Office Coffee

Numerous studies show that employers who provide high quality coffee at the workplace increase the level of productivity, happiness, and energy of their employees.

In other words, the quality of coffee you provide at the office really does matter.

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What type of service would you like?

  • Single Pot Coffee Service?
  • Single Cup Coffee Service?
  • Not Sure?

The Basics

Back in the day, everyone seemed to be content drinking a pot of Folgers that would sit on the burner all day. But not anymore.

We talked to several office coffee services about current trends they see in the industry. They said:

  • More people are drinking coffee.
  • More people have very specific preferences on roast, flavor and blend.
  • More people want it dark. The darker, the better.

What this means for YOUR office:

  • Don’t skimp on quality.
  • Invest in reliable (and highly rated) equipment.
  • Provide plenty of choice (blend, roast, flavor, decaf, etc.).

According to a 2015 study by the National Coffee Association, 78% of American adults say they drink coffee and 59% of American adults drink coffee everyday. Armed with the knowledge that a majority of your employees require their daily coffee fix, an office coffee service is an easy and inexpensive way to boost morale and increase productivity at your company.

An office coffee service provider delivers a variety of hot beverage options at a reasonable price to your place of business. They may also offer advanced brewing equipment. You determine how often you need supplies delivered, and technicians will come to replenish supplies, and  clean and service equipment as needed.

The benefits of providing free coffee to your employees include:

  • Time saved: Employees do not have to leave the worksite to get coffee.
  • Morale boost: Employees tend to feel more appreciated when coffee is provided.
  • Increased productivity: A cup of coffee can stimulate an employee’s mind, helping them focus on their work and be more productive.
  • Money saved: Happy employees, who spend more time at the office working productively, will ultimately lead to cost savings in labor.

Whether your business is a tech startup or a massive corporation, an office coffee service can have a positive impact on your employees. This guide will walk you through your options and educate you about the following:

  • The equipment you’ll need
  • The types of coffee and beverages available
  • The types of services available
  • The estimated cost of office coffee service

What type of coffee maker do you want?

These days, you have a LOT of choice when it comes to coffee service. When you sign up for an office coffee service, the supplier will typically include any necessary brewing equipment for no additional charge. The equipment is yours to use for as long as you continue to use the service. In order to be eligible for the free equipment, you may have to order a minimum amount of product each month. This will save you the upfront cost of purchasing your own brewing equipment, which can range from $100s to $1,000s, depending on the size and complexity of what your office needs. If your office does not need the minimum requirements, you may have to pay a monthly rental fee.

Types of Office Coffee Brewers

  • Open/Air Pot Brewer

    Open brewers or air pot brewers use the traditional brewing method. Coffee grounds are placed in a filter inside a funnel. Hot water is forced through the coffee grounds and is dispensed into a glass or thermal pot/carafe.

    • Glass Carafes

      Glass carafes typically hold 12-14 cups of coffee. Some devices have a “pause and serve” feature, allowing you to temporarily pause the brewing so that you can serve a cup at a time.

    • Thermal Carafes

      Thermal pots typically hot 10-12 cups of coffee. A thermal pot is designed for slow evaporation in order to keep the coffee at its prime temperature for a longer amount of time. If your employees visit the break room at various times throughout the day for coffee, a thermal pot may be the way to go.

  • Single cup Brewer

    Single cup dispenser units have become increasingly popular. Rather than brewing one big pot of coffee for all your employees, these machines brew once cup at a time. Most single cup brewers use pods, capsules or K-cups that offer individual flavor choice and ease of use. Some of the advantages of using a single cup dispenser unit include:

    • Easy clean up
    • Coffee brewed as-needed by individual employees
    • Consistently fresh for each individual
    • Variety of flavors and brands
    • Individual tea selection also available
    • Fast, taking just 1 minute to brew a cup

    Single-cup dispensers are more expensive than a glass carafe or thermal pot. On a per cup basis, they can cost as much as 4 to 5 times more than a standard cup of coffee. If employee satisfaction is your goal, look to the single-cup coffee machines.

  • Bean-to-Cup Brewer

    Bean-to-cup brewers are all-in-one machines that grind the beans as you use them, providing extremely fresh coffee. These brewers offer carafe and by-the-cup options.

  • Espresso Brewer

    Espresso machines force extremely hot, pressurized water through tightly packed ground coffee to produce a thick, concentrated coffee.

  • Specialty Brewer

    If your office if full of coffee aficionados, they will appreciate a specialty brewer that can craft gourmet coffee drinks such as espresso, cappuccinos and lattes.

Some brewing systems may be able to connect directly to your water line, providing a constant source of hot water. This convenience feature may cost extra for installation and replacement filter cartridges every few months, but the access to hot water means faster brewing and time saved.

There are pros and cons to each type of machine, but generally speaking, the more work that goes into the preparation and brewing of the coffee bean, the more money you will pay. Find out what’s within your budget and what matters most to your employees. Send out an electronic survey to your employees to get a feel for their preferences. You might be surprised by their feedback and find an affordable option that meets their needs.

Coffee Packaging

In addition to the type of coffee machine, you also need to decide what format of coffee you want to provide.

Coffee is usually shipped and packaged in one of the following forms:

  • Pillow Packs and Filter Packs

    As the name suggests, a pillow-shaped packet is filled with fresh, ground coffee. Pillow Packs are pre-measured which provides consistency in taste. Coffee stays fresher longer, because each pack is individually sealed. And, cleanup is simple, since the coffee grounds stay right in the pillow pack.

    For added convenience, use filter packs, also known as frac packs. Filter packs provide an additional advantage over the pillow pack, in that the coffee is packaged inside a filter. Brew consistent batches of coffee by simply adding the filter pack to the brew basket.

    Both pillow packs and filter packs are made for brewing multiple cups of coffee. 

  • Single Cup Pods

    Single serve pods make a single cup of coffee. They are convenient, quick and easy-to-use. Single serve pods are perfect for an office setting with individualized tastes or when you just don’t want to brew a full pot of coffee. K-cups are included in this packaging category. They come in individually sealed plastic containers to maintain freshness. Pods, however do not come in plastic containers. They are ground coffee contained in a sealed paper filter pod (basically the single cup version of a filter pack).

  • Ground Coffee and Whole Bean

    Whole bean and ground coffees come in several varieties including blend and flavored options.

    Ground coffee is an affordable option for the office since it can be purchased in bulk and stored in the freezer to retain freshness. With ground coffee you may sacrifice a little flavor, but it comes ready to brew.

    Purchasing whole beans and grinding them in the office will provide incomparable freshness. If you have an office full of coffee lovers, your coffee service provider may recommend  a commercial portion control grinder. Store whole beans at room temperature in an air-tight container in a dark, dry place for maximum freshness.

  • Liquid Coffee

    Liquid coffee concentrates are ideal for serving a lot of coffee to a lot of people in a fast, efficient manner. A liquid coffee dispenser mixes hot water with the exact amount of concentrate to produce good tasting, cost-effective coffee. Convention halls, hospitals and hotels often serve liquid coffee since they are dealing with a high number of consumers. Liquid concentrates have been around a long time, but in the last few years modern processes have improved their taste.

 Office Coffee Service Providers

When it comes to choosing where to get your office coffee, there are 3 different kinds of providers.

  1.  National Providers

    Office coffee suppliers operating on a national level bring years of experience to the table. They can aid you in your decision process and will likely have the largest selection of flavors and brands available. The downside? They tend to be the most expensive option.

  2. Local “Mom and Pop” Providers

    If you want a more personal relationship with your office coffee supplier, a local outfit is your best option. The equipment and flavors they offer may be a bit more limited, but their prices tend to be lower.

  3. Online Providers

    If price is your single greatest concern, you will probably find the best price by signing up for an online office coffee service. The downside is that brewing equipment options may be limited and the available terms may not be as ideal as with other suppliers.

What is Included in the Service?

Every vendor is different. But generally speaking, there is some commonality across the board:

  • Equipment

    Most services provide their own equipment, but do not REQUIRE you to buy theirs if you already have your own. Note: if you do not want the responsibility of maintenance and repairs, consider buying their equipment to save you the hassle. But read reviews about them first! You do not want to throw away money on an expensive coffee machine that isn’t reliable.

  • Schedule

    You will be placed on a schedule along with their other customers for stocking and maintenance check-ins. Tip: find out how the frequency and whether or not this works for your staff’s needs.

  • Route

    You will be assigned a driver to handle your route. Tip: Find out if you will have the same driver every time. You want a consistent face to establish a relationship and investment in the needs of your company.

  • Sanitization

    Most coffee services will clean and sanitize the coffee pot and equipment during their regular visits. But be sure and ask about this!

  • Pantry

    Some services will organize, stock and clean your pantry. This level of service may cost more.

  • Support

    Most services will provide 24 hour support for maintenance and repair needs. But clarify this before you sign a contract!

  • Additional Services

    Some vendors provide not only coffee, but also water, ice and vending services. Some of the larger services sell ice makers, point-of-use water filters and snack or Coke machines. You can often save money by going through one vendor for all of your office needs. But not always. Do your research. In many cases, a company that handles everything may not excel in anything.

What are the Benefits of an Office Coffee Service?

There are several benefits to hiring an office coffee service. Some of these include:

  • Variety

    Most coffee services offer a wide selection of coffee and tea from multiple brands. Some even roast their own coffee. Others provide unique roasts and flavors. The more choices you can offer, the happier your employees will be!

  • Convenience

    An office coffee service is a one-stop shop. Not only can you purchase your coffee products, but also the equipment and supplies (coffee maker, creamer, teas, napkins, stir sticks, etc.). Many office coffee services also provide Water, Ice and Vending services.

  • Cost

    By choosing one vendor to provide coffee, water, ice and vending for your office rather than multiple vendors, you will usually save money.

  • Expertise

    Most office coffee services have years of experience in the industry. They can make recommendations based on your budget, company size and preferences.

  • Support

    Free technical support and maintenance is the standard for most office coffee services.


Options

Coffee Brands and Types

Coffee has become a highly competitive industry. And, the quality of coffee has become increasingly important to consumers.

Office coffee services have adapted to this change in consumer tastes. They work with local and national brands to offer a variety of options, including regular and decaffeinated coffee.

They may also offer various flavors, gourmet options, and organic options from trustworthy brands, including:

  • Starbucks
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Krispy Kreme
  • Green Mountain
  • Javarama
  • Wolfgang Puck
  • Lavazza
  • Peet’s
  • Barnie’s
  • Alterra
  • Caribou
  • Highland Estates
  • Luzianne
  • J. Traders

Condiments

Office coffee suppliers know that no two people are alike.

Some people like their coffee black, while others like a little bit of coffee with their cream. Everyone drinks coffee in a different way. Many suppliers provide the necessary creamers, sweeteners, and stirrers so that each cup can be made to the exact tastes of a specific individual.

Other Beverages and Snacks:

Office Coffee Services can provide more than just coffee.

Teas

There are various tea options from brands such as:

  • TAZO
  • Celestial
  • Starbucks
  • Golden Leaf
  • Luzianne
  • Stash
  • Yogi
  • Bigelow

Other Beverages

Some office coffee services also offer other beverages:

  • Apple Juice
  • Orange juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • V8
  • Hot chocolate
  • Instant coffee
  • Water

Foods/Snacks

Most office coffee suppliers provide more than just beverages. Many offer snacks, oatmeal, instant soups, or pre-packaged meals. By providing your employees with food options, you could be giving them much-needed fuel to kick-start their morning into high gear.


Tips

What to Consider When Choosing an Office Coffee Service

When deciding who is going to supply your office with its cup of Joe, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

  • Taste

Remember, one of the benefits of providing coffee for your employees is to boost morale. You’re not going to win over your team if you supply them with cheap coffee that tastes terrible. If they don’t like what you provide, they may not even drink it, which means they will be leaving the office to go get coffee elsewhere. Fortunately, office coffee suppliers will provide you with samples of the flavors they offer. Some suppliers will even host a tasting party. Your employees will be able to try the different coffee and beverage options, allowing you to provide what they like.

  • Price

Obviously, the cost will be a factor in your decision. However, we highly recommend that you not base your decision solely on price. Your goal should be to provide quality coffee to your employees from suppliers with good customer service. The lower the price, the lower the quality of coffee and service you will be purchasing. You may also get stuck with poor equipment. Cost should be part of the equation of your decision, but not the only guiding principle.

  • Flavor/Beverage Inventory

If your employees are particularly picky, make sure the suppliers you pick can provide the types of flavors and beverages they like. The available brands and flavors will vary from supplier to supplier.

  • Availability

How quickly the service can be set up may be a factor when making a decision. Many suppliers can get you up and running in 1 business day. But certain equipment may have to be ordered, which can take 1 or 2 weeks.

  • References

It’s generally a good idea to get references from an office coffee supplier you are considering. Asking for references in your area would be ideal. Nothing beats first-hand, word-of-mouth from a current customer. If the supplier has a website, you may be able to read customer testimonials online as well.

  • Customer Service

The level of customer service provided should be a strong factor in your decision process. You want to build a healthy relationship with the supplier you choose. Look for service that is friendly, prompt, and flexible.

Questions to Ask Coffee Service Providers

  • How many customers do you have per route?
  • How big are your routes (about how many square miles do you cover)?
  • How many drivers do you have?
  • Will I get the same driver every time?
  • How many customers do you have per route?
  • How often do you restock?
  • Do you clean and sanitize the pots?
  • Can I use my own equipment or do I have to buy yours?

What to Avoid in an Office Coffee Service

At 360Connect, we partner with hundreds of office coffee providers nationwide. We decided to ask them about any red flags to be aware of when shopping around. They said to look out for a provider that does any of the following:

  •  Sells High-End Coffee Makers but Low-Quality Coffee

Serving high-quality, fresh coffee is essential for the coffee drinking crowd. They will know the difference. Your coffee provider may offer the fanciest single cup brewer or pod brewing machine, but if their coffee isn’t high quality, your employees will not be happy. Find out what kind of coffee selection the provider offers. If you aren’t familiar with the brand, research customer reviews on their specific blends. Some suppliers will use local blends that may be less known, but that does not necessarily mean they are low quality. Often times, local brands are fresher and fuller in flavor than those that are packaged, stored and then shipped long distances.

  • Offers a Limited Selection

Starbucks is a popular brand, but a lot of coffee drinkers don’t like the bitter flavor of their coffee. Rather than choose a supplier based on a single brand, try to find a supplier that offers a wide variety of brands and blends. That way, if your employees tire of a certain flavor or brand, they have other options to choose from. Additionally, there is often a crowd of tea-drinkers in the office. Ask your local suppliers if they offer tea and how much variety there is in flavor. This can be a win-win for both crowds.

  • Fails to Keep Track of Inventory

There is nothing worse than walking into the break room to find an empty pot of coffee. Or reaching for your favorite single cup blend and finding it is out. This can be incredibly frustrating for employees. A good coffee service knows how to anticipate peaks and troughs in demand because they ask the appropriate questions about the volume of coffee consumed during the initial office consultation. Research customer reviews and testimonials on your local providers regarding their ability to maintain a consistent inventory.

  • Doesn’t Stand Behind Their Product

If your coffee machine breaks, you want to know that the supplier will stand by their product. Look for suppliers that offer maintenance and equipment training as part of their total package. Be sure to ask what is and is not covered in their service level agreement.

  • Poor Communication

One of the biggest complaints people make about office coffee services is the difficulty in contacting the appropriate representative within the organization. Often times, the service provider is large, which means you are transferred around a lot before finally getting in touch with the right person. Other times, they are not timely in their response to an issue. A good supplier should respond within 1-2 business days for a maintenance or re-stocking request. Additionally, a good supplier should be checking in on a regular basis to find out how the employees customers like the coffee, if they want to change anything, or if they have any feedback or suggestions for improving their service. Communication is key when choosing an office coffee service provider. Without it, inventory will run low, repairs will be delayed and employees won’t be very happy.

Office Coffee Service Prices

The price you will pay for an office coffee service will vary based on the amount and quality of coffee you choose to purchase.

It is difficult to give an exact number because every business has unique needs, but we can provide you with an estimated range of real-world prices.

Price of Equipment

  • Free – some suppliers will provide equipment completely free during your service agreement
  • Minimum monthly purchase – some suppliers will not charge extra for use of equipment during service agreement, so long as you meet a specified minimum purchase amount each month
  • Monthly fee – in some instances, suppliers will require you to pay a rental fee for the equipment. The average price of the rental fee is $30 to $50 per month.

Price of Office Coffee

Before signing up for an office coffee service, you’ll want to make sure you can afford it. The price you spend on coffee per employee will vary, but a good estimate is $50 to $125 per employee in 1 year. In the chart below, we’ve broken down the estimated cost of typical items offered by office coffee suppliers.

The Cost of Coffee
Coffee options and prices

Depending on the needs of your office, your annual cost will vary. When comparing office coffee suppliers, take price into consideration, along with the quality of coffee and service. Some of the prices that suppliers provide are fixed, but others may be negotiable. It never hurts to ask for a better deal when negotiating the cost of your service.

Ready to make a decision?
Now that you know about you know the benefits of providing coffee to your employees, as well as the various options and price estimates, are you ready to get real-world prices? If you want to find out an exact estimate of what office coffee services will cost for your business, we can put you in touch with reputable office coffee suppliers. They will give you free price quotes based on your specific needs and answer any questions you may have. All you have to do is fill out our form.


Ready to get a quote?