I was pondering the role of coffee* in my working life and have come to the realisation that it is important. I am not the only person to come to this conclusion. Our recently retired Vice-Chancellor commented (I loosely paraphrase) that world class scholars needed world class coffee - and coffee shops that open after 4pm.
When I say coffee is an essential ingredient in my working life I don't just mean the act of drinking a hot brew, though that is self evidently a Good Thing. I am talking about the process of having a coffee with someone. This is different to having a meeting. If you are having a meeting then you would meet in a meeting room, have an agenda and commit to actions. You sent a meeting invite. You take notes. You try to get through the business efficiently so you can go and have a coffee.
However in my working life you often want to engage with someone, perhaps someone you don't know very well or someone that you want to sound out on an issue (that might lead to a meeting) or someone you just want to get to know better in the likely event that you may have common interests - now or in the future. These coffee catch ups at work are the not-meetings that help build the intangible network that makes up an organisation.
In days gone past you may have had a beer with someone at the club during lunch or caught them at the pub on the way home from work (while the wife prepared your dinner). Today it is the coffee shop where you have a meeting of minds.
Coffee - the essential ingredient in building a working community.
* you can of course substitute any other brew of choice, I am using the word coffee in a generic 'hot or cold drink' sense