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Gross Office Coffee


The American workplace is only getting better.

We have offices that look like the inside of a Chuck E. Cheese, flexible hours, casual clothes, collaboration across borders and increasing amounts of autonomy within an organization. Compare such a landscape to decades past and you'll see quite the opposite: boring offices, strict hours, suits and ties, and geographical limitations. The age of the employer has passed and left behind an atmosphere where the motivated can succeed through more avenues and with more freedom than ever before.

Despite these advances, I prefer to write about the things that drive me nuts. Specifically, my office pet peeves. Some may transcend decades and others are more specific to our technology-laden and service-driven world. Why so cynical? Nothing more than I thoroughly enjoy complaining.

My pet peeve today is... gross coffee.

I drink coffee daily just like 95% of the rat race. Each day as I drive into work I pray that, just once, the coffee in the break room won't taste like ethanol fuel. Each day... I am disappointed. Looking down in my cup I see remnants of coffee grounds that resemble those specks on roofing shingles and cringe as I take my first gulp. Let me be clear - I am not only knocking my current workplace, which I actually really like. Unfortunately, I have had some semblance of this routine for each of my previous jobs. The ritual grows tiresome and I must ask...why is there still gross coffee?

It's 2017. There are approximately 900 coffee places in between any two destinations. We have hot coffee, cold coffee, iced coffee, lukewarm coffee, bulletproof coffee, lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, espressos, and whatever concoction McDonald's insists is coffee. There are more ways to brew and procure a cup of Joe than ever before in human history. There's good ol' instant coffee, which will make you question if the grounds are actually just dirt. You can brew it the old fashioned way in a Black and Decker - where you'll either receive hot brown water or straight jet fuel - there is no middle ground. You can use a french press when you need to impress people and prove your coffee panache. The Keurig gave us all the illusion of being trendy while really we're just spending more money on less coffee. Some clown even makes a living selling a mixture of coffee, butter, and "brain octane oil" that allegedly leads to higher mental clarity. Mental clarity?? After trying it I think the only mental clarity gained was my resolve to never drink such an elixir again.

Beyond simple variety, we have even gotten to the point where one must know the background of each cup prior to consumption. Chick-Fil-A recently promoted its new organic coffee as "Coffee with a Story," where the customer receives the name, bio and locale of the farmer who harvested the beans on each cup. Once I actually tasted the coffee, I thought of several headlines to add to the Chick-Fil-A "story," though none of them flattering and more related to the bitter aftertaste they've perfected over the years.

I can barely make it through some of the menus at these coffee places anymore - Dark Roast: this full-bodied roast comes from the valleys of Djibouti, harvested on a Tuesday by a tolerant, organic, gluten-free family roaster named Amir, caressed with flavor and a strong mouthfeel, ensuring delight and enlightenment for those summer mornings on the way to work when you have the windows down and you pass your favorite stop sign... - I mean come on!? Remember when the best part of waking up was some Folgers in your cup? (Not that Folgers is good, but at least it was simple).

My point is that it sure seems like we have been making coffee for too long and in too many varieties for it to remain such an unpredictable drink. Good coffee should simply be figured out by now, you know? Yet we've all had cups that made us question mankind. It just doesn't add up. Compare it to another product that has been in development and testing for over 400 years - no way the end result should be this poor! Apparently (based on some simple Googling) coffee was deemed the "bitter elixir of Satan" in the 1600's. I'd venture that many people have given their office java a similar accolade...how have we made such little progress? I will say this: amidst all the jet fuel out there, few things make a morning better than a truly quality cup of coffee. Perhaps one must experience the bad to savor the good.

Stay tuned for more pet peeves from www.pursuitandtie.com.

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