The Rules Of The Office Brew Round

tea break

When it comes to office politics, there’s one thing that takes precedence above everything else: the hot drinks round.

Employees put the kettle on multiple times a day to brew their favourite drinks in workplaces all over the country, but it’s more than just a tea round. It’s a break from the desk, a chance to get social with other kitchen-dwelling co-workers for 2 minutes, and, increasingly, a coffee round too.

Some people think that a hot drinks round is the perfect opportunity to make colleagues a tea or coffee, safe in the knowledge that in an hour’s time they’ll return the favour. As we all know, however, others manage to skirt around the unwritten rules and take more than they give.

Tea and coffee cultures differ from office to office, so commercial coffee machine specialists rijo42 decided to carry out a survey to determine, once and for all, the rules of engagement that surround hot drink rounds.

Once you’ve read through their findings, hang the downloadable A4 poster in your office kitchen or break room, have everyone fill out their ideal brew, and in theory you’ll never receive a bad cuppa again. Unless someone’s sabotaging your hot drink on purpose, that is…

Here’s what keeps the nation’s caffeine habit ticking over…


The Hot Drink Etiquette Survey Results




Hot drinks etiquette is so important in some workplaces that over half of those surveyed consider it to be bad manners to make a drink without offering colleagues one too.

Age has something to do with it, as we found that 71% of people aged 18-24 thought it was impolite while only 43% of those aged 65+ saw the injustice.

We also uncovered a group of people who choose to stay out of the hot drink routine altogether, with just over one third of people saying they never offer at all.

Etiquette takeaway: Offer to make a hot drink for colleagues to avoid them thinking you’re rude


Whose round


While you might feel like you’re always making brews for your colleagues, in reality only a quarter of people in the office make at least 1 hot drink a day for a colleague.

18-24 year olds make the most hot drink rounds per day, with 1/3 of this age range making 4+ rounds daily as they try to prove themselves in the office.

Blowing everyone out of the water with their hot drink generosity, 1% of workers make 7+ hot drinks rounds a day!

Etiquette takeaway: Reciprocate the generosity of young and eager hot drink makers


love thy neighbour


Opinion is divided when it comes to who you should offer a hot drink to in the workplace. 11% of people will offer the entire workplace a beverage, a quarter of people will only ask colleagues in their immediate working area, and 35% will make a beeline for their work best friends.

1% of people might have ulterior motives with their approach to making rounds, saying that they only offer their boss a drink.

Etiquette takeaway: Don’t feel pressured to ask everyone in the office, just the besties will do




When it comes to what drinks are fair game in a brew round, 57% of people are more than happy to make instant coffee or a cup of tea while only 3% will make you a herbal tea.

Unexpectedly, cold drinks are out of the question too, with only 7% of people happy to top up your water or get you another cool beverage.

We noticed a slight gender split in willingness to go the distance in the hot drink round, with nearly 1 in 4 women happy to make any hot drink for their colleagues, whilst only 1 in 5 men would be happy to do the same.

Etiquette takeaway: Don’t ask anyone to make you a herbal brew or cold drink – coffee and tea only


under the radar


Looking for reasons to stay out of the hot drink round game? If you’re too busy at work, 16% of people agree that you’re permitted to sneak away and make yourself a quick drink without anybody minding.

22% answered that, as long as you don’t expect any hot drinks from anyone else, you’re fine to stay out of the system.

Despite this, the majority of people asked (32%) said that you should never feel compelled to make a hot drink for any of your co-workers in the first place.

Etiquette takeaway: Don’t take without giving, stay out of the system altogether if you don’t want to be involved


Other Hot Drink Findings


great expectations


Whilst 21% of people admitted that they felt peer pressure to offer to make hot drinks for their colleagues, funnily enough, those aged 18-24 felt the pressure the most.

40% of people aged 18-24 said that they felt pressured to offer drinks around the office, with that number slowly decreasing with age with only 9% of people aged 65 and over feeling the pressure to get the kettle on.


Scottish independence


Scottish people are the most likely to stay out of the workplace brew round, with 63% thinking there’s nothing wrong with not offering colleagues a hot drink and showing that, if you want a drink in a Scottish office, you might be best making it yourself.

On the opposite end of the scale, 66% of people in Northern Ireland and 64% in East Anglia think it’s rude to go it solo, making them the most likely to offer a drink around.