Jerry Seinfeld On The Perfection Of The Coffee Meeting

Seinfeld–whose latest project is Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee–tells us why coffee is the perfect, er, vehicle for communication.

Jerry Seinfeld On The Perfection Of The Coffee Meeting

Coffee meetings are perfect, weird little things. Jerry Seinfeld, the Gandalf of little weird perfections, explains why five years ago they became a part of his working life:


“I got married and I had a family and my entire day was not free for social interaction,” he tells NPR. “And eating is annoying and difficult to arrange, [and it’s] hard to choose places. And meeting someone for coffee suddenly seemed like a wonderful, compact, accessible and portable social interaction.”

As we’ve discussed, shared meals and drinks connect people–which, in turn, avails everyone involved to greater opportunities. In this way, a lot of coffee–and a little kindness–can launch a career. It’s also the center of Seinfeld’s next act, the web series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.

So what’s the deal with coffee?

As Seinfeld and NPR host Steve Inskeep discussed, coffee’s so great because it gives us something to with our hands: Seinfeld says that not having a cup to play with is like a comedian without a microphone–using a clip-on thing makes the audience feel uncomfortable. The coffee is a prop, giving you something to look at when you need to think, which is a key to communication, whether workplace or not. Rather than saying something ridiculous, you can focus on the cream. And the caffeine, of course, keeps you alert.

“It also obviously gets people talking,” Seinfeld says, “You have coffee and for some reason it makes you talk a lot.”

The talking has an effect: As an MIT Media Lab study has found, teams that go on coffee breaks are more productive and have stronger social bonds, making it a stimulating–and low cost–management tool. And as Where Good Ideas Come From author Stephen Johnson has suggested, “a great flowing of innovation” happened in Britain after the English switched from tippling gin all day to drinking tea and coffee.

And whether you didn’t get enough sleep, you don’t know how to get through the afternoon, or you need a pause in conversation, Seinfeld observes that coffee’s that little help.


“Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup,” he says.

[Image: Flickr user Aurimas]

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.