Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Pros and cons of providing coffee/soft drinks in workplace ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Pros and cons of providing coffee/soft drinks in workplace
Category: Business and Money > Small Businesses
Asked by: a_carter_59-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 10 Oct 2006 11:20 PDT
Expires: 09 Nov 2006 10:20 PST
Question ID: 772343
Our office staff met recently and one of their top requests was to
have coffee, soft drinks, and bottled water provided in our break
room. Right now, they can bring their own, but there isn't anything
organized or paid for by us. What are the benefits and drawbacks of
providing this (both for free, and on a "pay as you use it" service
that we stock? Oh, we're a 12 person office (10 of them full-time) and
we have fairly low turnover (only lost one person in the past two
Subject: Re: Pros and cons of providing coffee/soft drinks in workplace
Answered By: keystroke-ga on 10 Oct 2006 13:13 PDT
Hello a_carter_59,

Thank you for your interesting question!

The primary benefit that I can first think of offhand is to make your
workers happy. They made a request, and it's a pretty small one. You
have low turnover, you should appreciate that, and you might want to
reward them by doing as they ask. It's good business practice. If they
start asking for double their salary, that's different, but this is
relatively simple and inexpensive for only 12 people. You could impose
reasonable limits, such as one soda a day per person. Or, you could
simply provide water, coffee (which has some health benefits) and
possibly tea and skip the soda altogether. You could also educate them
on the health benefits of drinking bottled water instead, which may
save you money on health insurance if you pay that for them.

Providing them free as opposed to "pay as you use it" would mean that
they would drink more. You could give water free and coffee and soda
to pay for, and this might encourage them to take the water instead.
You could do an experiment and find out. If you charge for water as
well, they'll most likely take coffee or soda instead to feel like
they're getting their money's worth. I would think a "pay as you use
it" system would be cumbersome and annoying for them and for you. If
you want to do this, the best method would be to put in a soda machine
rather than deal with them paying. They most likely would appreciate a
free system better than a paying system, for obvious reasons.

Soda has no health benefits, and I don't see how it would provide your
workplace with any tangible benefit other than perhaps satisfying them
momentarily. All that high fructose corn syrup or aspartame is not
good for their health, their weight or your bank account if you're
paying for their health insurance.

However, coffee does have some health benefits that soda does not have. 

Here is a webpage (admittedly, done by a pro-coffee organization)
which details the benefits that coffee can have to a person's
productivity and performance in the workplace.

Coffee in the Workplace

It could be possible that you could be doing immeasurable good for
your business by instituting this "perk." Your employees might see it
as another benefit, like extra vacation days or health insurance.
Sometimes, it's the small things that count the most.

"Office Coffee Should Be a Job Perk"

"Having grown accustomed to quality coffee, workers will leave for the
coffee shop within the office building, or walk next door if they do
not have it in their break room. Consequently, businesses lose
valuable work time when employees are spending too much time away from
their desks."

"The quality experience of the break serves to enhance the entire work
experience. "Some of our customers actually consider our coffee as an
employee perk, that is to say, Green Mountain Coffee in the work place
is perceived as an added employee benefit," he says."

Here are some paid research studies which purport to show how coffee
increases productivity in the workplace (paid for by coffee vendors so
perhaps not unbiased):

Whether you decide to take this step may also depend on whether you
have more women than men as employees. Men can become more stressed by
coffee, while women become less stressed.

"Stressed at work? Taking a coffee break might make things worse"

"Existing theories about stress management suggest that caffeine
consumption can trigger stress, but there is also evidence that it
boosts confidence, alertness and sociability as well as making us
better able to perform various tasks. The Bristol research, led by
Professor Peter Rogers and Dr Lindsay St. Claire, and sponsored by the
Economics and Social Research Council, tried to reconcile these
different perspectives."

"The research was sparked by an anecdote from a man taking part in a
stress management workshop, describing a trip to the United States
with his small, cohesive business team. During the trip, he said,
coffee was freely available, and the team over-indulged. Within days,
stress levels had escalated and they believed that the extra caffeine
had disrupted emotional feelings and relationships, and impaired their
ability to perform normally.

Aiming to test this theory, the Bristol researchers found that
caffeine did indeed heighten feelings of stress while performing
stressful tasks, but unexpectedly this happened especially in men.
However, the effects of caffeine on performance were likely to depend
on the type of task and whether participants were working alone or in

Dr St. Claire said: ?Our research findings suggest that the
commonplace tea or coffee break might backfire in business situations,
particularly where men are concerned. Far from reducing stress, it
might actually make things worse.?

The study also tested the impact of expectations, or whether someone
who chooses to have a cup of coffee, believing it will speed reaction
times, actually feels less stressed if under pressure to do something

For this reason, in one set of tests, researchers told 32 people that
their coffee contained caffeine which would help their performance,
another 32 that their drink did not, and a third group of 32 that they
were having caffeine which causes stress-like side effects. Unknown to
the participants, however, half of the drinks actually contained 200
mg of caffeine and the other half had none.

After drinking, all in the experiment did two stressful tasks and a
series of other tests. Unexpectedly, men who had been told that their
coffee contained caffeine to enhance performance had higher heart
rates and felt more stressed. Actual caffeine consumption made people
generally less confident about their ability to cope and, again
surprisingly, made men feel more ?stressed?.

Videos taken during the experiments showed that caffeine tended to
make men look more physically tense and sound less relaxed during a
stressful public speaking task. However, it tended to reduce ratings
of stress in women.

In other experiments, involving same-sex groups of five, individuals
first thought out their own solutions to a problem and then agreed a
set of group decisions after discussion. This time, coffee was found
to reduce some feelings of stress, particularly in men, but tended to
make team-working less effective. For men, in particular, it meant
that the solutions suggested after group discussion were not as good
as those devised alone."

In fact, it seems that for women, coffee has a severe effect on
helping them deal with stress. In a study of nurses who committed
suicide, those who drank two or more cups of coffee a day committed
suicide 70 percent less than those who were not coffee drinkers.

British Medical Journal
"Stress and suicide in the Nurses' Health Study"
"Women who drank two or more cups of coffee per day had a 70% lower
risk of suicide compared with those who never drank coffee."

You may also want to encourage them to drink tea rather than coffee.
Green tea, especially, can prevent cancer, is full of
cancer-preventing antioxidants and can even help them lose weight. You
could also encourage "fruit breaks" or some other, healthier activity
to replace coffee breaks.

For your workers' health, I would recommend staying with just bottled
water, but  they might not go for that.

"Reducing Stress in the Workplace"

"Companies that encourage employees to take a "fruit break" or
5-minute walk find the employees will work more effectively than if
they are "hyped" by cigarette/coffee breaks and little physical
exercise in their jobs."

Here are some ideas from the BBC to create a healthier workplace:
(I will add, however, that their suggestion to replace coffee with
fruit juices is not perhaps the best idea either... fruit juices have
large amounts of sugar, bad for health and for teeth.)

BBC-- Healthier Workplaces

Here are some more tips for a healthy workplace:

Healthy Eating

Here are some further sources on coffee and health:

Wikipedia-- Coffee and health

Overall, I would say that these are the benefits:

workforce that is happy you take their suggestions
caffeine might increase their productivity
possible health benefits from coffee drinking and water
gained work time and family time as workers don't have to worry about
preparing their own drinks
better performance
helping women relieve stress


health side effects from too much soda 
coffee drinkers need  many bathroom breaks, which might nullify any
time savings you gain
extra cost
possibly causing more stress in men
health risks

At the very least, you probably should start supplying them with
bottled water. That could be a "middle-of-the-road" gesture which
appeases them and helps them know that you listen to their concerns,
but will be less expensive and wouldn't jeapardize their health in any

Search terms:
coffee workplace 
coffee workplace productivity
coffee stress work
healthy coffee break study

If you need any additional clarificaton before rating, let me know and
I'll be glad to help.

Subject: Re: Pros and cons of providing coffee/soft drinks in workplace
From: daniel2d-ga on 10 Oct 2006 20:04 PDT
Diet soda is OK as opposed to regular soda.
Why not have a beverage service provide the beverages? They could
provide a percentage of profit to an employee fund for a summer
picnic, etc.
Subject: Re: Pros and cons of providing coffee/soft drinks in workplace
From: czh-ga on 10 Oct 2006 23:14 PDT
Check out the perks offered by the Googleplex.


    *  Google Café - Healthy lunches and dinners for all staff.
Stations include "Charlie?s Grill," "Back to Albuquerque," "East Meets
West" and "Vegheads." Outdoor seating for sunshine daydreaming.

    * Snack Rooms - Bins packed with various cereals, gummi bears,
M&Ms, toffee, licorice, cashew nuts, yogurt, carrots, fresh fruit and
other snacks. Dozens of different drinks including fresh juice, soda
and make-your-own cappuccino.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy