Spending A Little More On Coffee

In March, I got assigned to a temporary assignment at work.  Instead of working at my office, which is only two and a half miles from my home, I was doing site assessments all over the Metro Detroit area.  It was good work, it was on a high visibility project,  and it let me see up front what we actually do, versus the back-end support we provide in the office, so it was a pretty positive experience.

One of the things I had to adjust was my morning coffee.  My standard routine at the office was that I would drink from the ‘free coffee’ provided, but would add in my own half-and-half.  When I started the assignment, I started making my own coffee at home to take with me every morning.  Typically I would only make coffee at home on the weekends or on days when I’m off.  I buy pre-ground Colombian Coffee from Costco.  It’s $15 for a really big can.  It would typically last about four months, meaning I would spend about $45 per year on coffee.

After finishing up my assignment, I went back to work and the first day, went back to my old routine, and realized something.

The coffee is horrible.

It’s not the worst I’ve ever had for free work coffee, but even so, it’s just not…good.

Six weeks away from the ‘free stuff’ turned me into a bit of a coffee snob.  I realized I could have re-adjusted and probably gotten used to the free stuff, but I realized something.

I didn’t want to.

So, I have started bringing some coffee from home.  When I pack my lunch, I scoop out enough for the next day, and  I make some coffee from home once I get to work.  I only make enough for me to drink my two mugs per day.   Work has filters (or I have some left over from an old coffee machine) and they have the coffee maker, so all that’s different is that I’m providing the coffee.  Since I get to work really early, I don’t have to worry about anybody stealing my coffee while it’s being made.

I estimate that this will require me to buy two additional cans per year.  That’s $30, working out to an extra $2.50 per month.

Some people spend that every day on a cup of coffee from Starbucks, so adding that to my budget for the sake of having coffee I truly enjoy is worth it to me.  I still think I’m being frugal in that I’m only making a partial pot per day to make only what I need, and I’m still using the company supplies and electricity.

Have you ever justified spending a little more on a small indulgence? 

Forget Jack Welch’s Theory, Fire These People Instead

Jack Welch was the former head of General Electric and saw the company through a tremendous period of growth.  I read his autobiography a number of years ago, and one of the things that he put in place was a system where the bottom 10-20% of employees were let go every year.  Even if the company was in a growth mode, he felt that having the people who were performing the least were not suited for their jobs.

It sounds pretty harsh, and sounds like a good way to keep the HR department busy, if nothing else.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that there should be some sort of process that could be applied to any company to make sure that the best people are kept and the worst people aren’t.

Instead of using some of the standard metrics or evaluation criteria that I’m sure many companies would use, I think that companies should instead focus on personality traits or habits.

Simply put, people that do the following things should be given their boxes and shown the door:

  1. The person who doesn’t re-fill the coffee pot.  There’s one in every office, the person who takes the last cup of coffee in the coffee pot and since no one is looking, sneaks away without making a new pot.  If they leave a trace bit in the pot, figuring this ‘technicality’ gets them off the hook, then double shame on them.
  2. The person who’s constantly late for meetings yet insists on getting brought up to speed. This one will likely weed out some at the manager or director level.  You know the type.  They stroll in fifteen minutes late to a meeting that’s already gotten started, but wants to know everything that’s been done, effectively re-starting the meeting and wasting everybody’s time in the process.
  3. The person who wears too much cologne or perfume.  If your scent can be detected ten feet away or more, it’s time for you to go.
  4. The person who doesn’t flush.  I wouldn’t want to be the person who gathers the evidence here, but walking into the bathroom and finding an unflushed toilet is disgusting and whoever does it should be flushed right out the door.

What other worker types should be given the old heave-ho? 

The Economics Of Free Coffee

I’m not sure if it’s a national or regional thing, but McDonald’s has been giving away a cup of free coffee on Wednesdays for the months of January and February.

This is awesome for me because I love their coffee, and there is a McDonald’s on the way to work.  Since I go in pretty early, I beat the rush, and I can hit the drive through and get my free coffee and be back on my route in under five minutes.

I think the free coffee idea is great (and I can’t stand the office coffee).  First, I’m sure a lot of people that stop buy something else, so they make up the lost sales elsewhere.  Second, it exposes people to the coffee that might start coming back.  It is darn good coffee!

So far I haven’t bought anything else so I’ve been an admitted mooch.

But, I’ve noticed that the amount I get has gone down slightly since I’ve started taking advantage of the deal.  When I get to work, I pour the coffee into my regular coffee mug so that I can add sweetener to my liking.  When I first started going in early January, I could fill my mug up and have enough in the container to pour another half cup or so.  As time has gone on, I can now pour one mug full, meaning that they’ve apparently created an ‘extra small’ version.

I can’t complain.  After all it is free.

Is McDonald’s running this promotion anywhere else?  Do you feel guilty if you get a free item and don’t buy anything else in situations like these?