Coffee Culture (How Microsofties Know I’m Not From Seattle)


When I first came out to the Redmond campus of Microsoft during my internship, I was really confused.  As most people know, Microsoft gives the famous “free drinks” privilege–on every floor of pretty much every building, there are a couple beverage fridges filled with tons of different types of sodas, cans of juice, milk, “Talking Rain” sparkling water (it’s a Northwest thing), a variety of teas, and a big office-style coffee machine.  In almost everyone’s office you can see the debris from this benefit–aluminum cans and bright-orange “Microsoft” logo cups are everywhere.  My manager collects his cans on a tray behind his desk, waiting until he gets 20 or so to recycle them.  Every Monday morning I’ll watch my coworker carry an armful of cans down the hall, cleaning out his office for another week of Talking Rain-fueled program management.

So, yes, all of those beverages are free.  Including the coffee.  Downstairs, in the cafeteria, there is a Starbucks barista.  They serve drip coffee as well.  It’s definitely better coffee.  (The stuff they have for free is actually some of the worst coffee I’ve ever tasted.)  The catch is that unlike every other beverage on Microsoft’s campus, the good coffee isn’t free.  In fact, the good coffee is the same price as at Starbucks.  As an intern, from a college life where I made my own coffee in my coffee maker at home, and drank a cup once in a while from a big coffee machine (the kind where the cup drops down first), people willingingly paying for coffee, when there’s a batch of free coffee right next to the Starbucks coffee was mind-blowing.

Then I moved to Seattle, and started drinking more coffee.  I’m slowly becoming more and more of a coffee snob (Starbucks is only the tip of the coffee-house iceberg), but still typically drink the free coffee.  Whenever I walk by with my orange Microsoft cup filled with the free coffee, Josh will look and say, “Oh, I forgot that you still drink that…” in the disapproving tone that only a true Seattlite could muster.  I walk on, and still smile to think that I’m getting my caffeine fix free-of-charge.  🙂

Well, I just finished my coffee (I paid for it this time), so it’s probably time to stop for today… 🙂

Comments (9)

  1. Jeff Parker says:

    You know I was out there not to long ago. The coffee thing I expected. The one thing I found odd out there though was Tomatto Juice. While there I seen a lot of people order it in restaurants. When Flying out everyone around me ordered a tomatto juice or a V8 or some kind. This is the one thing I have found extremely odd when I was out there. That seems to be like the second biggest drink out there.

    In Michigan tomatto juice has only one shelf in the largest of groceries. This shelf contains spicy tomatto, regular tomatto, V8 and clamatto (clam and tomatto juice). Now I know about this shelf because I sometimes used the juice as a marinade in cooking but never really for drinking I suspect most people in Michigan pass it by without a second thought. So the first time I seen someone just order Tomatto juice it struck me as odd. When I kept seeing person after person ordering it then it got really odd. Any idea what the obsession with tomatto juice is all about?

  2. MSDNArchive says:

    Tomato juice, huh?  Who knows–maybe it’s a function of team.  Most of my team is pretty obsessed with the Talking Rain sparkling water, which I think is pretty gross for the most part.  It’s basically just club soda.  The only people I ever remember drinking club soda were my grandparents–and I’m pretty sure it was just being used as a mixer… 🙂

    I think you probably saw it more out here because of how health-conscious everybody is out here.  If you’re from Michigan, you probably have the same experiences with food that I had in Cleveland (where I lived up until a year ago)…food is really more about taste than health.  It’s a bit different out in Seattle.

    Not that Dick’s Hamburgers or the endless stream of Northwestern microbrews are "healthy"…. 🙂

  3. Joe Morel took the words right out of my mouth:

    "Then I moved to Seattle, and started drinking more…

  4. "Then I moved to Seattle, and started drinking more coffee."