On the realpolitik of office coffee.

On the realpolitik of office coffee.

Jun 18
On the realpolitik of office coffee.


In this time, the most precious substance in the universe is the coffee Nespresso. The coffee extends life. The coffee expands consciousness. A product of Java, the black bean juice, stains the lips of the developers but allows them to be human computer programmers, as thinking in machine language has almost become the law. The coffee is vital to internet travel. The IS department and its programmers, who the coffee has mutated over 40 years, use the black bean aroma, which gives them the ability to fold code. That is, code any part of a system without moving. Because IS controls all internet browsing, they are the highest power in the Universe.

Which naturally brings me to the office. In the office – particularly an office with a legion of brutal code manufacturing machines – coffee is the lifeblood of… everything. We – the battle weary information worker battalion – consume coffee at a furious rate. The software developers’ Nespresso machine alone has provided over five thousand cups of the most precious substance in the universe. In about two years. Think about that for a minute.

Nespresso, however, is not without its… challenges. You see, the developer area is situated some way from the kitchen – some might call it a terrifying over-land tramp through enemy territory – and therefore just as far from the closest sink and tap. A major advantage that a Nespresso machine has, is that it need not be plumbed in as many other semi-automatic life delivery systems which on the outset sounds like a great idea, since it gives the machine the ability to live close to its worshiping horde of barbarians, but in practise… in practise it creates an interesting dynamic.

Anybody who has a Nespresso machine knows that the milk frothing jug needs to be cleaned. A lot. And often. Like, pretty much after every damn frothing. If you don’t, milk starts burning onto the bottom of the magical froth creation device and a truly terrifying smell emerges after a warm night or so. Everybody agrees then that the milk frothing device needs to be washed often and everybody knows the walk to the sink is a long one. Did I mention through enemy territory?

Who gets that job?

The politics involved in this process would be crippling to even the most seasoned campaigning politician. The strategies are brilliant; the underhanded tactics truly terrifying. The office floor around the Nespresso machine is littered with the shattered hopes and dreams of legions, the carpet soaked with the dignity spilled by eviscerated foes.

For those for whom this eternal battle has become too much to bear (or, to be blunt, are too damn lazy to ever wash the frothing jug) there are but two other options.

The first option – and understand as I say that my body recoils in horror – is to drink the mind numbing and terrifying dried out nuclear waste that is supplied by the company under the pernicious guise of ‘free coffee’. Real programmers – and real people for that matter – do not partake in the gruesome hell that is drinking the stuff. I have a special admiration for those brave and hearty souls who have the constitution to imbibe that gratuitously mislabeled substance of horror and doom.

For the rest of us, there is but one other option – because not drinking coffee is not an option and damn you for even thinking it is: bring your own. I do. An acceptable alternative. I bring Nescafe Cappuccino sachets to the office for my personal consumption and enjoyment. (Yes! I have bloody considered moving the Nespresso machine to the kitchen to make everybody’s life easier but that’s another story).

The Nescafe sachets are really convenient and pretty decent coffee – assuming you set your standards and expectations appropriately. Obviously not anything near the excellence that is The Most Precious Substance In The Universe but vastly superior to the dregs from the ninth circle of hell that one finds in the kitchen. The sachets though, they pose yet another problem to those of us who are of the enlightened, coffee drinking persuasion.

You see, the Nescafe sachet is a precisely measured portion of coffee and creamer. One places the contents in a mug and then a civilised person such as myself adds a little milk to dilute and enwetten the powder prior to pouring in the boiling hot water. This insightful method of coffee construction has two advantages: firstly, it avoids the hot water scalding the coffee which changes the taste for the worse and secondly, if stirred properly, avoids the clumping of the creamer powder which creates alarming and somewhat unpleasant pockets of surprise if not dealt with decisively. With a blunt object. A spoon, maybe.

The thinking man will soon realise though that the construction of a Nescafe Cappuccino from a sachet raises a mind numbing conundrum of the first order. It is the cause of great and terrible anguish several times a day. You see, the quagmire of anticipation, self-doubt and regret created by the sachet centers around two fundamental and important principles of the universe:

  • The bigger the cup, the longer the coffee lasts – this important.
  • The less fluid added to a Nescafe Cappuccino the better it tastes – this is also important.

This causes a crisis – nay, good people, crises – in the mind of the person constructing said coffee. The terrified screeches in that person’s mind practically audible. Should one fill the mug to the brim to extend the enjoyment the possession and consumption of a coffee brings or should one use only a little water so that the beautiful, mind-brightening taste of the coffee is enhanced for the brief moments that it exists?

I do believe, that this is the universe’s greatest mystery.









  1. Danielle

    Since coffee causes such an undesirable and often violent uprising within my bowels, I cannot relate. However, as your wife, I’ve witnessed first hand the mayhem – the agonising, blood-curdling screams even – of a Sunday morning Caffeine Withdrawal Emergency.

    It’s this level of extreme reaction as well as considering the value that you and your fellow genii place on this Nectar of All That is Good and Right in the World, I suggest that in order to avoid an inevitable group slaying (a veritable Yellow-nam) you place a wet dishcloth at close proximity to the Nespresso machine?

    Revolutionary, I know.

    • shawn

      LOL Yellow-nam hahaha! I’m totally using that. Also, stop trying to undermine my thesis with your utterly reasonable and rational suggestions!

  2. Rooschuz

    spinning the globe with my mouse is totally amazeballs!!!

  3. Norio

    This was hilarious! PS: Danni didn’t try undermine your thesis. She god-damn-well blew it out the water. Revolutionary indeed!

  4. Norio

    LOL Roos! You sure it’s not increditonsils?! 😀

  5. Mike Moran

    Standard issue office coffee should be reported to the Hague as a crime against humanity.

    • shawn

      You read my mind. And I would be doing just that if I didn’t have such a severe distaste for the lawyer class… true story! 🙂

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