Coffee is the New Lunch

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It doesn’t matter whether you drink coffee or not, in the workplace, coffee is the new lunch. Coffee doesn’t mean a drink. It means a short meeting outside of the office. It could be social, it could be networking, it could be all about business; but it means ‘not too long’. Or, it could mean “I don’t like you enough in that way” to have lunch.

Not long ago, dinner was too much time and energy to risk spending with someone you didn’t know well. The commitment was daunting. All the dating sites proved the notion that dinner was just too much. Now, it’s lunch’s turn. The alternative? Coffee.

When people invite you to a “coffee”, it means I will spend some time with you and I will probably help you – but not that much. However, the benefits to the new culture of coffee are boundless.

  • It is possible to have five coffees or more in a day. You can only have one lunch.
  • There is often nowhere to sit in coffee places so meetings tend to be short.
  • Coffee is non-fattening, assuming you don’t order a 1000 calorie coffee drink every time. Beware the double chocolate chip Frappuccino and dozen glazed donuts with sprinkles.
  • Coffee frees up lunch to get real work done. You can still have that turkey sandwich at your desk knowing that you already had five coffees.
  • Coffee is cheap, relatively speaking, so there is no wrestling over the check. If you do buy coffee, you can be gracious without going broke.
  • It is easy to sneak out of the office for coffee and you don’t have to get dressed up, even for a quick job interview. Skipping out for lunch is not as easy.

In our constant drive for efficiency and productivity, lunch is being replaced with coffee. Lunch is now reserved for true friends and making deals. In some sectors, a nice business lunch has become a luxury. And I see lots of business lunches where everyone is on his or her phone anyway. That can be done over a coffee.

Since the meeting is now only the length of a Grande Latte, you need to be prepared. If you are looking for a job, you need to have a resume that you can describe in two minutes. If you are trying to raise money, the elevator pitch is more important than ever. In fact, maybe we should change the term elevator pitch to the “medium drip” pitch. You need to know how to gauge how much time you have left in the meeting based on how quickly your partner is sucking down the mocha. And, although some would argue that business cards are so last century, you need to have one ready.

Going for a coffee is here to stay. So the next time someone asks you to have a coffee – GO. It’s not that much of a commitment for either participant. And, although it’s efficient, “coffee” could be the first step to something much bigger. And for the non-coffee drinkers out there – you should probably find something else to order in those coffee hangouts.

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