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Office Coffee: A biased, unscientific ranking

It’s about time, folks, for a reckoning. Since just about the dawn of man, the office has served as the domain for BUSINESS. The important stuff. Where the cheese gets made.

It’s also where coffee goes to die.

So, without further adieu, here are my office coffee rankings:

10. The old-style drip coffee pot

Ah yes, we all know this one. Some of us have them at home, where they confront us, armed with value-sized Folgers tins. For those who consider coffee a means to an end, marching into the day’s various battles supported by such acidic stuff is… nah, I can’t do it. I want to make some grand metaphor here, but if this is your particular brand of suffering, then wear it like a badge of honor. One drip, drip drip at a time.

What truly makes this the absolute worst, though, is the constant refilling that must be done to keep the drones supplied. How can one pot hold so little, I ask you? How??

9. The BIG drip coffee pot

You might consider this cheating, but I consider the coffee pot’s mutated companion a similar horror. This gets the nod by avoiding the refill hells that plague normal pots, but soaking stale beans in hot water and leaving them all day long in its giant receptacle makes for a queasy trap. Imagine: You’ve just finished a brutal conference call where endless Karens failed to mute their phones for thirty minutes straight, exposing you to all manner of heavy breathing, office noise, and side conversations about The Bachelor. Now you’re taking your last chance at energy, and you put your hapless ‘Best Dad’ mug beneath the spout, and out comes six-hour old coffee whose only remaining warmth wheezes out before you can get it to your lips.

Then, obviously, Jerry comes in behind you, fills up his own, tosses it in the microwave and tells you it’s good as new.

8. Catered Meeting Coffee

Big cardboard pouches, full of jumping juice and ready to keep you perked up for a PowerPoint parade. Not bad, necessarily, but it’s vendor dependent, and odds are just really good today you’re going to get the stuff the hungover teen at Panera or Starbucks threw together three hours before just to get away from the customers. Now it’s yours, complete with thin paper cups and the need to share the experience with your equally disappointed co-workers. Congrats.

7. The Company Coffee Machine

It makes lattes, they say! And normal coffee! And something that they call espresso but that is really just coffee without the water or the sweetener or the flavor or the soul. You press a few buttons and out comes the miracle water. It’s not amazing, but it gets you through the day, though every time you hear its gears grinding, you start to wonder what terrible choices led you here.

6. The Better Company Coffee Machine

Ah, now, here’s the ticket. The little one, or the one in the other break room. The one that’s always broken but that, when it’s working, oh boy, it’s like going to Starbucks but without, you know, leaving the building. Somehow you feel less despondent when you’re using this one, even though, put to the test, you’re not sure you could tell the difference anyway.

But the Placebo effect is real.

5. Gas Station Coffee

No, this coffee isn’t better than any of the others, but it’s so, so cheap and odds are good you can grab an equally cheap doughnut while you’re filling 20+ ounces with pitch dark goo. Maybe you’ll pick up some chips and motor oil while you’re there. Or be party to a robbery, which, cool? I guess?

Ultimately, the real secret to gas station coffee is that you’ve lowered your standards so far by even considering it, that the stuff is going to taste just fine.

4. Gimmick Coffee

Oh yeah, you saw this thing on Amazon. It’ll whip up something amazing at your desk, all you need is some hot water, some grounded beans, and magic happens without you having to move at all. The little gadget looks vaguely like a children’s toy, like a coffee machine made miniature, but hey, you give it a shot once and lo and behold, you’ve got a nice-tasting caffeine dose.

Then, you forget the beans, the water, the cleaning and never use it again.

3. The Pods

These things don’t really make great coffee either, but at least there’s variety melded with convenience. Pop a pod into one of these (Keurig, others, whatever) and you’ll get your hype in a minute or two, tuned to your current needs, desires, or fantasies. Unfortunately, your needs, desires, and fantasies are going to destroy the environment, so you should downgrade (or upgrade!) to one of the other options on this list.

Also, man, these things make the most annoying noise as they go and go and go.

2. Actually Going Out For Coffee

Yes, you leave the office. Yes, this means escaping the mindless tomb to which you have been consigned to work for THE MAN. This freeing sensation is worth the price. You get variety too, including things that aren’t coffee (we all know what we’re getting with a frappucino) and the chance to believe, even for just a moment, that you’re living that fabulous creative life where every minute is spent among the whirring buzz of espresso machines and society’s cultural chatter.

Downsides? You gotta move. In the long run, it’s expensive. Also, who has the time for this, on the regular?

1. Your Own Magical Maker

I use an espresso machine, where I grind the beans fresh every day. You might use a french press, or a pour-over. Maybe you drink Diet Coke. Whatever, so long as its yours, makes it the top one here. Shared experiences are fine, but what really matters is feeling that warm, soft glow that comes with a deliciously brewed coffee, espresso, latte, what-have-you, and making it with your own hands pushes it to the top.

Obviously, this can be hard to do in an office, but I encourage you to try. Or work from home. Life’s too short to settle for crap coffee. Invest in your coffee, invest in yourself.

Should get that on a bumper sticker or something…

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