Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Office Coffee
With a hat tip toward Sugarmama, I thought I might post about coffee in the office at a place of previous emplyment. Let's get one thing out in the open right at the git-go: coffee that's provided for employees is basically crap. It can be drinkable but you'll never get more than that out of the insitutionally provided caffeine vector. Still, we drink it because it's free. Be honest. You know I'm right.
That being as it may, my office started with those hideous glass carafe drip machines. Not that the carafes start out hideous of course. And if the person who makes the coffee takes a bit of care, the coffee can be ... acceptable. But it's bloody unlikely that the person ripping open the little foil bag of alleged coffee will put in the right amount of water and, much more importantly, it's a dead crab certainty that the carafe will not be cleaned. And therein lies the genesis of the hideousness.
That carafe is guaranteed to have, at some point, the last cup and a half of coffee burnt onto its bottom by neglect of the warming plate. And that blackened crust is also certain to be never entirely removed. It takes a bit of effort to get all the carbon off (such as putting in crushed ice and cleanser and swishing the pot around) and that effort will never be made for the office pot. The tragedy of the commons all over again. Except in little bitty scale. That persistent carbonized coffee will, if not properly dealt with, forever influence the coffee made in that pot. And by influence I mean like Tony Soprano influences law enforcement. Subtle but evil.
For the company, however, the problem is not the wretched coffee but the fact that the glass carafes break like a
dog chew-toy made of cellophane. It isn't cheap to keep replacing those things. So other coffee service methods have been developed. My office got one of those machines that makes the coffee one cup at a time.
You select the strength, the measure of caffeine and the size, put your cup (aha! no carafe to break) in the little porch, a measure of coffee would be deposited on a filter belt and a wallop of hot water would womp down on the coffee and "brew" for a moment. Then with a great popping and sighing, the machine would pour a freshly (!) made cuppa into one's mug of choice. And it wasn't bad coffee really, as institutional swill goes. What I liked was the little scrolling LCD instruction window which, as the coffe was "brewing," said "Product being prepared - Watch!" Mmmm! Fresh, hot product!
What's so fun about the instruction window? I'm glad you asked. The main work with which I was involved was done in a large, fairly open room that was separated from the room next to it by a half wall with windows to the ceiling. So what's a wise guy to do? I made a sign that I put up on the glass door that said (you're way ahead of here aren't you) "Product being prepared - Watch!"
I have it on good authority that at least one other person was amused.

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