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Monday, March 9, 2015

Coffee! Coffee! Coffee!

A friend of mine is a business development manager in an IT company. He met me at an after-work networking event at 7:30 PM one evening. He looked a bit pale and restless. I asked him, ‘Are you ok?’ He looked relived that someone had asked him. He pinned me to the wall, and with a wild look in his eye, said, “I’ve had fifteen cups of coffee today.”  I remember having had seven cups on a bad day. “Why does meeting people always involve coffee?” he asked in a desperate, tremulous voice. “I’m sick of it.”  Later I did a quick search on articles about coffee and meetings. These are some of the title that came up:

1.       10 things I learned over coffee.

2.       How to ask for coffee.

3.       Keys to a productive coffee meeting.

4.       Why a coffee meeting is necessary.

5.       Coffee review for business people.

6.       Coffee meeting etiquette and questionnaires.

7.       Coffee and start-ups go hand in hand.

8.       Coffee and young professionals.

9.       Who should pay the coffee bill?

10.   The power of a coffee meeting.

So, it seems that coffee is an obligatory business custom in the western world. In the developing world it is also becoming the standard - instead of street tea, the younger generation is buying coffee which is ten times more expensive. Having coffee is clearly more than a drink and it clearly represents a change of status.  “Let’s have coffee” means literally:

1.       “Let’s meet.”

2.        “Let’s discuss this.”

3.       “Can I visit you?”

4.       “Can I say ‘hi’?”

5.       “I’ll see you off. Let’s meet for coffee.”

6.       “Let’s discuss the project in detail.”

7.       “This will be a good ice breaker in a new relationship.”

8.       “It’s a good chance to get to know each other.”

9.       “Let’s have a strategic brain storming session.”

10.   “Let’s plan!”

Is this obsession with coffee only for people in the start-up phase of business? Perhaps the equivalent for more accomplished people is a lunch or dinner.

From a pure business perspective, Australia's coffee bean market is worth more than $100 million per year, with about 1.3 million coffees taken a day by the average drinker. If you take $3 a cup as a standard price in cafes, it’s has a street value of $5 million business a day. So, while coffee can give you a buzz or make you feel frazzled and frenzied, it is inseparable from business. The names of café even reflect this relationship, as in the following examples:

1.       “Coffee Means Business”

2.       “Business means coffee”

3.       “Coffee & Business”

4.       “Coffee Networking Hub”

5.       “Expresso Meeting”

6.       “Coffee Connection”

7.       “The Business Lab”

8.       “Café Biz”

9.       (B 2 C)offee

10.   Café Coffee Meet

So, coffee is not just a drink, it’s part of our subconscious mind, wrapped up with our culture and lifestyle. It’s as ubiquitous as Facebook and Google or writing something is Microsoft Word.

‘Science may never come up with a better office communication system than the coffee break.’ - Earl Wilson.

I have a whole lot of other observations, but I need to go and have a cup of coffee.

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