Yesterday at the office I went to get a cup of coffee at about 9 a.m. and saw, to my slight surprise, that the pot I had made an hour or so earlier had remained untouched by any other person on the floor. It brought home the fact that fewer and fewer people, at our firm at least, drink coffee brewed at the coffee stations on their floors.
When I started at the firm, my office was on a floor of serious coffee junkies. The rule was that you brewed a pot if you were the first person in to the office in the morning, and woe betide the individual who left a mostly empty pot on the burner so that the remnants would turn first to thick sludge and then to a rock hard coating on the bottom of the pot. Our three-burner coffee station was kept working from morning to night and people guzzled coffee throughout the workday. The office coffee matrons sprinted from floor to floor to stay up with the overwhelming demand. Even at 6 or 7 p.m. there was a fresh pot ready to be consumed by the lawyer cranking out a brief or putting finishing touches on a deal.
No more. Now, pots of coffee get brewed and then barely get touched, and fewer and fewer pots get brewed in the first place. I still drink the “firm coffee,” and I feel like an endangered species. I’m not sure that there is anyone else on the floor who drinks more than a half cup a day.
Why is that? Some of it may be health concerns; I seem to recall hectoring news stories saying that drinking too much coffee (like overconsumption of just about everything) is bad for you. I have noticed more people walking around with water bottles or energy drinks or cans of Coke. I also see people sauntering by with Starbucks cups, so no doubt some folks have stopped drinking firm coffee with the rise, on every corner, of tony coffee shops that offer expensive, sugary concoctions. The simple unflavored black coffee offered at the firm may just be fighting a losing battle against the appalling coffee snobbery that is sweeping the nation.
These kinds of minor social changes are interesting and inevitable in ever-changing modern America. Still, I miss the old days, when the fourth floor of the 68 building was proud of its robust coffee consumption and it was commonplace to meet a fellow lawyer at the coffee station and have a quick chat as you each poured the next cup of joe.