The turn of the century provides a Happy New Year for coffee and a couple of brothers. Hills Brothers packages roasted coffee beans for the first time in vacuum tins. R.W. Hills, a passionate innovator, developed a process that removed air from coffee packaging, resulting in fresher beans. Known as vacuum packing, this discovery is the most used method to this day. Unfortunately, for other roasters it's all- downhill from here. Local shops and mills around the country are all but extinguished now that this new method is available.
High Technology really is on the move: Not only was the escalator invented this year, so was instant coffee! Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato creates a soluble blend of coffee and premiers it at the Pan-American Exposition. Every American is in a rush. Rush. Rush. Everything must be instant. Who has time anymore? Well, maybe those Europeans...
Germans, so fond of a lingering over afternoon coffee, coin the term "Kaffee Klatsch" to describe women who gathered to converse of the day's latest views and gossip.
Italian Luigi Bezzera patents the first commercial "espresso" machine. The Tipo Gigante, was just that, a large steam driven machine that used a water and steam combination, forced under high pressure to brew the coffee at a rapid pace. His invention became known as the "espresso" machine. Legend has it; the initial reason for Luigi creating the espresso machine was to reduce the amount of time that his employees spent on their coffee break. Quite a taskmaster! Luigi needed them to work faster. So he thought that having a much quicker coffee maker would be the key to making employees spend less time on coffee breaks and more time working. Productivity leads to money!
Ludwig Roselius, a German coffee importer and his assistant Karl Wimmer discover a process in 1903 to remove caffeine from the beans without wrecking the flavor. Wait? No more all-nighters? I like my buzz! The decaf discovery actually came about as the result of an accident. Coffee beans from Nicaragua had become water soaked during shipment. When the "ruined" beans arrived at Roselius' coffee warehouse, his researchers determined that the exposure to water had extracted much of the caffeine without affecting the taste — except for some saltiness. Not so fast, salty coffee? Yuck! Back-to-the-drawing-board! Soon they figured it out. The decaf process that Roselius and Wimmer invented used steam and chemical solvents. A later Swiss process would only use water. The brand name for this coffee would later become "Sanka" and made its way slowly to the U.S. some 20 years later. Click here to see vintage advertisement.
Is Desiderio Pavoni the first obsessed barista? In this fateful year, he decides he can make a better espresso than the other guy. Firstly, he sets out and buys Luigi Bezzera's patent for the espresso machine. After many long nights, Desiderio deducted that the
coffee bitterness came from the steam and the extremely high temperatures that it put on the coffee grounds. Desiderio's
solution; perfection in a cup requires one to brew the coffee at 195 degrees and 9 BAR pressure. His moment of brilliance sets the gold standard for all espresso machines to this very day. For Baristas the quest for the elusive ultimate shot continues, and with the Pavoni Espresso machine, it's within their grasp.
Inventor George Washington creates the first mass-produced "instant coffee," later marketed in 1909 as Red-E Coffee. During the height of its popularity in the 1970s, nearly a third of the roasted coffee imported into the United States was converted into an instant product, resulting in annual sales of more than 200 million pounds. Oh, dear... Instant. Fresh roasted coffee where are you?
Remember the handsome Brazilian, Colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta who seduced and wooed the French Governor's wife -- all for Coffee and a little nookie-nookie? The daring tryst truly paid off: In this year, Brazil will boast 97% of the world's harvest. She truly did give away the farm back in 1727.
Looking for a way to brew the perfect cup of coffee and remove those grinds? Innovative German housewife Melitta Bentz creates a coffee filter by using her son's school blotting paper. Mama knows best! A patent was awarded later that year and the Melitta Bentz Company was born.
The United States Congress enacts Prohibition. Not for coffee, like all the other governments in history tried to enforce - this time it's for booze. Coffee sales go positively ballistic!
The prestigious Science Newsletter declares coffee "beneficial." We all knew that. To this day more and more traits of coffee are discovered to be great for our health! Perhaps even someday the cure for the common cold will be a "shot" you can order at your local café.
The Brazilians are growing so much coffee and find themselves with such a massive surplus, their government approaches Nestle in order to find a way to utilize the waste that ensues. Coffee guru, Max Morgenthaler, and his team set out to find a way of producing a quality cup of coffee that could be made simply by adding water, yet would retain the coffee's natural flavor. After seven long years of research and tinkering in their Swiss laboratories, (not very instant, mind you) they found their answer: "Waste not -- want not." Freeze dried coffee! No wonder the Swiss live in one of the richest / "greenest" countries in the world. The coffee is marketed as Nescafe and introduced in Switzerland. To this day, Nescafe is the world's leading brand.
Ever the consumer, the United States now imports 70 percent of the world's coffee. As we should! Give me more, more, more... I want it all! Every bean for me, me, me! It's the American way. God Bless America!
Maxwell House instant coffee is chosen to fill the ration kits of American soldiers departing for World War II. Among U.S. civilians, coffee is rationed to prevent hoarding. Even with limited caffeine these determined Americans drink their coffee, which fuels the fight to lead the world out of tyranny and into freedom.
This truly is: One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind, Italian, Achille Gaggia, evolves the espresso machine using a piston to extract the brew at a higher pressure resulting in a layer of "crema" on the coffee. Crema! OMG! The ultimate Espresso! The Cappuccino is born! One of the greatest discoveries of all time! Count your blessings the next time you order a double cappuccino for its named after the color and the likeness of the robes and hood of the Capuchin order of Franciscan Monks in Italy. Thank you, Achille Gaggia for delivering us this little bit of heaven-sent "crema" in a cup!
A modern generation of coffeehouses take hold, not only pulsating to the new beat rhythms of Jazz, they also pulsate to the revolutionary / avant-garde thoughts of the Beat Movement. As throughout history, once again coffee houses are central to debate, as well as are the epicenter for cultural movements that defy the convention.
At coffee shops in San Francisco's North Beach and in New York's Greenwich Village, the poets and intellectuals, known as Beatniks hang- out, drink espresso and have lively philosophical and political discussions that challenge the traditional ways of the 195o's.
These Bohemians are the forerunners of the cultural, political and sexual revolution to come in the 1960's that will change our world forever. Still to this day, these historic shops, as well as their counter- culture-counter-parts throughout the United States attract modern-day freethinkers who come together over a cup of coffee and move our societies forward.
The Colombian Coffee Federation that represents 560,000 coffee growers debuts the fictional Juan Valdez, the humble Columbian coffee grower, who along with his loaded pack mule picks his beans one at a time. I say "Go Donkey Go!"
Alfred Peet, a Dutch-American, whose father ran a small roastery in Holland brings a little of the old country to his new country. In 1966, Alfred opens Peet's Coffee in Berkeley, California. He later is credited as the "grandfather" of the specialty coffee industry. Peet's is especially known for its strong, deep roasted coffee. His outstanding coffee would impact the world... however as we will discover, it's a small world after all, smaller than you may know...
Alfred Peet shared and taught his style of roasting beans to three buddies, Jerry Baldwin, an english teacher, Zev Siegl a history teacher and Gordon Bowker, a writer. They worked over Christmas at the first Peet's store in Berkeley to learn the ropes.
With Alfred's blessing, and his roasted beans, not only did they copy his store design, they took his technique of roasting and opened the first Starbucks in Seattle. Within a year they acquired their own roaster and started roasting their own. This store simply sold one thing: Fresh roasted coffee beans. That's it. No brewed drinks.
A ground breaking moment in coffee history; the first automatic drip home coffee maker- with the formal name of Mr. Coffee was introduced by Cleveland, Ohio entrepreneur Vincent Marotta. Please to meet you, Mr. Coffee. The innovation: water is percolated through the coffee grounds at 200° Fahrenheit, as opposed to the boiling water that roiled through grounds in the traditional percolator. Mr. Coffee was soon to become a household name because it was pitched on TV by the legendary baseball great and Hall of Fame recipient Joe DiMaggio. In the late 1970's 40,000 units a day were sold. It still is the world's best-selling coffee maker for home use.
Back to Starbucks. A major turning point is about to happen. A drip coffee maker salesman from New York spends a full year convincing Starbucks to hire him. He succeeds. Howard Schultz joins Starbucks as Director of Marketing. He sets off to Milan, Italy and sees cafés on practically every block where one can have an outstanding espresso. These cafés also serve as meeting places and are a big part of the societal fabric. There are 200,000 of them in Italy.
In Seattle, Schultz advises the company, they should sell coffee and espresso drinks, as well as the beans. The owners Jerry, Zev, and Gordon rejected this idea, believing that getting into the beverage / restaurant business would distract the company from its primary focus -- that fresh coffee should be brewed at home with their fresh roasted beans. No espressos or lattes would be made or served in their shops.
The original owners' of Starbucks, led by Jerry Baldwin, purchase their mentor's business, Peet's.
Howard Schultz certain that there was money to be made selling coffee drinks quit Starbucks and started the Il Giornale coffee chain in 1985. It was hugely successful. In 1987 Schultz made an offer that the Starbucks owners' could not refuse... Eventually they gave in - Schultz bought Starbucks for a paltry $3.8 million. He finally secures their roasting techniques, rapidly renames his own coffee chain "Starbucks" and changes forever how the world would buy their coffee beverages.
Schulz's plan now is set in motion and his juggernaut steams full-speed ahead! In the 1990's, Starbucks opens a new store every workday, a pace that continued into the 2000's. Schultz leaves the CEO's leather backed chair and ascends to the throne of Chairman. He sets out on his conquest of the world with a Starbucks in every country, on every corner, putting the Mom & Pop cafés out of business, and along the way gobbling up local café chains and renaming them as his own.
After 8 years of Starbucks rapid expansionist plans, in 2008 Schultz reclaims the CEO position in order to bring back and restore what he calls the "distinctive Starbucks experience'' -- back to the core, back to basics... No more pre-ground coffee in the stores, only whole bean -- ground fresh once again. Catch me my friends, I think I am about to faint. Ground fresh? Imagine that? Hmm... Update: I hear Starbucks is now test marketing and selling Instant Coffee. Instant Coffee?! Oh, dear! Have they really come back to their core? I think not. Just a bunch of marketing department hooey and poppycock!
Specialty coffee accounts for 40% of all coffee
sold in the United States. Hip-hip Hooray!
Fresh roasted coffee! Fresh roasted coffee!
2009 - Present
Alas, coffee is the world's most popular beverage, bar none. We consume 400 billion cups each year, nearly 400 million cups a day. Why, I alone guzzle over 16,000 cups annually. The United States imports 27% of all coffee beans grown in the world. Coffee is second only to oil as the most traded commodity.
Let us pay homage and give credit where credit is due. Let us raise our demitasse cups, our favorite old mugs, and our commuter cups to toast the thieves and smugglers who we truly owe our gratitude to. These unsung and unsavory heroes set forth the proliferation of coffee throughout the world and the variety of species we cherish today. Hip. Hip Hooray! Let us thank those through the centuries who toiled, battled, tinkered and seduced, all for that delectable cup of coffee -- and for all of those who brought us to this wonderful place in coffee history, here's to you!
Thank you to all those farmers around the world who carefully nurture these cherries to fruition, the sourcers who travel to origin to bring us these gifts, the artisan roasters who with passion finesse the roast of these beans to its ultimate degree, and the baristas who brew us, each and every day the wonderful cup we enjoy to our heart's content!
Let us all, make history everyday... with every sip we take.
The History of Coffee