An ode the the coffee machine

I sit here at work in our shared Intensive care office and despite the gloomy prognosis of a significant proportion of our patients I feel a rush of warmth from the corner of the room.

This does not come from a cheery consultant or an enthusiastic junior doctor. It comes from the hum of the filter coffee machine.

This is the first point of call in the morning’s; the ritualistic filling of water from the always dirty glass container, the opening of a fresh sachet of ground coffee lovingly decanted into the filter paper and the only kind of beep we like in the ICU as it communicates to us it is alive and ready for action.

This is more than just fuelling our caffeine addiction. It makes the handover, which can be quite laborious in the detailed orientated intensive care environment, a distinctly more enjoyable and importantly, more social experience.

Sharing a drink is what we do in our friend time, we go for coffee or alcohol with friends. Sitting around drinking coffee and discussing patient’s rather than staring at a screen discussing patient leads to a more liminal, less hierarchy interaction- feels more like a chat than a discussion.

Sometimes, with the grand talk of flattening hierarchies and effective handover the simplicity of a shared, bog standard cup of filter coffee is really want solidifies us a team.

It is a hundred little things like this is how we optimise our practice. I hope if I ever enter into management (god forbid!) I don’t forget this.

An haiku to finish (I tried an ode but don’t think my previously unflexed poetry muscles are up to it!)


Endless black liquid

Waiting to slosh into mugs

Handover perfection

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