It’s been a couple of weeks since Appian brought new grind-and-brew coffee machines to our three busiest floors in HQ. While these gleaming fountains of liquid energy seemingly appeared overnight, it has been a multi-stage process involving surveys, environmental impact research, and cost comparison. As we reap the delicious benefits, you may wonder how this all came about? Let me tell you the riveting tale of the dark side of those Black Tiger K-cups, and how AppianGREEN brought us a fresher, greener cup o’ Joe.
It was a bright and sunny fall morning, and there in my in-box appeared a survey about coffee preferences, flavors, decaf, opinion of K-cups, and interest in fresh, whole bean coffee. This was pretty exciting to me, having endured many a terrible cup of burnt, bottom-of-the-pot, hours-old office coffee at previous jobs. I love a good cup of coffee, so it was nice to know that employee preferences matter in our coffee choices. It was also cool that the environmental impacts of our current Keurig K-cup consumption were being considered, but they had me at “whole bean.”
Not long after, I heard from the AppianGREEN Team that plans to replace our coffee machines were moving forward. Helping the environment through drinking better beverages is totally my cup of tea (or coffee), so I joined the team to learn what it was all about.
AppianGREEN member and coffee aficionado, Jorge Sanchez, has led the team’s efforts to make coffee changes. Jorge was concerned about the volume of non-recyclable waste produced by our use of Keurig’s K-cup machines — more than 8,000 K-cups a month! — and found many other AppianGREEN members felt the same way. He plunged fearlessly into the murky grounds of the commercial coffee industry and researched alternatives, believing that the high cost and packaging waste of K-cups outweigh the benefits of average-quality coffee and convenience.
Through Jorge’s research into current Appian coffee costs and processes, additional challenges were revealed by the administrative team. While our awesome admins are always ready to help us out, accommodating so many individual requests for specialty beverages has left our kitchens full of unusual items that linger for months without many people using them (peppermint mocha creamer with your Snapple peach tea K-cup?). This increases the inconsistency between our kitchens, and you never know what you’re going to find when you visit another floor. This can be an exciting opportunity to explore exotic flavor choices and analyze the coffee culture of other departments (Does the sales team really drink that much decaf? Do engineers live on cookie-flavored creamers?), but if you just want a quick cup of dark roast before a meeting, it may be hard to find.
Director of Real Estate and Facilities, Glenda Montemayor, explained to the AppianGREEN team that providing coffee is a consistent challenge for administrative professionals; people care a lot about their coffee, and everyone has a different opinion or special request for what kind of coffee they want in the workplace. It’s nice to be able to ask for our favorite items, but it creates a cluttered kitchen environment, and complicates the task of supply ordering, re-stocking, and ensuring regular turnover of items so everything stays fresh. It seems a bit ironic that in a company where we aim to simplify and streamline processes, I find 70 different beverage options facing me every morning. This is not simplicity.
With the consensus from AppianGREEN and the Admin team that positive changes could be made, plans progressed. By switching to the new coffee machines on our three busiest floors, we can produce the same number of beverages without sending 96,000 non-recyclable K-cups to a landfill every year, and save thousands of dollars annually. This makes it an easy decision from both the financial and environmental standpoints.
Of course, what we all care about is the taste of our coffee. I’m happy to report that the new coffee tastes great! Our bean-to-cup style coffee machines offer a wide variety of 60 different custom beverages. The machines hold two varieties of fresh coffee beans, so you have the choice of a light or dark roast, or a blend of both, and can select the brew strength and size of your beverage. This makes it easy to brew the perfect cup of coffee tailored exactly to your preferences. For those with a fancy coffee habit, you can also brew a latte, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and many other delicious specialty coffees. I know having these options in the office is helping me kick my afternoon coffee shop habit, so on a personal level I’m saving time and money too!
Even the locations of the machines have brought positive changes in our daily office routines. I like having a reason to climb some stairs and visit the 4th floor, say hello to Linda at the front desk, and scavenge for leftover bagels while I brew a fresh cup of light roast.
Appian is committed to letting the best ideas win, and our coffee choices are a perfect example of that. Jorge and the AppianGREEN team had an idea, supported it with research, and helped bring it to implementation. Anyone can get involved in AppianGREEN and do the same: have a good idea, follow through, and make a difference! I’ll be savoring this difference every morning, so thank you, AppianGREEN!