07/18/2011 11:11 am ET | Updated Sep 17, 2011

Office Single Serve Beverage Systems Are the New Water Cooler

The National Exposition of Contract Furnishings convention, NeoCon, is renowned for showcasing the latest trends in interior designs, products and concepts. So we at Mars Drinks took notice when a presentation by the International Facility Management Association called out its "5 C's": Coffee, CNN, Connectivity, Comfort and Central Location.

There it was: Coffee was recognized as a contributor to workplace productivity. As a global leader in workplace beverages, we were excited that the contract-furniture industry recognized something we have known for years, that providing the right single-serve hot-beverage system, with the right choice of quality beverages, really does impact productivity and is a "joy trigger" to conversations and overall balance at work.

The 5 C's provide a balanced formula to create useful, engaging common spaces such as cafés, break rooms and collaboration areas. And coffee tends to be the universal draw for people to visit these spaces. These days, common spaces need to serve more than one purpose. It's about more than just sticking a vending machine or coffee maker in the corner. Employers need to create unique, dynamic and comfortable environments to eat lunch, grab a beverage, socialize, collaborate, have team meetings or catch a few minutes of the news. The goal is to provide employees a higher degree of choice for how and where they can work and collaborate with one another.

According to a 2011 survey we commissioned with our Alterra Coffee Roasters brand, the positive effects of coffee drinking are felt by hardworking Americans across the nation and lead to increased workplace productivity and happiness. However, many are dissatisfied with the hot-beverage systems in their office. In order to satisfy their taste buds, American workers are spending valuable time away from the office, which can cut back on both office productivity and hard-earned disposable income. With employee satisfaction being an important and essential piece of a business's overall success, companies around the nation have been waking up and smelling the truth: hardworking and great tasting coffee is a must! Our data strongly suggests the folks who presented the 5 C's at NeoCon were on to something.

Consider that:

  • 65 percent of office workers drink coffee when at work -- and couldn't perform much of their jobs without this favored beverage

  • More than one in five office workers admit the quality of their work would suffer if they didn't have coffee and one-third acknowledged making important work-related decisions while downing a cup of Joe
  • 30 percent of office workers who drink coffee say they do so mainly because it helps them focus and get more done and 24 percent drink coffee because it's their wake up call
  • 62 percent think coffee would be more effective than soda or milk in keeping their colleagues sane if they were trapped in their workplace for a week
  • Nearly 75% of office workers observe that people in their workplace are more likely to interact with each other around a coffee maker than a water cooler
  • Two in five coffee drinkers who work in an office have had interesting or helpful talks with colleagues or bosses while near the coffee maker
  • Over three in five have developed the habit of buying coffee outside of the office during the workweek, spending an average of14 a week on outsourced brew
  • We at Mars Drinks are excited that something that we have been passionate about since our first brewer launched 1984 -- satisfying the individual tastes of coffee and tea drinkers -- is being celebrated and recognized as an important part of the workplace. We are very proud of our single-serve beverage portfolio. A complete list of Alterra coffees, The Bright Tea Co. teas and Dove hot chocolate selections is available at, and We look forward to see how this office trend takes shape and officially replaces the water cooler.

    Brian Miller is the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Mars Drinks, a division of Mars, Inc.