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It's not about the Coffee

I’m a self-certified coffee lover where the post lunch coffee and dark chocolate (minimum 70%) combination is a personal ritual I savour on a daily basis. The deep rich aromatic smell of coffee beans, the gentle purr of the coffee machine, the considered motions of preparation and the first sip of liquid gold satisfy each sense in turn. Latest statistics indicate you are probably also a fellow coffee fan as over 70 million cups of black liquid are poured down our throats on a daily basis in the UK.

My introduction to coffee stems back to childhood lazy Saturday brunches where my parents lingered over the papers accompanied by a cafetiere. The weekly prize was to “push the plunger”, over which my younger brother and I keenly competed (the small things in life!). Since then, my taste buds have graduated over the years from diluted milky and sugary concoctions with a minute dash of coffee to an appreciation of stronger and richer blends. What’s your coffee journey?

Browsing through Waterstones shelves between meetings in Bath, Bryant Simon’s book on Starbucks caught my eye. He chronicles the phenomenal global rise then subsequent demise of Starbucks through the 90s and 00s and reveals how our generation has been "Starbucked" (Bryant, 2009). He reaches beyond a simple drink to reveal deeper forces at play that unknowingly infiltrate our lives. Current consumer society is entirely shaped by the Lacanian ideas of “desire, pleasure and 'lack' that influence our lives” (Western, 2012). Advertising plays on this, telling us both what we lack and conversely what we should desire. These dominant market forces demand our attention through endless platforms and are based on our desire for happiness, connections, respect and admiration of our peers. Byrant describes an impoverished first year student who saves religiously to visit Starbucks once weekly, as he believes "successful people go there and I hope it runs off on me" (2009).

Our status; style; identity; aspirations and behaviour that constitute our core identity and sense of self are literally exposed to the world through every single consumer decision we make. These decisions connect to our occupations or quasi-occupations, social or familial relationships, avocations, affiliations, abilities, salient attributes and spirituality (Ylvisaker & Hibbard, 2007). Our identities are ultimately culturally nurtured where beliefs and values associated with competence, status, success, talent and interest are more likely to be sustained and nurtured as self-defining identities.

Take some time to think about your identity, values and beliefs the next time you head out for a coffee break, carry out the weekly shop or treat yourself to a new ???? (insert handbag, shiny electrical item, inappropriate shoes, wiggle order, sparkly jewels etc. as necessary) as "we [all] buy things to say something about ourselves" (Bryant, 2009). The Starbucks era might have ended but consider the rise of the independent boutique coffee shop culture serving the latest fair trade organic coffee. What else do you gain beyond the surface monetary transaction?

By making the informed decision to invest in performance coaching you are sending a positive message about your identity to your work colleagues, family and friends:

I care about my future.

I want to reach beyond my present career and life.

I have goals I know I can achieve.

I value my career.

I believe I can reach my full potential.

I want to be successful.

I am worth it.

It's amazing what exciting future possibilities and potential can be contemplated all prompted by a single cup of coffee; though remember it's never just about the coffee...

This blog post was fuelled by a flat white at my favourite independent café Colonna and Small’s, 6 Chapel Row, Bath. Left to cool for five minutes the flavours and sweetness of the beans develops to produce sheer unadulterated pleasure.


Black Gold. (2006). [VIDEO]. UK, Marc Francis & Nick Francis.

The British Coffee Association. (2012). Coffee Facts. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6 October 15].

Bryant, S. (2009) Everything but the Coffee – Learning about America from Starbucks. California: University of California Press.

Western, S. (2012). Analytic-Network Coaching – Coach Training Book.

Ylvisaker, M and Hibbard, M (2007). Sense of Self and Personal Identity. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6 October 15].

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