Connor Skiro
Agile Coach/Android Engineer, Elsevier
Connor Skiro

Lean Coffee

What is Lean Coffee?
Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less session where participants gather, build their own backlog, and begin discussing topics in a democratically generated fashion (i.e. dot votes).

How does Lean Coffee work?
The setup for Lean Coffee is very simple. Sticky notes, writing utensils, and people eager to learn are all that is required.

Each table creates their own personal Kanban board with three columns; “To Discuss”, “Discussing”, “Done”, with an optional fourth column “Lessons Learned.”

Once the Kanban board is created, each participant brainstorms topics they would like to discuss (i.e. Shifting Testing Left, Mob Programming, Remote Team Building, etc.).

After brainstorming is completed, all tickets are moved to the “To Discussing” column where they are dot-voted by each participant at the table. Each person is allotted three dot votes. They are allowed to use all three on one ticket, or they can spread them across multiple tickets.

Once dot-voting is finished, tickets are re-prioritized and the ticket with the most dot-votes is moved in to the “Discussing” column. The person who owns the ticket gives a quick synopsis of an outcome they want to achieve or a current problem they are trying to solve.

Open discussion begins after the synopsis and a five minute timer is set. After five minutes, when the timer sounds, participants can either give a thumbs-up if they would like to continue the discussion or a thumbs-down if they want to move on to the next topic.

If the majority of participants give a thumbs-up, a three minute timer is set and the conversation continues. Otherwise, the current topic is moved into the “Done” column, the next highest dot-voted ticket is moved in to “To Discussing”, and the process repeats until there are no more items in the backlog, or if time runs out.

Lastly, if time permits, any lessons learned during the discussion are shared with the group.

For more information on Lean Coffee, please visit