. Owler*

        I dunno…they probably remembered the other three of the five days, so overall, they remembered more often than they forgot. So technically…a win?!

    5. A CAD Monkey*

      Back when I was in college, the company I contracted to just bought a brand new building that used to belong to a failed crooked company (E). They had break rooms that had these commercial grade refrigerators that could also function as freezers. these things were glass front, 4’wide x 8′ tall x 3’deep, super nice.

      someone took several 12-packs of soda (never did find out exactly how many there were) and put them in the one set to freezer mode (probably by mistake). by lunch, the bottom 18″ of the freezer was covered in exploded soda slush.

      there were paper signs taped to the doors designating fridge and freezer by the end of the day. no glass got broken surprisingly.

    6. Flash*

      I did that ONCE in my lifetime with a bottle of beer. It is something that should only ever occur once because the mess is so epic (not to mention dangerous!) you have to clean out the entire freezer of teensy glass shards and frozen exploded liquid.

      It had to be intentional!

  10. Ann O'Nemity*

    I missed last week’s thread so I’ll share my two funny office coffee stories.

    First was the college department’s voluntary coffee club. It was chaos. No one could agree on the type of coffee, the strength, how long coffee could sit in the pot before being dumped, if the club should fund milk and sugar, who should clean the pot, if payment should be tied to consumption, etc, etc, etc. I joined for exactly one semester before quitting for my own mental well being. At some point the office coordinator used her label machine to label the coffee machine “Tragedy of the Commons.”

    Second story was at a different company and was actually about soda and had a happy ending. At some point the IT director started buying his team soda and energy drinks with discretionary funds. The justification was that a lot of tech companies offered free soda and Red Bull (true). But then other departments and employees complained that they too wanted free soda. So the company started stocking all the break rooms with free soda. Soda consumption increased dramatically. Some people were drinking – no joke – a case a day. We were getting huge shipments of soda delivered weekly and were still running out. People were irrationally upset when the soda ran out because they were addicted. After years of this, someone in accounting freaked out about the amount spent on free soda and hatched a plan to s-l-o-w-l-y replace soda with free fruit baskets in the break rooms. By some miracle, it worked! Many thousands of dollars were saved, we had healthier options, and no one complained about soda any more.

    1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      I worked at a company where they replaced the free soda with apples, and it “worked” in the sense that almost nobody ate the apples, so expenses went down, which increased the value of the company when they sold it a few months later, giving the execs slightly huger bonuses.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Nor am I. But I love the idea of “swanning in” and “swanning out”. I’m picturing Julie Andrews doing it.

      1. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        Yeah, I’m on the side of the coworker who was just trying to get everyone their coffee and who posted entirely factual signs, not on the side of the…ahem, *charming individual* who was a jerk to Coffee Angel for no reason.

      2. Giant Kitty*

        I disagree. Pennies are a valid legal tender exactly like every other coin or paper currency. And Ive been poor enough not to have the luxury of not paying in pennies, so saying it’s “hostile” is classist AF.

        1. I ain't yer little coffee b!tch, dude*

          Come off it. You know darn well they didn’t say paying with pennies is always hostile; they were talking about how this one person paid with pennies specifically to be a jerk. Paying with pennies because you’re trying to be a jerk *is* a hostile move. Paying with pennies because that’s all you have is not at all being a jerk.

          –Someone else who’s paid in pennies

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      Fun and unrelated story – when I graduated college, my diploma wasn’t sent to me. Instead, I got a letter from the bursar that I had to pay “outstanding fines”. For the absolute life of me, I could not figure out what fine I owed. I went through all my meal accounts, flex accounts, parking account, everything!

      Six months after I graduated I took a day off work and went to the office directly, asking what I possibly owed and showing all my $0 balance statements. Unbeknownst to me, I had apparently turned in a library book late in my sophomore year, and no one caught the late fee until I graduated 3 years later.

      I paid that $4.47 in pennies and loose change from my car.

    2. Goldenrod*

      “PAYING IN PENNIES IS A HOSTILE ACT. Over a decade later I still think of this whenever I use a penny.”

      And now I will too!!!

    3. Emi (not a bear expert)*

      What is the appropriate amount of emotional support a manager should offer to an employee who has to deal with a box of pennies?

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      They don’t say how much it was, but anything over 15 cents in pennies is, in my opinion, a hostile act. If they absolutely need to pay in change, after that they should be using the higher coins, and I think I’m being generous at 15.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Or small change generally: someone I knew, years ago, lost a lawsuit over a contract (this is something where it wasn’t clear-cut who was wrong). She went to the bank and got enough nickels to pay the judgment.

      I think — or, at least, she thought — that New York law would let someone refuse to take more than something like 20 pennies toward payment of a debt, but it didn’t say anything about other coins.

      1. Flash*

        I own a vending machine company. My income is in quarters. The bank staff roll their eyes every time they see me coming in to make a deposit.

  11. Erin*

    As sometime that doesn’t drink coffee or tea, these stories are fascinating. I can’t imagine throwing tantrums or having meetings about coffee. We offer a coffee pot in our breakroom, and that’s it. Most people bring in their own coffee, and its never been an issue. But my agency has never been promised coffee or snacks as part of a perk.

    1. Giant Kitty*

      It’s because caffeine is a drug that is mildly physically addictive. Think about it like how people who smoke often get really cranky when they can’t have a cigarette.

  12. Trinity Maddux*

    I love these stories because I am in Camp energy drink, where it doesn’t matter your feelings on which energy drink is the best, becuase either your job won’t provide any so youʻll bring your own anyways, or they will stock 1 brand only, and you find a flavor you semi like to get through the day.

  13. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    #12, Good for you for not caving to those lazy men! I was one of the early arrivals where I worked, and as a tea-drinker, I never made coffee. The next person to arrive was the vice-president in charge of the divisions in our building. That’s who made the coffee for all the coffee-drinkers! I’d sit there enjoying my tea, and having a nice chat with the VP while they waited for the coffee to brew. I’d have had a difficult time adjusting to any other type of office structure.

  14. BellyButton*

    I just want to say thank you again for all the fantastic stories. I kept the comments open up all day and it had me LOL’ing. I have worked from home for 9+years and I often forget how petty office life can be. :)

    1. Bearly Containing Myself*

      I can just imagine what that woman’s life must have been like. She probably died with a million dollars in the bank while her family lived austere lives deprived of all but basic necessities.

  15. Phony Genius*

    On the update, I was expecting to hear that they implemented the changes and quickly found that they could lay off several people whose jobs seemed to primarily be administration of the coffee system.

    1. ferrina*

      Somehow the real update was one of the funniest updates we’ve had. Behold, the perils of committees!

      1. MassMatt*

        I’m amazed that a company this wasteful and incapable of making a simple decision found a buyer. If this is indicative of their efficiency and productivity I foresee major layoffs from top to bottom.

  16. HonorBox*

    These all remind me of a college job I had, where I incidentally started working later in my first full-time professional role. It was a radio station, and we had one of those honor boxes with candy and snacks. It was cardboard, with a little slot for money. Everything was $0.50. And I think at most, it probably held 50-60 items. It was a variety of stuff – candy bars, chips, etc. I remember coming in one night (I worked overnights on the weekend) and there was a sign next to the honor box that said, “The honor box was $40 short last month. Please pay for what you eat.” It happened two months in a row and they finally decided to remove it and bring in an actual vending machine. My buddy and I still laugh about that situation… there was AT MOST $30 worth of snacks in that box when it was filled, which couldn’t have been more than twice a month. So basically everyone was just helping themselves and not putting any money in.

  17. Amber T*

    I am so grateful that I’ve only worked in places where coffee was provided for free, or coffee was not provided at all and you were responsible for your own drink.

  18. Goose*

    As a tea drinker I am usually spared these shennanigans–sorry that other tea drinkers haven’t been so lucky!! The only drama I run into is being offered tea in coffee flavored kurig water because no one realizes/bothers to run a water cycle. Blech

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      As a fellow tea drinker, the best thing my company did (in terms of hot beverages) was install a Insta-Hot water dispenser in the kitchen, to help decrease wait times at our coffee machine.

      Now, while half a dozen people stand in line waiting for their hot bean water, I quietly swan in with my mug and tea bag, fill up at the sink, and swan out with a smirk.

    2. Nessun*

      When we moved offices (several years before the pandemic) I was thrilled to find our new office kitchen was equipped with a kettle! A very fancy kettle! They’d never allowed one previously…perhaps they were unaware you could buy ones that auto-shutoff. Keurig water or *gasp and swoon* microwave water! made a decent cuppa a hard thing to come by in the old space.

    3. PleaseNo*

      This is my problem at work right now – the hot water is provided by the coffeemaker, and the one time I tried to get some for my tea I could taste the coffee. No thanks! I made it through 2 masters degrees without coffee; just can’t stand the taste. I bet i’ve saved $1000s!

    4. I take tea*

      Coffee flavoured tea is disgusting. We have water kettles, so it’s usually not a problem, but sometimes people put hot water in a thermos that has contained coffee, and even if it’s nominally clean, it still tastes of coffee.

  19. IDIC believer*

    I (F) staged my personal war against making daily coffee for professors (17 males). I was staff, never drank coffee, and in the 1980s this was my first feminist moment. Anyway, when I mentioned I didn’t know how (lie) and never drank it, they made it clear I would have to learn and do it multiple times throughout the day.

    So because I hated confrontation most of all, I made really horrible coffee repeatedly. At least 5 of them tried to “teach” me over 3 days. On day 4, they made coffee and never again asked me. I worked there 12 more years and was well regarded, but a few would always tell new hires that I just couldn’t make coffee. Other professors had figured out my scheme but never called me on it or told the clueless.

    FYI When I started, I was solo staff but within 1 year became a supervisor to 4 new support staff (all F). I insisted they never make coffee, claiming it was a safety thing. Somehow this worked. So the professors did it and just fussed with each other over strength, brand, etc.

    1. Three Flowers*

      As a specialized staff person in academia who has been asked to order catering for unrelated faculty members’ events just because they were too good to do it themselves, I bow before your greatness. The longevity and effectiveness of that strategy is *chef’s kiss*.

    2. Gullible about coffee safety*

      “I insisted they never make coffee, claiming it was a safety thing. Somehow this worked.” This had me in stitches, but then I realized that if I (M) were one of the support staff you supervised, I 100% would have believed you without questioning it.

  20. Not Your Girl Friday*

    #12 – This is epic. I don’t drink coffee and have never learned how to make it. One of my first positions after college was office assistant in a small company that was a primary processor of salmon and halibut. The owner offered to teach me to make coffee. I used that training any time anyone expected me to make coffee in the future. You see, the fishermen? They did like their coffee to stand on its own. Think 3x the amount of coffee that you’d normally use to make a pot of coffee. Net is that I only know how to make the absolute worst coffee in the whole world ever and I revel in that skill. Nobody ever asks me to make them coffee twice.

    1. Enough*

      I wasn’t allowed to make coffee at one place I worked. I was always terrible at it. Although I like a good cup of coffee with restaurant breakfasts.

    2. Bryce*

      Reminds me of when I asked my dad why hardware stores always had coffee. He pointed out that the main clients were workers from all sorts of night shifts or other odd hours looking for supplies when their schedules and business hours overlapped despite being exhausted. “Many a sale has been lubricated by that coffee”.

    3. Becky*

      My mother does not drink coffee and doesn’t know how to make it either. But she once had a job where making coffee was legitimately part of the tasks that she could be assigned–she as a school lunch lady. The cafeteria staff had the task of making coffee for use by the teachers and staff-so my Mom got put on the rota…and very quickly got taken off.

    4. ScruffyInternHerder*

      This may not work in AEC related places. This might well be absolutely perfect, could we please get “Not Your Girl Friday” coffee coffee in this world, especially in the places that lean more into the “Construction” portion of “Architecture/Engineering/Construction”.

      Source – in a sleepy haze I made a pot with > than double the correct amount of grounds. The VP and the owner both absolutely RAVED about the coffee as it didn’t taste like boring hot brown water. I’ve continued to make coffee in a similar manner since.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I should add – I’m not the only one who makes coffee around here by far, and yeah, I’ve grown to enjoy the ultra strong mud.

  21. Emily*

    # 3 if co-workers teamed up like that on other, more important work issues I think there would be less terrible work places (it makes me think of all the times Alison has recommended “if you are able to push back as a group…”)

  22. roisin54*

    As someone who doesn’t drink coffee or tea who works somewhere where beverages and snacks aren’t provided (aside from once or twice a year at major events), I find this all so fascinating. Everyone who works here just buys their beverage/snack of choice at one of the many purveyors in the neighborhood. I think we’re instrumental in keeping the Dunkin Donuts across the street open.

    1. Clisby*

      If I had had a Dunkin Donuts across the street from work I’d have abandoned work coffee and never looked back.

    2. River*

      Agreed. Anyone who gets free coffee/drinks/snacks/food all the time is spoiled. The only time my company gives us free food/drinks is during the annual company-wide get-together every summer where we do team building activities and such for the day. My eyes are internally glazing over just thinking about this. I’m also waiting for someone to be like “Well WE don’t get any food at all and have to pay for our own snacks/drinks”….

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        A lot of places provide free coffee because walking down the hall for a cup of coffee takes significantly less time than walking to the nearest street vendor or coffee shop, especially if there’s a line. And sometimes I’d rather go buy that cup of tea, as an excuse to leave the office for a few minutes, and get a little (relatively) fresh air.

      2. LJ*

        I wouldn’t say spoiled, as much as… call it different approaches to productivity. Keeping employees around an office kitchen, inevitably talking about work topics (and not talking about those confidential work topics at a donut shop across the road), is a *good* thing for the company.

  23. Elle*

    Can you tell us more about the Grogg? Why was that one in demand? Also I will be requiring a daily toast cart in my office.

    1. Not Your Girl Friday*

      I too now require someone to come around mid afternoon with a tea trolley and provide me with toast and tea. I work from home so it’s gonna be a bit odd but I’m sure we will all get used to someone dropping off my tea and toast.

      1. wordswords*

        100% agreed!

        Relatedly, when I was in undergrad, I studied abroad in Egypt. I had an early morning class in a building that had a caretaker, and for a very nominal fee he would bring around cups of tea at the start of class, and collect the glasses afterward. I’ve never been a morning person, and so being handed caffeine to sip as I winched my eyes open to watch the teacher was a godsend! Every morning class thereafter, not to mention at subsequent jobs, I pined for that fellow.

    2. Lana Kane*

      When I was a kid in the early 80s, I’d sometimes visit my mom’s office. At 9am someone would come with a cart with coffee and pastries for people to buy for their coffee break. I thought it was awesome, and as an adult was sorely dissapointed that none of my workplaces had the coffee break cart I had been promised in my “when I’m a grown up” fantasies.

      1. ferrina*

        Nowadays I have new grads asking me if they’re allowed to take a 5 minute break while they are technically on the clock. These are salaried exempt workers :/ Yes, please take breaks while you are still working! A 5 minute break is part of hiring humans!
        (not to mention the extraordinary number of times I’ve had a brilliant idea while waiting for my tea kettle to boil)

    3. LW from #2 - All Hail the Grogg!*

      I assumed it was a pretty popular flavor… but maybe just in our area?

      I think that is in part because both of our local coffee companies feature it as a daily drip flavor. One of those was next door to my first corporate job (20+ years ago), so I got hooked on it there. The other local place is attached to the building where I work now (not going outside to get coffee is lovely in the cold winters here), so they get decent traffic from our company.

      Who doesn’t like a little butter/butterscotch, warm/nutty spices, and the hint of non-alcoholic brandy in the morning? ;)

      1. Umiel*

        I have to admit that I think I would have become fully immersed in the interloper intrigue, and I don’t even drink coffee. Sometimes a little office drama can be fun (in a perverse sort of way.) The drama in my office right now is trying to figure out who is parking in a reserved spot that doesn’t belong to them.

      2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        Reporting back because I’m in-office today. When I went to get coffee around 11 am THERE WAS ONLY ONE PACK OF GROGG LEFT! All five other flavors had plenty in their boxes.

      3. Random Dice*

        I have never heard of Highland Grogg, and the name made my husband and me laugh when I read this thread out loud.

    4. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Not sure about their version – but the one I get with that name is flavored and smells of butterscotch and rum. And tastes amazing.

      I too want a tea and toast cart.

    5. Lucien Nova*

      As someone who loves Highlander Grogg, it’s a delicious flavoured coffee (Irish creme and caramel usually, sometimes includes others too.) I would absolutely hoard the Grogg if it was in short supply.

    6. Yarn Dragon*

      Looked up what flavor it might be, as I too was curious, and It’s Berres Brothers, and the main flavors are caramel, butterscotch, and hazelnut. I’d be hoarding it too!

    1. Silver Robin*

      It is one of those words that only shows up nowadays within a particular phrase. Like how “havoc” almost exclusively shows up in “wreaks havoc”. They always bring a smile to my face, little old words hanging on thanks to their poetic nature.

      1. Cynan*

        “Intrepid” is a good one too – you’ll only ever see it in front of the word “adventurer” or “explorer.”

      2. parsley*

        I say ’cause havoc’ quite a lot, especially if I’m accidentally inconveniencing someone. Like ‘oh dear, I’m causing havoc’.

  24. Three Flowers*

    #10, I see you.

    #3, it would absolutely make my day to see an *escalated* support ticket thread *about coffee*. I would refresh my ticket desktop every ten minutes and laugh for a week. <3

  25. dackquiri*

    #1 – I was holding my breath waiting for the account to be mysteriously empty once it changed hands. Not to be cynical, I just couldn’t think of an above-board reason for hoarding five figures in an account dedicated to such a singular, inconspicuous small-scale purpose.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I’m stunned that the Accounting department, or whomever does the budgets up every year, didn’t confiscate it or cross it off the budget. At my org, if you don’t spend it, you lose it in the next budget year. Someone just let that roll over every year and keep accumulating more???

      1. Lirael*

        I read it as that account wasn’t a company account but was funded with money from the coffee drinkers. Surely the company wouldn’t accept 50c a time from people for their cups of coffee?

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          I guess. I can’t imagine having $15,000 sitting around cash and not in a bank account; couldn’t be in a personal bank account, then how would the retiring person hand it off for the new person to make all these purchases? If it’s in a corporate account, then corporate should have seen it on their books, and …back to how did this go unnoticed?

          1. Drifter*

            Back when I worked in an office we had a social fund bank account that was paid into by the staff. It was nothing to do with the business so accounting would never have seen it. It wasn’t a private account owned by an individual, it was literally called Office Social Fund on the bank account. We used it to pay for morning tea or a night out. It had a committee running it.
            I imagine this was a similar set up with a one person committee.

  26. Aeropress*

    Ah yes, I’ve had plenty of those machines that make everything taste like soup. And sometimes vaguely fizzy

    1. The Eye of Argon*

      When my sister started at her job her company had one of those. She always wanted to see if hitting the soup button and the extra cream button would get you cream of chicken soup, but she was never brave enough to try it.

  27. LadyHouseofLove*


    My father used to put cans in the freezer. And one day he forgot and the the drink exploded. My mom confronted him and my dad tried to blame it on my sister and I.

    One problem, the cans were of beer. Second problem, my sister and I were, respectively, a 7th grader and 8th grader. Obviously, my mom didn’t buy it.

  28. Snell*

    #11 is a winner. The part where the harder investigation revealed the worst “offenders” felt like a cleansing rain of self-satisfaction washing over my heart.

  29. lilsheba*

    “1. The coffee fund
    I worked in a department store during summer breaks from college back in the late 80s. The break room had an old school coffee maker”

    I’m curious what is meant by “old school”? Do you mean like an actual percolator? That’s what my mother used and it was nasty.

    “7. The fancy set-up
    The most recent hire at my job was recommended by someone who used to work for my boss, so we had a lot more info on him than you normally would with a new hire. His old boss kept hyping up this fancy coffee set-up he had.
    Turns out it’s a pour over set-up with a temperature control kettle and hand coffee grinder”

    That is exactly what I do at home! Pour over pot, fresh beans ground every morning, there is nothing like it. I’m so happy I get to work at home and have my own good coffee instead of the gross crap at my old job.

  30. WellRed*

    The one where the company opened a tab while the coffee machine was out, I think Is a positive but the poster thinks it was a problem?

    1. Snell*

      I don’t think OP thought it was a “bad” thing, just that it was overhandling the problem. Also, they admit it might have been a solution born of an even bigger mess in the past—in which case, it wouldn’t be an overreaction on the company’s part.

    2. Elenna*

      I don’t think the OP was saying it was a problem, just “wow, people must have made a really big deal of this in the past, for the company to be putting so much effort into getting them coffee now”

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I was the poster! I mostly found it funny with a side of ‘we’ve done what now’? All the other places I’ve worked at have been notoriously skimpy with employee luxuries so this was a nice change.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I think that it’s the short amount of time they would be without a free coffee source — 24 hours — and many people, but certainly not all, stop drinking coffee after noon-ish, so running a tab for one day without coffee seems like an overreaction. A tab would make more sense if it was going to take a month.

  31. Caz*

    I totally forgot my Tea Drama Story last week so I’m gonna post it here. (I’m in the UK, tea is practically a religion.)
    The building where I worked had exactly one kitchen, with exactly one kettle in it. Due to health and safety and some unfortunate incidents with smoke detectors, kettles were not allowed in offices, so this one kettle, intended for normal household use, took a beating and would need to be replaced about every 6 months.
    One morning, about 6 months after initial purchase, the kettle stopped working. The problem was, it was fairly early in the morning – before 9 – and a lot of people had not yet had their morning cups of tea. I am not a tea drinker, so I didn’t realiss the kettle had broken – being not personally impacted – until a small mob rampaged itself to my office door. As the most junior admin person in the building, it was my responsibility to go out and get a new kettle and I made the mistake of suggesting I could go at lunch time. You’d think I’d suggested recreational murder. The kettle was replaced by 10.30, but the retelling of the Time The Kettle Broke and they Couldn’t Have their Morning Tea went on…roughly until the next kettle broke.

    1. It's Sara not Sarah*

      I’m assuming you mean what we in the US would call a hot pot. The kind that does not go on a stove. I sprung for a Breville a number of years ago. It sits on the heating element, as opposed to the ones that you plug in and have the heating element in the pot. It was expensive, but worth it.

        1. curly sue*

          We have a hot pot – that is, we have a big divided wok with a hot plate underneath it used for making communal dinner on the table. I’ve never heard ‘hot pot’ used to refer to anything but Huo Gao.

          1. Random Dice*

            I only know of Hot Pot as an Asian dish.

            The water heating thing is called a kettle (if heated on a stove) or electric kettle (if plugged in).

      1. ferrina*

        Also in the U.S., never heard it called a hot pot. I call mine an electric kettle. I associate hot pot with a type of food.
        Is hot pot regional?

      2. MarsJenkar*

        I’ve heard of that referred to as an electric kettle. “Kettle” with no modifier in the US usually means stovetop.

        1. UKDancer*

          Whereas in the UK kettles are almost always assumed to be electric because they almost always are. I don’t know anyone with a kettle that goes on the cooker. I think my great aunt had one in the 1990s. But the overwhelming default is to have an electric kettle.

          1. mlem*

            Yeah, I’ve heard the reason electric kettles are far less common in the US is that the electrical supply in the US/North America (~120V) is much lower than in the UK/”much of the world” (~230V), so electric kettles are much slower.

            I don’t know if electric kettles are m0re popular in Canada than in the US, though, and electric coffee makers are probably at least as commonly found in US homes as electric kettles are in UK homes. (I’m a heathen who doesn’t mind microwaving a cup of water the rare times I need hot water, though, so shrug.)

          2. londonedit*

            My mum and dad have a kettle that goes on the hob, because they have an induction hob and it boils really quickly. Everyone else I know has a normal electric kettle (we just call both kinds a ‘kettle’) – they’re an absolute staple of British kitchens. When you move house, the sensible thing is to pack a separate box that travels with you in the car, and in that box will be the kettle, tea bags, mugs etc. Because the first thing you’ll need to do when you arrive in your new house is make a cup of tea. Kettles boil in about a minute here so they’re the obvious solution for making tea (no you cannot make tea with those hot water taps or in a microwave, you need actual boiling water).

              1. LedgerMan*

                Boiling water in the microwave can be dangerous, as the water isn’t heated evenly (you can have pockets of really hot water and some that are still cold, which leads to a very small chance it could more or less explode). But apart from that, the water temp being uneven and not right often then will make tea bitter or otherwise unpleasant. Different teas are most properly brewed at different water temperatures, to boot.

                1. Happy*

                  That’s interesting. I wouldn’t have thought that uneven heating would affect the flavor of the tea. I would have expected to mix sufficiently when being poured from the microwave container over the tea bag. I leaned something. Thanks!

                  know about the different temps suggested for different teas, but I don’t think londonedit’s concern about microwaves was that the water should be 85 C instead of 100 C, since they specifically said to use boiling water. And you can mitigate the risk of overheating water by adding a nucleation site, like a a wooden chopstick.

              2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                Because tea made from microwave-heated water is quite simply disgusting. It has the taste of every fish, melting cheese and meat that has ever been inside it, and you can’t get it to boil properly, meaning that the tea has a disgusting film of something that probably should have turned into steam and couldn’t quite (it could almost be cream, except that it’s somehow disgusting rather than creamy).

          3. Bagpuss*

            I know quite a few people who have them, mostly people who have an Aga. And of course a whistle so you know when it comes to the boil.

            At work, w have a normal electric kettle but of course as it gets a lot of use we get through them quite fast. We used to have an Argos shop immediately over the road so it was very easy to replace when it died, without any delay. Argos has now closed, and when our most recent kettle died this did cause a certain amount of stress, as we couldn’t immediately replace it. So I authorised the purchase of two kettles, one as an immediate replacement and one as back up for when it dies, and have instructed that when the back up is opened (when the current new kettle dies) we order an ew one, so we never have to have a kettle hiatus again.

      3. Umi umi*

        A hot pot has an open top like a regular pot so you can actually cook stuff in it. An electric kettle is shaped like a regular kettle with a pour spout top. It’s really only good for boiling water.

      4. Gato Blanco*

        It’s definitely called a kettle in the US too. Hot pot ( least in the Western US) is a style of dining, usually Chinese-style soup stock simmering in the middle of the table and diners add raw veggies and meat to make a soup.

      5. Sorrischian*

        I’m not disbelieving you, but I am also in the US and have never heard an electric kettle called a hot pot. Is this a regionalism or am I just oblivious? (I have a fancy cuisinart kettle with temperature control and truly it is the best hundred dollars I have ever spent.)

    2. Zarniwoop*

      I surprised they didn’t have you buy a second kettle at the same time to keep as a “hot spare.”

    3. Office Gumby*

      Since there seems to be a pattern of the kettle dying after six months, and a potential for a riot, I’m wondering if it’s possible to pre-empt the riot by buying a new replacement kettle at five months and keep it in storage until the old one dies?

    4. I take tea*

      I love my kettle. It is red and makes hot water at different temperatures, depending on what tea I want. I would give up a lot of kitchen appliances before my kettle.

  32. Emi (not a bear expert)*

    The last story literally reads like something out of the OSS Simple Sabotage manual.

  33. PsychNurse*

    I only got through number 1! Fifty cents per cup is what I would expect to pay NOW for communal coffee; in the 1980s that was highway robbery. That story was a wild ride.

  34. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    I will never understand the mentality of people who would rather sit around and complain about something not getting done than just do it themselves. ESPECIALLY when the “something” is as much of a piece of piss as making coffee. Who are these people who can’t draw a straight line from “want coffee” to “make coffee”??? And how are they employable?

    1. Texan in exile on her phone*

      They spent the first thirty minutes of each day goofing off in the break room waiting for the woman who arrived at 7:30. They were in no hurry.

  35. Roland*

    “3. The ticket” y’all are my heroes. Honestly bs for a well-running company not to offer free coffee. I don’t even drink coffee, but it’s just such a basic thing to have coffee and tea available in some form or another, even if it’s not free barista drinks.

  36. Budgie Buddy*

    Moral of workplace coffee: if coffee supplies are provided at the workplace, the company should pay for it. Trying to get employees to pay for communal coffee equally is just way too complicated. Either everyone brings their own or there’s an official coffee budget.

    1. parsley*

      I’ve literally never worked anywhere that didn’t at least provide instant coffee and tea for free, to the point where I usually roll my eyes a little if I see it listed as a benefit on a job ad. Like, yeah, of course there’s free tea and coffee? Reading these stories is very eye-opening.

  37. Quickbeam*

    As someone who has never used caffeine in any form, I’ve spent a working lifetime as a spectator to the coffee wars. Watching many hours of productivity lost daily to watching, making and arguing about coffee. Being badgered to make coffee since I was early to the office (Nope). People losing their minds if the coffee service was offline at 2 PM. It really is a circus out there.

  38. La Triviata*

    At my current job, I don’t remember coffee wars, but we had an ice war for a while. The break room had a full-size refrigerator with a built in ice maker. But it didn’t make enough ice to keep up with demand, so some people would try to hoard ice. One woman had a large travel cup that she’d fill with ice and hide in the freezer. Another would be one of the first in the office in the mornings and liked having multiple glasses of crushed ice during the day, so she took to clearing out the ice bin, putting the ice in a plastic storage container, using rubber bands to hold the top on securely and putting a note on it saying it was hers and not to touch. This was largely ignored. The solution turned out to be getting a free-standing ice maker, which mostly kept up with demand.

    1. Lana Kane*

      I started bringing in my own tumbler with ice every day because too many of my coworkers would use up the ice and not refill the ice cube trays. It would make me (privately) incandescent with rage, which tipped me off that maybe I needed to just bring my own for my own sanity.

  39. nora*

    Related to #6: some time ago I worked for a company that had a soda vending machine on the loading dock. I didn’t use it very often so I didn’t know it was broken. Anyway one day I bought a bottle of soda from the machine and went back to my desk. The bottle was partially frozen. When I opened it, a FOUNTAIN of carbonation flew out. Soda got on the ceiling, the walls, my cube, and the cube next to mine. There was soda in the fluorescent light fixture. It may still be there to this day.

    I had to go home and shower. I was drenched in coke. Sadly I didn’t even get to enjoy what was left of the soda as it was basically just flat brown water by that point. Even more sadly, instead of fixing the machine, the owner had it removed. Sigh.

  40. Warrior Princess Xena*

    this is amazing!

    Since I was the one who submitted #8, a quick follow-up note: the machine was fixed by the afternoon. We went for about 6 hours without the machine max, which is the usual turnaround time (our office manager is amazing and we all bow down to her and the maintenance staff in gratitude).

    1. Lana Kane*

      I’m picturing the office manager calling the maintenance staff whispering “Please come. I am in danger if this coffee maker isn’t fixed. Please.”

  41. NopeNopeNope*

    I get the anger over the exploding sodas (#6.) Eons ago I worked in a small mall store with no fridge. Our minuscule back room was as warm as the surface of the sun. In an attempt to boost morale, a new manager got the store a tiny dorm fridge that ran very cold. After a few exploding sodas all employees were told to not put any carbonated beverages in the fridge. However, one person kept bringing their favorite obscure diet soda from home to put in it. Cue more soda messes and managerial discussions that went nowhere. Within a month the fridge was gone. The kicker was the problem employee knew now cold the fridge got. They would buy a large ice cream at lunch, eat a portion of it, and store the rest in the fridge to eat later.

    1. whingedrinking*

      On the day that we were having a party for my coworker who was about to start her maternity leave, I noticed my boss rushing around looking harried. She went to talk to one of my other coworkers, and I wasn’t paying close attention, so all I heard was “somethingsomething water broke”. Which caused me to immediately snap my head up and say, “Oh my god, is she okay?!” to everyone else’s confusion.
      Turns out they’d stuck three or four small bottles of Perrier in the little dorm fridge in the back, in anticipation of the party, and the fridge was too cold for it, so they’d burst and caused a mess.

  42. An American(ish) Werewolf in London (ish)*

    I’m in the UK, and I work in marketing, which means for the last 20 years or so (maybe) coffee and tea were just…provided. We have good coffee machines (they grind the beans) and it’s real milk (not powdered) but some people (myself included) will sometimes to to the cafe downstairs (in the building) and buy a barista coffee. But that’s not my point.

    We had beer wars. On a Thursday, we got free beer. A bell would go at around 5 or 5.15 and you could go to the fridge and grab yourself a beer or wine or prosecco. It seems some people couldn’t wait…even for Thursday, let alone the beer bell time. They ended up putting (slightly) hidden cameras in the kitchen to see who was swiping the booze. Well, that in itself cause a minor uproar. In the end, the cameras were removed (I think!) and an email went out reminding folk that the beer bell had to be rung before you could grab a drink. But still – a really nice perk and people were stealing? Sheesh.

    Also, I did manage to get them to include IPAs, eventually. Carlsburg just doesn’t cut the mustard (I did so politely, by basically being nice to the admins who ordered it, NOT by demanding or causing a fuss).

    1. London Calling*

      *But still – a really nice perk and people were stealing? Sheesh*

      Yes indeed. One placed I worked at had Molton Brown toiletries in the ladies (dunno about the mens). They ‘walked’ so often they had to be placed in holders bolted to the wall in the end. This was in a bank in the City of London.

  43. Lizard*

    #12 Oh my, you have the patience of a saint – well played. My blood is boiling just reading that! I certainly hope that happened a long, long time ago, but fear it may have occurred within the last 20 years.

  44. AnonInCanada*

    #9 is one of the reasons why we no longer have 1¢ coins (we never actually had pennies) in Canada.

    1. one cent piece for your thought anon*

      We didn’t have one cent coins, either. The official name via the Royal Cdn Mint was one-cent piece. However the popular name was…penny. So, yes, we DID have pennies in Canada. And we still do: while they’re no longer circulating currency, they are still legal tender.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep. We use them as legal tender in Michigan without any issues.

        Cross the border into other states, though, and they have no idea what they are.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          Are you saying MI accepts Canadian one cent coins or that other states don’t know what a US penny is?

          -a very confused, penny-using Wisconsinite

          1. NotRealAnonforThis*

            Grew up in a MI border city and can confirm that it was the ONLY CDN coin we could accept at our tils (major national mass retailer with a presence in both countries) in the mid 90s when the exchange rate was roughly $1USD=$2CDN without being written up. Back at cash exchange near the service center entrance, they’d happily exchange at a discount to USD, but we could not accept anything other than a 1c at our tils.

            Because even in a location where 1 in 3 transactions was for someone from Canada on a day shopping trip, it wasn’t worth nitpicking the darn 1c pieces. To this day any pennies found in our house have a decent shot at being Canadian rather than USD, and we long ago moved.

    2. Bearly Containing Myself*

      What part of Canada do you live in that you didn’t call them “pennies”? I’ve lived in 5 provinces, from small towns to downtown Toronto, and always referred to what you call 1 cent coins as pennies.

    1. Meep*

      I mean, it is hard for me (a sane person) to feel bad for someone who is verbally abusive, but you do do you.

    2. D'Arcy*

      Yeah, it’s incredibly yikes. Gaslighting someone about COVID like that is *vastly* worse than any number of petty meltdowns.

      1. Random Dice*

        I just don’t see this at all.

        Someone powerless being abused by someone more powerful, and figuring out a clever way to even things out without being fired.

  45. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    I played dumb and just told her I wasn’t sure what happened because it was the same coffee and gently suggested there might be something wrong with her and she might want to get checked for COVID.

    You are epic!

  46. Daisy-dog*

    All of the drama that I have seen in my workplaces has been about the strength of the coffee. One employer used pre-packaged bags for the really large, industrial pots. And someone was opening up a second bag and pouring about half of that with another bag which made this one pot into rocket fuel. And obviously that one person couldn’t drink the whole thing. He probably wanted to, but he likely would have been scolded by the office administrator for taking a whole pot back to his desk. (I did hear gossip about who the offender was.) So this meant he subjected everyone who came after him to rocket fuel. The administrator sent many emails asking people to stop (she never learned who it was), but he wouldn’t.

    At another workplace, our controller would get to the office first and make coffee and it was apparently offensively weak.

    1. it's-a-me*

      Mr. Rocket Fuel should just get those coffee bags they make to add to his own cup – or dump a packet of instant in.

  47. The Prettiest Curse*

    I completely forgot this till now as it didn’t happen at the office, but last year, the caterers at our annual conference tried to charge us for £500 worth of extra tea and coffee that we didn’t request (on the event day or on the original order) and that wasn’t needed. When I asked them to prove that we had requested it, they went all quiet, then decided that they didn’t need us to pay the extra £500 after all. I’ll be reviewing any future invoices from this caterer very, very carefully!

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, that’s not a coffee story. That IS a “shady vendor” story.

      If they have a half a brain, they will be VERY, VERY careful in dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s going forward.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I think it was more of an internal lmis-communication on their part, since we’ve worked with this vendor a few times before without any. similar issues, but it was definitely weird!

  48. Meep*

    #12 – I think I would exclusively make tea out of sheer stubbornness. Poor woman who got there at 7:30 AM. Hopefully, she held her ground too!

  49. scurvycapn*

    Man, coffee drinkers are weird. You can get a bottle of caffeine pills equivalent to 120 cups of coffee for less than $6. I mean, it could also be because coffee sometimes smells like fish to me (I’m not the only one, I’ve googled it), but it honestly amazes me how nutty people go over/because of it.

    1. ferrina*

      I drink both coffee and tea, and maybe 30% is about the caffeine. 25% is about the sugar I add. 40% is about the experience of checking in with myself, choosing what drink I want, taking a few minutes out of my day to make a nice cup, then sipping it for the next hour or more. At every office I’ve worked at I had a stash of tea options, and sometimes coffee options as well (like fudge sauce, caramel, milk….I like my little luxuries). And 5% is just having a frikin excuse to take a break from work (“so sorry, I need to not have this conversation because….um….I need coffee. Byeee!”)

      1. starsaphire*

        Not to mention the lovely sensation, on a cold morning, of wrapping your hands around that ceramic mug and feeling the warmth slowly diffuse through them… or inhaling the delicious aroma and having just a scant moment of peace and/or pleasure in a harried, hectic day.

        Coffee and tea are rituals, formal or informal, that provide tiny oases of comfort and make the day more livable.

        You won’t be able to pry my purple ceramic mug of caffeine from my cold, dead hands – because I’m taking it with me! :D

      2. Coverage Associate*

        I have crunched lots of numbers re pod latte makers v chain lattes. It’s not that much cheaper to make a latte at home if you put a $ value on the time to make it and clean up. I always feel that making coffee at home is a chore, but going out to get a latte near the office is a treat.

        1. Random Dice*

          A latte is a cinch to make. I have a dishwasher safe milk frother, which I use for coffee lattes and tea lattes (a London Fog latte is great, and so is a Bengal Spice decaf latte). No time at all.

        2. Happy*

          It seems like it would take at least as much time to wait at the store for them to make your coffee and serve other patrons as it would to make the coffee at home?

    2. Double A*

      My husband gets his caffeine from pills (like, why bother!?! That’s just cultivating a addiction with no attendant pleasure at that point). I’ve told him the one thing I wish I could chance about him is that he doesn’t drink coffee with me. The pleasures of shared coffee rituals are vast and it’s something I wish we had together.

    3. Tinkerbell*

      I’ve got a friend whose only long COVID symptom is that coffee always smells vaguely like someone stepped in dog doo. Not even like the coffee itself is the source, but it makes her brain go “wait, something smells off somewhere…”

      Unfortunately she is one of those “cannot function without coffee” types so she’s decided to just roll with it :-P

      1. Becky*

        I had a friend who got COVID and for MONTHS after everything tasted like onions to him. EVERYTHING. It finally faded and he can taste things normally again, thank goodness.

    4. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

      I mean I guess you could also drink pure alcohol instead of wine or beer or cocktails but people enjoy those things.

  50. Coverage Associate*

    The tea kettle I bought for church after discovering the old one was rusted was warmly received to my face. We’ll see if the new one is still in use on Sunday. I didn’t hide the old one very well, and I don’t know how to dispose of it properly. If people want to have extra iron in their tea and instant coffee, I guess that’s their choice.

    I did take great pleasure in dumping, in the nearest textile recycling bin, the 2 worn out oven mitts I replaced with new ones.

  51. Here for the Insurance*

    Of the 8 floors in the building, the floor that had the biggest cash to coffee gap was the floor where most of the top executives sat (salaries of mid-six figures to seven figures).

    Gee, color me surprised. I swear there’s a direct correlation between how much someone makes and how cheap they are.

  52. Red Wheel Barrow*

    “I…gently suggested there might be something wrong with her and she might want to get checked for COVID.”

    That is very, very, very wrong, and also made me laugh out loud.

  53. Cohort 1*

    Moral of the story: Do not hire coffee addicts. Do not provide coffee machines. Think how much time, money, and aggravation would be saved.

  54. Moose*

    13 – That is UNHINGED. Was it meant to stop people from taking a bunch of teabags at once and hoarding them?? Even so, terrible solution. If someone had tea in the morning, did they have to leave their used teabag on their desk overnight? And pray maintenance didn’t mistake it for trash and throw it out?? I have so many questions.

  55. My Boss Is Dumber Than Yours*

    “You know what I’m thinking? This is different coffee than we usually have.”

  56. Get your own damn coffee!*

    Ugh, “The Men!” At my last job I was a 20-something manager to a crew of 50-something men. One morning one of my employees came in and asked me to get him a cup of coffee. The coffee was in the kitchen a short walk away. I said no, he got flustered and got it himself. Who has the gall to walk into their boss’s office and interrupt her work by asking her to serve you coffee? It’s hard to believe there are so many of this type around, but in certain sectors (forestry in my case) they abound. I made a list of the sexist remarks made to me on my few years working there. It fills 2 pages of 11 point font.

  57. Coffee, chased by a bear*

    I am sad to have missed the call for stories. I have two, both of which I am reminded of by the contractual obligation to buy terrible coffee (and a suggestion re freezer soda).

    1. My organization has contracts for various kinds of food vending, such as we only have one of the major -cola brands and its siblings in the vending machines. Another such contract is coffee, all of which has to be from the same general vendor for all the outlets. For a long time there was the same vendor. Their coffee is bitter as heck and is a very love it or hate it experience — some people did like it or claim to but a whole lot would avoid free coffee from here by bringing nonfree coffee from elsewhere. To me it tasted like it had been oiled, maybe with rancid oil, and burned before being maybe brewed with water that was reclaimed from some previous use in a way that didn’t eliminate all traces? But we were going to put in a new coffee location and I had some authority over it and my first question was Does It HAVE To Be This Brand? Yes, it did (dangit), and I was assured it was universally adored. I asked again. I told them it was actually slightly less than universal, maybe more like occasional, or rare. They said well they had other roasts and we could do a taste test and use whichever roast we liked best. My expectations were low, but it was what I could get.

    So the taste test was set up, and of course they wanted it to be ‘fair’ so they brought in maybe 7? unmarked carafes and they described them for us in the exact kind of language one would use for the very snootiest of wine tastings. There were top notes and hints and essences. Wisps of vanilla and cherry in this one. Etc. Mostly I thought the taste ranged from compost to motor oil, and when they described one as having “hints of forest floor” I was so very done. I hung in there and finished the tasting, and shockingly one sort of approached drinkability. To my entire lack of shock it was the only one they had never used for any site on the contract.

    So we made them use that one, but as I always say when I tell this story: if I have hints of forest floor in my mouth, it better be because I am being chased by a bear and a very unfortunate faceplanting has occurred.

    2. In my off hours I regularly volunteer to staff sites at which the unhoused in my community can come inside and not die of freezing when it’s below 30 degrees overnight. I live in the US and signed up to do this work on November 9, 2016; you can draw your own conclusions about why I might have felt like taking care of other humans was a productive step I could take that that juncture. This is work that my tax dollars should pay for because all humans deserve shelter, but I guess some people think it’s better that the wealthy not pay for that and so the organization that does it relies on primarily churches to open their doors for this, and the entire structure is volunteer run. Leadership meets with church staff at each site and discuss what space restrictions they need us to maintain (e.g., folks can come in and sleep and eat overnight, but can’t enter the sanctuary, or, can’t use the annex, or whatever).

    The site I usually staff has a contract with a coffee vendor which supplies coffee, urns, and a coffee maker.

    The winter before the pandemic, we got in capital-t-Trouble because we had used the urns for ordinary coffee. Only the vendor’s coffee could ever pass the threshold of the urns. Also, only the vendor’s coffee could ever be placed in the (disposable) filter, and only the vendor’s coffee could be stored in the space around the coffee maker. I don’t know if these folks have never heard of metal parts being cleanable or what, but now we make our coffee in a separate space and with a different device. It makes me laugh every single time we open for a block of cold nights. It does not make me think I would like to purposefully buy coffee produced by this vendor.

    Soda: Someone ought to have started wetting towels and wrapping the soda in them in the freezer. Would have frozen the soda faster, and probably also contained the mess so no one but the culprit would be inconvenienced. Water conveys heat faster than air, so if you make the immediate space around the can wet, it will freeze in a hurry. Bonus: might chill fast enough the person would remember to come back and get it directly before it froze in a solid messy block.

    1. Sorrischian*

      Not really on topic but “notes of forest floor” made me laugh especially hard because one of my favorite teas genuinely tastes like my childhood memories of faceplanting in damp leaves while running around in the woods with my friends.
      It’s a pu-erh, which is a fermented tea, so it is literally very genteel compost, and I will readily admit that it’s an acquired taste.

  58. Aphrodite*

    Reading these war stories makes me so happy I can’t stand coffee. Or tea. So I can sit back and enjoy without needing to understand the reasons for all this craziness.

  59. DyneinWalking*

    Not necessarily, it could also indicate “Ah, bliss! Thank god I can just quietly skip the queue and get my hot water from over here instead!”. Happiness about a small privilege doesn’t have to mean that you are looking down on those slightly worse off, it can simply mean… happiness about the small privilege.

  60. Other Alice*

    I’m a fan of coffee but I’m always amazed at the lengths some people will go.

    I also missed last week’s post but I do have my own coffee story from a previous job. The coffee in the building was vile, so our manager bought a coffee maker for our unit. It used pods, we’d all chip in (I forget how much per cup) and then someone would collect the money and buy new pods. However… That coffee was also vile. Privately I suspected it was the pods, my coworker who volunteered to do the shopping always got the same cheap brand that somehow managed to taste both watery and bitter at the same time. So one time my coworker was off sick, I volunteered to get coffee and I got a box of pods from a different brand. Everyone praised it and said it tasted much better. Even my coworker, when he returned, admitted he liked my choice better and he only bought the other brand because it was cheaper! For a week, we had good coffee. Then my coworker went to resupply, and brought back another box of horrible, horrible pods. He said he knew they were worse, but they were cheaper. Only one store in the area carried pods compatible with the coffee maker, and my coworker was the only one willing to go there on the regular, so we were stuck with his shopping choices. I gave up and drank tea for the rest of my time with that company. The kicker is that the cheaper pods were something like 50 cents less than the brand I bought, for a week long supply.

  61. MillennialHR*

    I’m a big coffee drinker – but I bring my own cup to begin the day and drink a few cups before I leave for the office. Occasionally, I’ll order coffee through DoorDash (we have a Keurig in our office) and I am honestly amazed at how often my coworkers will comment that I’m “ordering coffee again when we have it for free!”. Yes, I know we have it for free, but I also prefer drinking coffee I like…so I guess I’m on the other side where I am picky, but I take care of it myself, because it’s not anyone’s problem to stock coffee that I particularly like!

    1. Wendy*

      I make my own lattes at home

      I also make my own flavored syrups

      And I buy my own coffee

      This way I do not have to deal with coffee wars

  62. WillowSunstar*

    of course, the irony with COVID and WFH means most people will now either have to learn how to make their own coffee, buy the premade cold coffee, or just drive to the nearest coffee shop and spend their own money.

  63. Environmental Compliance*

    Ah, #12, I like you.

    I once had a meeting set up with Management and a new consultant that wanted to snag a multimillion dollar project with us. I had the final say on which consultant, as it was very much environmental compliance relevant and Plant Manager was pretty terrified of causing noncompliance. The entire rest of the Management Team was male. The consulting team that showed up was also all male. The majority of the room was also 20 years older than me.

    The front desk notified me that the consultants had showed up – Plant Manager was in a call – so I gathered my notes and went to escort them to the conference room, get them set up as the rest of the team was filtering in from the back of the plant.

    The lead consultant told me he needed coffee. I told him where the break room is, it’s a Keurig, the pods are right next to the machine, and cups are in the rack right next to it – feel free to choose what you’d like, and there’s creamer I think in the fridge. He laughed and said what, are your legs broke? Two sugars, sweetie.

    I chuckled and told him I bet my legs work just as well as his, and sat down. Plant Manager introduced us all after we were all seated. Consultant was very surprised to learn that I was the Environmental Manager and that I had final say on the technical approval of the project, plus would be the site inspector. His face changed a couple colors that day. And I absolutely dragged him through a ringer at the end of his presentation when it was clear he had no idea what he was talking about.

    They did not get the project.

    1. Crazy*

      #12 had me wow wow wow. I wonder what year it happened, same for yours. I worked for a Fortune 500 company. There was a department mostly of man (95%), the boys club as we called it. The other 5% were women in receptionist roles, 1 analyst, 1 director and 1 field VP. The boys club for the most part was okay working with women because the rest of the company was 65% women and many in leadership positions. However, when a woman became a CEO, the boys club stayed under the old male CEO. Bizarre, especially for a public company that is well known in the industry. This setup was still in place as of 2021, although they did hire 1 more woman as a director.

  64. BeeKeen*

    I once worked with (briefly, I might add) two female attorneys who routinely harangued me because I didn’t like their overly flavored coffees. I brought my own plain old regular coffee and they kept throwing it out.

  65. k*

    LW #5, I’m grinning like a goober thinking of the tea trolley in an episode of “Are You Being Served?”. If any other AAM readers know what I’m talking about, I’d be gobsmacked in a good way.

  66. Veryanon*

    #12 – I don’t drink coffee and have never made it, other than on a few rare occasions where all I had to do was push a button to start the coffee maker. If anyone ever asked me to make it for them at work, I’d smile sweetly and say “Sorry, I don’t drink it so I don’t make it.” I’d get some puzzled looks but otherwise that was usually enough to shut them up.
    At a previous employer, I reported directly to the General Counsel, who was a woman. Every time there was a board meeting, the CEO would ask her to make and serve coffee and tea to the board members. I still don’t understand why she did it; I would have politely told the CEO to either hire someone specifically or they could make their own coffee and tea.

  67. DJ*

    In the early 90’s I worked somewhere where they refused to buy a basic microwave so we could reheat left overs brought in from home. We were also told it was a “perk” that we had a fridge and we could drink the tea/coffee/milk supplied for clients.
    When the air conditioning broke down we got a lecture about how certain vulnerable groups didn’t have air con at all so to put up with it. My response was to advise “I’m going down to see the building management agent now to report this” and started to walk out the door. The manager ran after me begging me to stop as it had been reported. Geez all that had to say was “it’s been reported and someone will be onto it”

  68. Laura*

    Another coffee story:

    We had free coffee in office. Free coffee beans, and one single bean-to-cup coffee maker sized for a family or a very small office. With 60 engineers, ours wasn’t a small office. Soon the engineers got very tired of having to refill the water tank, empty and clean the used grounds drawer, empty and clean the drip water drawer, and put in new beans 20 times a day.

    Being engineers, they decided to improve the machine. They connected a pipe from the water faucet to the water tank, built some contraption that allowed semi-automated re-filling of the bean box from a 2-kilo bag of beans, sawed a hole in the table the machine sat on so that drip water could flow through a pipe in a canister, and used grounds ended up in a garbage bag. Much more efficient, everyone agreed.

    Building maintenance came in, looked at the machine, and asked, “Who did that?”
    One of the electrical engineers volunteered to have been the one who did it. (It was a team effort.)
    Building maintenance said, “Oh, then that’s OK”.

    The machine was in use for four years until the whole kitchen was modernized and got two reasonable-sized coffee makers. Building maintenance made very clear that those were leased, and *not* to be improved.

  69. Giant Kitty*

    I’m really surprised that the story of Nespresso making its employees pay for their own Nespresso pods didn’t make the cut! That was so outrageous!

  70. Odditor*

    If I am ever in a scenario like #12 (gods forbid, I love my current workplace & the culture here is very egalitarian), I hope I have the mental and emotional fortitude to play dumb long enough to get one of the men to show me the entire process. “I don’t get this. Can you show me?” “Sorry, I just don’t understand how that works.” “Ummm…. like this? *doing it completely wrong*” And for the grand finale, “Oh, wow! That was so confusing, but you made it look easy! You’re really good at making coffee.”
    (For the record, OP #12, I think you probably handled this way better than I ever could’ve in the moment. Cheers!)

  71. I ain't yer little coffee b!tch, dude*

    These coffee threads about men being awful are very timely because I just dealt with a Sexist Man about coffee this week, but in a slightly different way.

    He was from our coffee supplies vendor, delivering replacement carafes to the conference rooms. In the process, he very condescendingly told three people (two women and one femme-presenting AFAB enby) how to make coffee seven times. The first was me (femmeby), the switchboard operator who stays stuck to the switchboard desk nine to ten hours a day with no breaks and has never been in the same room as one of the coffee machines. The second was the freaking company vice president, who’d been introduced as such to the dude when she happened to pass by and decided to help transport the carafes. Neither of us even drink coffee and have never used the machines. The third, an executive assistant, is the only one who has coffee duties. She could probably make coffee in her sleep and do a better job of it than Coffee Mansplainer Dude. The VP and the exec assistant got “instructed” on how to make coffee three times each.

    He told exactly–wait for it–zero of the men he talked to how to make coffee. Despite the fact that it’s about 97% men working here, who use the conference room coffeemakers regularly and usually make their own coffee because the exec assistant is running errands elsewhere.

    Right after he left, that was the first time I ever heard the very sweet executive assistant express a desire to punch someone in the face. (The VP and I agreed. I also somewhat suspect a call was made to the vendor when the VP got back to her office. We probably won’t see that particular guy here again.)

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