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The History of America’s Love Affair With Coffee

With all the hubbub about the pros and cons of coffee in the news lately, I thought I’d give you a brief history of coffee.

The average American drinks 3 cups of coffee every day, and we spend forty billion dollars a year on buying it. Coffee is the second most valuable exported commodity on earth (oil is the first). Even during the recent recession, Americans did not cut back on coffee in their homes.

The first coffee houses in America were established in Boston by the late 17th century. Consumption of coffee grew steadily into the 1800’s, and with the industrial revolution, coffee became a morning staple. By 1860, coffee consumption skyrocketed to 8 pounds per capita.

During the Civil War, coffee became limited because of the amount of  coffee beans allowed into America. Coffee became so scarce in the South that the price climbed to Five dollars a pound ($119 by today’s price).

Early in the twentieth century, Americans consumed half of the worlds coffee. Instant coffee was developed during the first world war, and shipped to our troops. Even the great depression of the 30’s did nothing to slow down coffee consumption.

Coffee consumption peaked in the 1950’s, but slowly declined over the next few decades, as soda became popular, but regained it’s prominence with small coffee shops throughout America, the most prominent being Starbucks.

Ever since colonial Americans chose coffee over tea, it has become a statement of personal and social identity. The coffee in your cup, is part of our national history.

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