The 12 professions that need coffee most

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Last week, I was about halfway to work when I got a little cool, and decided to zip up my coat. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t get it to zip, so I kept walking. About halfway to the office, I caught my reflection in a window and realized I couldn’t zip my coat because it was on inside out.

I’m convinced that this is what most of my life would be like without caffeine.

Which is why, when I arrive at the office each morning, drinking coffee is my first priority. Without it, I’m none too swift. Or useful. Or agreeable.

But, as it turns out, neither are a lot of people.

A new survey from CareerBuilder and Dunkin’ Donuts finds that 34 percent of workers say they need coffee to get through the day, while 46 percent admit they’d be less productive at work if they didn’t drink it (though if you’re like me, “less productive” is something of an understatement).  The survey was conducted in honor of National Coffee Day, which takes place tomorrow, September 29.

“National Coffee Day is the perfect time to celebrate coffee’s unique place as a staple in our daily lives,” says John Costello, Chief Global Marketing and Innovation Officer at Dunkin’ Brands. “As these survey results show, coffee continues to play an increasingly important role in the workplace, helping to jumpstart people across all professions in the morning and keep them going throughout their busy workday.”

So how can you honor National Coffee Day?  First, read on for more insight about our nation’s coffee obsession. Then, enter to win one of 10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards at the end of this post. And finally, take a moment tomorrow to remember all the great things coffee has done for your career. It’s the least you can do.

Who needs it the most? 

While coffee-imbibers were certainly found in all industries, some professionals were more likely than others to admit that they were less-productive without coffee. According to the survey results, workers in the following jobs are most likely to make coffee a part of their daily routine:

Click image above to see full infographic


In terms of regional breakdown, workers in the Northeast (49 percent) were most likely to report needing coffee to get through the day, followed by those in the West (47 percent), and Midwest and South (45 percent).

How do you like it?

The survey also found that the way workers preferred to take their coffee differed by industry.

Professionals most likely to take their coffee black, for example, were attorneys, judges and hotel workers. Human resources professionals and personal caretakers, on the other hand, preferred to take their coffee with cream and sugar. And government professionals, teachers, and writers and editors were most likely to choose flavored brews.

How it benefits your career

As if helping us function in the morning and stay awake through the workday wasn’t enough, coffee can also help us bond and network with co-workers.

“It’s interesting to see how coffee not only brings additional energy to the workday, but also provides opportunities to strike up conversations and build relationships,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “The study shows one-in-five workers use coffee as a means to socialize and network with co-workers.”

How we’re helping you celebrate

In honor of National Coffee Day, we’ve got 10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards to give away.

To enter to win, just answer the following question in our comments section:

Tell us the moment you realized you needed morning coffee to think clearly. Did you fall asleep during a presentation? Or were you on the bus before you realized your shoes didn’t match each other? Share your story with us. We promise, we won’t judge.

Ten winners will be chosen at random, $10 value per gift card.

Be sure to read the terms and conditions in full.

Contest details
Entries will be accepted from 12:00 a.m. CST on Wednesday, September 28 until 11:59 p.m. CST on Sunday, October 2. Each email account may only submit one answer for consideration; subsequent entries will not be considered. Spam responses will not be considered. Valid email address required for entry. The winners will be picked at random and notified via email the week of October 2, 2011. Please read the full list of official contest rules and regulations.

*Editor’s Note – 10.3.11: Our winner have been selected and contacted about their gift cards.*

  1. I tried, and mostly, succeeded in giving up coffee when I was pregnant, even if that did mean sneaking naps over lunch time and hoping no one would miss me. But once I had my baby and I went back to work, coffee became my lifeline. I’d line up mugs on the counter and down it faster than a sorority girl drinking cheap beer at a frat party. Now, it’s my morning ritual. I down two cups of coffee, while I watch the morning news with my baby, before she heads off to the sitter and I start work. Judge away. But I think she’s learning good work skills.

  2. When I was pregnant and on my way to work I stopped at the coffee shop. An older woman tried to give me a “look” and I “LOOKED” her right back. There is no way I was giving up caffeine, and the doctor said one or two cups a day was FINE. Giving dirty looks to defend my right to drink coffee and fully caffeinate my offspring! That’s when I knew I was fully hooked!

  3. I first realized it when I was on an EXTREMELY strict diet, and trying to follow it to a “T”. The diet suggested no caffeine (on top of no sugar…aaarrrggg!), so I was trying to only drink decaf. I gave up on that quickly, however, because my boss ORDERED me to start drinking caffeinated again. Not only was I like a zombie, but I also was a complete jerk. I HAVE to have my caffeine to function!

    Coffee is also an excellent way to get out of the office….most bosses will let you go if you’re getting them coffee! :)

  4. REBOOT!

    Although I nearly always rise at 6 a.m. even without an alarm clock’s insistence, I recently discovered how the java bean is a “critical app” for home office IT workers. I had not been working from home for long and I already missed the stimulus of my coworkers’ greetings to “get serious”. Thus, more coffee!

    In the predawn, I stumbled in to fire up the work system and then go start a fresh Pot O’Joe. I logged onto the intranet and, to my surprise, none of my coworkers was online! (Some start earlier than I do.) So I tapped out a quick note to tease them about “being all alone in this mess”.

    That’s when the Beep! of the coffee system urged me to its side. With the first few sips of that steamy brew finally hitting my brain, I again sat down and was about to hit Send then abruptly froze. I had finally noticed that little clock on the lower left of the screen.
    It was 3 a.m.

  5. The moment I realized other people needed morning coffee to think clearly was the moment I realized they just needed to get more sleep at night (and possibly get their heads examined). I went to a job interview at a government lab and was immediately offered a cup of coffee. I declined and stated that I don’t drink coffee…ever. It was the mini-topic of the rest of the day. Example: “I’ve never met a guy that made it thru grad school without coffee.” My answer: “Well now you have, glad to meet you.” And I don’t drink alcohol either, just because I chose not too (and it franky tastes terrible and it certainly won’t make you smarter). I didn’t get the job, but we did have a nice dinner at a restaurant at the end of the day and they had wine and coffee and I had water and went home satisfied with my effort.

  6. I realized how important coffee was to my morning routine after my organization moved locations. A week after we moved, I didn’t get my coffee like I usually do and headed into the south side of Chicago from the burbs to work, completely completely forgetting we moved to the west side. Didn’t realize my mistake until I was on the highway stuck in turtle speed traffic for an extra half hour!

  7. Jobseekers need their caffeine too!

    you may not think of it as a “profession” … but believe me, in this economy, yes, yes it is!

    Nothing like a delicious iced coffee to fire up your enthusiam for the constant rejection or lack of notice whatsoever :)

  8. gosh coffee is like water i need it in morning .I am 1 cup a day usually the great 1 hazelnut .with out coffee i get head aches as well as not beeing so alert i drive cdl trucks with out coffee i dont want to find out but all i know that 1 cup a day is what i need to get me up and keep me going.

  9. I am NOT a morning person! I realized that morning coffee is crucial to my everyday survival when I was confronted by a friend due to my attitude over a few day period. She said Amanda you have been extremely grumpy this week and been slacking in many areas, leaving things on the roof of the car, forgeting the kids lunches etc., maybe you should have some coffee to waken up your morning. I told her that I enjoy the smell of coffee, but havent really liked the taste. She went out and got me the most fantastic cup of coffee I have ever had. Since then coffee and I have been morning partners!

  10. I am a college swim coach. I get up every morning at 5:30am, drive to the Dunkin Donuts that is on my way to the pool, pick up my daily cup of inspiration and liveliness, and continue to practice. There, I am greeted by the faces of thirty college students, whose eyes are either unfocused, or closed. There is a chorus of grunts and groans as they shuffle to the edge of the pool. Then my coffee kicks in. Suddenly they went from being in slow motion, to being in super slow motion, and I am just feeling so energized that I am smiling, cheering them on, patting backs, giving inspirational speeches, and ignoring the looks of death the emit from their glassy eyes. This is ever so necessary however. Who wants to get up at 5:30 in the morning for a workout if it’s not going to be enjoyable? Not only do I get extremely peppy with caffeine, but I also buzz and hum like a bee busy at work. My fingers tremble, and I feel totally alive. Energy is contagious, and by the end of practice, all the swimmers have woken up, and actually laugh at my very unfunny jokes. Here’s to coffee before practice!

  11. As a Bostonian, I grew up on Dunkin Donuts, donuts were a weekly Sunday ritual and as I got older (all of 14!) came to love the taste & texture of the aromatic coffee. When I moved away from home, the sight of the pink & orange signs gave me comfort – I was never too far from home or a great cup of coffee. Fast forward many years & states later, when a D & D finally opened near my home & workplace, I was 1st in line to welcome them to the neighborhood and 3 years later, still pop in for my daily extra-large regular with cream & sugar. In fact, I’m sort of like Norm from Cheers – when they see me coming they have my order ready! I’ve become known for my ever-present D&D in hand :)
    So last year, when I was trying to figure out what I should give up for Lent, I toyed with sacrificing my daily D&D. When my office found out, I was jokingly ‘forbidden’ to give up D&D for fear my sacrifice might not be beneficial to others!
    And so, D&D has remains my cup of comfort!

  12. Ironically I am part of the #1 group! I’m a medical technologist (lab scientist) and worked for 14 years in labs but currently work as a lab inspector for the NJ department of health. I never was a coffee drinker until my current job where daily stops at DD before a long day of lab hopping performing inspections are mandatory, just kidding! Seriously, I’m not a morning person and my daily perk-me-up helps me inspect away and provide better health care for all New Jerseyans when they have lab testing performed!

  13. The moment I realized I was hooked on dunkin….starting work after baby number 3! I had my third child in 3 1/2 years and had to go back to work when the baby was 5 months old and not sleeping through the night! I am a teacher and I have to leave my house at 6 am, which means 3 little ones up, dressed, lunches, bags packed and in the car by 6 just to get to work on time!! Well one day while sitting in class I was showing a movie and I dosed off!! Don’t know how long or if any of the kids saw, but as soon as that class was over I joked with a collegue that we needed dunkin donuts in the school! I left on my break went to dunkins got my coffee and haven’t gone a day with out dunkins!

  14. Okay. You know those silk long johns that are pretty much transparent, but warm? Sort of like panty hose? I wear those to bed in the winter and then put pants on over them when I leave the house in the morning. One morning I was in the truck, having driven out of the driveway, and happened to look down to see that I basically had NO PANTS on, just the see-through long johns. I didn’t feel ‘wrong’ or cold because the long johns felt like pants-they sure didn’t look like pants, though! I had to go back home to put pants on and then realized that there are very few mornings that don’t require coffee.

  15. The older I’ve gotten, I’ve realized I need coffee every day. They mustn’t have realized MOMS need coffee more than any other “profession”!!!

  16. While many get their “joe” fixes at 7am, us in college Residence Life and Housing drink ours at 2:45am. There is nothing like receiving a phone call in the early hours of the morning that someone needs assistance as you are on call. The coffee maker is always on call, as well.. Ready to brew at 2am and then again for the 8am meeting just a few hours afterwards.

  17. I spent spring semester of my sophomore year studying in Latin America. When I arrived at the airport in Santiago de Chile to fly home, I ended up standing in line for somewhere between 2 and 2.5 hours, just waiting to get through security. The longer I stood in that line, the more antsy I became, concerned that I would miss my flight. Add to it the fact that there were kids screaming everywhere and that it was already pretty late at night, and you can imagine how my patience was waning.

    By the time I made it through that line, I had one of the worst headaches I’ve ever had in my entire life. But then I saw it: an American coffee shop chain right there in the terminal! A taste of home! About 15 minutes later, my headache was already starting to go away and my tension was dissipating rapidly. I quickly came to terms with the realization that I was officially addicted to coffee.

    It’s only gotten worse since graduation, but I have to admit that I’m an odd one based on the results of this study. I’m an educational professional who drinks it black, all the time. :) Oh, well. I figure that of all the things we could possibly be addicted to in this world, coffee is probably pretty healthy!

  18. In high school I worked at a local drive-thru coffee shop. The thing about being a barista is that you get tips, which is great! Many regulars used to tip me the craziest stuff.

    Some of the best tips I received include homemade blueberry pastries and cookies, as well as a book about the college I was thinking about attending.

    One of my barista friends received a live fish in a fish bowl for a tip once.

  19. One morning last week, I was running late, so I didn’t have time to fire up the Keurig before I jetted off to work. On the Subway platform, a woman asked me if the train we were about to get on went to Times Square. I could only muster “Ummmm…” before a fellow passenger jumped in and confirmed that it does. The sad part is, Times Square is exactly where I get off that train, so I should have known that cold. Apparently, I need my coffee in the morning!

  20. The moment I knew I needed my morning coffee was when I had to take a blood test and could not drink or eat anything in the morning. Let me tell you that was one of the hardest things to do is get up and out the door without my coffee. I actually made the coffee and took it with me so when I got out of the doctors office it was ready for me to drink and the second I got in my car I was chugging my coffee. That is how I knew I needed my morning coffee.

  21. I need coffee to be productive, especially since my job falls into two of the top four professions who need coffee the most. I’m a copy editor/ writer at a marketing optimization company.

  22. When my oldest was 3 he got hooked on coffee and had a couple sips when he could get his hands on the cup. At my brothers wedding, he overheard where the coffee was and slipped over and poured himself a cup (trying to be a big boy). To his supprise coffee straight from the pot is not the same as Mom’s coffee in the cup (light with 2 sugars). At leased it got him off the kick of trying to have some coffee every morning.

  23. Currently obtaining my second bachelors degree 2 years after receiving my first, working full time, volunteering, and the copius amounts of studying I do, one would be scared to know that coffee may be a food group on my personal food pyramid! Currently drinking a dunkins kcup for the first time

  24. I need coffee because even counting the infinite number of times my boss uses the word “robust” during our meetings cannot keep me awake.

  25. First off, let me say I love Dunkin Donuts. Second off, I have been drinking coffee since I was about 10 or 11, regularly. I swam every weekday during the school year and summer at 6:30am, so coffee was a necessity, even for me to get out of bed and on the way to practice. My mom also let me drink Diet Cokes all the time growing up, caffeine was just a necessary part of our lifestyle. My mom was a nurse who worked nights at the emergency room and took care of us during the day. She literally can’t function until she has two cups in the morning.

    I went through phases, but now that I am an adult in the working world post graduation from Pepperdine University, I find myself becoming more addicted to coffee again. However, this time, I like real coffee. Not shitty coffee. And I find my preferences for making my coffee have changed. Half and half is the shit.

  26. I go to Dunkin for coffee at least 3 times a week, almost always going there after my Weight Watchers meeting. I check in on foursquare every time I’m there, making me the mayor. I can’t live without my medium iced coffee with cream and one Splenda. It’s my splurge, my fuel.

    Yay for Dunkin coffee. Yay for giveaways. Yay for National Coffee Day!!!

    Going to Dunkin has not hindered my weight loss either. Down 98.8 lbs as of yesterday ;)

  27. At my new job, doing paperwork at 9 a.m. everyday. Do I need to say more? Plus, I’ve gotten headaches everyday I don’t have any coffee, so at this point, it’s been upgraded from a want to a need.

  28. I work in a college Financial Aid Office, Couseling parents, student, and often other administrators. Summer and Fall are our busiest times. Every morning I have 2 cups of coffee before I leave the house and sometimes I need one in the afternoon. In this economic climate I’m sure you can imagine the frustration some people have when they come to us, often AFTER they get their semester bills. For me, if I don’t have coffee to get me started I don’t know how I would be able to handle these stressful situations with grace and compassion! I like it with skim & 2 splenda

  29. I used to work with a production company, putting on conferences and events all across the country. Coffee was an important part of the morning because helped get me going and kept me motivated to keep, keeping on. The extra energy boost was nice, especialy on those morning when I did want to get out of bed and unload a truck full of equipment. Im now drinking about 2 cups in the morning, and its wonderful!

  30. I’ve worked in retail for eight years and having to work the crazy hours during the holiday is the main reason for my coffee fix. Try waking up for a 3am shift the day after Thanksgiving without some Dunkin Donuts, its not pretty!

  31. First of all I wake up weekdays and Saturdays at 4 a.m. in oder to go to work. I am a teacher so I must add that my being awake and energetic is a must in classes. I teach English as a foreign language so I have to pay attention to students at all times. I give feedback on a regular basis and during class I have to take notes. Do I need to explain myself better? :P
    Coffee is also something I’ve been drinking since I am six years old. Here in my country is like the most common thing. We export one of the best coffees in the world too.
    I do not need to drink so many cups a day because when you get to drink a great coffee you do not need to drink so much. The energy of three cups a day is already enough. I love my Colombian coffee!

  32. I work for a company that sells industrial electronics, and I am a data analyst. That means I stare at numbers ALL DAY LONG. For example: ST90LE1G00000SMZ. When working with files with 30,000 records that look like this, my eyes start crossing & I’m seconds away from head slamming into keyboard. Not to mention I have to wake up with & go home to a toddler. On my way into work I stop at Dunkin, get a larg iced coffee skim milk 3 splenda. Every day, 6-7 days a week. I literally cannot function without it!

  33. Coffee is part of my morning ritual. I am unable to go through my email in the morning if I don’t have a hot cup of coffee with me. In the afternoon I need it for the 3 o’clock pick-me-up and to keep me warm in my freezing office!

  34. I am NOT a morning person! I’ve known that since I was in high school. I can sleep thru the best alarm clocks, and hit snooze in my sleep. Coffee gets me moving in the morning, and keeps me going all day. Huge requirement as a SAHM for six kids, and homeschooler!!

    My caffine addiction started when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I would visit our neighbor lady downstairs daily, during her coffee time. She would give me a cup of coffee (overly creamed!) to share with her! I miss her!

  35. After years of living in the cold north, I moved south and realized that it wasn’t only the temperature that made it worth it. Now if only they allowed it on the Metro…

  36. I need coffee in the morning so I can “DUNK IN” to the stuff I have been meaning to do and make them not to end in the “DO NOT’S” file bins. :)

  37. We are your key demographic – scientists and we SOOOO need coffee! And frankly, those Dunkin Donuts carbohydrates are key to our success as well. You really don’t want a bunch of over educated academics running around with radioactive goo trying to cure Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease under the influence of no caffiene. Pipetting is hard work and without it, lab gets ugly. Help us cure America. Give us coffee. Thank you for your support!

  38. I’m a full-time mom. I never used to drink coffee at all – even getting up at 5:30 am for my 1hr commute. After 1 child, I was okay, but when my second was born, I needed help! I told my husband it was either coffee at 7am or something else that would not be appropriate for raising children!

    Now I am clearly addicted – Dunkin Donuts K-Cups, Caramel Swirl Iced Coffee, and just plain black. I can’t do without :)

  39. I never drank coffee until after my third child was born. I work full time in Human Resources and spend the majority of my time recruiting. My third baby never slept, ate constantly, and after a while the lines on new applications all ran together. Now, my morning coffee fuels my morning productivity. A coke in the afternoon keeps me going through the end of the day.

  40. – I don’t remember who taught me to play “I love coffee I love tea” on a piano but I would play it repeatedly. Learning to finger & phrase music was difficult but playing the ditty without sheet music was pure joy. Now if I don’t drink two cups daily I feel cheated. I drink light instant coffee with brown sugar & occasionally cinnamon. –

  41. When I was teaching, I left before dark and on two occasions, I stumbled out the door and walked into school with one brown shoe and one black. Caffeine please!

  42. One morning I woke up and got ready for work just like I do every morning. When I arrived to teach my Introduction to Literature course, I was the first one there. I quickly took a seat right in the front row and began to pull out my pen, notepad and textbook, then I noticed the cover of the textbook said “Instructor’s Manual”. It was then I knew I needed to snap out of whatever “it” was! Here I was sitting for the class and I am supposed to be teaching it! Somebody hand me my chocolate caramel cappicino FAST!

  43. I need coffee on my job because I go to school on top of working full-time and I hate to say it but my education comes first so I have been caught a few times at work……:sigh: asleep on the can. I found that it is a great spot where no one will really bother you for long periods of time. Unless that is that you HAPPEN TO SNORE LOUDLY! So please help me out I am on a bit of thin ice and some pep would really help me out.

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  45. It’s not so much the caffeine, as it is the taste of coffee I crave in the morning (and sometimes in the evening – gotta love DeCaf). Coffee just sets the tone for the day, without that morning “fix” it just doesn’t feel right. My love affair with coffee came at an early age. I remember my parents letting me have a small cup of coffee every now and then. Besides that, I have fond memories of going to Dunkin Donuts (where I grew up back East) with my father. He loved coffee shops and our local DD was just a short drive from home. I sure wish we had them out here in S. California. At least my trucker hubby brings me Dunkin Donut K-cups.

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  47. Coffee is an important part of my day. One Saturday my husband went out for our usual lattes but returned with instant coffee. When I asked what happened, he told me the coffee shop was flooded. Appalled by the prospect of instant coffee & jonesing for some caffeine, I angrily said, “Oh please! They could still have made us coffee!” My husband patiently explained, “Babe, even YOU wouldn’t want coffee made while their TOILETS were overflowing.” Oh. Instant it was.

  48. the time I wore my shirt to work inside out, and didn’t realize it until almost lunchtime when I saw my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Of course, I’d come in contact with ~50 people that morning and NOT ONE of them said anything to me. :(

  49. I never used to think I “needed” coffee. I just like the taste and its like a morning ritual. Today, I am donating blood and they recommend not having caffeine so you can stay hydrated and avoid dizzinessfainting. Well.. I am soooo tired this morning. No energy, no focus, no drive to do anything. I’m saying screw it, I will just bring lots of water to drink before and after the donation. I want my coffee! I’m also in one of those proffesions that need coffee, nursing. I’m okay with being addicted. As long as it means I will be productive and at my best.

  50. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 35 yo or so and can’t understand why I need it so badly now. I am beginning to think it is a drug and that the withdraws from it last a long time, at least a couple weeks. I think everyone should quit and not conform to this evil world.

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