American Filter Coffee Culture
There is no denying that the culture surrounding coffee in the United States of America is unique.
This fact became clear to me soon after moving to Spain to teach English. I realized that no Tim Horton’s or Starbucks americano would replace the drip coffee and vanilla creamer that I had come to love. As I sipped my European lattes and espresso shots, I began to wonder why Americans make and consume coffee so differently.
To understand the USA’s coffee culture, it is important to take a brief look at our history.
Americans have been drinking coffee since its arrival to the continent in 1607. By the mid-1700s we had taverns doubling as coffeehouses. Of course, old habits die hard, so colonists sipped imported tea religiously.
In 1773, the Boston Tea Party changed everything. Angry colonists dumped the East India Trading Company’s tea into the harbor after taxes were imposed on the colonies. From that day in 1773, drinking coffee was considered an act of patriotism. The colonists abandoned tea and opted for the coffee beans coming out of Brazil and the Caribbean. The coffee coming from our southern neighbors was cheap and easy to obtain, unlike the highly taxed tea coming from across the pond.
American presidents loved coffee. George Washington imported coffee beans and Martha perfected the brewing process. Thomas Jefferson said that coffee would become the “beverage of the civilized world.” Teddy Roosevelt drank coffee by the gallon and claimed the drink was “good to the last drop.”
Coffee has been used to strengthen individuals during westward exploration, wars, and general pursuit of freedom. During the Civil War, a coffee syrup was made and added to “cold” water. Some say this is the first mention of cold coffee in the United States, with soldiers stating that cold coffee was the “most sustaining and the safest of drinks.”
Filter coffee came onto the scene in 1908 when Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter, allowing the coffee to be brewed at a lower temperature. Thus, filter coffee was born with the United States as its biggest proponent. In the 1970s, Mr. Coffee introduced machines that could make up to ten cups of coffee instantly! In the USA, Mr. Coffee became a household name.
Starbucks opened in 1971. Howard Schultz became CEO traveled to Italy in 1983 and became enthralled with the Italian way of consuming coffee. From then on, coffee has steadily grown past the simple filter coffee that has been the staple of diners across the States for decades.
Americans drink coffee quickly, out of necessity or habitually. In comparison to other countries that value slowly sipping espresso, the American culture of coffee consumption is much more fast paced with an on-the-go mentality. In the USA, you can find a coffee shop on every street corner, with drip coffee served in quantities as large as 31-ounces.
Millennials and Generation Z are helping American coffee shops evolve and expand their offerings. The National Coffee Association stated that this new wave of gourmet coffee consumption “represents a gradual but fundamental shift in the American coffee landscape.” Now espresso drinks are gaining traction with younger coffee consumers, diversifying the coffee culture.
Though espresso-based drinks are gaining traction, drip coffee is the most widely consumed type of coffee in the United States. We like it hot, iced, black or with vanilla-flavored creamer. We drink it every single day in double-digit ounce to-go containers. Whether it’s out of necessity, because we enjoy the taste or to perpetuate our history, drip coffee is not going anywhere anytime soon.
Post by Madison Giddens
See more great posts by Madison at www.becomingmadison.com