Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Coffee Klash

Whenever my non-profit organization’s tech guy steps into my office in response to the latest help-desk “work ticket” I’ve filed, I always know we’re about to dive into another conversation for the books. Since we share an allergy to senseless, censored chatter, when we delve we delve deep. We’re only interested in the kinds of discussions that many people are too repressed to take up.

This afternoon was no exception. Then we reprised a longstanding rant about our outfit’s failure to provide employees with complimentary coffee. With the exceptions of my campus jobs in college, maybe one non-profit school-sponsored internship, and an unorthodox temp gig in the East Village, I don’t remember ever having to pay for coffee while on the clock. The unlimited free coffee is the whole reason why I decided to stick around in the traditional white-collar workforce. I know people who began drinking coffee only because it was constantly in their faces from 9 to 5.

I told Tech Guy that I’ve been spending approximately $2.50 a day on caffeine during the workweek. As soon as I started throwing out hard numbers, he put down the equipment he’d been rewiring to whip out his cell-phone calculator so we could get a tally going.

$650 a year.

If we knock that down to $600 (to take paid leave time into account), I’ve spent $1,800 on workweek coffee over the past 3 years. I could have gone to Epcot Center for a week with those benjamins.

Sometimes it rains while I’m bringing in the caffeine from the outside. I have to hold the scalding container in one hand and an unfurled umbrella in hand #2. I don’t have a third hand, so when I finally reach my building’s heavy, non-revolving doors, how do I close the dripping-wet umbrella and pull open the door without burning myself?

Why don’t I brew my own coffee at home in the mornings before leaving for work? Because I don’t want to – it’s a slap to my senses.

I used to voice my outrage to management. They would chuckle and/or shrug it off. Their eyes glazed over at any allusion to organizational psychology or the importance of incentives. “If we put out a coffee pot,” I was asked (twice), “somebody’s going to have to clean it every day, and who will that be?” What kind of a question is that? What do you think receptionists and interns are for?

When I briefly worked as a receptionist in an office smaller than my current one, I was the captain of the coffeemaker – and wielded more power than anyone else on staff.


  1. I was amazed that you manage to spend only $2.50 per day on purchasing coffee "out." I am astounded at the number of people who are perfectly willing to pay $4 or $5 per cup at Starbucks. If you buy two or three cups a day at that rate...well, the math is staggering. I think it's inexcusable that your company does not provide coffee.

  2. I'd have to say as the "tech guy", that this kind of behavior happens often in our establishment.

    I guess after awhile it numbs the senses and one can get institutionalized to the nonsense.

    I mean keeping the staff caffeinated is like the first priority, I would think.