How Much Coffee Do Librarians Drink?

How much coffee do library workers need to get their jobs done? The results of LJ’s informal poll are in, and as it turns out, only about 60 percent drink coffee at all, with tea the beverage of choice for abstainers.

How much coffee do library workers need to get their jobs done? The results of LJ’s informal poll are in, and as it turns out, only about 60 percent drink coffee at all, with tea the beverage of choice for abstainers.

Recently, librarian @vantine mused on Twitter : “There has to be a Library Journal article that covers exactly how much coffee a librarian needs to get all the things done.” LJ rose to the challenge and posed the question to our readers. LJ’s Twitter poll, posted September 25, asked: “As a library worker, how many cups of coffee do you need per day to reach peak productivity?” and the responses rolled in.

screen shot of LJ Twitter coffee pollJust over a quarter of respondents said they needed one or two cups of coffee to get the gears turning, and 28 percent claimed they needed three to four. Only seven percent owned up to drinking more than four cups a day. However, a full 39 percent replied that they don’t drink coffee at all.

A follow-up poll for the non–coffee drinkers in the crowd revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that 46 percent are tea drinkers. Another 20 percent prefer soda, and only three percent said they get their wake-up on with chocolate. A reassuring 31 percent cited the fourth option, superpowers.

How did our library workers stack up against national numbers?

According to the National Coffee Association and The Specialty Coffee Association of America, more than 50 percent of Americans over age 18—some 150 million Americans—drink at least one cup of coffee every day. Among those who drink coffee, the average consumption is 3.2 cups per day. Nearly two-thirds of those are downed during breakfast hours, and 30 percent between meals (an ideal time to listen to Urban Librarians Unite’s library-themed Coffee Breaks podcasts).

Most—65 percent—prefer to add sugar and/or cream or milk; 35 percent take their coffee black. Thirty million American adults drink specialty coffee beverages daily, including mocha, latte, espresso, café mocha, cappuccino, and frozen/iced coffee beverages. Superpowers were not mentioned.



With more libraries adding cafes all the time—and even allowing patrons to bring their own—it seems coffee and libraries go together. And yes, there are coffee libraries, although you can’t check out a macchiato with your library card (yet)—despite the Chattanooga Public Library, which brews coffee behind the circulation desk. But the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI), which offers courses on quality standards and assessment for coffee professionals worldwide, has a stockpile of coffees it uses for lessons. CQI’s curated Green Coffee Library, created in partnership with Coffee Lab International in Vermont, supplies all the coffees used in the institute’s exercises and tests, as well as supplies.

When instructors plan a course, they place orders from the Green Coffee Library, which provides them with the freshest samples possible. Samples are hand packed and sealed immediately after roasting, which is scheduled to coordinate with the coffee’s ship date. According to CQI’s website, “Every batch is tested for roast color, and if any samples are one point in variation from tolerance, they are repurposed and a new sample is roasted until targets are met.” More on the Green Coffee Library, and how beans are sourced, can be found here .

When it comes to coffee questions, look no further than London’s International Coffee Organization (ICO) and its coffee reference library. Coffeeline is more than 40 years old, and features more than 13,000 monographs (including books, reports, theses, and pamphlets) and over 200 periodical titles covering all aspects of coffee. While the physical library is accessible only by appointment, ICO is working to develop the library as a virtual resource. Its documents and publications are free to “the coffee industry, academics, the media, and others”—which, one would hope, includes other libraries.

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Lisa Peet

Lisa Peet is News Editor, News for Library Journal.

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Elisabeth McKechnie

Ms. Peet, I note both your interest in coffee and your last name. Here in California, we have a coffee franchise known as Peet's. Any connection?

Posted : Oct 07, 2019 06:35

David Tulanian

When I first read the article’s headline, “How Much Coffee Do Librarians Drink?” I thought to myself—Oh great. Another fake news story—then I realized this was not the case!In any event, the article prompts me to share a couple coffee stories involving library staff. When I was a librarian in the Los Angeles area, I mentored new young adult librarians. Once I drove a new librarian in my car to school so I could demonstrate how to conduct a class visit. Unfortunately for me. this librarian was hooked on coffee and had horrible coffee breath. Every time he opened his mouth, the car reeked; of course, i didn’t speak a word of protest!Another time, I worked with a library page who I believe saw herself as a “wage slave”, to use her own words. But the reason I mention her here is because one year we employees talked with one another about working conditions. When it was the page’s turn to talk, she simply answered: “No coffee, no workee”. Great answer!!

Posted : Oct 02, 2019 02:54


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