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Shared caffeine? Coworking and community building around coffee breaks

November 10, 2009

Caffeine is a great resource for anybody who needs to wake up in the morning and do work. Personally, I like my coffee strong, black, without cream nor sugar. And more importantly, I like having my coffee surrounded by people. I find that great ideas start to float in my head whenever I am having a coffee break.

But I always wondered if this could be a central element around which coworkers could grow community. A few weeks ago, I asked the members of the Coworking Google Groups whether they thought that having a shared coffee maker would help build community around a coffee break. I got a few responses back, everyone agreeing that it was a good idea.

The thing that really struck me was this thought from Alex Hillman, the co-founder of Indy Hall and widely respected as one of the early builders of the coworking movement. Alex replied to my email saying, amongst other things:

I wouldn’t dismiss the coffee pot (or a water cool) as a social/community building tool so quickly. Having community “places” within the office, no matter how small, provide a reason for someone to get up from their desk and bump into/converse with someone.

For a few months now, at The Network Hub, we’ve begun to share our coffee breaks as we now have a brand new, sleek and stylish coffee maker (espresso/drip) at the office. I named it “Monique” in honor of a dear friend of mine and a fellow entrepreneur, Monique Trottier. Monique Trottier is a wonderful, brilliant entrepreneur, who also has a fantastic sense of style. Since Monique (the coffee maker) is also sleek and beautiful, I thought the name was appropriate. And yes, I think that sharing coffee breaks has in a way helped continue growing the relationship between the community of entrepreneurs at The Network Hub.

Dr. Raul Pacheco-Vega is a Vancouver-based researcher, educator and consultant in the environmental public policy field. He conducts research in water governance, urban sustainability, comparative environmental policy and economic geography. Dr. Pacheco-Vega’s consulting studio has a home at The Network Hub.

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