Coffee has long been a staple of the workplace. Coffee meetings are seen as a welcome addition to the workday. Coffee drinking in the workplace has even been associated with pay raises and promotions. While research conducted by Charlotte Fritz, an assistant professor at Portland State University, shows that coffee breaks don't actually boost productivity, a hidden benefit may exist. 

It turns out that our go-to coffee order can reveal a lot about our personalities. The next time you grab a cup of Joe with a colleague, take note of your colleague's selection. You might learn a lot about your colleague--maybe more than you wanted to. 

1. Black coffee drinkers

Despite the physical and mental health benefits of drinking coffee "straight up", black coffee may not be all it is cooked up to be. Research conducted at the University of Innsbruck in Austria has shown that black coffee drinkers are more likely to exhibit psychopathic and Machiavellianism tendencies. That is, these "purists" are more likely to find pleasure in others' misfortune, and are more likely to be selfish and devious.

If your colleague opts for coffee sans cream and sugar, you may want to consider it a cautionary warning. Of course, not all people who drink black coffee are psychopaths. 

2. Sugar additive drinkers

Those of us who have a sweet tooth are hard pressed to avoid adding a few packets of sugar to our coffee (want some coffee with that sugar?). Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that people who have a sweet-tooth are more likely to be agreeable, friendly, and compassionate. Their coffee of choice may reflect a sweet demeanor overall. 

On your next coffee break, keep your eyes peeled for these types of coffee drinkers. It's likely they get along well with people and will be there to provide colleagues with words of encouragement. 

3. Milk additive drinkers

Ramani Durvasula, a professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, and author of You Are WHY You Eat, found that people who add milk to their coffee (or have a voracious appetite for lattes) are likely to go out of their way to help others. In much the same way that they use milk to soften the bitterness of their coffee, they use their personality to "soften the bitterness of life." They are generous and will go out of their way to help others.

When you observe a colleague adding milk to his or her coffee, this might be a piping-hot sign that they'll be a trusted confidant and supportive coworker. 

4. Decaf coffee consumers

To coffee fanatics, decaf coffee is an oxymoron. What's coffee without the jolt of caffeine? In her book, Durvasula states that people who drink decaf coffee are more likely to be obsessive and controlling. It seems their predilection for trying to alter the "natural order" of coffee is but one manifestation of a general tendency to attempt to control themselves and others.

If a coworker orders their coffee sans caffeine, they may very well obsess over details and have you on a tight leash in the workplace. 

5. Half-caf consumers

To mix or not to mix? Some of us can't decide. According to Juliet A. Boghossian, a behavioral food expert​ and founder of Food-ology​, people who mix foods (for example, regular and decaf coffee mixed in equal parts) tend to be resourceful and independent. Much like they opt for both cream and sugar, they are eager to take on multiple tasks simultaneously.

If your coworker is a "half cafer", "he/she may be able to lead tasks with great finesse. If given the choice, partner up on a project with this person as they will likely be the savvy thought leaders to add some notable project experiences to your resume", explains Boghossian.

6. Espresso consumers 

According to body language experts Judi James and James Moore (as cited in The Sydney Morning Herald) espresso drinkers are an energetic bunch. They tend to be especially extroverted, the life of the party. They shirk at the bitterness of "black coffee" and similarly shirk at the bitterness of life. Their appetite for a kick in their cup of Joe mirrors their yearning for an extra kick out of life.

If a colleague opts for an espresso, chances are he/she will add vitality and richness to the office environment.  

In the days of yore, coffee came in but two varieties: caffeinated and decaffeinated. Additive options were few. Today, selections abound. Not only do we have more options in terms of milk, cream, and sugar additions (coconut milk, anyone?), flavor offerings have increased. Our coffee selection can reveal a lot about our personality. Use your next coffee break to try to discern the personalities of co-workers and colleagues. Doing so may go a long way in ensuring that your coffee break is the most productive part of your day.

Published on: Jul 3, 2018
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