In Praise of Office Coffee

Earlier today, Jim Romenesko posted a letter from a GateHouse editor to her long-suffering staffers saying that the lifeblood of journalism was about to slowly drain from the offices of the Brockton Enterprise and Patriot Ledger. The heady days of complimentary coffee and Post-It Notes are over.

We will no longer be able to supply coffee service in our newsrooms. We will use up whatever supplies are currently on hand. I suggest you bring in a mug or your own disposable cups. We do have a drip coffee machine available, if you wish to collect for, buy supplies and brew by the pot.

Take that, media elite! Buy your own damn notebooks and coffee.

When I shared this link on my Facebook page—along with my sincere condolences to my friends who work for GateHouse papers—it started a vigorous discussion about coffee in the workplace. In my professional, post-collegiate working life, all of my private-sector jobs have provided some kind of coffee source. At a textbook company, there was one large communal pot and a large collection of unwanted coffee mugs in which to pour said coffee. At a tech company, there was a communal pot on every floor with disposable cups. At Boston magazine, we had a pre-Keurig machine that spat out an array of beverages and a traditional large pot. (By the time I was laid off, the fancy machine had disappeared to save money—stay strong, GateHousers!) At City Hall, we obviously couldn’t have a taxpayer-funded coffee pot, so there were many trips to Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks (which we paid for with our own money).

Some chimed in and said they’d never had jobs in which coffee was provided, which makes me sad. Sure, it’s a nice break in the day to step away from the computer and take a walk for coffee. (It’s also a great way for your editor to get you out of the office to discreetly hand your ass to you when you deserve it.) But some days, you’re behind on everything and you need some coffee in your system to prevent you from falling asleep on your desk or soothe your jangled nerves, and the office coffee pot is a saving grace.

Sure, throwing in a few bucks for beans and cream for the office coffee seems like an easy solution. But some freeloader always wants “just one cup” five days a week without contributing. One person always feels like they’re being sent out to replenish the sugar and milk supplies. And the poor unpaid interns. Who will provide them the caffeine they so desperately need to function?

So, a hearty Bronx cheer to the powers that be who removed this one small comfort of life in journalism. Unless, of course, one of the corporate overlords at GateHouse throws down a piddling few thousand bucks of his absolutely appalling bonus to keep the staff in Brockton and Quincy in coffee.

Hah. Yeah. Didn’t think so.

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