This article was written by our guest writer Jessica Bowman.

At some point in your service member’s career, you’ll probably be invited to a Spouses’ Coffee event. What is it? What do you do? How do you dress? Lots of questions could pop up when you receive your first invitation. Here are some things you might like to know!

History of the Military Spouse Coffee

The tradition of military spouse coffees goes back for decades. This social gathering was once a formal event that eventually evolved into an informal, unofficial social gathering of military spouses of service members in a particular unit. Coffees were once a primary source of disseminating and receiving information about events and the unit’s happenings. When Soldier Family Readiness Groups formed, coffees became more of a way to get to know other spouses of service members in the same unit. These days, coffees serve as an opportunity for socializing!

The Modern-Day Spouses Coffee

Today, it is often the unit’s senior spouse who determines the guest list and how often the group meets. Coffees may be hosted at different levels, such as battalion, brigade, and division. Guest lists vary and may include Commanders’ and Command Sergeants Major’s spouses. They may also include all commissioned officers’ and senior NCOs’ spouses from the unit. In some coffee groups, FRG spouse volunteers of all service members’ ranks are also included. Most coffee groups meet once a month, but they can meet more frequently or less often.

Most coffee groups do introductions, welcome new spouses, and bid farewell to spouses who are moving away. Sometimes incoming spouses receive small gifts that are personalized with the unit’s crest, branch insignia, or another special marker. Occasionally, outbound spouses will receive a token of appreciation, too, at the last coffee before they leave.

At some coffees, senior spouse/s will provide updates on the unit happenings, training events, deployments, and community programs at the beginning of the event. Other coffees stick to just having fun and building friendships.

While some coffees actually serve coffee, many modern-day gatherings do not. In fact, there is a wide-array of activities you might be invited to with the other spouses from the unit. Your host/ess may invite you to his or her home, or you may meet up at a restaurant or other venue. Some coffee groups enjoy themed gatherings such as holiday exchanges, favorite things parties, team trivia, pajama nights, and craft lessons. Groups that like to get out and about meet up for brunch, tours, shows, and more!

Generally, coffees are a kid-free gathering. You’ll want to let your spouse know he or she is on solo-parent duty that evening or you’ll need to hire a babysitter. On rare occasions, such as during deployments, some groups welcome little ones to coffees. If you have an infant you’d like to bring, you can always check with your host/ess for his or her preference.

spouses coffee
A fun night doing splatter paint at with military spouses!

How To Plan For Your First Spouses Coffee

If you are attending your first coffee, reach out to a friend who is already part of the group with any questions you may have about what to expect. If you do not know anyone, yet, it is perfectly acceptable to ask the host/ess your basic questions. 

Don’t be shy! Jump into conversations and make some friends. Coffee groups are great for making your first friends at a new duty station, sharing your struggles, and celebrating victories together. Connection is important in the ever-changing military community!

Some Last Thoughts

Coffees are informal, but it’s always good etiquette to thank your host/ess before you leave. Be sure to meet face-to-face with your senior spouse and express your gratitude for organizing such events and his or her leadership, too!

Have a good time and be yourself! Offer to host a coffee after you get to know the group, too! Planning coffee events can be fun, especially when you can share something you enjoy or something that is special to you with your new friends.

We Want To Hear From You!

What are some things you wish you knew before attending your first coffee? What have been your favorite-themed coffee events? Why do you like being a part of a coffee group? Leave us a comment!

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