4 types of coffee drinking in the workplace that employers must consider

Coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia. Academic studies state that local communities used it as a sacrament in ceremonies and to keep up energy and delay hunger during hunting.

As the beans spread to other parts of Africa, it was even used as currency for livestock and other supplies. Later the drink became hugely popular in the Middle East where coffeehouses started to spring up - at first for people to socialise and discuss intellectual and political ideas. But eventually these meeting places began to cause concern to religious leaders because people would even gather in them to plan revolutions. 

In modern society drinking coffee is an activity that is so embedded in our daily lives that we barely take note of it but it is very much on the minds of service providers in the workplace. Coffee breaks are vital for the modern worker.

Service providers who run offices must analyse why an employee drinks the beverage at what time of day in order to provide the best access to it. There are four distinct types of coffee drinking in the workplace that employers must consider.

1. Morning coffee

Morning coffee is consumed primarily for waking up. This is the type of coffee that is drunk so that people can get started for the day with a boost of caffeine. A survey of office workers in Denmark and the UK by ISS shows that Brits are more likely to leave the office for their coffee while Danish workers will access the coffee in their workspace.

2. Client coffee

Client coffee is used less for the need to fulfill thirst or to wake up and more for opening up the conversation when having client meetings – it holds a social purpose.

3. Habit coffee

Habit coffee is a ritual that aims to provide an employee a break. This kind of cup of coffee provides a reason for a worker to stretch their legs and to socially interact with colleagues. It provides a respite from sitting at a desk and so encourages walking so provides a health benefit fort the worker too. It is a coffee a worker may not need for anything other than to break up the time spent sitting at their desk. Often ‘habit coffee’ often gets left on desk unfinished.

4. Social coffee

Social coffee is enjoyed with colleagues when there is enough time is the most enjoyed and vital part of coffee drinking in the workplace. It is centered on catching up with colleagues about vacations, weekend activities around the office coffee dispenser or vending machine. It is a fun and functional form of coffee drinking. The ISS study showed that the social element of the coffee experience is the highest rated for participants of both nations.

It is important for those managing workplaces to be aware of all four of these types coffee drinking and create an environment that supports all of them.

ISS Touchpoints

To develop a great workplace experience for our clients, at ISS, we identify touchpoints for each service interaction we have with the building users along their work journey.

“Getting hot drinks” defines one of those touchpoints along the user journey. For us, getting a hot drink (i.e. coffee) is not only about the taste and quality of the beans consumed. It is about optimising the positive experience attributed to taking a break away from the work environment or having a social coffee interaction with colleagues and clients. 

By optimising service touchpoints along the work journey and developing unique service concepts and experiences that cover every user desire and need, we aim every day to create a workplace where people do not come because they are obliged to it – but because it is just the place they want to be.


About the author

Signe AdamsenSigne Adamsen

ISS, Head of Workplace Experience