What 100 Coffees Taught Me About Human Connection


Once upon a time back in 2016, I was lost a floundering relationship, a job that didn’t align with my values, a sporting dream that was not my own. It wasn’t my best year. How many of you have felt lost before? I know. For me it was a really difficult time. I want to be really honest with you about that because I think it’s important to acknowledge our challenging times. It’s okay to not always be perfect.

Childhood Connection

At primary school, I talked a lot. I was always the kid in class that wanting to know everyone’s name. Mr. Miller used to say, if I could concentrate on my work as much as talking, I’d be a great student.

The Inspiration for Change

In my adult life, I made it my business to learn the names of everyone Working at the supermarket. Connection was so important to me, but in late 2016, I had lost that in my comfortable lifestyle. I’d slipped. I had everything, but I had nothing. So I sat with my best friend, Tom, and we talked and talked and talked. I wanted to get back on track. I wanted to refine connection. By the end of that conversation, I’d set a goal and that goal was to meet 100 new people. That’s right, 100.

The Birth of the Project

What could 100 new people teach me about the power of face-to-face connection? I hoped a lot, and how could I meet 100 new people? I thought coffee. What a great way to connect. And so the project was born.

The Rules and Approach

The rules were pretty simple. 100 weeks, 100 coffees, 100 strangers, a coffee a week for just shy of two years. The coffee always had to be between Monday and Friday, I always went to the person’s location of choice and I was always early.

Reaching Out to Strangers

People’s time was very important to me. Now every great talk has a stat slide. So I just wanted to go through the stats from the a hundred coffees project. It was 72 cafes, 54 lattes with skim milk and no added sugar. It’s very important to look after your health, right? Initially, I chose the people based on common interests…

Lessons from the 100 Coffees

I sat across some amazing people. They told me stories of overcoming their greatest fears, achieving their goals in life, or how they reinvented themselves.

The Impact of the Project

The project took me on a journey around the world from Dublin to Taipei, where I met so many amazing people. The empty notebook I started with became full of wonderful and inspiring ideas.

Profound Impacts from Three Individuals

But this might sound really strange, but this talk isn’t about cappuccinos and lattes, sugar or sweetener. This talk isn’t about coffee at all… And what do I believe is so much more powerful than coffee? The power of face-to-face human connection.

The Decline of Face-to-Face Connection

Now human connection dates back to the dawn of time… But in recent times, face-to-face connection has changed. With advancements in technology, we make choices as a society to choose convenience over connection.

The Importance of Empathy and Understanding

There is a growing narrative in society around people that are different to us… Studies of mammals have shown that when our social bonds are cut, we feel physical pain. We even have phrases to describe that He broke my heart, she hurt my feelings. But these are more than just words. This is a real pain.

Loneliness Epidemic

In recent times, organisations have referred to connection, disconnection, an increasingly digital enabled world that is causing a loneliness epidemic… If we do not act now, we must remember what does it mean to be human?

Rediscovering Human Connection

For me, it was coffee. Coffee helped me rediscover the power of face-to-face human connection. It was my vehicle for change. For you, it might be different.

Encouragement to Connect

Let’s think of some ways that you can connect with someone new… The six degrees of separation theory suggests that we add a six connections from everyone else on the planet.

The Power of Connection

Connection is so powerful. You all have a story. Now go and tell it. Go and connect just like we did here today. Thank you.

The importance of human connection

Human connection is essential for our well-being and happiness. Let’s make a choice to put ourselves out there, to be vulnerable, and to build meaningful relationships with the people around us.