serious Kape

Want better office productivity? Get an espresso machine.

Coffee breaks are an actual thing. In offices here in the Philippines, there are usually two 15-minute coffee breaks every day and these are actually discussed by HR. Of course almost everyone doesn’t really use these breaks to get coffee but that may be the company’s fault. Yes, if you want to gauge how invested your company is to your career, you should base it on the coffee available for your consumption.



There won’t ever be a “Coffee Expense” line in any financial statement, but coffee for the work force sure is embedded in the ones that are actually there. It’s seriously that important! Don’t believe me?  Here’s something I read pointing out why employees need incredible coffee: Coffee really is an essential part of a productive office..

Here are certain scenarios which you can use to decide if you should 100% stay in your current job or look for one elsewhere.

Disclaimer: I am not telling you to outright quit after reading this. There are many ways to improve coffee in your office. Just want to get that out of the way immediately. Moving on.

You have to go out



Remember the 15-minute coffee break? If you really need a cuppa and the closest one is the shop in the ground floor of the building beside your office, you’ll definitely burn through those 15 minutes easily. This is harsher in some BPO companies with the concept of the “overbreak” but generally, managers will view this as their employees being distracted and ultimately unproductive. Never mind that their employees are going to be more energized for the rest of the day, their more concerned about the few minutes they aren’t there in their desks. Thus they will view that coffee is a distraction for their employees because they have to take so long to get them.

But as pointed out by this article “Will Coffee Boost or Kill Office Productivity?”, it’s not actually the coffee that’s the problem. It’s that  the employees have to “physically go out of the office to get a good one” (

If you work in this kind of office, you might want to consider that when assessing your future with the company. There will always be managers like the one I said earlier, plus you have to spend more money for coffee just to get you jolted. Also, for some BPOs, “overbreaks” could actually make you lose your job.

You have instant coffee vending machines in every floor

This is actually what we have in our office (though two locations do have 24 hours kiosks for coffee and donuts, but more of that later). It’s free, it’s in the same floor as you work on, and it’s – I can’t really think of any other pro for these things.

Instant coffee that you don’t have to stir, can you get more instant than that? You just press a button and out comes a steaming paper cup full of instant coffee. You can even customize it according to how much cream and sugar you want. You can even add Milo to it!

This is an upgrade to the first one, but not so much. It does show, however, that the company is conscious enough that they are willing to invest in these machines for their employees. But come on, guys. If you’re going to drop that much of cash in those things why not just get a decent, automatic, espresso machine?

There’s a reason this is prevalent in BPOs: They don’t want their employees to overbreak but also want them to get jolted to keep working. I’m part of the management of a BPO, I know this for a fact.

You have machines



Ah, yes, the legendary office coffee makers. You get fresh coffee every day, prepared for you by the pantry guy – opulence at its finest.

Here’s the thing: This is coffee not extracted properly; this is coffee pre-grinded and thus not fresh; and this is (most often than not) the cheapest ground coffee the company can buy. I can’t even consider this better than the instant coffee machine.

There are also the K-cups machines (or those machines where you insert little sealed “pods” and supposedly good coffee comes out of it), but that’s still mostly not really good coffee and high on waste. I know Yardstick sells pods compatible for these machines, but that’s the exception and not the norm.

How about the fancy automatic espresso machines? I’m not entirely sure, but I do believe baristas go through a rigorous calibration activity at the start of each day. They want to calibrate extraction time according to the available beans they have for the day. They want to get it just right for their patrons. Unless pantry guy actually knows how to do this, he’s just dumping beans in the little sealed container on these machines, and then the pre-settings on the machine will just do their thing every damn time. This could actually lead to worse tasting coffee than the coffee maker, albeit more expensive (

With this, your company is trying, but it may still drive you to go out to get a refreshing good cup.

You actually have a proper café/coffee shop



Congratulations, all factors aside, you sound like you’re in a good company, at least as far as coffee options are available.

As I said earlier, our company has two locations that have a New Bistro Deli. You get donuts, you can get sandwiches, and more importantly, you can get brewed coffee. However, this is still machine brewed coffee. And you have to pay for it. But you can get proper donuts without ever having to go out of the office. This is still not that good but better.

I’m talking about a proper espresso machine with a properly trained (and passionate) barista there. I do not know any company that has this personally but I would highly appreciate this if our company had one. I would still venture out to get coffee (for research, wink, wink) but to know that this is available anytime you want to, that’s what I call an office luxury. This shows the management cares, and that you could be in good hands.

This need not necessarily be free, but it will be the gold standard if it actually is. It wouldn’t hurt to have opportunities for coffee education in-office as well. A man can hope.

The next best thing is to have a proper shop within the office premises. This would most likely be at a space at the ground floor of the building, which means you won’t have to walk far to get a good cup. This is not necessarily an investment of the company but it could be what seals the deal for some employees.

You get employee discounts for energy drinks

Had to throw this in because of a personal experience.

I worked for a bank’s headquarters in Makati. This bank was affiliated with a manufacturer of a popular local brand of energy drink. We didn’t get coffee subsidies, but we did have discounts for company affiliated products, including said energy drink.

I had a lot of co-workers opt to drink these to keep them going instead of venturing out for coffee. This is absolutely not advisable! Limit your consumption of the drinks!

To be fair, the nearest second-wave was an underpass away at the time and third waves were a foreign concept. Now, there’s actually a second-wave shop at the ground floor of the building!

This is an extreme showing of how frugal some local companies can be. This particular group was under once the richest man in the country. And we couldn’t even get free energy drinks!

I’m not saying it’s a bad company, even if I’m not there anymore. I’m with a company that has free flowing instant coffee. I don’t really know if I’m in a better place.

The truth



Again, this is just a silly article. If you’re serious about coffee, you’ll still venture out to visit shops. If you don’t have coffee available immediately in the office, you can just bring your own. You can even bring in your favorite manual brewers from home and offer to make coffee for your colleagues. You’ll be popular to your peers and maybe even your boss!

I remember we, my former team in the bank, actually saved up our own money to buy our own electric kettle. So that we can have our own warm water every time we needed it. Yes, our department didn’t even have a water dispenser!

With hot water available at the ready, I bought a tea set from the nearest department store and a jar of instant coffee and a bag of muscovado sugar. I would make a tea pot full of black coffee with muscovado sugar, and I would drink that for the day. Good times.



How’s your office coffee situation? If you have the gold standard, do you have openings for a manager position?

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