An age-old office practice is chatting around the coffee machine; while coffee machines may have evolved over time, what happens around them hasn’t. Employees gather, refill coffee mugs, and engage in that old-fashioned thing: a conversation. This is why the vast majority of businesses (both small and big ones) prefer to have a coffee maker in order to keep all employees satisfied. When you see your employees gathering around the coffee machine you might think they are being unproductive, when in fact you should be thinking the opposite! This coffee machine will actually help you to gain more profit, but at what cost? This brings up the question: How much coffee per employee does it take to create a happy culture?
Coffee drinking began in the American colonies as early as 1689 in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In fact, the Green Dragon Coffee House of Boston was where the idea for the famous Boston Tea Party was conceived in 1773. Americans revolted against England’s tea tax, and the Continental Congress declared coffee the “Official National Beverage.” What better way to protest the unfair tea taxes imposed than to enjoy an alternate coffee beverage?
How to make the perfect cup of coffee is very controversy so here is my take: The most frequent and egregious problem is not using the right proportion of coffee to water, almost always not using enough coffee. The correct proportion to start with is 4ozs of coffee to 64ozs (1/2 gallon) of water. Others may say: exactly two (2) tablespoons (7 to 9 grams or 2 scoop of a standard coffee measure) of ground coffee beans for each six (6) ounces of water. For 4 cups (6 ounces each) of coffee, measure out 8 generous tablespoons (30 to 35 grams) of fresh ground coffee beans. Understanding that grind plays a big role, too. A coarse grind might only have a fraction of the surface area of a fine grind. And if you’re trying for ongoing, predictable results, you don’t use a small measuring device like a teaspoon… you use a larger one, like a level 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup metal measuring cup. There are lots of variables, the amount of water, the brewing method, the specific brewing device, the amount of coffee, the coarseness of the grind. Water temperature is another often overlooked factor. So basically in a nutshell, you get about 2 gals of coffee per one pound of beans.
How much should a cup of coffee cost the company per employee? When Starbucks came along and ushered in the coffee revolution, they charged $3-4 for something that had previously been sold for $1-2 (and cost them about 50 cents to make). For most businesses, entering a market this way would be a sure fire way to go bust in months. The price of a cup of office coffee is influenced by a lot of factors. And one of the factors that influence it most is the material cost.
Using this specialty drink as an example, if milk costs $3 per gallon, or 2.34 cents per ounce, and a drink contains 9 ounces of milk, the milk cost will be 21.1 cents. If the drink contains one double shot of espresso and a $7.50 pound of beans makes 32 double shots, the coffee cost is 23.4 cents. 1.25 ounces of syrup that comes in a $4.50 25.4 ounce bottle costs 22.1 cents. This gives a total food cost of 66.6 cents. Cups, lids and sleeves add additional cost and if they add up to 20 cents, the total cost of the drink would be 86.6 cents.
While some commercial coffee delivery services boost savings, overall cost can be a deterrent, though: prices can range from six to 60 cents per cup, depending on the quality and the brand of coffee. This can add up: coffee services for a 50-person company, for example, can cost several hundred dollars per month, depending how much everyone drinks.
I have not giving you the answer you are looking for, but I will give you the way to find an answer for your office. “Teach a person to fish and they will never go hungry”, I always say. A systematic approach to identify and eliminate waste through continuous improvement, tools and techniques are then applied selectively to eliminate the three sources of loss: waste, variability and inflexibility.
The DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) Methodology is a commonly used the Six Sigma tool designed to improve an existing process.
(1) Measure: data collection of product cost and usage
(2) Analyze: statistical methods data for trends and patterns
(3) Improve: find new suppliers, control shrinkage.
(4) Control: continuous monitoring, no problem reoccurrences
This philosophy encourages people to ask questions about every process and every step along the way to creating the final product. It is about asking tougher and tougher questions until quantifiable answer can be achieved that result in a change in behavior. Such questions cannot be answered without a planned approach to solutions.
Results change cultures (not the other way around!): People need to see how their values and behaviors impact their jobs and the organization, even around the coffee machine. Employees flourish when they know they are creating goods and services of incomparable value. In the end, an organization’s employee’s happiness is an indicator of how strong its values are.
- Business measurements drive values.
- Values determine how people work.
- How people work determines profitability.
Now, you tell me, “How much coffee per employee does it take to create a happy culture”?