Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




The Coffee Test

Simon said, "Do people make their own coffee, is it provided?  Is it disgusting?... if you can't stand their coffee for one interview ... then its likely to become a major hassle."

I don't know if bad coffee is an indicator, but the few places I've been where they've had great coffe have been really nice places to work.

So is this generally true? Can we reduce it all to a simple coffee test that reveals all?

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

If I ever found a place that provided decent (i.e. - fresh ground, good quality beans) I would willingly become their abject code whore for life.

Somehow, I don't think it's likely.

Mongo (it's a dependency, not an addiction, dammit)
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I've worked at great places where the coffee was terrible, so it isn't a reliable answer.  I would, however, be inclined to overlook major flaws for good coffee.  Desks and computers might become optional, for instance.

Clay Dowling
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I work for CoffeeGeek.com...  enough said?  (and you'll love this -- I don't drink coffee!)

Almost Anonymous
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Actually, I use the tangentially related toilet paper test.

Does the company spring for the nice soft multi-ply or do they use single ply only?

It's also enlightening to compare what TP they use in the executive bathroom vs. what the grunts have to use.

Basically I take it as an indicator about how they feel about their employees.

My current employer has terrible coffee, but they do spring for the ready measured packs with a coffe machine fed by a large bottle of water.  I've learned to deal with it.

Oh, and the TP is always double ply or better. ;-)

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I've yet to find a place that has a) executive washrooms or b) anything BUT single ply toilet paper.  Not so fun.  I have a very sore ass.

muppet from madebymonkeys.net
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Steve, do you work at Ft. Sanders? It smells very odd in the main building there. Also, what is up with that smokestack, are they like burning bodies with that think or what?

Wish to remain Anonymous Passerby
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

No, but my previous job was for an aerospace contractor.  Single ply for everyone, plywood paneling on the walls, green carpet.

Current job is for a bunch of doctors, multi-ply all 'round and the best facilities manager I've ever worked with.  Always gets things fixed (at least if he has the budget for it) and being an art major knows how to decorate.

Still, we're in veal pens and crammed for space (more is supposedly coming eventually).  All around, not a bad place to work.

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Steve,

The big problem is that these days, most available employers are renting space in part of a building and don't directly account for their own washroom(s). This level of indirection means that good companies are more likely than ever before to have crappy facilities and vice-versa.

When you're the only tenant in a building, I think it's a reasonable test. I wish it were still reasonable otherwise.

M1EK
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Executive bathroom? I'd think the mere *existence* of an executive bathroom would be a sign that you should turn around and run.

John C.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

AH, I hadn't thought of that.  It doesn't hold for my current or past employers, but it is something to keep in mind next time around.

Of course, there is no hard and fast rule.  A company might have crappy cofee because some crusty C level types like their coffee that way.  The TP may be lousy for the reasons mentioned.  They all add up (along with the other indicators such as office equipment) to give you an idea about how the company thinks about their employees, which is what we're really talking about.

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Just to subvert my own test, cos I'm just that kinda guy, anywhere I've spent any length of time at I've ended up bringing in my own coffee machine; well the drip, drip kind rather than the Krup steam, sqawk, shuuuuuush kind.

On the whole this was looked upon as odd and disliked by management since other people also wanted to do it.  I also found it a complete pain in the arse and ended up drinking way too much over heated caffeine.

If I didn't go to the lengths of bringing in my own machine I did bring in my own mug, guarded it jealously and would savage anyone, regardless of rank, if they so much as looked at it.

This is largely because I'm convinced that new viruses land on people's heads from meteorites and then pass them onto other people loaded in discarded coffee cups.

The best place for coffee was the infamous contract where all the people were great, the ideas were marvellous and the money people belonged on the inside of a lime pit in a nameless valley in Leicestershire.

Simon Lucy
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

John, when I say executive bathroom, I don't mean to infer that the bathroom is for executive use only, but there is usually a bathroom that is located close to mahogany row, where all the C levels sit, and it is often of a different standard than the main bathroom.

Obviously, if the facilities are only big enough to hold one bathroom, then the executive portion of the test doesn't really work.

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

And if there is an executive bathroom, you probably won't know about it unless you're friends with the cleaning staff. Same with the executive dining room.

Tom H
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

How about the "One Stall" test, as in, the restroom has only one stall, no urinal, and if somebody is using it, you have to go across the street to the deli to do your business (and buy something, because the deli's restroom is "for customers only.")? That was the last place I worked at. And when it was suggested that the unoccupied womens restroom be used in emergencies, management nixed the idea.

Michael Ealem
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I have to admit I like working for a small company where you can sit down and take a shit next to the president of the company and talk about beer and woman.

Did I just say that?


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

There are a zillion tests.  For example, the "percentage of wall space that is windows" test.  You want a percentage of something like 60-80%.  Any more, and you're revealing too much.  Any less, and the sensory deprivation chamber effect kicks in.  A ~4' wrap-around window will accomplish the task.

sir_flexalot
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Muppet why don't you take care of business at home instead of wasting company time by spending all day in the bathroom tearing it up and complaining about how the cheap TP shreds your delicate a$$. 

Or better yet, bring in your own TP if its that much of a health issue for you.

Mr. Whipple
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

all day?  Are you spying on me? ;)

Anyhow you're right.  Why have bathrooms in workplaces at all?!  People should be doing that sort of thing at home and home only!!

Now we'll just need to stop living at work...

muppet from madebymonkeys.net
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"how the cheap TP shreds your delicate a$$."

Maybe it's something else that's shredding muppet's delicate ass.

Don't ask, don't tell
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Ah.  Are these then the holier than thou's who have decided I offend their sensibilities?  Kudos, gentlemen.

Joel may not appreciate implied gay bashing on his forum.

muppet from madebymonkeys.net
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Indeed. My last message was in poor taste, and I apologize to anyone who was offended.

However, I suppose waiting for muppet to apologize for his Indian-bashing would be like waiting for Godot.

Don't ask, don't tell
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I didn't bash Indians, I bashed particular individuals who happened to be Indian.  'Indian' was but one adjective used in a long string, with neither positive NOR negative connotation.

There's a huge difference, but I'm sure you'll argue that it's the same.

muppet from madebymonkeys.net
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"'Indian' was but one adjective used in a long string, with neither positive NOR negative connotation."

Then why mention it at all ? Am I to understand that *only* Indians are guilty of what you complained about?

Don't ask, don't tell
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

"Can't we all just get along?!"

For the children.

Rodney
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

OKay. so we have:

The Coffee Test
The % of Window/Wallspace Test
The Toilet Paper Test (and for the record I use 1 ply Scott or cheaper at home, you do realize fluffy toilet paper is just a ploy to get you to pay MORE money for LESS actual product don't you?)

Anything else? Here are some suggestions

The "Company has/is/or plans to outsource to India" test.

Company is small enough that the President of the company might actually know your name test.

The "Company is small, but still has an HR person" test. I interviewed at a place like this & really just didn't get it. Maybe they hire so many drones they want to wash their hands of it & at the same time, look profesional.

The "I sit outside like a stalker at 5pm and see what time people actually leave & what mood they leave in" test.

The "How quickly the building can be evacuated when I call in a fake bomb threat and do they even bother notifying their employees" test.

The "The employees feel comfortable enough to customize their own cubicles & there are reference books in appropriate places" and the corrolary "The manager has a C++ in 30 days book on his bookshelf" test.

The "I talked to the server admin and he told me 90% of the emplyees time is spent surfing porn" test. I'm still unsure whether this is a good or a bad sign.

The "The graphic designer gets to use a Mac" test.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

If coffee is a problem take your own?
I bring my own tea bags, and of course you bring your own mug. I have never worked at a place where you didn't bring your own mug. You don't grab random mugs from the cupboard, if you do you are probably using someone else's mug, and they will be less then impressed.

My dad took a dripaltor to his workplace, he fills it every morning, and shares it around.

All problems solved....

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I worked in a place with such bad TP that grown men starting brining in containers of baby wipes and using them in protest/necessity. Allways stunning when you see someone in a suit walking down the hall with a blue tub of baby wipes.

The company is fortune 100 level, the department was one of the most highly regarded in the company, but the local union cleaning crew demanded the use of a specific TP that was way too rough for anyone non-union. From what I hear from old collegues the protest is still going on.

Jeff
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Well if nobody uses the old toilet paper, it should be gathered in large quantities an hour before the cleaning crew arrives. Leave enough so that anyone who needs it can use it, but little enough that they have to replace it.

This achieves several things.

1. The TP company that supplies the cleaning company (which is the real reason they won't switch) will love the cleaning company because of all the business they do with them.

2. It will baffle the cleaning crew when it sees a department that went from using almost no toilet paper to using more than it's fare share.

3. It gives you lots of toilet paper for, err... creative uses, like:

hanging out of windows.

acting as kindling (I'm not advocating arson or illegaly pirating of mp3's).

wetting & throwing at people (wet toilet paper dries to a hard consistency that's almost impossible to get out of any surface that isn't smooth).

writing on & using as banners, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOAN" for example.

the obvious - toilet papering somone's cubicle or office.

delivering in a large truck to the cleaning company's headquarters so they get the message. If at all possible, leave it there just before the sprinklers go on so that it becomes impossible to easily remove. This will also be a real test of the cleaning company's ability to clean things. Set up an X10 cam across the street & record the proceedings for your amusement.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

MarkTAW,

You are an evil bastard.  I love you.

Clay

Clay Dowling
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Tea rocks.

*duck*

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

An alternative to good coffee on the premises is a good coffee shop across the street or even better, downstairs.  Of course, for this to be an equivalent option, they need to be paying you enough so that you don't give a second thought to paying  coffee shop prices for coffee.  And of course, the freedom to leave the office for a break whenever the mood strikes.

In NYC, I worked in the Citigroup building and there was a place downstairs with good cookies and lattes, and Starbucks (in the Barnes and Nobel downstairs and across the street on either side and...) if you got desperate.  I was recently in San Francisco, and there seem to be good, not-national-chain coffee shops on every block, many with free WiFi.

Now I'm in Jersey, and need to get in a car and drive a few minutes to even get to a Starbucks.  I've noticed I spend a lot less money on coffee, though.

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

If the company's coffee literally tastes like piss and you can't even finish it, it's because there's some bitter internal fighting going on, and some *very* immature people working there.

Lesson Learned
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Jim, if you spent any amount of time in that Barnes & Noble, you probably saw me. ;-) I worked - also for Citigroup - a couple of blocks away & would take a good % of my lunch breaks there, before they moved us to LIC.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Back to the popular TP topic, I have to say that the worst TP experience I ever had was foisted upon me not by a company but by a slightly wacky roommate. He decided that in the interest of ecological correctness he would henceforth supply our bathroom with recycled toilet paper. (Presumably that parses as "recycled paper turned into toilet paper" rather than "toilet paper that's been recycled", <shudder>.) I swear I have sandpaper with grit finer by an order of magnitude than that stuff.

My high-school library had this weird TP that was dispensed in single-ply sheets, one at a time. I think these sheets measured about 4"x4". It was really baffling to me what the theory behind that innovation was supposed to be.

(Sore Just Thinking About It)
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I have to admit that I do try to be as green as possible.

ie I take my own cloth bags to the supermarket, look for ways to reduce packaging and rubbish in our kitchen, ie reuseable containers, cloth napkins, cloth wash-every-day dishcloths. I went the recycled toilet paper route once for a while. However somethings you just can't recycle, I like the lavender scented 4-ply extremly soft TP myself. No matter how green and healthy our family becomes, some things just have to stay!!

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, July 13, 2004

This may sound gross, but the following advice is serious for those who have to suffer really bad toilet paper (if you have really good coffee and really bad TP, it's especially good advice).

Keep a tube of vaseline or ointment in your desk and apply to "the proper area" before going the bathroom.  Things come out, well ... um ... nice and clean, requiring less wiping.  Also, the lubricate acts as a nice protectant for your tender hiney. :-o

My butt got so raw at one workplace that I had to go see a proctologist, and this was his advice. It's not pretty, but it does the trick.

I know that this is a genteel crowd :^D, so I'm sorry if I've offended your finer sensibilities.

Gotta be anon on this one
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

> Gotta be anon on this one

I don't blame ya, but it's brave of you to say it at all. I applaud you.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Jeez, "anon for this one", I'm glad I don't share an office with you! "Just going for a crap, can you hold my vaseline while I apply it please?" Ewww...


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

> Keep a tube of vaseline or ointment in your desk and apply to "the proper area" before going the bathroom. 

What, at your desk, in the middle of the office?????

Ian H.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

One place I worked had a coffee filter machine in the middle of the office. Made the place smell fantastic. Only managers are allowed to consume coffee from it. Everyone else has to go use the nutrimatics machine in the corridor.

Friend of mine described the policy perfectly: "must be a company with a massive morale surplus they're trying to get rid of..."

Best coffee policy I've come across: TNT's HQ in Atherstone. They actually have people (the catering staff) go round and collect and wash the coffee mugs and reload the racks in the kitchen. It means you don't have to go scavaging for mugs, you don't waste time washing stuff... the office is tidy and healthy... AND there's no massive number of plastic cups being binned.

Katie Lucas
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Yep, the vaseline thing was really gross. Eewwww.

But I am with Mark, I applaud you for having the guts (well sort of...)

Aussie Chick
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I'm with anon, what he proposes works.  And I'm sorry if it's gross but some people really do suffer from this.  Especially those with chronic bowel diseases (which earn enough ridicule as is but truly aren't funny or fun).

anon also
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Can we add to the list:
does the 'washroom' (as they appear to call it on the side of the Atlantic) have some sort of proper towel or does it have the nasty hand dryer things that blow air and don't  dry hands?

Harvey Pengwyn
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Air dryers dry hands perfectly well if you use them properly.  You need to shake your hands out over the sink, first, and then rub them together vigorously under the dryer.  Works fine and saves trees.

muppet
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

> I applaud you for having the guts

Oh, me too, I just don't want to look at them through his butthole while he prepares for his trip to the bathroom.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

> Air dryers dry hands perfectly

If one was prepared to do a handstand do you think it would be possible to dispense with the vaseline?


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

What do you think the trees are for, if not for harvesting to make wood pulp to make into paper? It is kind of like saying that cows could become extinct because they are chopped down to make burgers, or that wheat could become extinct because it is chopped down to make buns.

I could be naive here but I believe the instances of old growth tropical rain forest being brutally harvested to make paper towels for washrooms is small (and there is the alternative of the cloth roll ones anyway).
If I had to make a guess I would bet the cloth roll ones have the lowest total lifecycle energy cost anyway. There is bound to be a website somewhere where people compare the ecological impact of all three, as there is nothing that people like to do more than strain over gnats and swallow camels, but I am not going to look for one as I don't care as I just hate the wretched things (the air 'dryers', that is).

Harvey Pengwyn
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Jesus man, surely bringing some nice toilet paper to work for your own use would be easier than rubbing vaseline into your bum beforehand?

Matt
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Actually.. if you've already got... issues.. down there, the Vaseline is a HUGE relief.

Yes I posted this under my own name.

So there.

/ulcerative colitis is not fun and neither is scratchy TP

muppet
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

From coffee quality to sphincter maintenance.  This thread certainly has gone far afield.

muppet
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

"various phone ring test"

I think these phones with different rings are quite good. In the middle of an office, usually it takes some seconds = rings to discover if that call is on the telephone near to you, or just 2 tables around, when all of them just sound the same way.

This is reason 1, and 2: some of them use a quite more comfortable sound, not typichal ugly rings.


( Ideally: What about quiet telephones? Well, I have to admit I've never seen a real one, but it would be great having only visual telephones, not acustic ones. They have to be large, tall, so I can watch it 'ringing' = flashing from another place.

Ok, if the call is really really urgent, they can ring... a bit. )

Ross Sampere
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

can we please get back to talking about my ass?

muppet
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Ooops, sorry! I though that subject was over, collapsed, finished. You look very pleased with your ass, that's goooood, keep your self-esteem high and dry!

Ross Sampere
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Re: TP

How about - left hand, a mug, water. Followed by water, soap and some towels for the hand? As in the whole of South Asia?

.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

"How about - left hand, a mug, water. Followed by water, soap and some towels for the hand?"

Dude!! But what about the feces that's sure to embed itself under your fingernails that you can't get rid of ?!

Oh, the horror!!

:-P

Wisea**
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Fine then, how about a high-pressure spray hose? As is done in some places in South-East Asia.
Not to mention the Japanese toilets. Which button does what?

.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

muppet, I think the phrase "typical ugly rings" was in fact about your ass. Or arse, as it should be spelt.

Can we end this thread now?
Thursday, July 15, 2004

I remember an Irish friends father who accepted all the stories his friend told him about Saudi Arabia except the one about the Saudis not using toilet paper.

Of course his incredulity was shared by the many Saudis who are told that British and Americans use paper instead of water to wash their 'arse with.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, July 15, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home