Well, I was going along with the Gen Y employee’s point of view until I got to the part where he apparently agreed in the job interview that he would do this task, so yes, he’s an insubordinate punk for refusing to do something he agreed to -and I don’t care if it’s getting coffee, maintaining the copy machine or doing all the financial analysis. When you agree to tasks in a job interview, you do them.
We also don’t know what his job title or job description is. Maybe he’s supposed to be the mail room/copy maintenance/refreshment fetcher. If so, and he doesn’t like it, he never should have taken the job.
While I agree that none of us went to school for two, four, six or however many years we studied just to be errand-runners, know also that the most junior person in the department, no matter what their age, often does tasks the others either don’t want to do or have grown out of due to seniority. If this kid was half as smart as he thinks he is he could prove it by getting the coffee and then using the delivery of it as a chance to find out what everybody’s working on, and perhaps volunteer for projects, if he’s got that kind of job. By showing interest in his bosses and co-workers he will develop relationships that lead to their trusting him with meatier assignments.
And then, there’s common courtesy. My former VP would go and get coffee or ice cream for us when we were in the trenches working on a big project. Doing favors for co-workers goes both ways.