An American History of Coffee

An American History of Coffee

It started with a normal dinner time conversation with my grandparents. We were talking about the astronomical price in which people are paying for a cup of coffee at the local coffee house. I found myself justifying a four dollar cup, stating that four dollars gets you a specialty drink, made with espresso and steamed milk. What was I doing, my grandparents will never understand this justification. After all, they grew up spending no more that five cents for a cup of coffee. It was then that I realized and began to ponder the transformation of coffee trends throughout history. From the increase of cost to the technologically advancement of coffee machines, coffee sure has come a long way.

Skyrocketing prices

I will always hear the ringing in my ear, “Well, you know, that I used to pay five cents at the corner diner, for my morning coffee.” Well that sure isn’t the case anymore. In the 1960’s you could purchase a pound of coffee for eighty cents, about a half of what you can buy one cup of coffee for, nowadays. Heading into the 1980’s, a pound of coffee would run you about $4.00, still significantly less than today. In fact if you buy a pound of gourmet coffee off of your grocery market shelf today, you will be more than $7.00 poorer for a bag of average quality coffee. At this rate, depending on the coffee market, we could be seeing consumer prices at $11.00 a pound in the next ten years. So, if you are an avid coffee drinker, you better start a coffee fund, alongside of your children’s college fund if you want to support your habit in the future.

Gourmet to Gucci

If you were paying attention in your high school history class, you will remember learning about The Boston Tea Party. In 1773 colonist dumped a shipment of tea in the Boston Harbor because Great Britain levied a tax on tea. As a patriotic protest, these colonist began drinking coffee, mostly after dinner. Well, habits form quick and it was then, during the Civil War that coffee became the drink of choice. The soldiers relied on their coffee rations to give them the caffeine jolt they needed during those long drawn out battles.

From one war to another, soldiers in the second World War were supplied with freeze dried, instant coffee after it’s invention in 1938. Instant coffee remained popular and became a household staple. People were pretty happy with that until new choices blossomed in the early 1970‘s, when Gourmet coffee shops were becoming popular on the streets of Seattle, Washington. Thus, the introduction of coffee into the gourmet world. All of a sudden the new craze was gourmet coffee ranging from specialty blends and roasts to flavored coffee. There was now choices to satisfy different tastes and needs. The coffee section in the grocery chains grew to accommodate this gourmet boom. Gourmet coffee grew over the years and is now a multi million dollar business. It may not surprise you to walk in a coffee bar and hear, “May I have a grande, soy, one pump caramel macchiatto.” This is like hearing a foreign language to someone of the older generation. Coffee is not just coffee anymore, Coffee now includes a broad spectrum of designer beverages to suit anyone’s palate, such as lattes, cappuccinos, machiattos, ect.

Social Drinking

Coffee has been part of our social culture for centuries. Coffee houses were spread throughout Europe as early as the 1500’s as a social gathering place. Many different cultures used this stimulating beverage an excuse to meet and socialize. We might believe that because Starbucks was not around, that we did not have coffeehouses here in America. Believe it or not, Coffeehouses as well as the socialization surrounding the popular drink, has been around for ages. It was actually in coffeehouses where many revolutionary upsets were started and planned in.

Here is a fun fact; the first reading of the Declaration of Independence was done in a coffeehouse. Now, in the present, it seems that modern day coffeehouses can be found on each street corner in America. They have spread like wildfire and each year there are new multi-million dollar franchises being formed throughout the U.S. Coffeehouses to this day, remain a place to gather and meet with friends. People use them to study, work, and/or just relax. What does the future hold when it comes to this age old tradition. Perhaps you may pull your flying vehicle into the drive through window, or might you join in on a chat via the online coffee shop. Whatever it may be, coffee will always remain a social drink.

The Evolution of the Coffee Machine

From percolators to pod machines, coffee machines have come a long way over the years. In the past ,the preferred brewing method of your grandmothers generation was probably the percolator. Now days when perusing the stores you will find a large variety of machines that include pod machines, home espresso machines, fully automatic grind and brews, and many other variations of the coffee machine. You really don’t need to make that daily trip to the local coffee shop. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, you will have no problem rallying up all the neccesaties to make even your fanciest coffee drink in the comfort of your own kitchen. The face of the coffee machine has evolved into a gadget collectors dream, and now includes all the bells and whistles. You can now wake up and enter your kitchen to find a freshly brewed pot of coffee, with the invention of automatic timers or for single person households you would prefer a machine that makes a single cup of coffee. No need to waste a whole pot on just one person. Seek and you shall find. There is now a coffee maker to fit anyone’s needs

Most Recent Trends

In the past 20 years our society has become more health conscious and globally aware community. We have become more focused on what we are consuming and where it came from. The popularity of organic and fair trade products is sweeping our nation and has become top priority is the lives of many Americans as well as other countries. The coffee industry is on the front lines of this revolution, and it is not hard to find organically grown and fair trade coffees. Organic coffee are ones that are grown without the use of herbicides and pesticides, making it more natural and chemical free. Fair trade coffee is coffee that comes from farms that promote international and fair standards on all the workers. This leads to workers being economically compensated for their labor and creates more secure nations with less poverty. Many people feel that it is our social responsibility to contribute to our earth in any way possible. We can start by being aware that it can begin with our morning cup of coffee

In closing, coffee has been a staple in our lives for decades and today remains just that. Like many other industries, coffee has evolved to become a more modern product and now gives us choices that can satisfy almost anyone’s needs.

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