«If you are going to SAP in Walldorf, drink coffee in the corners!», says an old Brazilian proverb.
Mix seven office buildings, with up to six floors, thousands of parkings, a collection of designer furniture, a couple of espresso machines and what do you get? World’s largest coffee and tea house – better known as SAP in Walldorf.
In fact, rumors are afloat that SAP was founded more or less accidentally. Yes, now that the truth is out, it can be said: SAP software is an irksome by-product, which camouflages the real mission of SAP. The five founders are said to have had a weakness and passion for coffee and tea. Those glorious five originally opened a café, dreaming of a life full of coffee smell, newspapers and billiard tables. With writers, journalists and philosophers mingling and discussing questions of significant importance, like politics, the origin of life and with whom this blonde actress over there has currently an affair.
Most of the time an SAP employee spends his or her time in the coffee corners. They are fully equipped with an espresso machine, steamer, bottles of milk, coffee cream, half&half, hot tea water, approx. 769 sorts of tea, a spigot for sparkling water and a couple of dozen types of sugar. The beverages can be poured into best china and thermos flasks. The coffee spoons are of best German steel, the coffee corner sofa chairs, tray tables and love seats display the latest and hippest designs and creations of the contemporary furniture industry, and just recently there were wireless routers for broadband internet connection installed in each corner. A coffee corner innovation, which was awarded the highest acclamation from the SAP Idea Management team, is the new hot chocolate automat.
Some people are so often in those coffee corners that their mail is even delivered to those corners and that they hold receptions there. We also heard romantic stories of several marriages, which were the result of lack of space in those corners, and people had to share a table and developed mutual interest.
The corners are strategically placed throughout all the office buildings, so that nobody has to make more than 20 steps to reach the next coffee machine. Should it happen that a machine is under repair, the colleagues affected get an additional hardship bonus, an emergency coffee thermos flask and are temporarily relocated from those desert areas.
We heard tear-jerking and touching stories from colleagues, who did not make it, when there once was an incident with the coffee gangsters. They wanted to enforce a new company car policy and unplugged the coffee machines in one building. Several unsuspecting colleagues were found clinging to the machines, sucking desperately at the empty coffee tap and eating the raw beans from the reservoir tank. Some of them even drank the old and cold coffee from the dirty cup trays. As an unfortunate result (and we all know the effect of cold coffee), those colleagues are said to be the most handsome and prettiest now (No no, I personally did not drink that old coffee, I was born that handsome).
That’s why SAP has now, instead of an IT & server center, a coffee squad, which can reach within five minutes any of the eighty coffee machines in Walldorf. The latest plans were to put coffee machines in the elevators, on each floor of the parking garages and in the middle of the one very long bridge, that connects the building 1 (aka “EVZ”) with building 18 (the “Star”). Suggestions to place them also strategically on the hiking paths throughout the surrounding forests were categorically postponed to the next quarter.
An official traveler’s guide to SAP coffee corners became a bestseller. You can see a lot of teams, who check out the best coffee locations. When they had one of those first super fancy Espresso machines in the LGD building, so many people where walking to this coffee corner that SAP security had to restrict the access to the connecting bridge. Colleagues waited at average seven hours to reach the machine.
Not only customers show the phenomena of customization, also SAP employees display this bad behavior. It regularly turns into a scavenger hunt, when they go to building 1, fifth floor to pick up the cup, walk over the bridge to building 18, choose the coffee in the cellar, find the right coffee cream in Building 5 on the 2nd floor, grab two sugar cubes, shaped like hearts in Building 2 on the 6 floor and end up in building 3 in the caves for the special 2005 edition spoons. This hunt takes approximately 4 hours, 59 kilometers, 14.762 stairs and ends in most cases with ice-cold coffee (if there is something left from the many spilling accidents).
An open secret is the real meaning of a couple of three letter acronyms that SAP permanently utilizes to confuse customers and partners. Here is a selection of them (the acronyms, not the customers):
– CRM: Coffee Roasting Machine
– R/3: Roast 3x (for very special coffee)
– BW: Black & White (coffee with milk)
– TopTier: the top layer is the cream
– xApps: xpresso
– VC: Visual Coffee
– CAF: hohoho, not even hiding the purpose anymore
You may now easily understand that the most important SAP location outside Walldorf is not Palo Alto, Moscow or the Neptune. No, it’s SAP Brazil. This strategically highly important location of the world’s largest producer of coffee controls the flow of coffee shipped to Walldorf. Now wonder that they receive the highest attention and that employees from this location are treated like royals on their travels to Walldorf.
You don’t believe me? Then why do you think SAP software sometimes is so slow? It gives you the chance for a relaxed coffee. Enjoy your sip…
More anecdotes can be found in the Humour@SAP weblog series.