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Top Places to Work | Perks

Caffeinated comfort

By Katie Johnston Chase
Globe Staff / November 8, 2009

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IF THERE’S ONE THING that’s essential for getting work done, it might be coffee. Especially if it’s plentiful, and free.

Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, a Cambridge maker of biotech drugs, pumps out 2,800 cups of coffee a week from 16 single-serving Keurig coffee machines, all on the house for employees. The e-mail marketing company e-Dialog provides about a dozen varieties of bottomless Keurig-brewed coffee to its 180 employees in Burlington.

But at Continuum in West Newton, the coffee obsession goes beyond numbers and flavors to reveal three distinct camps of coffee drinkers: those who drink Dunkin’ Donuts, those who drink Starbucks, and those who drink espresso. The design-consulting firm serves all three kinds of coffee in the downstairs staff cafe, and operations manager Gail Black Smith said it’s rare to see any of the 125 on-site employees stray from their beverage of choice.

That sometimes prompts a good-natured rivalry: Dunkin’ loyalists mocking Starbucks’ molasses-y taste, Starbucks lovers proclaiming Dunkin’ to be wimpy. But the espresso drinkers get the most heat, Black Smith said, “especially when you’re seeing somebody having their third of the day and it’s only 11 o’clock.’’

The company stocks all sorts of sweeteners and every type of creamer imaginable, not to mention bread, peanut butter, and jelly for a quick snack, and a fully stocked candy drawer.

Providing an endless stream of free, desirable coffee is a way for the company to help make a hard day a little easier, Black Smith said. “Sometimes I think this place might come to a screeching halt if the espresso machine broke,’’ she said.

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