Coffee Beans Don’t Lie

Bean poles aren’t just for holding up bean plants anymore, especially when spelled poll. This coffee bean poll is the kind of poll that we read about all election season. However, it’s much more fun because it measures popularity with coffee beans! So far, the only report of such a poll comes from New Zealand. According to, since 2002, the Muffin Break chain in the nation down under has conducted this poll before the general elections.

Dr. Andrew Balemi, a statistics expert from the U of Auckland, said of the poll, “It strikes me as a low tech equivalent of election prediction markets which are popular in the United States and have proven to be reasonably accurate in the past.” There are a thousands of beans cast in the poll; in 2008, they counted 120,000 coffee beans put in the various political party buckets. Every participant is given one coffee bean which they can deposit in a vote for their preferred party. This has been a popular event with the customers and staff of the country’s Muffin Breaks and has predicted the winner every time. It gets the customers thinking about the election and the issues.

Makes one wonder – don’t they have the incessant and annoying TV pre-election ads in New Zealand? This year, there will be an electronic option as well, as people will be able to vote online from their homes, with cyber coffee beans perhaps? This sounds easier and less messy, but not nearly as fun. The political party election bean count certainly gives meaning to the old saying, “They aren't worth beans.”

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