Acts of Complete Lunacy (an occasional series from our operations department)

Coffee Consensus

Because we expect our employees to be sharp all the time–not just when they are conducting research–we like to keep them well caffeinated. In fact, if I thought it would increase efficiency and brainpower, I might be inclined to invest in one of those misters that you see at the zoo or amusement parks, spraying coffee instead of water so we could ingest the good stuff all day long.

Of course, since something so creative might also be in defiance of OHSA, we have opted for one of those single cup coffee makers. I would like to say that it’s because we value everyone’s individual tastes, but that wouldn’t be true. What is true is that, while we are all pretty smart, we often lack the knowledge and skill to make a decent pot of coffee, That, and the historic building where our office is located threatened us with eviction if we kept leaving on the fire hazard coffee pot all night.

Common sense would say that most of our hot beverage inclinations could be satisfied with one version of caffeinated, one decaf, and one hot tea. And if you believe that, well, you obviously haven’t met our staff. Our initial stock of three options was met with disgust and dismay. How could I expect anyone to suffer through a cup of Earl Grey tea when Lemon Lift was her favorite? The coffee was not strong enough. The coffee was too strong. It wasn’t listed as fair trade or organic and how could I possibly support inhumane coffee trading practices? How, indeed.

My first thought was to print a list of local coffee and tea purveyors that they might want to check out; but that would be in opposition to my goal of increased productivity. So, I acquiesced. We now have 47 types of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate for our staff of 10.

I guess I should have seen it coming with an office of qualitative researchers. Like the groups we conduct, consensus is rarely the reality … or the goal. If we were a quant shop or had hundreds on staff, I couldn’t accommodate everyone’s opinions and would be forced to pick the top five options—validated with statistics of course. But with our small group, I can listen to all the individual tastes and desires and do my best to accommodate. And so I have.

Coffee, anyone? We have all kinds!