The Unsung Hero of Our Office

The Unsung Hero of Our Office

What’s the first piece of hardware you install when you move a software company to a new location? An espresso machine, of course.

We got ours in 2011 when we moved to our new office space. This machine helped create ActiveCollab and got us through some tough times. In fact, every line of code was fueled by the machine’s magic valves and circuits. If it was a person, it could claim a share in IP (intellectual property) ownership.

pro·gram·mer (n) An organism capable of converting caffeine into code

Every bug is easy — if you’re caffeinated enough. Paraphrasing Archimedes: “Give me enough caffeine and a place to sit, and I’ll migrate any database in the world”, or something like that.

Caffeine pushes you and gives you the concentration to wrangle a strange Chrome console error that gets thrown for no good reason. When you lose energy and feel like you can’t solve the problem: make a pilgrimage to the espresso machine — it’ll provide the answer; it always does.

You stretch your legs and make a trip to the kitchen. Step away from the digital world into the analog and remind yourself of simpler times. Take a deep breath, clear your mind and start the espresso making ritual.

As you reach your hand into the bag, you feel each coffee bean shuffle under your fingers as you put them into the processor. You let their strong smell transport you to sun-drenched plantations in Costa Rica or Bali. You can almost feel the sun enveloping your skin and a gentle breeze coming from the ocean. Watch as the grinder pulverizes the beans into fine dust, investing its whole mechanical soul into the process. Meditate on how each coffee bean gets crushed and swallowed into the black dust. This black dust will energize you with a couple of hours of quality coding. Coffee time is zen time.

Then comes the alchemy: each coffee particle gives its essence away and infuses the water with its intoxicating aroma. The temperature gets high behind the shiny metal as white steam escapes the infernal machine. The pressure rises, electricity runs through the circuits, and the liquid starts to drip. Every drip is bitter and searing.

The ceramic cup holds the scorching black nectar with care. In the meantime, you steam the milk until it starts to sizzle with foam. You mix the two fluids: the frothy white milk and the strong black espresso. They fuse together and the enchantment is done.

The cup’s warmth emits comfort. As you clench it, calm washes over you. You remember the cold winter nights and the joy a hot beverage gives. Nothing can stop you. That mere data cruncher and the devourer of intricate code — it won’t get the best of you. You shall prevail. You shall dominate. The fighting spirit rises and you’re ready to conquer whatever the console throws at you.

For the next two hours, you are invincible. The Skyrim theme keeps playing in your head, driving you forward as you hack and slash your way through the code. No bug is safe while the caffeine runs through your veins.

You’ve been transformed from a zombie to Dragonborn. Your head’s clear. You’re ready for the battle and the gods of productivity are smiling.

You can’t put a price tag on coder’s happiness. The ROI on our espresso machine happened a long time ago, and it keeps on giving.

If we could give it a medal, we would. But all we can do is sing its praise with deep gratitude.