“The links between colleagues have weakened”

Short or elongated? With or without sugar ? Filter coffee maker or automatic machine? No matter how you consume it, coffee is inseparable from business life, just like starving ficus or chairs on wheels. From Finland to the United States via Australia, almost everywhere in the world, the working days are punctuated by coffee breaks. The Swedish even have a word to designate this moment of relaxation: fika (the verlan of kaffe, which means “coffee”).

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According to the hundreds of testimonies collected by The world, the words that come up the most to describe this moment are ” essential “, ” necessary “, “Essential” and “Primordial”. According to an IFOP survey carried out in 2018, 75% of French employees take at least one daily coffee break, and more than half (53%) sacrifice to this ritual several times a day. They are only 11% to shun it systematically. Finally, there are a few die-hards that we almost always come across with an espresso and a cigarette in hand, tireless Stakhanovists of this energizing ritual.

Historically, the introduction of the coffee break is partly linked to the evolution of the working conditions of workers. Between the end of the XIXe and the beginning of the XXe century, in industrialized countries, unions get the eight-hour day (against ten hours or more previously). In France, this demand entered into law in 1919. At the same time, break times were increased and many workers took advantage of these moments of respite to give themselves a boost by drinking a coffee.

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But, until the 1950s, coffee did not have a very good image: unlike tea, associated with upper social classes, it was seen as a popular drink. In 1952, a vast advertising campaign by the association of Pan-American coffee producers, The Pan-American Coffee Bureau, helped change attitudes. His slogan – “Give yourself a coffee-break and get what coffee gives to you” (“Give yourself a coffee break and enjoy what coffee does for you”) – emphasizes the energy boost that caffeine gives. The “little black” becomes synonymous with greater performance and better efficiency, all qualities valued in the professional world, among managers and workers alike. From there, the practice becomes a daily routine which is democratized and internationalized.

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