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Friday, 20 April 2012

     It’s the simple question you might get on your first day in a new job; “would you like a coffee?” The possibility here is you could actually be a tea drinker! Few colleagues I have met appear to be equally at ease with both, the simple solution for most is to be either one or the other. And so immediately you must distinguish yourself and your personality based on a simple drink. This is an internal war which is ongoing and looks likely to go unsolved for many decades. It is based in and around offices the world over and has raged for some time with seemingly no chance of peace. In fact, the only real solution would appear to be if the world’s supply of one or the other runs dry, forcing the losing side onto the beverage not of their choice.  With this article I hope to dispel some myths and bring about some unity between the camps through personal experience.

    Office drinking habits are diverse and strange – it seems each person has a finicky routine to follow and they will not break out of it. Ever. If this means drinking a half a litre of harsh coffee a day, or tea and seven sugars, then so be it! Office life consists of routine and so it is natural those familiar with their daily role would base their hydration around the habit of a lifetime. Having met numerous new colleagues over the years it is always interesting to see just what drinking routine their particular “brew” forms.
     The offices I have been to over the years are primarily lead by coffee (it is the second most traded commodity on Earth after all) and some people can be so used to their coffee drinking routine it can seem unfeasible that anyone could possibly drink anything else! Yet if you drink coffee regularly it is worth noting it has negative and positive effects on your health – and working ability. It provides a natural, and very brief, lift that will bring a crash not long after it has been consumed. It’s a stimulant and some people rely on its kick, particularly if they use sugar and milk in the mix. It can lead to lethargy if you overdo it, but coffee is also good a genuinely lifting your mood in a healthy way. So you’re unlikely to be getting depressed at your work load!

     I have found that coffee has utterly dominated the brew making routine in every office I have been a part of. The alarming thing has been in previous positions when I have found myself being asked to make a coffee for someone. As an herbal and green tea drinker this is always a nail biting experience. As mentioned earlier people are very much in their comfort zone with their drink, and even if they tell you how they like their coffee one slight step away from their instructions will lead to the contents going down the sink. I remember the first time I was asked to make a drink for someone; my boss. I was 15 and working in a go-karting centre. I made him his drink. After a sip it went in the sink with the comment of “that’s disgusting.”Another time I was asked to make a “strong” coffee in a clothing store I worked in as a student. So I made it strong. Its owner returned after a sip complaining bitterly about how “disgustingly strong” his beverage was. Recently I decided to do my office a friendly favour and set the coffee machine in motion in the morning. There was much consternation that followed as, again, it was too “disgusting”! The morale of this story is to never ask anyone to make your specific type of drink for you – and if they do turn them down politely. It will save a lot of coffee. Or perhaps I should have coffee making lessons.
     And now onto herbal teas – these are a preference of mine, and the more unusual the better. I’ve read a lot into them, too, and have a pedantic knowledge of why something such as nettle is good for you (high thiamine content, a natural cleanser, great for a hangover). I’m also rather fond of mint, cinnamon, dandelion, ginger and green/earl grey tea. They are all crammed full of health benefits; nutrients and psychological boosters. Yet these herbs, used for thousands of years, can be baulked at by some (someone remarked my nettle drink looked “disgusting” recently) but they really should be embraced more to bring some diversity to your drinking routine. They’re also very good for you and are excellent without any added sugar or milk. Give them a try!

     As a final overview I look back and realise the word “disgusting” has been the popular term for dismissing an unpleasant drink. It seems overly dramatic but then people really do enjoy their beverages. What I ask is that those in the office environment respect the drinking choice of each other, and not to baulk at something that looks green (it’s green as it’s mint – which is green) and to not consider it foul and “disgusting” before you have even tried it. You never know, that mint tea might make you feel slightly better than the fifth black coffee deep into a busy day.

Alex Morris is a writer and researcher for Office Kitten in Manchester where he writes about envelopes and other business related products.


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