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The beginning….

Well, what can I say? “Welcome” ??  It sounds a bit odd, but anyway, you’ve found my first message in this blog and maybe even have the same question that I while typing this: “what is this all about” ??  Let me try to explain…

Since a couple of years I run my one-woman coffee roasting company called Engrano and it is really just a small one-person company. No big multinational or so, but merely a hobby run out of hand. The results of starting a coffee roasting business is that friends and family immediately see you as an authority on coffee related matters, which is flattering, but exaggerated as I just started to scratch the surface of the coffee world myself. But nevertheless, sometimes they dó ask me question that I wonder, “home comes t they know?”.  Sometimes such information can be easily found on the internet, but sometimes apparently everybody finds it so obvious that nobody bothered to write it down and one can in fact nót find it on the internet. Or at least not that easy. Well, ok, then I will write it down. Of course I can’t every time bother the world with facts, so I will put on paper whatever comes up related to coffee.

That gives room to address the first issue here. As you can read from my “About me” page I have a full time job at Delft University in The Netherlands and as with any organization or company personnel has coffee machine at their disposal for their daily caffeine need. Well, it may fulfill the caffeine need, but apart from that the coffee tastes pretty awful. This raises a couple of questions of completely different kinds:

  • How did they manage to roast coffee beans such that coffee tastes so bad?
  • Does bad coffee at work reduce work efficiency or on the other hand actually increase team spirit?

First question is really a puzzle to me. I’ve tasted quite some coffee over the last years varying from great Arabicas to some pretty pungent Robustas but all of them had some little thing that at least gave me the idea I was drinking coffee, however cheap and funny it tasted. However, machine coffee as served in many companies really doesn’t taste like coffee at all. How do they do that? How do they roast and process coffee to achieve this?  And then of course comes the most important part of the question: why? Do they really think we like it like that?

Second question that I have given considerable thought is the effect of bad coffee on personnel. I can imagine that having bad coffee and knowing there is nothing else to drink (except water) has a discouraging and demotivating influence on personnel and thus reduce efficiency.  On the other hand, it gives personnel a common aspect to complain about and trust me, complaining about coffee and the weather is a Dutch national sport. Hence, maybe it increases the teams spirit: “united coffee complainers against the bureaucrats that buy the coffee”, or something like that. And due to good team spirit, people are happier and work harder…  So what’s the most significant effect: demotivation  when sipping your coffee alone behind the computer, or the joyful team spirit against bad coffee?  If you know….let me know as well. It’s one of those unimportant questions in life that keeps hanging in the back of my head.

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