Caffeine Fuels Improved Operations

From the backroom to the branch floor, caffeinated beverages may affect your operation more than you know.


Forget oil. There’s another substance that is just as critical to keeping the country running smoothly: coffee. With effects ranging from increased metabolism and reduced hunger to increased focus, mood, and memory (thanks to a heavy dose of antioxidants), the occasional cup of joe has been shown to have some long-term health benefits as well.

How much do we love the stuff? “More than 50% of Americans drink coffee everyday — three to four cups each, more than 330 million cups a day and counting,” says CBS News. If you include beverages such as sodas and energy drinks, it’s clear that caffeine is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances on the planet.

The physical effects of caffeine on the body are complex, but many of its effects stem from its ability to suppress the chemical adenosine from binding to receptors in our brain, which would otherwise result in drowsiness, and creates a surge of adrenaline that makes you more productive.

It also bumps up serotonin and dopamine levels, your body’s natural antidepressants, making you feel happier and more empathetic. In short, it temporarily sharpens both mood and performance, critical components for credit unions whose business advantage extends from superior member service.

And the Keurig machine in the lobby may be just as critical to the member experience as the one in the back office. Like employees, members visiting the branch might also be more enthusiastic about their experience if under the influence of caffeine.

So if you’re leaving branch visitors high and dry, don’t expect them to be patient or forgiving. Research indicates that many individuals who consume caffeine regularly can experience hits to those same serotonin levels (driving irritability and other undesirable effects) if they go too long without.

Keep your members and employees happy by offering superior service and a cup from the (temporary) fountain of youth. Several credit unions, such as Forward Financial Credit Union ($69.2M, Niagara, WI), even include full service cafés and coffee bars as part of the branch model at some locations.

Running a café as part of branch operations might not fit every institution, but sharing space or forming partnerships with local, community-oriented brewers is worth considering. 

Just like credit unions who are trying to discern themselves from larger competitors through better service, there are many small, independent coffee shops looking for an ally to help discern themselves from corporate chains like Starbucks. Such partnerships can also cut down on branch operation costs and provide an extra amenity for which you don’t have to pay.



Aug. 25, 2011


  • True comments, but don't maintain that "fresh brew", and your member gets a cup of bitter chunks. That great refreshing first impression you were looking for turns into a loud "yeccchhh!"

    I've seen it happen far too often to be a fluke.
    Ken Schroeder
  • Right on, Aaron! Our business is all about relationships. The more we can build and nourish relationships with our members, the more successful we will be at achieving business goals and more important, living the values that form the foundation of the credit union experience.
    Walt Laskos