History of Coffee in 1900s

Coffee History in 1900s

1901  Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago invents the world’s first soluble instant coffee.

1903  German researchers successfully extract caffeine from coffee beans without ruining the delicate flavor.  This decaffeinated coffee is known as Sanka, taken from the French term sans caffeine, meaning without caffeine.  Sanka decaf coffee

1905  An Italian named Desiderio Pavoni bought the patent for Luigi Bezzera’s design and begins manufacturing espresso machines in Italy.


Pavoni’s espresso machine is designed to brew at 195 degrees Fahrenheit and at nine BAR of pressure.

1908  Brazil is now a mighty coffee producer and is producing 20,190,000 bags of coffee.  It also attracts millions of migrants and transforms the small town of São Paulo; it has a population in excess of 1 million by the 1930s.

An inquisitive German housewife by the name of Melitta Bentz is looking for a way to remove coffee grinds and make her brew less bitter.  

Bentz takes some of her son’s blotting paper, cuts out a circle shape, places it in a metal cup and pours hot water over the grinds through her new styled filter paper, which of course removes the grinds.  

This clever woman patents her coffee filter design, and with the help of her husband Hugo, founded the world famous Melitta Bentz Company.  

1909  Melitta Bentz sells approximately 12,000 of their patented coffee filters at Germany’s Leipziger Fair.

1910  German decaffeinated coffee is brought to the USA by Merck & Co of New York.  It goes by the brand name of Dekafa which is later changed to Dekofa.

1911  The National Coffee Roasters Association is formed in America and is now known as the National Coffee Association of USA.

1920  Prohibition in the USA means that the sale and consumption of alcohol is now illegal, so this leads to an increase in coffee drinking because it’s cheaper and also legal.

1927  Colombian coffee growers come together to create the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, which works to regulate the coffee market and represent it both nationally and internationally.

1938  Excess stocks of coffee are being stored in Brazilian warehouses after coffee prices plummet.  

Nestle is tasked with developing a soluble coffee cube. Dr. Max Morgenthaler, a chemist, joins Nestle to find a solution which leads to spray drying coffee beans to produce the soluble coffee named Nescafe.

Cremonesi develops a piston pump that improves Pavoni’s espresso machine;  it pushes hot water through the coffee grounds, which stops the burning flavor giving a much better flavor and taste.

In the same year, on September 5, 1938, Milan bartender Achille Gaggia files a patent for his steam-free coffee maker which is what we know as an espresso maker. This coffee maker impressively produces a single espresso shot in only 15 seconds.  

The best bit about Gaggia’s invention is it came about after he saw that American army jeeps use a hydraulic system in their engines, giving him the piston pump idea.

1940  America is now importing 70% of the globe’s coffee.

Maxwell House in the history of coffee in America

Maxwell House Coffee

1942  Maxwell House instant coffee is supplied to American soldiers in WWII.  The USA is seeing a huge surge in coffee demand which is causing a shortage so coffee has to be rationed.  

1948  The Gaggia company is founded in Milan, Italy, and is soon exporting its steam free espresso machines to America, UK, and Africa.

1952  The coffee bar phenomenon starts in England, especially in London.  A small coffee bar called the Moka Bar is opened by Pino Riservato in London’s Soho and is one of the first in this trend.

Riservato owned the British concession for Gaggia’s espresso machine and it is instantly a massive hit with London’s younger generation as it produces tasty coffee.

1956  Nestle introduces Decaf, an instant decaffeinated coffee which is directly competing against Sanka.  

Nestle cleverly uses its advertising budget for TV commercials promoting Decaf as the coffee that “lets you sleep.”

The free thinking revolution is helping to transform and popularize coffeehouses in areas like North Beach, San Francisco and Greenwich Village in New York.

Poets and intellectuals known as Beatniks hang out in these modern style coffeehouses whilst listening to jazz beats, drinking coffee and discussing revolutionary ideas to change society.

The Beatniks and similar other freethinkers lay the groundwork that leads to the revolutions of the 1960’s.

1957  Frappe, the iced coffee is invented entirely by accident.  Dimitris Vakondios, a Nestle representative employee is attending an international trade fair in Thessaloniki, Greece and is demonstrating a new children’s drink that is instantly produced using a shaker.

Vakondios wants his usual cup of coffee but doesn’t have access to hot water, so instead mixes the coffee with cold water in the shaker, and there it is, the creation of the Frappe.

1959  The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia introduce Juan Valdez, a fictional Colombian coffee farmer who is trying to persuade people to buy their 100% Colombian coffee instead of coffee blended with beans from other countries.

1962  The International Coffee Agreement between coffee producing countries and consuming countries is signed for a 5 year period.  Its aim is to keep coffee supply and prices stable worldwide.

1963  The world’s first automatic drip brew coffee maker is introduced by the Bunn-o-Matic Corporation for commercial use on May 17, 1963.

1964  Tim Horton, the hockey legend in Canada opens the first Tim Hortons in Hamilton, Ontario, serving fresh coffee and donuts at 10 cents each.

1966  April 1st: Dutch born Alfred Peet opens up a small coffee shop on the corner of Walnut and Vine Street in Berkeley California. His style of making coffee is a new art to Americans as he makes it with fresh high quality dark roasted beans that produce a much richer taste.

This new kind of coffee becomes extremely popular and even influences the founders of Starbucks later on.

1971  March 30: The first Starbucks opens in the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle by Baldwin, Siegl and Bowker who were initially taught how to roast coffee beans by none other than Alfred Peet. Starbucks begins its journey in coffee history

During the first year they purchase the green coffee beans from Peet’s, roast them and sell them to the public; they don’t actually brew and sell the coffee as a drink at this time.

1973  Indio Solidarity Coffee is the first Fair Trade coffee being imported to Europe by coffee cooperatives in Guatemala.

1975  Brazilian coffee plants are hit by the black frost on July 18 resulting in 73.5% of the crops being  devastatingly affected.  This leads to the price of coffee doubling in 1976 to August 1977 when it finally lowers after a successful harvest.

1978  The premium Carte Noire brand of coffee is introduced to France. It’s made from the finest arabica beans and symbolizes luxury starting from its name and logo, right through to its intense full flavor and aromas.

Costa Coffee, a British coffeehouse company begins selling coffee after opening its first store on Vauxhall Bridge Road, London.

1982  The International Coffee Agreement is drawn up at the United Nations by the Coffee Study Group, and is renegotiated to include a coffee trade database and strict import and export regulations.
Drinking coffee in ItalyDavid Schultz is hired as director of marketing at Starbucks; he travels to Italy and sees cafés selling espresso coffee everywhere.   On his return to Seattle, Schultz suggests selling coffee and espresso alongside coffee beans.  The owners reject the idea and stick to just selling coffee beans.

1985  Mexico produces 4.9 million, 60 kg bags of coffee earning US $882 million in exports.  Coffee is now Mexico’s most valuable crop.

1987  Shultz purchases Starbucks from Baldwin et al. after briefly leaving to start his own chain of speciality coffee shops in Seattle called Il Giornale.

March 1:  Starbucks opens its first coffee shop in Canada at the Seabus Skytrain Station in the beautiful city of Vancouver.

1989  The international Coffee Agreement (ICA) meets member countries to renegotiate the agreement.  However a new agreement isn’t reached, partly due to the Reagan administration supporting the free market, so coffee prices plummet.

1991  Believe it or not but the world’s first WebCam was invented at Cambridge University to keep an eye on the level of coffee in the coffee machine.  

Students and academics could open up the Xcoffee stream on their computers to check if the machine had coffee in it.  No doubt it was the ones who didn’t want to make the coffee that checked it and waited for someone else to make a fresh pot.

1995  Coffee is now the most popular beverage in the world with over 400 billion cups drank per year.

Carly Simon releases her 21st album entitled Clouds In My Coffee (not really anything to do with the history of coffee, but just thought you might like to know).

1996  Starbucks International opens coffee shops in Tokyo and Singapore, the first stores outside of North America.

Starbucks and Pepsi-Cola Company start a joint venture called the North American Coffee Partnership and sell the Starbucks Frappuccino in a bottle.

1997  The main coffee producers globally are Brazil and Colombia with 1362.3 million (24 .5%) and 603 million kg (11.3%) respectively of a 5558.3 million kg total.  

1999  There are now 108,000,000 coffee drinkers in the US who are spending approximately US$9.2 billion in the retail sector and US$8.7 billion in the foodservice sector.  This means the average coffee drinker now spends approximately US$164.71 on coffee a year (Source: SCAA 1999 Market Report).


Sanka decaf coffee image: See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Starbucks image: By John Anderson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.


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