Who is Supposed to Buy Coffee on Coffee Chats?

Ok, totally random. I was reading some forum and it says when you ask a person for a coffee chat, YOU are supposed to buy coffee. Now, I just realized that it was the other way around during all of my coffee chats. What is the actual coffee chat etiquette here?

Another trend: I get asked a lot for drinks (beer, or like a bar, not coffee). What is the etiquette here? I try not to drink alcohol these days, so I usually avoid bars (if I have to go, I usually order a tea or smth)..

Comments (52)

Apr 20, 2016

Each buy your own

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Apr 20, 2016

There was a while where I would offer but after everyone declined and offered to buy I stopped. It's probably not a big deal, but I might have missed the proper etiquette.

Apr 22, 2016

you did.

Apr 20, 2016

I think this is something that you just need to feel out during the situation. I have been on all sides, each our own, me buy, they buy. I always offer to buy but if they decline I am never pushy about it. Many times when I offered to pay they refused and insisted on paying for me instead.

Apr 20, 2016

Same here. So you should always offer to buy first?

It ain't what you know, it's who you know

Best Response
Apr 20, 2016

Student - Here I'll get them
Banker - No don't worry, I got it
Student - Ok, thank you so much

That's about the jist of it.

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Apr 20, 2016

Always offer to buy, but you're almost always going to get turned down. In ~40 chats, I've paid once.

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Apr 20, 2016

This has been posted many times before, and the answer is always the same: the banker buys the coffee. Even as an analyst, I would feel like an a$$hole if some college kid bought me coffee. The student should definitely offer to pay for the coffee, but when the banker declines, don't insist.

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Apr 20, 2016

As said by others, you need to offer as the banker you're meeting with is giving you their time. That being said, I'll always offer to pick it up but I know I've been a bit miffed when I've taken time out of my day and the person doesn't offer to pick up a $2 coffee as I'm not getting anything out of the meeting.

Apr 20, 2016

With alums I never bothered to offer, but with non-alums I did. Ended up at my top choice BB, so I guess it didn't matter.

Apr 20, 2016

If you don't offer I'd think you're a jack ass.

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL

Apr 20, 2016

It goes like this:
I offer
They decline
They expense the shit out of it under recruiting when they go back to the office

Apr 20, 2016

I agree with the top answers above.
I asked this question a couple years ago - definitely ask, get turned down, graciously accept it.
The only situation in which it might be okay to not offer to pay is if the banker is 20-30+ years your senior. Still probably doesn't matter.
I have had many coffee chats while in school and never paid for both of us.

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Apr 20, 2016

As far as drinking alcohol goes, try to steer away from bar meetings. If I asked someone to happy hour or drinks, and they showed up and got tea or coffee, I would think they were weird for even accepting a drinks meeting. I have no problem with people that don't drink, but steer away from drinking venues for initial meetings and focus on coffee shops.

Apr 20, 2016

If you're asking me to take time out of my day, you should at least offer. I always offer to pay, and generally genuinely try to pay when I'm on the other end. Just common sense and courtesy.

Apr 21, 2016

I don't really understand why people post these questions. Surely you can figure out basic human interaction? It's not like to need to over analyse offering to buy someone a drink. It's just manners and politeness. What Skinnayy said is exactly how it goes.

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Apr 21, 2016

I think you underestimate how many people struggle with personal dynamics and interaction. Candidly, I think it is a skill that is on the decline. There are entire highly ranked podcasts nowadays that are built around, "Here's how you talk to people. Here's how you talk to a girl." I think that if you are of a different culture, there can sometimes be some built in awkwardness but outside of that it is startling how many people never learn or are taught basic interaction.

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Apr 21, 2016

Always offer to buy. This has been posted many times before, and the answer is always the same: the banker buys the coffee.

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Apr 21, 2016

I'm intrigued, because honestly, in my previous jobs, when I was meeting people after work from other areas, it would happen organically. But now that there's an actual thread, I'm genuinely intrigued.
I'm on board with the comments above, which to me appear more at the undergrad student level. At the MBA level, you've presumably had a job before, i.e., been in a professional environment before. Would you still be expected to not "insist for a 2nd time"? Trying to play out a hypothetical conversation in my head and it's awkward to say the least.

Thoughts?

Apr 21, 2016

If I invite someone I always insist on paying. If I'm invited I'll expect to pay for my own but if the other person offers I'll accept. I'm over the awkward back and forth "I got it, no I got it" charade in front of the cashier.

Apr 21, 2016

As a girl, it seems like the guys always offer to pay for coffee

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Apr 21, 2016

If you ask, always offer. If it's a student, the student should offer at which point the other person will offer to pay because they have a job and know what its like to be a poor college student.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

Apr 21, 2016

Always politely offer.

Piece of cake. Simple. Now stop worrying about it.

Sep 26, 2017

I think it is the banker need to pay. How about for a one to one interview, when the interview is organize by the interviewer. The interviewee pay or interviewer pay?

Sep 26, 2017

At my bank they give each junior employee 100 dollars for drinks/coffee chats. VP and up have corp cards. It is polite to attempt, but they will pick up the tab. It is on the bank after all.

Sep 26, 2017

Assuming this isn't a troll, the longer of the discussion this is the more awkward it gets. Just offer once and if as a manager he says i'll take care of it then let him pay.

A lot of senior managers don't want to seem like cheapskates, especially if it's an intern. It's not necessarily common practice in the industry, but it happens more often than not. This applies to lunch, coffee, dinner, drinks, etc.. you get the point.

Sep 26, 2017

Wasn't trolling. Thanks for the reply and the tips. That's what I figured, I just felt bad as an intern considering how little I actually mattered.

Sep 26, 2017

You're lucky to have had a manager interested in building a personal relationship with a lowly intern.

Sep 26, 2017
StJamesPark:

You're lucky to have had a manager interested in building a personal relationship with a lowly intern.

this. the manager knows how much you make and knows how much he makes. he probably remembers what it was like to be a poor college student.

if you really really want to buy it, you know what he drinks. just get there 10 minutes early, pay for yours and his, and have them make his when he arrives.

Sep 26, 2017

If someone offers to buy you coffee, politely decline the offer. If they insist, let them buy the coffee without further argument. If they offer again the next day, just accept without declining.

Sep 26, 2017

@blackjack21's and @Sil's advice is right.

Whenever I have coffee with someone from work who is lower on the scale then me, I insist on paying. I appreciate the junior offering once to pay, but I'll insist and one offer by them is enough. @Sil's advice on not repeating your protests at subsequent coffees is good advice.

From my perspective, I get paid more, the juniors to more shit work, so I feel some moral obligation to buy the coffee. The junior's are also having to hear me crap on as if I know what I'm talking about too, so deserve some compensation for that.

EDIT: However, where you can show your appreciation and rebalance any moral debt you feel is when it comes to drinks. If it's firm drinks, offer to get them a beer. If it's drinks at a bar, offer to buy them a drink. If others are around, start by asking the manager you feel indebted to, then ask if anyone else wants a drink (ie buy rounds, don't be a selective arsehole in front of others).

That sort of token offer should be well appreciated.

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Sep 26, 2017

SSits thank you very much for the detailed response! This makes perfect sense.

Sep 26, 2017

Coffee is like ten cents or some chit...ask to upgrade to a latte, trust me they have the g's

Sep 26, 2017

As above. Also, he may not have mentioned it (and maybe it wasn't true in this case) but if he was "assigned" to you as an internship buddy/manager he may just have had an allowance from the company to spend on you...during my SA my buddy and I would get coffee daily and he would insist on paying every time, when I said I felt bad that he paid every day a few days in he said the bank had given him an allowance to spend on me for coffee/food etc and he wasnt actually paying himself.

Sep 26, 2017

You think you're too good for my coffee?

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Sep 26, 2017
SanityCheck:

You think you're too good for my coffee?

hahaha

Sep 26, 2017

I'd always buy the interns coffee. Then expense it.

Sep 26, 2017

Life is too hard man. Take what is given to you and dont try making your life harder.

Compensate some other way.

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Sep 26, 2017

Push for a Venti Orange Mocha Frappucino next time. You know you want it.

Sep 26, 2017

Ask him if he's sure, he'll say yes, thank him, order whatever you want as long as its not something crazy, thank him again at the end. Pretty easy.

Sep 26, 2017

This is a lot of thought into a coffee. When people want to cover my coffee, I just say thank you or sure thanks. Then I order whatever I was planning to order before they asked me, and I don't change it to a small just because they're offering. I may or may not buy them something later on. Done.

Sep 26, 2017
LeverageMill:

Life is too hard man. Take what is given to you and dont try making your life harder.

Compensate some other way.

This

Sep 26, 2017

They were once interns too and they are probably just paying it forward. Next time there is an opportunity offer to do the same. They won't expect you buying for them as much as they do for you but they will appreciate the gesture.

Sep 26, 2017

I guess it ultimately comes down to a, "what goes around comes around" kind-of-thing.

Sep 26, 2017

Order a cappuccino next time and invite him for a beer. Best way to thank.

Sep 26, 2017

Up your coffee game.. order a three quarter double shot soy flat white, preferably single origin if available. That will teach him who's boss.

Sep 26, 2017
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Sep 26, 2017
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