the surprising agony of office coffee culture

You would think supplying employees with coffee would be a relatively straightforward task and yet … sometimes it’s anything but. At Slate today, I wrote about office coffee wars — from workplaces with intense bureaucratic in-fighting over coffee supplies, to meetings that get hijacked to debate coffee issues, to outrage when people bring in their own coffee makers.

You can read it here.

{ 279 comments… read them below }

  1. Czhorat*

    I remember some of these from months past, and it always strikes me as SO crazy.

    Free coffee in the breakroom is one of the simplest and cheapest perks an office can give; it’s also relatively low-value. For people drinking normal amounts of coffee it probably saves at most $5/day that they’d have spent at a coffee shop. If a communal coffeepot/keurig machine/etc were NEVER brought up then nobody would probably think anything of it; giving the perk parodoxically creates more anger in those who don’t feel that they’re getting it exactly the way they want it to than “no coffee at all” would.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Your last point is why I opt out of office coffee despite being a coffee drinker! I will happily pay my $3 a day to avoid coffee drama.

    2. Story time....*

      I was once gifted a single cup coffee maker by a dear friend/co-worker who knew I was a coffee drinker. They knew my mornings could be harried and thought if I had a coffee maker in my office, it would be one less thing for me to do before I left for work. Lovely idea!

      I drink “good” coffee. My boss does not. My boss drinks “free” coffee. Those are not the same.

      I started using my in office coffee maker on a Monday – I brought in my coffee grounds. Tuesday morning my boss said, “I don’t normally drink coffee but since you’re bringing it in, I going to have some.” Boss showed up on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for free coffee. Friday afternoon I took my coffee maker home for it never to return to my office.

        1. Story time....*

          Boss came to my office and noticed there was no coffee smell (cup in hand).

          Boss asked about the coffee, I just said “I don’t have any coffee today.”

          Boss did not ask about my coffee anymore that I can remember. I was a little concerned there would be blowback by not providing coffee, but I was so irritated by the unmitigated gall to take my coffee I was willing to take the chance.

          1. Artemesia*

            We had some communal pop in the refrigerator which you could buy and others brought in various things that were there own. I brought in an expensive bitter lemon and the boss started drinking that putting 50 cents in the communal pot which I of course didn’t receive anyway. He was literally making 20 times as much as I was — I was an intern. That was the end of me bringing what I liked to drink to work.

            1. Petty_Boop*

              Another bitter lemon fan! I got hooked on drinking it when I lived in Germany for 7 years and it was a long time before I could find it in the states. When I do now I stock up and tell my kids “HANDS OFF my bitter lemon!”

      1. Vio*

        I would have been tempted to experiment with different coffees. Even make up some exotic ones. Oh you don’t like mustard or horseradish in your coffee? What about ground brussel sprouts?

    3. AcademiaNut*

      My office gets the worst of both worlds – the coffee isn’t good, but they’re legally prohibited from providing it for free.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I would make two cups worth at home and then bring it in a thermos (microwaving as necessary, because I have no tastebuds.).

        Now, let’s talk variety of sweeteners and the Color Wars. My place of work settled on the yellow kind, which nobody likes, along with regular sugar but it does avoid the whole pink v. blue thing which caused so much trouble in Sleeping Beauty. (at that point I just brought in a box of the kind I liked. Cheap enough and much less whining from me).

  2. Mostly Managing*

    As a non-coffee-drinker, I get to avoid the entire issue!

    Decades ago, I started at a new company. On my first day, I was told that, “The person in your role has traditionally started the first pot of the day. After that it gets filled by whoever empties it.”
    This seemed reasonable to me, and the woman training me showed me how to work the machine.
    The next morning, about 10am, she appeared with cup in hand. “You’re not a coffee drinker, are you?”
    “No, I’m not. But I did exactly what you showed me.” I did. I had taken careful notes. I measured carefully. I added the right amount of water. Apparently I didn’t make coffee with enough love?
    “Please never touch a coffee pot again.”
    OK. Deal.
    So from then on, a senior engineer started the coffee every day, because she “loved” it more and somehow the coffee beans could tell.

    I have, for the record, kept my word. I still have not tried again to make coffee! :)

    1. JustAnotherCommenter*

      This is actually hilarious – I wish I knew what she meant and what difference she could taste.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        My guess is that the people who made it regularly all used a rounded scoop, not a carefully measured precise one.

        1. Lea*

          I literally had this conversation with someone at a meeting who told me my
          Coffee was better and we had to discuss overtopped scoops vs precise ones

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Or maybe she noticed you didn’t drink any of a coffee and didn’t want to push you into a non-work chore for something you would not use.

      3. Laura*

        It was probably weaker than she liked. I had this same issue when I first started working because I wasn’t a regular coffee drinker so didn’t know how to make it strong (and didn’t actually like it strong either!).

      4. MigraineMonth*

        The first time I tried making coffee, the difference was pretty evident: no one had told me about the filter. Apparently people disliked that my coffee was a) weak and b) crunchy.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Heh. My mom’s drip coffee was perplexing bad. Finally one trip I got up earlier than usual… She — and had accidentally discarded the frame that holds the filter and didn’t want to fish it out of the can. She claimed she didn’t taste a difference. At lea her coffee wasn’t crunchy…

          (I got her a coffee pot with reusable filter & taught her the grounds are good compost so she wouldn’t go near the trash can with it again.)

    2. Beth*

      I had a parallel experience in my first career, at a horribly underpaid non-profit job. The office decided to get a water cooler! But water coolers cost money! The only way to do it was for everyone to pay their share!

      I always brought my own beverages. I told them I was never going to use the water from the cooler, and asked to be excused from the subscription. (We were all so badly paid that I did NOT want to have even a small extra item added to my monthly budget.) This wasn’t taken well, but I stuck to it. About a year later, the water cooler became part of the office budget, and the subscription system ended. I still didn’t use the water cooler, though.

      1. Adds*

        Omg, watercooler expense.

        I’ve been trying to convince my day-gig boss to get rid of the water cooler because it takes the 3 of us literal months to go through a 5-gal jug of water and since the company is *consistently* operating in the red (I didn’t get paid last week because there was no money) it’s an expense we can do without.

        But heaven forbid El Jefe walk downstairs to the watercooler in the communal kitchenette provided by building management or the literal 3 steps across the hall to the bathroom sink to fill his cup the one time per week that he’s in the office (the water in our taps is completely safe and potable and even tastes decent). Insert giant eye roll here.

    3. Mairead*

      Haha, that’s exactly what happens when I try to make tea (I’m not a tea-drinker). I do exactly what I’ve been told with the correct number of teabags and the freshly boiled water, but somehow it’s ungood.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Do you heat the water to boiling in a microwave, instead of in a kettle?

        Some non-US folks I’ve worked with have insisted microwaving water for tea is SO not done, but could never explain why when I asked. (I heat fresh water to boiling in a kettle when I make tea, but I’ve always been curious exactly why microwaving the water instead is forbidden)

        1. Cinn*

          (UK based) The only time I heard people discussing this it was a safety thing, that because microwaves heat middle out that theres some weird thing that can happen if you put a metal spoon in too soon?

          Then again, I’ve also seen my dad reheat his coffee in the microwave when it’s gone cold because he forgot about it, so… *shrug*

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Boiling water isn’t particularly safe, no matter how it’s done. I’ve never seen it done with a kettle, but I was at a fondue place on a date where the pot of water at my table superheated. We discovered this when half the water exploded out of it with a bang. Fortunately neither of us were badly burned, but it was certainly one of my most exciting dates!

          2. David*

            Hmm… this sounds like a phenomenon called superheating, which is when water (or any liquid) gets hotter than its boiling point but it doesn’t actually turn into gas. It requires fairly pure water in a very smooth container, as well as a method of heating that’s very even and doesn’t agitate the water, so it’s pretty rare (and almost certainly wouldn’t happen with coffee), but microwave heating is exactly the kind of smooth heating method that could contribute to causing it. If you do superheat some water, then when you disturb it by putting in a spoon or tea leaves or just moving the container and sloshing it around, it will all boil at once and you get a huge steam explosion, which can be very dangerous indeed.

            BTW it’s not really that microwaves heat middle out, it’s that they heat certain materials more than others, or some basically not at all. So a microwave will typically heat the food inside a container without heating the container itself, or will heat chunks of meat more than the rice or bread around it, stuff like that.

            1. Cinn*

              Now you’ve said it I remember them mentioning the phrase superheated. So it must’ve been that.

              And huh, I didn’t know that about microwave heating. I assumed it was similar to how different types of radiation penetrate better/worse depending on the energy and material and microwaves just hit deeper. I didn’t realise the material was a bigger impact.

        2. FanciestCat*

          I’m an American tea drinker, definitely not an expert on it but I was taught the correct way to steep tea is to put the bag in first and then pour the hot water over it, which is why you use a kettle. If you microwave the water, you either have to microwave it with the bag, which I guess I havent tried but seems like it wouldn’t work, or plop the bag on top at the end which would prevent it from steeping as well. I think that rush of water over the bag at the beginning helps it steep better, but again, not an expert. I suppose if you microwave water in a separate container with the intention to pour it into your mug there would be no difference compared to boiling it in a kettle, so if anyone was weird about that it’d be kind of silly.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I do the last way. I don’t have a kettle, and use the microwave to boil water — use a measuring cup to boil water, then pour over the bag in the mug. You get the pour-over effect (not sure that matters but it’s traditional) as well as not over-heating your mug.

            I have met a bunch of people who think microwaved water is somehow dangerous or tainted. It’s never been clear why, I assume it’s an extension of general mistrust of microwaves. Like it’s irradiated water? Dunno.

            1. MigraineMonth*

              I had a conversation with a lovely woman at church who told me she didn’t use microwaves because she knew all about the dangers of nuclear weapons. I had a go at explaining that different types of radiation were different, but I don’t have a lot of hope that it stuck.

              Then again, as we learn more about chemicals leeching into our food from plastics, maybe she’ll turn out to be the clever one in the long run.

            2. Timothy (TRiG)*

              You’re slightly more likely to get an explosion from superheated microwaved water. That’s not going to happen with a kettle.

            3. Tinkerbell*

              I’m an American tea-drinker who does have an electric kettle, and I did an experiment :-) It takes about the same amount of time to heat a cup of water to boiling in the microwave as it does in the kettle, BUT countries with direct instead of alternating current (which is basically everywhere except us, I think?) have kettles which boil water about 30% faster (according to some internet friends who were kind enough to try a precisely measured cup for me). Microwaved water also doesn’t boil the same as water in an electric kettle, even at the same almost-boiling temperature, which means it doesn’t distribute the gas bubbles properly and whatever flavor your normal water has, comes out much more strongly in the microwave. Less of an issue if you’re somewhere with good-tasting water, but much more noticeable if your local tap water is iffy.

          2. Ama*

            I have to say I got one of those fancy electric kettles for Christmas and I do think it makes my tea taste better, but I think it’s because I can have precise temperature control that even a stovetop kettle can’t offer.

            But I have made tea by running just water through hotel room coffee machines before, even though the electric kettle is better it’s not such a degree of difference that making it by any other method is undrinkable.

          3. OMG, Bees!*

            I have a kettle now, but the only way I have microwaved water for tea, I still poured it into the mug with the teabag (microwave mug with water, pour into a 2nd mug, it’s not rocket science but no one seems to consider it).

        3. LunaLena*

          Microwaved water tastes different to me than water heated in a kettle or pot. It’s not as noticeable when the water has tea or hot chocolate mix or other flavoring, but when it’s just plain water I can taste a difference. In a pinch, I’ll microwave a mug of tea that has gone cold, but I much prefer boiling water on the stove or using a Keurig machine (I use a re-usable K-cup + loose leaf tea).

          Plus I feel like microwaved water goes cold a lot more quickly than boiled water.

        4. Janeric*

          I used to microwave my tea and then switched to an electric kettle and then when I had to use a microwave it was Bad Tea so I researched:
          Microwaves heat unevenly and water is actually fairly resistant to mixing pockets of different temperature water — so instead of swirling a lot of Exactly 100º water over your tea via kettle, you are dunking your teabag into a combination of 80º and 100º water, incompletely mixed. And sometimes the microwaves superheat the 100º degree pockets so there’s extra energy there that can change the flavor of the compounds in tea.

          Note that this shouldn’t apply to reheating tea — if you reheat it to between 70º and 80º degrees there should be almost no superheated water AND you’ve already extracted everything you want to extract.

        5. Ms. Murchison*

          Microwaved water tastes different. If you use it for tea, the tea doesn’t taste as good. I can get by with microwaved water if there’s no other option, and have while traveling, but it’s always a relief to return to using the stove or an electric kettle.

        6. Hannah Lee*

          Thanks everyone for all the comments and info.

          I feel so much more knowledgeable now! :)

    4. AnotherOne*

      My supervisor thinks its hilarious that I don’t drink coffee but anytime either of the coffee machines in our office (for some reason we need both a nespresso and a keurig for something like 30 people) “break” I get called to fix them.

      Normally its unplug and plug.

    5. Orv*

      The secret is people always want their coffee stronger than they say they want it. Put in double the amount of grounds it says on the package and you’re probably good.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        We use a bag and 1/2 for each pot. Anyone who wants it weaker can just add hot water, also available on the machine.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I do not drink coffee but kept a coffee pot in my home for guests. I made coffee for my parents one time following instructions and made it too strong. Perhaps on the first day of their visit because I generally never make coffee?

      Later it turns out something about their coffee at home had changed (use 2 scoops (did the scoop size change?) of grounds instead of 1??) and they has been making weak coffee for so long they had gotten used to it.

      I do think they ended up adjusting their process so they were making “regular” strength coffee instead of weak one.

    7. StarTrek Nutcase*

      As a non-coffee drinker but only female in my office, it was assumed I would start coffee each day and replenish as needed. I deliberately made a nasty pot the first two times, and not surprisingly was told someone would take over from that day forward. (I learned malicious compliance from my dad who was “hopeless” at laundry & vacuuming. Mom’s talent was petty revenge.)

    8. Laura*

      Ha! In one of my first jobs after college, I needed some caffeine one morning, but didn’t normally drink coffee (I was more of a tea person). So I made a pot and a coworker who was around 30 years older than me, but liked me and wanted to show me the ropes got a cup from that pot and immediately came to my desk and took me to the break room to show me how to make it stronger lol. I never made it again after that because I’m sensitive to caffeine and didn’t actually WANT coffee that strong (especially because I didn’t drink it on weekends so I got caffeine withdrawal headaches every Saturday).

      But yeah, it was an amazing excuse to never do it again. My current organization has had single use coffee pod machines since i started there and now we’re fully remote so it’s irrelevant.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I learned the care and maintenance of the coffee pod machine when I worked at the tax place. The weird part was that pod coffee tasted better there than in my machine at home; I suspect the difference was that I needed the raw caffeine when faced with the rush that ensues when everyone gets their W-2’s at once.

  3. Essentially Cheesy*

    I realize that coffee is important to some people but it shouldn’t be everything your live revolves around. Get a grip, people (said in the most loving way possible). If it’s that important, make it at home and get a super nice insulated mug/jug/whatever.

    1. CV*

      You know how people in prisons and high schools and so on really focus on the food? I think this is the same dynamic with some offices and coffee.

      Possibly there are sociological studies on this and related issues.

      1. Jayne*

        An entire book: Li, T. (2020). Coffee Culture: Design Inspiration Balancing Social Connection and Independence in Modern Workplaces. Rochester Institute of Technology.

        An article: Stroebaek, P. S. (2013). Let’s have a cup of coffee! Coffee and coping communities at work. Symbolic interaction, 36(4), 381-397.

        Rodrigues, C. F., Raposo, H., Pegado, E., & Fernandes, A. I. (2021, July). Coffee in the workplace: A social break or a performance enhancer?. In Medical Sciences Forum (Vol. 5, No. 1, p. 44). MDPI.

        And there are many more out there…

    2. Throwaway Account*

      It does kind of weird me out just how much people’s lives can revolve around access to coffee!

        1. Come on now*

          Most likely because small amounts don’t cause you to OD, give you lung cancer, or impair your ability to drive a motor vehicle.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Small amounts of most drugs don’t cause you to overdose or impair your ability to drive. Large amounts of coffee can cause heart attacks. It’s all a matter of degree, and what we’re used to.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          It’s not just that–it’s the break, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. If it weren’t caffeinated people would probably still want it because it’s an excuse to get up from your desk and stretch your legs/arms/back, and get a little treat.

          1. Albatross*

            Yep. I go for walks around the main kitchenette/elevator bank area at my office about every hour, because otherwise I start losing focus. Because I don’t drink coffee, it’s refilling my water bottle or visiting the bathroom, but if I did drink coffee, I’m sure it’d be coffee.

          2. Tau*

            Caffeine doesn’t really have much of a noticeable effect for me (this is apparently an ADHD thing) and I switch to herbal tea in the afternoon anyway, but getting tea a couple times during the course of the day is still Very Important for exactly that reason.

        3. ThatGirl*

          Because it’s mostly beneficial to neutral and rarely harmful. The “withdrawal” is generally just a headache or a bit of crabbiness. It is possible to OD on caffeine, but difficult to do, because most people feel the physiological effects of too much before it gets to be TOO much.

          So yeah, caffeine is addictive, but it’s also pretty safe.

      1. Lizzie*

        Guilty! But I don’t make it anyone’s problem but my own. Pre-COVID I would use the office Keurigs, where you had to supply your own k-cups. Not my favorite but MUCH better than the free “swill” the company provides.

        Post-COVID, when we started coming back in, I wasn’t feeling the whole sharing a coffee maker thing, so I started bringing coffee in a thermos, or travel mug. almost 3 years on, I stil do this, as I much prefer my own coffee and am kind of fussy about it.

    3. MigraineMonth*

      You’re absolutely right, but on the other hand it’s not like Alison hasn’t written articles just as long about office supply wars, potlucks gone wrong, shocking sexual things or weird bathroom behaviors at work.

      We often spend 40+ hours a week, involuntarily, with our coworkers. There’s going to be a lot of weirdness to mine, particularly with an international audience. Throw in free food, a mildly addictive substance, petty power squabbles, class and gender dynamics, and you get a mess of weirdness!

    4. JustaTech*

      There’s some really interesting research about health and a feeling of control over your life – the more control you *feel* you have over your life, the better your health tends to be. This usually shows up as a part of “richer people have better health” where one aspect of that is that wealthier people tend to have jobs where they are in charge of when they take breaks and what work they are doing (as opposed to things like shift work).

      So, people tend to look for things in their life that they can control. When you’re way down on the pecking order at work, that often comes out at really petty things, like coffee and office supplies. When you’ve got very little control or power you tend to hold onto it for all you’re worth.

      I’ve never worked anywhere that had coffee wars (though back when we made giant pot there was occasionally some sniping that was easily fixed with a printed protocol because scientists like protocols), but I *have* worked places where the staff agreed that if management ever cut off the coffee supply that was the last neon sign to Get Out because if they couldn’t afford the coffee they couldn’t afford to pay us either.

    5. Coffee Snob/Knob*

      I drink wayyyyy too much coffee for this piece of advice to work. On a good day, I take maybe about half a litre. However on a bad day, I am drinking maybe 1.5 litres.

      On the flip side, my office coffee drinkers have been relatively happy to bring in interesting coffee beans for everyone to try, and sharing equipment (though majority still belong to me).

  4. ConstantlyComic*

    Perfect timing! I just this morning had to help out a volunteer who was getting increasingly passive-aggressive about the fact that we don’t have communally available sugar in the staff break room. My coworkers and I pretty much bring our own coffee and creamer–sugar doesn’t really come into the equation apart from some splenda packets we keep on top of the fridge (which she took, but wasn’t happy about)

    1. Non-profit drone*

      My office has mice. If you want sugar, you bring your own in a mouse-proof container and keep it in the refrigerator.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I used to work in a place with mice…. We all kept any food related items in cookie tins.

  5. Beth*

    At OldJob, I brought in my own espresso maker. I was perfectly willing to let other people use it, but I guess it was too frightening and complicated for anyone to want to try it — everyone else bought Starbucks instead. (The workplace was 100% smart professionals with college degrees, but home espresso makers were still too intimidating.)

    At my current job, I have a ghastly commute, and I need the caffeine earlier in the day. I keep the espresso maker at home.

    If I do want anything at work, there’s a K-cup machine with a wide variety of options, and I can ask for a new flavor to be added if I like, and nobody tracks or limits or fusses over any of it. It’s a small firm (under 10 people), and the coffee issue is a non-issue, and I am very glad for this.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “(The workplace was 100% smart professionals with college degrees, but home espresso makers were still too intimidating.)”

      They are, I am firmly in the “person with masters degree who would rather by my coffee” camp lol

      1. Roland*

        I’m pretty sure they don’t teach you how to use an espresso machine in grad school, but admittedly I only have a bachelor’s degree so I could be wrong!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          You’re correct! But people have that misconception because grad students need so much coffee to survive.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Every communal machine is waiting for me to come within ten feet of it so it can break in an expensive manner. I ain’t TOUCHIN’ someone else’s espresso maker.

    2. Orv*

      At a previous job someone brought in an espresso maker along with a detailed list of instructions on how to operate and how to clean it after each use.

      I once removed an engine from a car and the list of instructions was shorter.

      I did not touch the espresso machine. Baristas earn every cent of their pay IMHO.

    3. IT Coffee wars*

      In all fairness, if someone’s personal property requires detailed operating procedures, I will pass on using it. Mostly because I don’t want to be responsible if I make a mistake.

      1. AnonORama*

        Yeah, anything in that price range I stay away from to avoid the general principle of “you break it, you buy it.”

      2. Artemesia*

        I have a fancy espresso machine in my kitchen; I don’t like espresso so I make pour coffee. So even though I own the dang thing only my husband who likes real coffee touches it. I would never want to tackle someone else’s complicated machine and espresso makers require much more finesse than French presses, pour overs or drip machines.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          My workplace that had fancy espresso machines also had periodic training sessions on how to use them. I thought that made sense.

      3. JustaTech*

        My parents have a very fancy espresso machine, with detailed instructions. The one time I tried using it when they weren’t home I couldn’t even get it to turn on, even after reading the instructions 3 times and watching 2 how-to videos.

        Heck, I can barely operate the “a child can use it” Mr Coffee espresso machine they keep at my house. And I went to an engineering school! (But my degree is biology, so maybe that explains it.)

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      At OldJob, I brought in my own espresso maker. I was perfectly willing to let other people use it, but I guess it was too frightening and complicated for anyone to want to try it — everyone else bought Starbucks instead. (The workplace was 100% smart professionals with college degrees, but home espresso makers were still too intimidating.)

      My favorite part of this story is that I’m drinking an afternoon latte because (after getting the hang of each) it’s less work than assembling a cup of cafe au lait via the french press, which in turn is less work than the drip coffee maker.

  6. Richard Hershberger*

    I, an American, am more of a tea than a coffee drinker, and furthermore am a tea snob. I buy it loose leaf in bulk. I bought an electric tea kettle during the pandemic, and it has changed my life. I keep it at my desk, fill it up in the morning, and have plenty for the day. I don’t live in a coffee wars office, but I like to think that going this route would keep me out of them. I don’t know if this would work in Britain.

    1. Throwaway Account*

      When we lived in the UK, my husband made tea for his office mate. Husband left the tea bag in the mug as he always does for himself. Office mate still talks about the time he got a mouthful of large PG Tips tea bag. It was 30 years ago, and none of us live in the UK anymore.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It would not.

      British people have a horror of reboiling water for tea (partly because it’s wasteful of electricity, and partly because it changes the mineral profile and therefore the flavour). I also imagine it would fall foul of health and safety rules, both for electrical testing and potential scalding reasons.

      A teapot, on the other hand, would be considered classy and prudent – the equivalent of filling a French press in the kitchen and topping up your mug until it’s all gone.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I have seen videos of Brits horrified by the idea of tea made with water heated in the microwave. Tellingly, I have never found a blind taste test comparing tea from microwaved versus, um…, unmicrowaved water. (If anyone can point me to any, I would be interested.) And frankly, given that Brits seem to routinely use tea bags, I am skeptical of the idea of the average Brit being a connoisseur of the subtle nuances.

        1. FricketyFrack*

          I would pay money for someone to brew tea exactly the same way but using kettle vs. microwaved water and then ask Brits to pick which was which. I’d be willing to bet that they couldn’t.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          It doesn’t matter whether it’s detectable or not: it’s the strong opinions which would prevent you from having a kettle repeatedly reboiling on your desk.

        3. Ophelia*

          My (horrified, British) coworker assumed we microwave it *with the teabag in the mug* rather than just bringing water to a boil in the microwave, and then adding the tea bag. That was deemed less terrible, but I was informed that dunking the tea bag into the mug (vs. pouring boiling water over it) “does not properly aerate the tea,” so who knows.

          1. SereneScientist*

            Can I say how funny that is given it’s still a tea bag being used? I would understand if it was loose leaf tea, but it being a tea bag basically negates any “aeration” pouring water would induce hahaha

          2. Laura*

            Oh weird, why would you microwave it with the tea bag IN IT? I’m American and I heated my tea water in the microwave for years, but I have never heard of anyone doing that. It’s like heating water for hot cocoa in the microwave – you heat the water and then add the cocoa.

        4. UKDancer*

          My understanding is that the microwave doesn’t heat all the water evenly so it’s not a consistent temperature which is what you’d want for tea.

          I don’t think British people are in the main connoisseurs of tea, but they often have a strong view on the right way to make it.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Stipulating to the fact set, one quick stir with a spoon would solve the problem.

        5. Jayne*

          Not blind taste test but physics: Anirban, A. (2020). How to microwave your tea (but using a kettle is better). Nature Reviews Physics, 2(9), 462-462.

          This book has an assertion that kettles more evenly heat the water: Kanzler, Jessica. HowExpert Guide to Tea: 101 Tips to Learn about, Make, Drink, and Enjoy Tea for Everyday Tea Drinkers. HowExpert, 2021.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Water fresh from the tap has more air in it than water that’s already been boiled once. I can’t taste the difference, but some people can. There is a real difference between the flavor of tap water in different regions, though.

        There is some really bad tea in England, because the water is so hard. When I’m visiting my mother in London, I drink PG Tips, which can cover the taste of the tap water.

        1. run mad; don't faint*

          not UK
          Here we’re told to add a pinch of salt and shake or stir the water if we have to boil it during emergencies. Apparently that compensates for the boiled taste

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            You can also pour it back and forth between vessels to aerate it.

        2. Freya*

          When I moved away from the city I grew up in, I started having to supplement calcium, because I was no longer getting as much in the water.

          My husband thought it was weird how interested I was in the warranty period of things like water heaters (in my city of origin water heaters die about a month after the warranty expires; where I live now they have an effective life nearly twice as long) and then we visited my parents and he learned that soap foams differently there…

        3. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I agree about different water in different regions. If ever you find yourself in Hays, Kansas, Do Not Drink Tap Water. Trust me on this.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you think the water in England is too hard for black tea, stick to wine & coffee in Bordeaux. So said my French friend before we visited the first time, and so I agreed.

    3. Helen Waite*

      Another tea drinker who prefers loose leaf teas. My role went fully remote during the pandemic, but I had my work tea stash. The day I discovered that you could select the temperature of the hot water on the office water machine was a good day for drinking teas that are best of the water doesn’t boil.

    4. Nonanon*

      I bought an electric kettle whenever I moved into dorms, because frankly I didn’t want to deal with weird fish and popcorn aftertaste in my water. I have had mine for close to 10 years now, and it’s the one thing I’ll get people for gifts when I don’t know what else to get them (my dad. He drinks pourovers but always hates waiting for the kettle to heat up). 20/10, every office, house, apartment, dorm, whatever needs an electric kettle.

      1. Perfectly normal-size space bird*

        I absolutely love that electric kettles are so easy to come by now. Back when I was regularly drinking tea, I could not find one anywhere. I went to every store (this was when Amazon only sold books) and I got either blank looks or people just pointed at the stovetop kettles. I finally found one in a tiny import store and I cherished it. I even took it with me when I was visiting my parents. Then my mom used it to heat up soup. The canned tomato taste never came out. For years after, I failed to find an electric kettle and eventually gave up drinking hot tea. Now they’re everywhere but I never went back to regularly drinking hot tea.

        My mom recently got an electric kettle, thinks she’s the first to discover this device, and keeps smugly telling me all about how great they are. The temptation to heat up some soup next time I visit rises with every comment.

    5. Peon*

      Yup, love my electric kettle(s). Although, I use tea bags these days, as I got tired of dealing with wet tea leaves early in the morning.

    6. Ally McBeal*

      I am also a tea drinker, although I don’t bring the loose leaf stuff to work. I just steep one or two increasingly diluted bags of herbal tea over the course of the day using the hot-water tap on the coffee machine. It’s more of a stay-warm technique than anything else; my good loose-leaf tea stays at home. My area had a boil-water notice a couple months ago and I ended up bringing my electric kettle to work (to use with the gallons of water my employer bought from the store) because I was so thrown off by the change in my routine.

    7. SarahKay*

      I was amazed the day I realised that electric (tea) kettles are not ubiquitous in US kitchens the way they are in the UK.
      Yes, thinking about it, we mostly use them for tea and thus if you are a coffee-culture you wouldn’t need one, but… but… seriously, mind blown.
      I’m curious though – are hot water bottles for warming one’s feet in bed also not much of a thing in the US? I rarely drink tea or coffee at home but still need a kettle for my nightly hot water bottle.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        I think they are more for when you have a back ache or cramps or something. I don’t hear of a lot of people doing that but I have never really checked either.

      2. Phoenix*

        I’ve lived in both rural and suburban areas in the northeastern US – I think of those hot water bottles as something people in less-insulated or less-well-heated rural homes would use. I’ve known people who had them, but really only in rural areas where they might be using a wood stove for their primary heat source.

      3. Fluffy Fish*

        Hot water bottles aren’t really a thing. Heating pads, whether electric or microwaveable are common but primarily used for pain relief.

        1. SarahKay*

          Hmm, as the owner of cold feet (and hands) this feels like a marketing opportunity, albeit one I don’t really see myself making use of.
          And while I won’t fight any tea or coffee battles, you will pry my hot water bottle from my cold nicely-warmed dead hands ;-)

        2. Uranus Wars*

          I have a hot water bottle that I still use – it was my grandparents! It’s pink and very thick plastic. You fill it with boiled water, cap it and use it on aches and pains, similar to an electric heating pad – but without a cord/electricity attached. When I was a kid I just used it because I thought it was cool. And one of my grandparents used it in winter when she was cold and needed warmth!

      4. Two Dog Night*

        The other thing is, the US electric system is 120 volts, while Britain’s is 240 volts (I hope those are right), so electric kettles take longer to heat up over here. I still love mine, but I’m always amazed how much faster it boils in the UK.

        1. Freya*

          This. Australia is 240V/50Hz too, and anything designed for a different voltage or different frequency than the one you have just doesn’t work as well.

      5. ThatGirl*

        I know a few people with hot water bottles, but one of them is my husband’s BFF, who spent a year in Northern Ireland, and she influenced me to get one for him. And he fills his from the tap – no need for a kettle, our kitchen faucet gets plenty hot for that kind of thing.

      6. Hannah Lee*

        Folks in my family absolutely use hot water bottles sometimes for warming up feet (though some have switched to “bed buddies” or other microwavable versions.)

        And I’ve found in the case of a power outage, hot water bottles are the only reliable source of heat (the gas heat could keep working in theory, except that it’s distributed by forced hot air which needs electricity) But the hot water heater just keeps cranking. It’s allowed me to stay at home instead of evacuating for someplace with power, even if it’s a cold winter night, or a multi-day power outage. Hot water bottle + wool socks and hat + layers of wool blankets can keep one toasty warm all night-ish.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          ^All this, plus in my Old House that has some less-warm rooms that get a bit drafty and my terrible-circulation feet, a hot water bottle is vital for sleeping when it’s Very Cold out. But also, during one super-tight-money year when the furnace broke and I just 100% could not afford to fix it, I spent a bit of money on a good blanket for each person and a significant collection of hot water bottles and we managed to make it through the whole winter with just that plus an electric heater in the living room (and a lot of Family Time in the one warm room!).

      7. Chirpy*

        Yeah, I’ve never actually seen anyone use a hot water bottle in person. Heating pads are much more common in the US.

        I use an electric kettle for tea and coffee, as I don’t drink coffee often and use a French press. Also, occasionally for instant oatmeal or noodles. But it’s really only the last 5 years that I’ve seen electric kettles picking up in use here.

      8. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

        I have my grandparents’ old hot water bottle, so it’s possibly 65 years old, and like it for various pains but it specifically says do not put boiling water in it, so I just do the hottest available from the tap and it’s wonderful. I could boil water in the electric kettle I didn’t really think I needed and now adore (for both instant coffee, the horror!, and tea of all kinds) and wait for it to cool a bit, but naaaah.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          Oh I wonder if mine says this – I think I put boiling (or close to) in mine the last time I used it. Which is obviously very often

      9. Fives*

        I use a hot water bottle all the time! In addition to helping with minor backaches (thanks perimenopause!), it’s incredibly relaxing.

      10. Artemesia*

        We don’t use boiled water except for the occasional cup of tea I drink and so the microwave works just fine for heating water.

      11. Laura*

        Nope, hot water bottles aren’t common here. You just put on more/thicker socks or add more/thicker blankets or turn the heat up or some combination of those things.

        1. SarahKay*

          Alas, poor circulation means that thicker socks just means my feet stay colder for longer.

      12. HBJ*

        Electric tea kettles might not be ubiquitous in the Us, but they’re still quite common and readily available at any big box store. They’re definitely still useful for coffee. Pour over, French press, aeropress.

        I’ve heard they’re less common in the US because the time savings of an electric kettle over the stove is less because of our lower voltage household electricity. No idea if that’s true, but the time savings is definitely significant in the US. I did a test with the same amount of water, and the electric took half as long. However, the ability to turn it on and then go take a shower while it heats is enough incentive for me even if the electric kettle took way longer.

      13. LearnSomethingNew*

        Hot water bottles are a real thing? I’ve only ever seen them in Regency/Victorian novels. I thought they became obsolete with indoor heating controls.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          In Japan, they make them with cute covers – ours looks like a teddy bear. The yutanpo style is amazing – fill it with hot tap water before going to bed, add the padded cover, and it’s still slightly warm when you get up.

        2. SarahKay*

          In Regency/Victorian times they were stoneware – my stepdad has an old one from his grandmother which now mostly sits decoratively on the windowsill. I’m sure they did a good job of warming the bed, but they do look like a recipe for unexpected midnight stubbed toes.
          Modern ones are rubber and for people with poor circulation (me, my mum) they are the best thing ever. I can be toasty warm everywhere but my feet (and hands) which will still be miserably cold. A hot water bottle will hold warmth all through the night and keep my toes toasty and happy.

      14. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        The red rubber kind? Those I mostly don’t see in shops anymore! I use the kind of pleated water bag with a wide screw top that’s primarily for ice, with the hottest tap water possible (and my house has it hotter than normal) for my cold feet nights. (Suburban, Pacific Northwest USA, adequately insulated house for the area but I’m Alaskan so the obvious inefficiencies appall me.)

        For heat therapy I think we’ve mostly switched to cloth bags full of rice or similar, which one heats in the microwave with a little less chance of a leak causing a scald.

      15. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I am a US hot water bottle fan. It’s gotten hard to find them–and online it’s a gamble whether they’re comfortably flexible.

        I like a cool house and warm bedding, and I don’t like feeling the wires in electric blankets. Hot water bottle for the win.

    8. AvocadoQueen*

      I bought an electric kettle with various temperature settings when my stove broke. It’s amazing. All my teas are now brewed at the perfect temperature and for the exact right amount of time!

    9. Ms. Murchison*

      I, a tea drinker, was laughing at these stories until the last one. I could absolutely see the same things happening if I was in an office where everyone drank tea, especially the hoarding. If I felt that my daily caffeine allotment was a significant part of my benefits from the company (which seems likely in that situation), then I can absolutely see myself stashing a few teabags away so I didn’t get caught in an emergency with the reject tea that no one wants, say herbals when I needed caffeine, or my least favorite: Earl Grey.

    10. Tau*

      This would have been seen as deeply antisocial in my UK office. We had tea rounds – you decide you’d like a cup of tea, you ask those sitting in your vicinity if they would also like a cup, several of them will say yes. You go to the kitchen, you consult the handy spreadsheet on employee tea preferences and mug descriptions that is hanging on the wall, you make tea to each coworker’s preference using their mugs and bring them to their desks. An hour or so later one of them asks if you’d like a cup, and so it continues. The tea preferences and mug description spreadsheet is managed and kept up-to-date by HR, who have included a form collecting this information in the employee onboarding paperwork. (This sounds like I’m joking. I’m not joking.) Having talked to other commentators who’ve worked in the UK it sounds like tea rounds like this are fairly common, even if not all companies codify them as part of onboarding.

      Your options for tea were also pretty limited: you could have your PG Tips weak, medium or strong, or maybe Earl Grey if you were fancy about it, but all teabags. I’m from an atypically tea-drinking family in Germany with snob tendencies and one of the biggest culture shocks for me in the UK was that I’d been expecting a culture full of tea snobs and what I got was… not that. :’) I ended up stocking PG Tips or Yorkshire teabags for guests and keeping the loose leaf for my own use.

  7. Lizy*

    I have an office-mate (different company) who sometimes drinks coffee, but not all the time, but then also sometimes goes on a coffee-drinking spree but sometimes not… So I’ll just make one cup with the Keurig. Oh wait today he wants coffee. SO HE MAKES A WHOLE POT.

    So the next day I’ll make a pot (I normally only drink 1 cup). HE DOESN’T TOUCH IT.

    So I’ll make a partial-pot. Or I’ll even ask him if he wants any coffee so I can make some for both of us – you know, all considerate like. He’s like “just make a full pot”. I don’t WANT a full pot I only want ONE CUP.

    Husbands are the worst. /s

    1. Office Manager slash Miracle Worker*

      office-mate (different company)
      Husbands are the worst.

      This just made my day LOL

  8. anonymous for this*

    I don’t drink coffee or tea or anything but water, really. You would think that would mean I’m left out of the “drinks at work” wars, but there have been some conflicts over our new water dispenser!

    1. when the old one started to go and then died before a new contract could be secured, there was unhappiness. We have filtered water fountains, but the cooler was required somehow.
    2. Someone commented that the new one was colder than the last one, and there were convos about that “false claim” and disappointment.
    3. One office insisted that the not visible to the public water cooler be wrapped in the university colors to prevent staff from having to look at the offending, non-uni colors.

    1. Kyrielle*

      The only bad story I have of office water is the time our water dispenser started having a slower flow…which is how we all learned that never, since its installation, had anyone changed the filter.

      1. AnonORama*

        I used to love it when the office water cooler jug ran out, because I could surprise people by easily picking up and flipping the full bottle. (It’s not hugely heavy, maybe 40lbs, but it’s big and awkward, and I’m smallish and not strong-looking.) Until one day I flipped it a little too enthusiastically and a big glug of water flew out! Thankfully it only hit the wall/floor, not a person, but several people saw it and I felt ridiculous.

      2. Artemesia*

        I worked in a greasy spoon 60 years ago and one day with time on my hands decided to clean the spouts on the coke machine. I haven’t had fountain drinks since. There was a pad of mold growing in each spout that had clearly not been cleaned since the memory of man runneth not.

  9. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    One of my colleagues opened our Keurig machine to find a cockroach, so none of us use that any more and warn people about the cockroach coffee.

    1. Kiwi*

      I wrote in about this issue a couple years ago and the comments were HARROWING. Never again will I use a Keurig that I don’t personally maintain.

      1. Jaid*

        I remember! This is the reason why I never showed that thread to my work bestie, because I didn’t want to traumtize her!

  10. Freelance Bass*

    When I was an EA, an exec came to visit from a different office and saw me put on a pot of coffee in the kitchen. He asked me if I had any duties in the office besides making coffee. Making coffee wasn’t my job, I just happened to be making some at the time.

    I didn’t make another pot for the rest of his visit. My desk was right by the kitchen, so I got to watch him peek his head in to see if there was coffee then walk away disappointed every ten minutes.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I used to work at a University and we had seminars once in a while. I would make one large pot of coffee for the seminar. That was it. But one of the faculty members told me one time to go get him a cup of coffee. I let him know the large pot was still brewing but I’d bring it out to the table when it was done. Nope he wanted me to go BUY him a cup of coffee from downstairs. I didn’t even make a living wage. He went and bought his own cup of coffee and I think he should thank his lucky stars every day that he didn’t end up wearing it as a hat.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        I hear from a naturalism friend that a “Coffee Enema” is beneficial on many levels!!

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          You can’t use that phrase without reminding me of Col. Henry Blake and making me smile.

          1. Catwhisperer*

            love the variety of cultural references around this….my mind went to the season of RuPaul’s Drag Race where Ru kept joking her energy was due to a coffee enema.

  11. Sloanicota*

    Posts like this make me wish I was some kind of cultural anthropologist so I could design experiments to explain this quirk of human nature. It must have its roots in instinct somewhere. Take people who are trapped in a place all day, give them a small pleasure, and then begin to make changes around the edges, and watch all the vagrancies of human nature explode.

    1. Praise be unto coffee.*

      I think I must have been in that study while in the military. I remember there was an ill fated attempt to bang nicotine and Coffee while on a field exercise. I think someone told the officer who came up with that idea that he would be murdered in broad daylight and there would be no witnesses. The policy was quickly reversed.

    2. Lola*

      Jane Goodall did study something like this with chimps and bananas. The more she gave them free bananas, the more aggressive and demanding they became.

  12. Aspirational Yogurt*

    It’s stuff like this that makes me actually glad I work for local government and we have to bring our own coffee. They provide a Keurig, we bring our own pods and milk/creamer/sugar/whatever. We also have an electric kettle for tea drinkers, but they supply their own tea.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I honestly think this is the best system. Yes it would be nice to have coffee provided but lots of people have shown they can’t handle it.

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      At my library, someone brought in a Keurig that people could bring in their own pods for. There were several people who bitched about how much waste was being generated for the landfill. For a while I used compostable pods (we had a composting program on campus), then I switched to a basic french press using the boiling water faucet that was part of sink in the kitchen.

  13. HR Friend*

    I love coffee wars. Humans are so reliably petty and particular when it comes to habits like coffee at work. It’s so funny and weirdly endearing.

    1. Dancing Otter*

      They’re a lot more fun to read about than to live through.
      I once consulted at a food conglomerate that had at least seven different coffee brands. The executive suite had the top of the line, like Gevalia or Keurig when it was new and shiny. The peons had something cheap that wasn’t marketed in the States. Do I even need to tell you that there was a constant stream of people “delivering documents” to the executive suite with coffee cup in hand?

  14. La Triviata*

    My office, after we’d started coming back after the pandemic, bought a one-cup coffee maker that came with a range of different types of coffee (and tea!). They provide the individual packets, sugar, artificial sweetener and a range of flavors of creamer. This is the life!

  15. Loose Socks*

    Where I work, coffee was brought up as a perk. It turns out only a three offices (out of 7) even have coffee pots, and coffee wasn’t available in the main break room at all. The offices that had coffee in them were individual offices and they only made one pot, usually not even a full one each. Not enough for everyone to have a cup. They also didn’t provide any type of sugar, creamer, or even cups.
    After I started I joint the Employee Benefit Committee and made it a priority to have coffee available to everyone at all times, with the appropriate stuff. It’s amazing how much moral has improved!

  16. Tess of the D'Atabases*

    Someone leaves their K cups in the machine and it irks the stuffing out of me. Your mom doesn’t work here … so I passive-agressively leave the used ones on the counter.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I’m imagining a different coworker of yours getting annoyed by the used ones on the counter and thinking “Your mom doesn’t work here…” before throwing them out, lol.

      1. Workerbee*

        Ha, yeah. That tactic would have zero effect on the original perpetrator and only serve to annoy bystanders.

    2. Office Manager slash Miracle Worker*

      We used to have those in our offices (2), one office got rid of it and just recently we had the 2nd office get rid of it but they would leave the cups in ALL THE TIME – it irked me (and my stuffing) every single time. Now we all have fancy coffee makers with simple push buttons. But now the grounds box isn’t getting emptied … sigh …

    3. Please Stop*

      I am so glad you brought this up. It is a major pet peeve of mine as well. Most people in my office don’t drink a lot of coffee, so I often wonder how long it has been sitting for

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m now remembering the coffee maker that someone else packed up for my husband in late March 2020… That’s what finally taught my husband to empty the wet grounds right away.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We have the fancy industrial ones at my office that hook up to the water line and dump the old cups in a large bin – someone does have to empty the bin every so often, but the night cleaning crew does it during the course of their duties.

  17. Lauren*

    We had so many preferences at one of my jobs that we had 6 different coffee makers (e.g. bullet, regular pot that only the president of the office used, 2 keurigs because vendors would gift them back in the day, a fancy espresso machine that required training meetings on and another one that was capsules)

    1. Grace Poole*

      When we remodeled our breakroom our workplace was in the midst of a big push to be “green” and “sustainable.” Thinking it would be easy and more of a treat, the committee contracted with a service providing one of those machines with a touch screen that grinds its own beans. The grounds could then be composted in the bin, all good. Except it wasn’t. The two people who used the old drip pot were put out, but were willing to try the new machine if someone would help them with the “newfangled” screen, and the Keurig users lost their minds, so we ended up keeping the K-cups and watching the trash can fill up with little plastic cups every day (those users were not at all interested in using the reusable cup we bought.)

      1. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

        Former employer replaced the drip machines with a couple K-cup machines. A lot of people were not okay with this because of the waste, so every employee was gifted a reusable K-cup pod and the break room was outfitted with bulk ground coffee and a coffee grinder with bulk beans. In a normal office, that might have worked but this one was dysfunctional. In a mass protest led by the person I designated my Office Nemesis, they threw away the brand reusable cups.

        (Insert facepalm and/or headdesk gif here)

        Management put the old drip coffee maker back and the furor died down. Meanwhile, someone had quietly collected all the reusable cups (still in packaging) from the kitchen bins and was passing them out on the sly to anyone who wanted extras to take home. I don’t drink coffee but everyone in my family does, so I snagged a few to pass around to those who had Keurigs. When I left that job, Office Nemesis was still telling new hires about the time he stood up for the environment against our wasteful corporate overlords.

        1. A perfectly normal-size space bird*

          That should be the protesters threw away the brand new reusable cups.

  18. Olive*

    I don’t make a big, noisy deal about it, but it bugs me when a company gives a lot of lip service to being “green” and then uses k-cups.

    1. Czhorat*

      K-cups seem to be going out of vogue; most people I’ve seen discussing new office builds use some kind of “bean to cup” machine that has a hopper full of coffee beans which are automagically ground when someone hits the “brew coffee” button.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        At least around here, most of the convenience stores have gone to this, with a row of machines, each machine having three different beans to choose from. I was just as happy with the big pot, so long as it was refilled in a timely fashion, but I don’t go to a convenience store for super fresh fancy beans.

    2. Non profit Pro*

      We’ve somehow ended up with two Keurigs in the office and I appreciate them because I bring in a little zippie with my refillable k up full of my favourite type of coffee and I can make it as strong as I like. The Folgers in the communal pot is not worth drinking as far as I’m concerned.

    3. Stuff*

      Honestly I get it, and I’m not glad I use k-cups, but as someone with ADHD who really struggles to keep things clean, having a k-cup machine in my office is just way more realistic than actually expecting myself to keep a traditional basket machine clean. I also don’t drink the same coffee everyone else in the office drinks, nor do I really want to, so I do really like keeping my own machine in my office and stocking it myself. I feel bad about my k-cup usage, it’s just, I have executive dysfunction and they REALLY work for me.

      1. Lana Kane*

        The way I see it, I try balance out these things by being good about others. For example, when I was in the office I had my own Keurig and used kcups, but had my own set of silverware and plates, so I wasn’t using disposables. I made sure I recycled. I care about waste, but I also wanted some aspects of my worklife to be simple and pretty hands-off because I have the same challenges you do.

        I’m WFH now and even though I have a much better coffeemaker than a keurig, I still remember the ease of it fondly!

    4. Dancing Otter*

      I buy compostable k-cups.
      My reusable k-cup is a pain to clean since I don’t have a garbage disposal that can handle coffee grounds. They end up *everywhere*.

    5. ThatGirl*

      We used to have a large bin to toss ours into, they were supposed to get sent to a service to compost the grounds and recycle the plastic.

      It attracted gnats like crazy.

  19. Bee*

    Ok, in the case of the “mixed pots” complaints, I have to say: the people who are not willing to drink out of either half-full pot of old coffee and have to instead brew a new pot but are also not willing to just toss the stuff they won’t drink are definitely also being weird.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Once in a while okay. But this sounded like somebody doing it on a regular basis. If not two somebodies. It potentially doubles your coffee expense.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      We had a guy in my office who would 1) linger in the break room waiting for someone to brew a pot (he was an OLD guy who refused to do it himself) and 2) as soon as it started brewing, he would whisk away the pot and put his cup under the stream, stating “the first bit is always the best!” and then put the pot back on to finish. He would do this multiple times a day to ensure he got the “first, best pour”. He would NOT drink from the half full pot. I’d go in and get coffee and he’d ask hopefully “are you going to make another pot?” If the pot was almost empty, I just wouldn’t get any if he was there because I didn’t want to encourage him by making another pot!

  20. Honey Badger just don't care*

    I’m not a coffee drinker and I’ve managed to never learn how to make it. I will turn completely stupid when faced with a coffee maker. I will be unable to follow simple directions on measuring coffee, filling the water, turning the machine on. In the unlikely event I manage to produce a pot of coffee, it will be deemed undrinkable. Thus, my reputation in the coffee drinking world is a bad one and I have been permanently relieved of being expected to make coffee, buy coffee, fetch coffee, make the run to the coffee shop or perform any coffee related activities. I am happy.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      Same here. Coffee is the one circumstance in which I indulge in weaponized incompetence.

      1. Chirpy*

        Same. I can actually make decent French press coffee, but at work I’m still “that person who never drinks coffee”, because I’d rather drink other things anyway and I don’t want to be involved in coffee drama (or be constantly asked to make coffee.)

      2. Zee*

        Same. I already get saddled with a lot of admin stuff that’s not in my job description (like taking notes during meetings) and I refuse to learn to make coffee and end up having to do that for meetings too.

    2. higher ed teaching*

      one of my first office jobs, the senior nurse on duty decided I should be the coffee maker. I asked how (I did not drink it at the time) and dutifully made a pot of coffee with instant coffee. there was a meeting. questions were asked surreptitiously. finally the senior nurse came over and asked me to taste it and tell her what was wrong with it. I said it tasted and smelled like coffee. They had already located the can of instant coffee I’d opened. I couldn’t find the can of non instant coffee. She shook her head and said , dear, you’re very smart and will do amazing things with your career one day. don’t make coffee. she then assured me she loved me no less than the day before and was not disappointed in me…which would be weird except she is my mom. my dad was then tasked with teaching me how to be a coffee drinker.

      25 years later, I still won’t make coffee in a pot. My husband the coffee snob taught me how to make pourover coffee and to this day that is the only coffee I will make unless it’s my actual W2 job…which did happen at a Panera I worked at for 6 months. lol.

      my current job provides K cups and Keurigs all over campus, which I’m not fond of environmentally, but it makes up for the fact that we have one coffee shop and one part-time Starbucks (it’s a rather small town, and the biggest in my county) and does seem to lessen the coffee wars. I kind of love that the school believes that perks like this keep us happier, which makes us better able to serve our students. We also have a wonderful culture of gratitude and joy in our work, which also seems to keep petty fighting down.

      1. Wow, really?*

        I was very concerned about the office you were working n until you explained who the nurse was! :-)

  21. CherryBlossom*

    This definitely reminds me of my own office. I’m an office manager, and on top of a Snack War, there’s a whole Coffee War I’m stuck with too. We need to have coffee at all times! It has to be the good stuff, no store-bought Folgers nonsense! We can never run out, ever! Even if the only small local brewer we get coffee from runs out! No, we can’t use store-bought until the next shipment! And don’t even get me started on cold brew.

    I happen to like Folgers. Then again, I’m fine with most coffee, and I don’t ever feel the need to complain about it if it’s free!

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Same-ish here.

      And at least once a quarter I get someone panicking that we’re out of …something they consider absolutely essential to their coffee experience. And I am perplexed as I head into the break room, wondering how in TH the 15 of us went through 500 sugar packets in 3 weeks, or whatever. I stand in front of the machine, and sure enough, there’s no Colombian coffee packets where the Colombian packets go, only the other 3 types of coffee, just one sugar packet and the cups are running low.

      But then I open the door of the cabinets under the coffee maker, supply rack …. and sure enough there is plenty of everything. And the person is always dumbfounded. These are people who have worked here, been helping themselves to coffee, tea, cocoa for years and they never once thought to open a cabinet to look for back up supplies, even though there’s a note next to the brewer that says “more supplies in cabinet under brewer”

    2. Petty_Boop*

      Didn’t someone write in previously that their office was full of coffee snobs who liked “fancy local roasted by elves” whatever, coffee beans, and they finally just started refilling the tin it came in with Folger’s or Kirkland brand or something? And nobody even noticed. I honestly can’t tell a good Kona from a mediocre Sumatran….or Folger’s!

  22. ypsi*

    I work for a large corporation and the company is extremely generous with the coffee policy (it’s actually the only real perk). We have 2 multi-floor building and there are coffee machines on every floor. Some floors have the big holding tanks of coffee and the unwritten policy is that a tank is running low, you make a new batch of coffee (there are various kinds of flavours). Some floors have more sophisticated machines that produce cappucino, espresso, latte, etc. A person can go to any floor/either building to get his/her favourite coffee. In addition to that, somebody from the cafeteria checks the fridges (again on each floor) to make sure we have sufficient supply of milk (1%, 2% and think there is also lactose-free). There is also a fairly decent supply of various flavours of tea. All this is free of charge, of course. Some people drink UNBELIEVABLE amounts of coffee. If there was only 1 kind of coffee available and if it were dark roast, I would not touch it (I would rather buy my own coffeemaker or bring coffee from home).

  23. BookMom*

    My husband worked for a small nonprofit that used a lot of volunteers who were Midwest grandmas (but not the kind who call you honey and stuff you with cookies. More the kind that save string and complain about young people these days.) At the end of the day, a certain regular volunteer would refrigerate the old sludgy coffee at the bottom of the pot so that it could be microwaved the next morning, as as not to waste a single drop before the next pot of coffee was brewed. Luckily, she rarely worked consecutive days, so my husband would dump the fridge coffee out and put on a fresh pot each morning before the volunteers arrived. If the others were onto his wasteful disposal of day old Folgers, they never tattled.

  24. Peon*

    The only time I’ve gone to war over coffee was when a coworker put a partially drunk to go cup of the stuff in our fridge and someone else tipped it over and EVERYONE ignored it for I don’t know how long.

    The person the cup belonged to is lucky he was out of the office the day I found it.

  25. FricketyFrack*

    I can’t get past the green tea with FOUR TEASPOONS of honey. Granted, I don’t have much (or any) of a sweet tooth, but that made my teeth hurt to even imagine. Just buy a bear and dispense it straight into your mouth, lady, and then we don’t have to waste good green tea. It probably wouldn’t be so upsetting if she wasn’t being a jerk to the person very nicely offering to get drinks for people.

    1. SarahKay*

      Back when I worked in a restaurant I once saw the owner make herself a cup of tea – standard ‘restaurant’ coffee cup size, so not a large cup – and put in six heaped teaspoons of sugar. Yes, I counted; I was mesmerised by how muchsugar?!?

      1. Petty_Boop*

        My daughter and I were at a waffle house once, and she ordered coffee. She then grabbed the sugar dispenser (the old fashioned diner style pour spout ones) and began to pour. I started counting and at 30 seconds, I said “OMG STOP that is more than enough!” and she kept going. She poured sugar for like a full 45 seconds! She said that was the only way she could drink it. I’m still horrified. She no longer drinks coffee; now she self medicates her ADHD with Monsters.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      Also if I were complained to about the amount of honey, I’d be looking her in the eye and saying “well, I didn’t MAKE it”. But possibly just me.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        Exactly. Like, ma’am, you didn’t have to get off your butt and go get it, so just take the drink and say thank you.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I get this reaction from my in-laws, but it’s over milk, not sugar. “Milk with a little coffee” is how they describe what I drink.

      To be fair (to me), though, 1% is about as inefficient as you can get for cutting black coffee.

      1. FricketyFrack*

        I’m with you on that – I use oat milk because a lot of plant milks are really watery, and watery milk (of any variety) doesn’t mellow the bitterness very well. Oat milk is the only one that doesn’t make me feel like I need to use a 1:1 ratio of milk to coffee.

      2. Bread Crimes*

        “Milk with a little coffee” is what I drink, but that’s because when I was introduced to coffee, it was via sleepovers with friends and then coffee at breakfast the way their family always did it: a big heated pitcher of milk for the table, that you pour into a mug and then add cocoa powder or instant coffee as you prefer, then spoons of sugar to taste.

        Coffee made with water instead of milk tastes weird and thin to me–like having cereal with water poured on it instead of milk–unless it’s mixed with at least an equal amount of milk. For myself, I still heat milk and add instant coffee for my morning wakeup. The traditional way!

        1. Name_Required*

          I have to say, that actually sounds good to me! I heat up my half and half or cream before adding it to my coffee and I like a fair amount. I may try your way! I had a friend, who the first time I slept over, shocked me by eating her cereal…with orange juice! She said “I don’t like milk” and shrugged it off. I think about her a lot….

  26. Brain the Brian*

    We had someone decide in about 2018 that our office Keurigs were just too awful for him. He brought in a pour-over setup and an electric kettle. Mid-pandemic shutdown, someone from our cleaning crew threw out his pour-over contraption. He was blindingly angry upon returning to the office several days a week.

    1. Non profit Pro*

      Having your personal items thrown out at work seems like a valid thing to be upset about.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Yes, but he left it in the office kitchen’s drying rack on our last day in March 2020, and over the course of a two-year office closure, it was bound to happen. I feel bad for the guy, but it’s really no one’s fault in particular.

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

          As a pour over coffee drinker that would still be very strange though — like coming in and finding they had thrown away all of the mugs. My pour over device is a metal cup-looking thing that sits on top of the mug and has holes in the bottom…so it’s very easy to tell that it isn’t trash. Did they toss all of the mugs too?

          1. Brain the Brian*

            They chucked everything in that drain rack, most of which was worthless or belonged to employees who left the company during the shutdown anyway. Not so this one pour-over device.

        2. Name_Required*

          I’d be upset too! I love my pourovers! I left a few things when we went home mid March and I never went back, except in July I went in to fully clean out my space. Nobody had touched my stuff. But even if it were in the dish drainer, surely there was a cupboard they could have put any dry dishes in, if there was a sink, counter and drainer? I have a relatively cheap pourover set up, but some of them aren’t so cheap! The cleaning crew had to know that the workers hadn’t had the chance to come retrieve their things. That just seems petty and lazy on their part, TBH.

  27. TX_Trucker*

    My office rents a fancy coffee machine that makes coffee, teas, and lattes with these specialized single serve packets that come in a variety of flavors and roast types. I always thought it was a ridiculous expense. But after reading this post, I see that it’s money well spent.

  28. desk platypus*

    We’re not permitted to have coffee machines/microwaves/other appliances throughout the building and they have to be kept to the break room. But the break room only has standard pots of coffee and my since retired coworker liked her fancier kind of espresso, so she very carefully hid her machine in our department. She even found an old supply box to fit over the top of it when hiding it in a cabinet! Hilariously, I think everyone knew about it anyway. It wasn’t the quietest of machines and the brew was quite fragrant (and very nice!). I think because she was so well liked and a crucial employee admin turned a blind eye since she didn’t keep it constantly plugged in anyway.

  29. Other Meredith*

    Out of the 6 full time employees at my office, only 2 are regular coffee drinkers, but the powers that be have gotten us different types of coffee machines as staff morale boosters multiple times in the years that I’ve worked here. As one of the non coffee drinkers, I don’t understand why they keep doing this.

    1. ypsi*

      No, you cannot understand because you don’t drink coffee. People at my workplace would be really peeved off if the coffee perk went away. Lots of people drink one cup of coffee after another (and when I say ‘cup’ I really mean ‘mug’). I am in the office twice a week and I do look forward to my latte (to which I add additional milk and lots of hot water because normal coffee is too strong for me).

      1. No coffee please we're British*

        I feel like you either didn’t bother to read, or failed to comprehend, the comment you replied to. Your response misses the entire point quite spectacularly. Maybe you need more caffeine to function?

      2. Chirpy*

        An awful lot of coffee drinkers cannot comprehend that non-coffee-drinkers would like to be acknowledged in a manner that includes them. Such as asking what they want to drink instead, and then providing those beverages…

    2. Jaydee*

      Because office workers like coffee. Just like women like flowers and scented candles and jewelry while men like golf and beer and grilling meat. That’s just how it is. An online article titled “top 10 gifts for everyone in your life” said so.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I get that there are only 2 coffee drinkers on staff currently, but if you ever have any new employees, or visitors/clients, coffee and tea are pretty common offers of basic hospitality, and it’s super cheap. It’s a benefit that maybe not everyone uses… like having parking even if some people bike or take public transport, or having donut Fridays even if not everyone likes donuts.

      1. Chirpy*

        Good hospitality would be to also provide hot water, plus some packets of instant cocoa and tea bags alongside the coffee. That’s also cheap and super basic. Particularly since most of the staff doesn’t drink coffee – and not every visitor will, either.

  30. ArtK*

    Not really wars but a couple of coffee stories:

    Many years ago, I wasn’t a coffee drinker. I ended up in a 3-man office with guys from different cultures; both cultures are known for heavy coffee drinking. We’d go to the local S’bux and that’s where I started drinking the stuff. We also had a machine in the office. I quickly developed a high tolerance for caffeine because one of the guys made twice-brewed coffee. He didn’t just run the coffee through a 2nd time over the same grounds. He put in *new* grounds. The stuff could melt a spoon!

    At a much more recent job, the office was the former headquarters of a major food company. The break room was the test kitchen. Fully equipped including a built-in espresso maker. Fortunately, I worked from home and was only in the office a few times a year. It was just too easy to go to the kitchen, push a button, and get a cup of espresso; lather, rinse, repeat!

    1. Person from the Resume*

      About 50 years ago my dad started drinking coffee because the people he worked with took coffee breaks and he didn’t until he realized he was doing more work without the break.

      Luckily he worked on a oil rig so it was a coffee break and not a smoke break he was sort of pressured into.

        1. H3llifIknow*

          My husband did that…sort of. In Army basic training, back in the day, the smokers would be permitted to take a break and “smoke ’em if you got ’em” while the non-smokers would be doing duty scrubbing down the communal bathrooms/showers or something. So he started “smoking” by which I mean he’d light a cigarette and wave it around while talking and pretend every now and again to take a puff.

    2. Newly Minted Double-Brewing Zealot*

      “He didn’t just run the coffee through a 2nd time over the same grounds. He put in *new* grounds.”

      I have just discovered what my life has been missing. Thank you, kind stranger, for giving me the secret knowledge to see through time.

  31. sara*

    My current office has a very fancy whole bean computerized machine that grinds and serves a single cup. It’s amazing and makes pretty decent coffee. Except someone does have to empty the grounds bin and reset the counter (it doesn’t have a sensor just tracks how many coffees worth of grounds go in). Many, many times I’ve gone to make a coffee at 1030 or so and the bin’s full, so I empty it, reset the thing and go about my day. And then realize as I go back to my desk that many many people have to-go cups on their desk – meaning they went across the street to get a coffee rather than take 30 seconds to empty the bin (or a couple minutes to ask someone to show them how to do it)…

    I work with smart, capable people but somehow a bin of coffee grounds and a single button stumps most of them!

    We don’t even have to clean it or anything, the office admin does it a couple days a week and our beverage contractor does a big clean once a week. And the grounds are really dry (espresso style pucks) so it’s not even close to being a messy job…

    1. H3llifIknow*

      Ahhhh you gotta love the “it’s not MY job to do THAT” mentality. There’s also a weird office culture around doing what’s seen as “menial” labor that’s beneath them. I’ve seen many a colleague ignore a mess on the counter (even if they made it), an empty coffee pot, (someone else will make it), paper towels that missed the trash can, etc… It’s infuriating!

  32. Coffee Snob*

    I love coffee. I have no qualms about bringing in cream, a tub of coffee, etc for use. My new job, I noticed that people drank it black, so I bought in cream. Then people started using cream. I said something about others bringing some in. I was then told it was my responsibility since I was a supervisor. Welp, my trusty thermos came out to play. I never contributed to the coffee in that office location again!
    Changed jobs; same organization, different location on campus. They had a keurig. I tried it… sad brown water is what it tasted like to me. I now have a French press, I keep in my area, along with my coffee grinder, fresh beans and mug. Good coffee for one coming right up! No issues with others using the cream either.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sad brown water!

      I’ll borrow that to describe decaf. (I’ve had to give up caffeine and people keep offering decaf…. bleh.)

  33. Audogs*

    I haven’t read anything yet, but of all the bonkers stories I’ve seen here in the past, the one that comes to mind FIRST is the one about the courier (UPS?) who was daily abusing the coffee situation at the poster’s office to the point of blowing the budget and coffee service was discontinued.

  34. All Panic No Disco*

    I am responsible for my office’s coffee, ~35 people. I procured a plumbed Keurig & stock the coffee center with 8 coffee options, 2 sweetener options, 3 creamer options, cups & stirrers plus a variety of tea bags & hot chocolate packets. I also procured a countertop hot/cold filtered water dispenser. I accept requests, though I can’t accommodate everything … so no Soda Stream, no Nespresso. I only drink coffee during my AM commute & buy my own green tea to drink at work so nobody thinks the choices are to fit my tastes. So far there has been no Great Coffee Uprising so I will quietly continue along this path.

  35. Moonlight Elantra*

    OMG I remember reading that. Was it you who mentioned the coffee was now christened La Cucaracha blend? I’ve been laughing about that for YEARS.

    1. Moonlight Elantra*

      D@mn it, that was supposed to be a response to Kiwi upthread talking about finding a cockroach in the office Keurig years ago.

  36. Sara without an H*

    My library was in the same building as the student snack bar, so picking up coffee on the way in to work was easy and non-controversial. During The Plague Year, I started making my own at home and bringing it in a thermos bottle. It was better than the snack bar’s.

    Of my library staff, two were tea drinkers and the third picked up coffee on her way in from work. Based on Alison’s article, I guess I was mercifully spared.

  37. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    Early in my career right after I graduated from college, I temped at an office as a receptionist where they told me I had to make the coffee. It came to the point where they would call me to go to the back and make the coffee, as I was required to sit in the front and didn’t even see the coffee maker since it was in another room in the back. I guess they were above making coffee when they saw it needed to be made. They were super condescending about it. That only lasted a few days as I called my temp agency to ask to be reassigned. The coffee police ladies were angry but I got out of there and moved on to a better assignment where I was paid more and treated with respect.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      Americans are funny about class and coffee making. Early in my career, I was asked to come in early to set up for an early meeting, point people to the right rooms, etc. I was a lawyer, but lowest on the totem pole, and I think we were short an admin or something.

      Anyway, the office manager went through all that, and mentioned that I would have to make coffee. She said it apologetically, as though that was the most lowly of the admin tasks asked of me.

      Except, since I didn’t drink coffee, I didn’t know how to use the coffee maker, so someone would have to show me in advance.

      I remember I still helped with the beginning of the meeting, but someone else handled the coffee.

  38. EDM Nacho*

    I was an admin at a non-profit in charge of ordering supplies and was ordered by my boss to purchase half and half instead of flavored creamer (to save money). You would think I had had done an unspeakable crime the way people came to me to complain about ruining their coffee.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I seem to be unusual in my dislike of flavored creamers? I never liked “creamers” when they were powdered; I was baffled when liquid “creamers” came into the world (because at least the powdered ones could claim not needing refrigeration), and flavored creamers are just added insanity in my brain’s world. I like cream and half-and-half in my coffee. I like whole milk in my black tea.

    1. OMG, Bees!*

      Oooooh you only have no yet encountered a tea related problem. I’ve read many tea issues, most on here. Including demands of you put on the kettle if you are heading to the kitchen for whatever reason, and another with multiple floors and for insane reasons, kettles not allowed on every floor until several incidents of falling while holding a fresh cup of tea.

  39. Mrs Tubbs*

    Our office employed a Barista to make real coffee and installed a coffee lounge. Best.Perk. Ever. (About the only perk but that’s another discussion).

  40. Bookworm*

    I drink tea. Buy my own, use my mugs (although I might use the water, depending). I can’t stand the idea of doing anyone else’s dishes (how many horror stories of potlucks and homemade food gone wrong???) so I try hard to use my own stuff. Didn’t always help (right before we went into the pandemic I was drafted into some of the kitchen duties even though I only used the kitchen stuff in an emergency).

    I’ve never understood the “culture” around coffee–not in the office, not the whole waiting at your local coffee shop or big conglomerate, etc. I have dealt with people who CLEARLY need coffee before interacting with anyone, though. No thanks.

  41. La Triviata*

    A place I used to work, one woman would try to impose her idea of economy on the rest of us. The office provided coffeepots, a coffee maker, filters and pre-measured packets of coffee. This woman decided that it would save the office … something … if, after brewing a pot of coffee and people drinking it, rather than dumping the coffee grounds and starting fresh, she’d put half a packet of pre-measured coffee in on top of the used grounds. She thought it tasted fine and it saved a whole half packet of coffee. Of course, she’d forget and once the second “economical” pot was finished she’d put another half-packet in on top of the full packet and half packet and run the water through again. That got kind of nasty.

  42. Might Be Spam*

    So, reboiled water is bad.
    Some of us still don’t trust our municipal water system after a bacterial outbreak forty years ago. So we boil a full electric kettle of water at the highest setting in the morning, and then reheat it at the lowest setting later as needed. For tea, is it still bad or just the lesser evil?

    1. Not drinking tea when I visit the US after reading these comments*

      I do not understand this comment. You “reheat” it on a lower setting – to what temperature? Surely you are boiling it again, which means it’s reboiled.

      If you’re not boiling it, but reheating it to a lower temperature and making tea with it then that’s a WHOLE OTHER problem. And one that scares me.

      Just boil the water once, and use it when freshly boiled. Why is that so hard for people to get?

    2. Roland*

      You can do whatever you want but I don’t see how that’s easier for you than just boiling the water that you need at any given point. But free country etc, make your drinks in whatever way works for you

  43. RH in CT*

    I worked in IT, which was in its own building. It was the only building that was working 24×7. Coffee makers were provided, as were the supplies to use them. I don’t remember exactly how it came to pass, but at some point a soda machine was added so non-coffee drinkers (I was one) could get their caffeine too. This was the kind like the cafeteria had, put your cup under the spout and turn it on; when the syrup ran out we would notify the cafeteria and they would put in a fresh supply. After years of this, I got curious and removed the spout where the soda came out. Imagine if you will, what amounted to the concentrated essence of Coke from all those years of neglect on the nozzle. I managed to get it off, but it took an awful lot of hot water.

  44. Coverage Associate*

    We had some more church coffee craziness this weekend. The kitchen lady who usually makes the coffee was away. She’s supposed to leave instructions for her designees of which I was one, but…never mind that part.

    So I did what I have done in the past in these situations, which was bring my little 2 cup coffee maker, where at least I had manufacturer’s directions. I don’t drink drip coffee, so I don’t know how to run a machine without directions.

    And just like in the past, the rector had already made the coffee.

    I am thinking of leaving my coffee maker in the library (I am the church librarian) because it’s only use in my life is to make sure that there will be coffee at church even if everyone who knows how to operate the church coffee makers is absent.

  45. Someone*

    My office uses and automatic Van Houtte machine. Terrible coffee. But it also has a hot water dispenser. I bought a SS pour over cone, some filters, and now I make my coffee fresh and as strong as I like it, and it barely costs me 20$ a month if that. I can still drink the company swill if I’m in a rush.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      I recently discovered Copper Cow Coffee pour-overs, and if I don’t have time to make my coffee in the AM (or I’m lazy), they’re a great coffee option for work (we also have a hot water dispenser)! I also will bring a reusable bag to take the filter home and compost it, so I feel good about the whole process :)

  46. Sipless in Seattle*

    I moved to a new state and started my current job a little over a year ago. Being from Seattle, I had never encountered a company that didn’t provide decent quality coffee for employees. And being someone who drinks more than 1 cup a day, I was not going to survive on the cup I brought from home for my commute into the office. Turns out there are no real coffee shops in the vicinity either, just the sorts of places that serve caffeinated milkshakes. Not my jam.
    Mid-morning on my first day, I go to the breakroom for a coffee refill. I get the keurig going and return to my desk. Next day, I go to the breakroom mid-morning for a refill and realize there are no more K-cups. I swing by my boss’s office on the way back to my desk to let her know we need to reorder coffee. She looks at me super confused, and tells me if I want coffee I’ll need to buy it myself. Apparently no one else in the office drinks the coffee. I ask if I can replace the Keurig with my own drip machine from home, since Keurigs make more waste and weaker coffee than I prefer. Thinking this is a totally reasonable, and more of a heads up than a request since I’m the only person who drinks coffee. Oh no, we can’t get rid of the Keurig! What will our lobby guests drink? Baffled, I ask if our lobby guests bring THEIR OWN K-cups with them to a public place to brew coffee in our Keurig. Of course not! WE provide the K-cups. Ok, well we need to order more K-cups for our lobby guests. She makes me promise not to use the K-cups she’s ordering, which I do. In exchange she gives me the green light to bring in my drip machine and set it up next to the Keurig.
    Next day I bring in my drip machine and coffee and make a pot for myself. When I go back mid-morning for a refill I see that the coffee machine is empty. Turns out EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. in the office except for my boss drinks coffee. She is just not willing to use office budget on liquid motivation for the troops. Fast forward to today, I can confirm that all 24 K-cups boss ordered on my second day are still sealed in the original packaging. All the coffee drinkers in the office take turns bringing in a bag to help share the cost and ensure we each get to drink our favorite roast periodically :)
    On a related note, boss orders cases of bottled water for employees to drink. To be clear, we have 2 filtered water bottle refilling stations around the office, and a britta filter in the breakroom fridge. If the office budget were an actual constraint, why are we choosing to spend it on an expensive version of something we provide employees for free?

  47. TheAbsoluteWorst*

    I once worked in an office that didn’t have a kitchen and didn’t even supply drinking water. My boss periodically brought in a case of bottled water, but it always ran out way before a new one showed up.

  48. Estrella the Starfish*

    I’m realising now how civilised our team coffe club at my last work was. There were 4 of us who took turns to get the morning coffee round from the coffee shop downstairs, and to make the afternoon cafetiere of coffee. Any additional coffees we just got ourselves.

    No arguments, no chaos, no-one tried to infiltrate.

  49. DJ Abbott*

    They OP who is doing coffee runs across the street needs to start bringing his coffee with him to work. And not let anyone know.
    If they ask, he should just say he already had some.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      Or go and get his own and if anyone complains, simply say, “It was getting to be too much of a hassle to remember orders and carry it all, etc… Now the only drink I’m responsible for is my own.”

  50. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    I have been the person to post a sign on the coffee machine that could have been interpreted as passive-aggressive. So: big tech company, two mini-kitchens in each building, ginormous scary espresso machine, and an industrial coffee maker. In my first building, there were no coffee problems that I was aware of. Not so in the building that my team moved to a few years on!

    As with many places, the unwritten rule is that if you drink the last of the pot, you start the new one. But nobody’s going to hang around once they’ve started the industrial size coffee machine going, that takes quite a bit of time and unless you have other things to do in the kitchen, you just start it up and then grab your cup and waltz off, trusting that the next person through who needs coffee will set the airpot in the rack and get their cup. But I kept coming into the kitchen to find a peculiar situation. Airpots all in a row in their rack just fine. But there was always a paper plate stuck in the bottom of the coffee maker, catching the drip. Why was it dripping? Because the soggy filter full of coffee grounds was still in the pot. Nobody had thrown it out.

    That was the point where I made a little sign, neatly printed on the computer, with a little hand-drawn illustration, and laminated it to the machine with packing tape so it would look maybe a little less unofficial. Problem solved, right?

    Now instead of the paper plate under the dripping coffee filter, there was a tidy pile of paper plates in the corner of the counter. One paper plate under the expended filter, another paper plate over the top like a shell, and subsequent coffee grounds stacked on top of that, contained in the same fashion. All very tidy, but — !!!

    I finally traced the problem down to the janitorial schedule. Ideally the bins in that kitchen would have been emptied around 11 am, taking care of the breakfast and mid-morning trash before the lunch rush. Instead it was only emptied after lunch. I wrote a note to Facilities, and after there was consistently enough room in the compost and trash, the coffee grounds stopped stacking up.

    1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      The sign on the coffee maker wasn’t intended as passive aggressive. But it did go through all the steps to make coffee without skipping any of the obvious ones, which some people who would never forget to, oh, say, add the coffee, take as a slight against their capabilities instead of as a reminder to those who are having a morning where making coffee is a 10 step operation instead of a 2 step operation (make coffee, drink coffee), or instructions to those who have never operated this kind of machine before.

      (A past boyfriend of mine met his first (and sadly late) wife when he was sent to go make coffee. Being observant LDS, he had never done this before, so he asked someone else. She was no help to the task as she was also observant LDS and had also never made coffee, but it was the beginning of the proverbial beautiful friendship. Since this was a huge office with workers from all over and visiting colleagues from other countries, I didn’t want to make assumptions about anyone’s coffee knowledge if I was posting a sign for posterity.)

  51. EchoGirl*

    I’m a coffee drinker (and am a bit particular about it) but I still don’t totally understand the amount of time, energy, and angst on coffee-related drama. I’ve only worked in one place that provided coffee and I didn’t care for it, so I brought my own. (In that case, I was able to set up my own small coffeemaker in my office, but if it had been non-feasible or not permitted, I would’ve just made it at home and used a travel mug.)

    To be fair, this is probably one of those cases where this isn’t actually especially common, but it seems that way because no one’s writing in about all the times where everything goes smoothly and there’s no drama.

  52. cymruangel*

    Regarding caffeinated beverages – when I started in a small not-for-profit (in London, if that provides any context) back in 2016, they had a picture on the wall of everyone’s mugs containing their tea/coffee, to show the colour of beverage they preferred, and a note about how many sugars – it was absolute GENIUS if you were on tea/coffee making duties!

  53. Nom*

    My previous office had coffee that was so disgusting i just stopped drinking coffee altogether.

  54. OMG, Bees!*

    Reading all the Coffee War stories makes me glad I (unintentionally) skipped all of the drama by drinking energy drinks: Bring in my own daily caffeinated beverage!

    Course, I have still had lunch issues, including an early one where in some offices I learned I had to leave to office for lunch, or else my lunch break would be bombarded with questions even as I had food in my mouth.

    1. OMG, Bees!*

      I should clarify, sometimes the questions during lunch would be “Can you look at my computer/help with email/fix my printer issue?” even as I was in the kitchen table, food in my face, not just simple questions

  55. Christine*

    I am so glad I drink water brought from home in a reusable metal bottle. I don’t like coffee and rarely drink tea, so these stories leave me flabbergasted. Addiction is weird!

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