On Breakroom Coffee Etiquette


Ah, the Breakroom Coffee.  AKA Community Brew.  AKA Office Crack.  Most people don’t love the taste, but most people love free things and at 8:30am, after you’ve finished your $4 tall cup of Starbucks gold, you’re looking at the office “house blend” complete with off-brand artificial sweetner and powdered non-dairy creamer.  Yum.  Drink up, you know you want to.  You need to.

But with all of the office minions grabbing the ole’ community pot like half-awaken zombies, there tends to be some REAL breakroom coffee etiquette offenses going on.  And to be honest, I’m at the point of taking photos and “office shaming” these people.

Yesterday, I was pouring myself a cup and someone alerted me, “Oh, that’s decaf.”  What?  Looking at the completely unlabeled canister of coffee, I could only ask, “How do you know?”  Evidently they had just brewed it, and for whatever reason they couldn’t have coffee but liked the taste, blah blah blah.  My next question – “So shouldn’t you, like, label it or something?”  They just shrugged and agreed, well yeah I suppose I could.

Okay folks.

First of all, if you are going to defeat the purpose of coffee by drinking decaf, please please please do not pass the blanks on to us without notice.  I don’t mind the taste of coffee, but I sure as heck drink it more for the caffeine than the taste.  Don’t. Do. It.

Then, this morning.  I had an early morning meeting, and got in the office with 10 minutes to spare before it started.  Just enough time to grab a cup of joe!  Imagine my frustration, then, when I go to fill my cup and BOTH canisters are empty.  Not halfway or a third or enough for even one cup.  I’m talking drips in my cup.  Really?  It takes less than 30 seconds to start a new pot.  And these people let BOTH run dry?  Oh, and it is completely transparent how much coffee is left in this thing, as there is a thermometer-esque viewer about how many “cups” are remaining.  I have some words for the last person to fill their cup.  It’s just wrong.  Needless to say, I started 2 new pots, and went to my meeting empty-handed.

So.  People.  Here is a short list of Breakroom Coffee Etiquette, in case you or someone you know can’t figure it out yourselves:

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Label it.  If it’s decaf, label it.  End of story.  If you’re super nice, you can label variations from normal coffee as well.  For example, if you double up on grounds (which I sometimes do), label it as strong.  It’s not hard, and I know you have about a million post-it notes to spare.

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Never leave an empty pot.  If there are less than 2 cups remaining, make a new pot.  It takes a village, it seems.  The only exception to this, I would say, is maybe in the late afternoon.  Or if you’re clearly the only one still drinking up.  No sense in a full pot going down the drain.

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Clean up after yourself. Spilled coffee?  You would be amazed how many “rings” I’ve seen on the breakroom counter from the bottoms of coffee cups which runneth over.  Getting a little crazy with your sugar?  Wipe that stuff up.  It’s common courtesy.

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If you’re above office coffee, keep it to your self.  There is a bit of a “clique” of folks who think they are too good for office coffee.  They would rather spend $50 a week on coffee than ever touch the stuff.  Okay, fine, you can have that opinion.  Obviously this isn’t going to be the best stuff, and if it were, I’m sure there would be an outroar about the unnecessary expense from all the non-coffee-drinkers.  But comeon, it’s like waving your Mercedes in front of a guy with a Honda Civic (note: I have a Honda Civic) AND refusing to hitch a ride with them to lunch.  It’s just kind of rude.

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Bonus: BYOM.  This will get you a gold star.  Bring Your Own Mug.  My company recently forced this on us, but I actually think it’s awesome.  Before, we had a million Styrofoam cups hanging around, and people would often grab a cup, drink it, throw it out, then go back for another later.  Now, there are no cups and you just fill your own cup.  Saving the earth?  Check.  You should love that, you Starbucks-obsessed treehugger.

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