Need to hire programmers? Offer good coffee

In the competition for developer talent, offering a good cup of joe could give your company an edge

Picture of milk being poured into a cup of coffeeImage credit: flickr/Market Lane Coffee (license)
Good coffee makes for happy workers

Hiring software engineers is no easy task these days, as the demand continues to be much greater than the supply. As a result, software developer salaries just seem to keep getting crazier. As I’ve written before, aside from high pay, companies are also coming up with unusual benefits, perks and incentives to try and attract coding talent. Turns out, though, that there’s one more traditional, and relatively low cost, perk that employers may want to consider offering to recruit programmers: good coffee.

Matt Holford, the CTO at, wrote in Fast Company last month about the beneficial effect good coffee can have on a company’s culture. In his opinion, offering good coffee provides many benefits such as building morale, increasing productivity, keeping people from the leaving the office as much (to get good coffee) and encouraging social interaction (around making coffee). In short, he says that offering good coffee is a good recruiting tool while, alternatively, skimping on something so affordable sends a bad signal to employees and potential recruits.

In response to this, the folks at attempted to test Holford’s theory and to quantify whether offering good coffee could help with hiring software engineers. To do so, they looked at employee reviews on GlassDoor for 428 companies that were hiring software engineers. They compared the rating for companies that advertised coffee as a job perk to the ratings for those companies that didn’t.

The result? They found a positive, but small, correlation between a company offering coffee as a perk and overall company rating by its employees. See their blog post about it for more details.’s numbers provide some statistical evidence backing up Holford’s theory on the power of coffee. More anecdotally, and not surprisingly, coffee seems to play a significant role in the office cultures of many prominent tech companies. For example:

While the findings from are interesting, it’s hard to imagine anyone really factoring the quality of a company’s coffee offerings into their job decisions. Then again, at a time when developers are so in demand, offering a good (free) supply of joe certainly can’t hurt when trying to attract and keep programming talent (or any other talent, for that matter). Better to err on the safe side and load your kitchen with some Starbucks or Peet’s or Philz coffee.

Read more of Phil Johnson's #Tech blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Phil on Twitter at @itwphiljohnson. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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