What your coffee says about your business

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Coffee for corporate culture

Does the business coffee you serve provide a clear insight into your company culture?

We think so, but why?

As individuals, we are the decisions and choices we make each day – how we respond to external factors defines us.

A business is just the same – the culture of a business is shaped by their response to the world around them

Coffee is a great barometer; firstly because the coffee market has changed dramatically in recent years; and secondly almost all companies will serve coffee be enjoyed by their team, prospects and clients.

In much the same way the quality of a toilet in a restaurant indicates their overall approach to cleanliness, a companies approach to coffee provides a quick glimpse into their approach to business and culture.

Let’s first be clear about the significant changes in coffee…

  • Over 30% of UK households now own a pod machine. This means millions of people are drinking an espresso style coffee at home and make choices on the flavour and type of ground coffee they choose
  • The high street coffee shop market is now worth £10.5B with annual growth of 3.4%
  • This year Coca Cola purchased Costa Coffee for £3.9B in an unprecedented deal that shows how valuable coffee is to the UK consumer
  • According to coffee leaders, sustainability and ethical sourcing is the single biggest trend in the industry
  • The UK national media has regularly reported that there’s a terrible crisis at coffee origin. Coffee farmers are simply not being paid enough for their crop to cover the cost of production

So there’s clearly a huge shift in expectations in the quality of the coffee in the cup and the sustainability and ethical credentials of coffee. How do businesses respond to these clear messages that affect most of the team and visitors in their office space?

With thanks to Enplug for their great article on company cultures as I’ve borrowed their 5 company culture categories onto which to map an approach to coffee:

1. Team-first Corporate Culture
aka “the comrade”

You may have a team-first culture if:

  • Employees are friends with people in other departments
  • Your team regularly socialises outside of work
  • You receive thoughtful feedback from employees in surveys
  • People take pride in their workstations

These companies will be drinking a batch filter coffee with Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance credentials as it’s a ‘one for all’ culture. They will have given their coffee some thought as team satisfaction is a priority. They are probably drinking a middling blend of three origins as everyone in the office had a say in the taste. Business coffee will be as freely available to the team as their customers.

2. Elite Corporate Culture
aka “the athlete”

You may have an elite culture if:

  • Employees aren’t afraid to question things that could be improved
  • Employees make work their top priority, often working long hours
  • Your top talent moves up the ranks quickly
  • You have many highly qualified job applicants to choose from

This driven team all have their own favourite method of making coffee. The company will provide a barista machine with a high quality single estate coffee. However many of the team members will have their own preferred brew methods. You will find a plethora of brewing equipment on people’s desks from Aeropress to Hario V60. Despite the free availability of high quality coffee, team members will bring in their own expensive coffee that has been carbonic macerated, Swiss Water decaffeinated or digested by elephants. Coffee will be an intellectual discussion point.

3. Horizontal Corporate Culture
aka “the free spirit”

You may have a horizontal culture if:

  • Teammates discuss new product ideas in the break room
  • Everybody does a little bit of everything
  • The CEO makes his or her own coffee
  • You still have to prove your product’s worth to critics

So there’s no-one really responsible for making a decision on coffee in these businesses. This means that they have a plethora of leased bean-to-cup machines on each floor in the office. The coffee keeps changing – particularly when the CEO wants a change – after all, he or she is making their own coffee. They seesaw from expensive coffee from branded London roasters to cheaper coffee depending on the business performance. Whatever the coffee, the team is always agreed there is a better option; but to clients, everyone insists their coffee is the very-best.

4. Conventional Corporate Culture
aka “the traditionalist”

You may have a conventional culture if:

  • There are strict guidelines for most departments and roles
  • People in different departments generally don’t interact
  • Major decisions are left up to the CEO
  • Your company corners the market

I’m very sorry if you’re a coffee drinker in one of these organisations. The top tier get access to the ‘client-only’ pod machine stocked with coffee from low-cost European supermarkets; but the rest of the workers are provided with instant coffee. Very little thought is given to the coffee and please make sure you don’t use your co-worker’s favourite mug otherwise HR will be involved.

5. Progressive Corporate Culture
aka “the nomad”

You may have a progressive culture if:

  • Employees talk openly about the competition and possible buyouts
  • Your company has a high turnover rate
  • Most of your funds come from advertisers, grants or donations
  • Changes in the market are impacting your revenue

These companies will outsource their coffee to a Contract Caterer who is providing a low-grade commodity coffee in a flashy canteen environment. This will have been a decision made on price and convenience. After all, management are too busy considering the future to worry about their coffee. Staff will therefore leave the office regularly throughout the day to find a decent high street coffee. Despite the cost, this little break away from the office gives them a welcome opportunity to whisper about the future and who might or might not have a job the following day.

The truth…

I don’t really think that many companies actually give their coffee as much thought as the portraits I’ve drawn above. However, I’ll bet that all the successful companies highlighted in the linked article have given some thought to the business coffee they serve and how this might impact on both their team and their client’s perception of who they really are.

amamus can help improve your corporate culture

If you would like to better align your coffee to your corporate culture. Or, create a coffee that can serve as a step in the right direction towards the culture you would like to develop then please get in contact with our team. You may want to take a look at some of our other recent articles around business coffee:

Alternatively, you can also office coffee from our simple order form, take a look at our speciality coffee pricing and packages here.

If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to call us on 0330 133 0281.

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