Are Coffee Meetings Worth Your Time?

When starting out in business, it is really easy to agree and want to meet everyone face-to-face for a coffee meeting especially if you work from home.  Scheduling a coffee meeting gets you out of the house and potentially enables you to build a stronger connection.  I completely understand and have been there, done that.  However, are those coffee meetings worth your time?  Meeting a prospect or colleague in person for coffee meetings can really add up in both time and money, and I’m not just talking about the latte cost.  If your business isn’t as profitable as you’d like it to be, then read on to learn what three factors should always be considered when deciding whether or not to agree to that coffee meeting.

Two men meeting over coffee

Is this coffee meeting worth it?


Meetings with Colleagues and Prospects – Three Key Factors to Consider:

1) Time – If you are meeting someone in-person versus over the phone, the coffee meeting will probably last at least 45 minutes to an hour.

After hearing Marcey Rader, a productivity and health coach, advise clients that she always takes her initial meeting with a prospect or colleague over the phone, I decided to evaluate the time that I have been spending on coffee meetings. She states that you can usually accomplish everything you need to with a phone call that lasts 15 – 30 minutes, but you are likely to feel obligated to spend more time talking with someone if you drove out of your way for the meeting.

If that’s true and you have an hour long coffee meeting, then your opportunity cost is 30 minutes of time that you could have spent generating income.  Therefore, the question you have to ask yourself is, “How much can I earn if I spend half an hour on my business?”

2) Money – Cost for whatever you choose to eat and drink during the coffee meeting

3) Mileage – The 2019 tax reimbursement rate for mileage is $0.58 per mile, so the cost of your coffee meeting is the rate multiplied by the the total number of miles to and from your home office.

Example of Costs When Meeting In-Person:

If we put some real numbers behind this, let’s see how much it would cost you to do three coffee meetings per week:

  1. Time – Let’s say you can earn $200 per hour providing your service offerings. By spending an extra 30 minutes at a face-to-face coffee meeting, your opportunity cost in time is 30 minutes and your opportunity cost in money is $100 income x 3 coffee meetings = $300 per week (*Note:  If you want to get even more specific, you can also factor in travel time.)
  2. Money – Let’s assume your latte costs $4.75 each. The out-of-pocket costs are $4.75 latte x 3 coffee meetings = $14.25 per week
  3. Mileage – If your favorite coffee shop is 7 miles away, then the roundtrip costs you 7 miles x 2 x 3 coffee meetings x $0.58 = $24.36 per week.

The total weekly cost comes to $300 + $14.25 + $24.36 = $338.61 per week

If you only look at the day-to-day expenses or weekly expenses, you won’t have an accurate picture of the overall financial implications on your business.  I always advise small business owners to look at everything from a one month and one year perspective.

Here is the financial impact based on a long-term perspective:

Monthly Costs:  

  1. Time:  $300 x 4 weeks = $1,200
  2. Money:  $14.25 x 4 weeks = $57
  3. Mileage:  $24.36 x 4 weeks = $97.44


Total:  $1,354.44 per month

Yearly Costs:

$1,354.44 per month x 12 months = $16,253.28 per year

Who would have thought that these coffee meetings could really end up costing you and your business over $16,000!?!  Seeing these costs from a yearly perspective, does that make you want to re-evaluate your coffee meetings?

Doing this exercise definitely made had me re-evaluate my in-person business meetings, especially when someone showed up late or completely forgot about the meeting.  I’ve successfully transitioned to doing virtual calls with colleagues who initially wanted to meet in-person. Many of those calls can be completed within 30 minutes, and I can jump straight into another call or work on my business.  And for those colleagues who I want to build a stronger relationship with, we will periodically set up in-person coffee meetings.

How to Transition from In-Person Meetings to Virtual Calls:

  1. Decide what types of meetings you need, how long per meeting, and what days you’ll be available. 
    • Example 1:  Consultation meetings with prospects for 15 minutes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
    • Example 2:  Colleague Connect meetings for 30 minutes on Mondays and Fridays.
    • Example 3:  Client meetings for 50 minutes on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
  2. Sign up for a scheduling tool to allow prospects, colleagues, and clients to schedule a date and time to meet with you.  This eliminates the need for a series of email exchanges, phone calls, or text messages to try to find a convenient date and time that works for both parties.
    • Example 1:  Calendly is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to set up different meeting types, and the Basic plan allows one event type for $0.
    • Example 2: Book Like a Boss is also a great scheduling tool that allows unlimited event types and is more visually appealing.
  3. Communicate how prospects, colleagues, and clients can schedule meetings with you. 
    • Example 1:  Include your scheduling link on your website for prospects.
    • Example 2: Provide your scheduling link to colleagues and clients when they ask to set up a meeting.
    • Example 3:  Include in your email signature a link for prospects and colleagues.

Summary of Coffee Meetings and Your Time

The next time you get a request to meet for coffee, determine if it’s necessary to meet this person face-to-face. If you can have effective meeting with a virtual call, you can put more time and money back into your business.  If you still decide it’s worth meeting in person, then be sure to save your receipts for business tax deductions.

I’d love to hear from you:  How many coffee meetings have you had in the past week?  How many in the past month?  Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?


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13 Comments. Leave new

  • Wow! I’ve never took this perspective measuring the ROI of a coffee meeting. Too often I feel the coffee meeting has the vale of goodwill. However, I recognize in the near term goodwill doesn’t pay the bills or fund retirement! Thanks for putting a price pricetag to the real “cost” of a coffee date.

    • Thanks John for reading and your feedback! Yes, definitely face-to-face coffee meetings are good for building relationships…but reserve those for the relationships that you’ve vetted and want to invest in. Drop me a line and let me know how this helps your bottom line from now through the end of the year!

  • I also believe that it is important to have a good relation ship with the client or customer for a healthy business. This article is very good.

  • I also believe that we are living in the generation that everything is possible. We can now have meeting when we have internet connection. We can video call. I think that it will definitely cost less than having a coffee meeting.

  • I think that there is nothing wrong in having a coffee meeting sometimes. I think that it will help you get the trust of your customers. I believe that it is okey to spend money sometimes but if the meeting is in regular basis I think that the video call or online chatting will help. Thanks for sharing these article.

  • I also believe that coffee meeting is okey to do but nowadays, there are a lot of new apps that can help us to have a meeting with someone anywhere we like skype. I think that by using these apps business owner can save time and money very well.

  • I think that sometimes it’s good to talk about important business matters in person and have a coffee meeting. I think that by doing this you will be able to discuss matters very well. Thanks for sharing this article.

  • Nova Business
    January 22, 2019 6:29 pm

    I think that coffee meeting will be worth it if the meeting is very important and needs the conversation to be in person. If not so important, I believe that there are a lot of ways to have a meeting using new tools today like skype, messenger and others. Thanks for sharing this article.

    • Yes, Nova Business – I agree, coffee meetings can be worth it. Many people use that as the default, when there are other great tools to stay connected. Thanks for reading and sharing your comments!

  • Debtor Finance
    June 5, 2019 8:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great article. I also think that with the help of new tools, meetings will be easier to be done and I believe that these tools helps to save money and time as well. Like for example you don’t need to commute or travel, meetings can be done in just one click.

  • Nanette Mattox
    June 21, 2019 10:30 am

    Thanks for the data, Sylvia! I know people don’t realize the ‘cost’ of those meetings. That is why we feel that our offices at Vibe Cary Coworking are so appealing. So even if you can do a virtual meeting you have a private, professional environment to do that in without your messy bedroom behind you.

    • Thanks for reading and sharing your feedback, Nanette! Yes, having the flexibility of using a professional environment works great for when you do have to meet in-person. Co-working spaces are great for business owners who don’t want or need to get their own lease.

  • Nova Working Capital
    June 28, 2020 11:16 pm

    I also think that it will be better to do a virtual call when the meeting is not so important. I think that by doing this, we can surely be able to save money and time as well. I recommend virtual call to business owners as well. Thanks for sharing this article.


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