There's a battle taking place in offices across America. Employees in businesses across all industries start the day with at least one cup of coffee. Some even continue their coffee consumption throughout the day. At one time, employees shared one carafe of coffee, usually in a roast general enough to meet everyone's personal tastes.

However, in recent years, coffee drinkers have developed more refined tastes. Gourmet coffee shops like Starbucks have created a culture where a simple cup of coffee will no longer do. This holds true even in the workplace, where a group of employees may have a variety of preferences, from the type of roast to more extreme flavored coffees. Oddly enough, this sometimes creates friction in the break room, as employees argue the merits of their own favorite coffee types with their coworkers. Some people are just not a big fan of hazelnut.

An Infinite Selection of Flavors

Even before adding flavors like German chocolate and French vanilla, coffee flavors can vary dramatically from one coffee pot to the next. For the first time in 21 years, the Specialty Coffee Association has updated the Coffee Taster's Flavor Wheel, a tool that describes the many flavors of coffee. From light to dark roasts, the wheel captures the different flavor attributes in coffee to better understand the science behind the types of roasts coffee enthusiasts prefer.

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To update the flavor wheel, a panel of professional sensory panelists gathered. The goal was to create a common language that would help the industry better describe the many different tastes available. Just as wine experts identify flavors by terms like "fruit" and "oak," coffee experts isolate different flavors with names like "nutty," "tobacco," and "sour" to describe the different flavor notes in coffee. The variety in this color wheel demonstrates how difficult it might be to provide just one pot of coffee to an entire office.

A Passionate Debate

When a business offers one pot of coffee to the whole office, the challenge then becomes choosing a flavor that everyone likes. Smaller businesses may be able to reach a compromise between the few employees who will be sharing coffee each morning. However, just one dissenter can upset the entire process, leading to an ongoing argument that affects office morale as a whole.

Some businesses have solved the issue with single-cup coffeemakers, which let employees choose the flavor they like. If the business owner pays for both the coffeemaker and the pods, though, this option can be significantly more expensive than providing coffee grounds for a standard coffee pot.

Coffee services are another expensive option. If employees reach an impasse, a business owner could offer to buy a single-cup coffeemaker and let employees bring their own pods in, providing a standard coffeepot for those who prefer to take advantage of the free coffee.

With so many different flavors of coffee available, it can be difficult to choose one that will please everyone. Some business owners may resolve it by offering standard coffee, various alternatives or even inviting employees to bring their own from home if they don't like it. However, it's important to be aware of the issues that can arise when employees disagree over such a small topic, with those issues potentially bleeding into other areas of the business.