It seems that coffee is a staple of the workplace. So much that, in a previous workplace, it took 1 hour to raise funds for a new espresso machine as the current one broke down.
Our culture is built around that. So much that a typical excuse to meet someone is to ask to 'grab coffee', or 'have a beer' if it is at the end of the day. Bummer, as I don't like drinking either.
How can I politely escape the coffee or beer in business situations, without killing any opportunity related to the meeting? How can I do it without appearing rude? It is the drink in its own I would like to avoid (or switch to some other drink I enjoy more), not the associated meeting.
Colleagues going for a break at the coffee maker. Seems not drinking coffee looks weird, and I was no more invited to such breaks. Consequences : less relationships built and missed opportunities.
Business meeting. If he asks if I want coffee, can I decline? Should I accept anyway and just let the cup sit full? Or should I force myself to drink anyway?
Business meeting, reverse situation where I would feel it would be nice to propose coffee from my side. Is it rude if I order for my guest and do not drink the black beverage along?
Drink in the evening / after work. Usually I like to get a soft drink. Is it acceptable? If a beer is offered and served, can I just let the glass sit full?
What else than 'grab coffee' or 'have a beer' can I invoke as an opener to meet?
Note: I'm in Europe, concerning the cultural situation.