A History of Instant Coffee – It’s Older Than You Think!

by August 22, 2017

Instant coffee may seem like a relatively modern convenience, but in fact it’s a lot older than many other inventions that we still use today. Here’s a quick rundown on the history of instant coffee:

  • 1771 200 years after coffee is first introduced to Europe, John Dring is granted a patent by the British Government for a “coffee compound”.  
  • 1850 Folgers is founded in San Francisco. They create the first canned, roasted and ground beans in the U.S. and marketed their product to miners during the Gold Rush. (1906 Folger’s was the only coffee roaster to remain standing through the city’s devastating earthquake. )
  • 1851 instant coffee is created as an experimental “coffee cake” and rationed to soldiers during the Civil War.
  • 1890 David Strang invents and patents soluble coffee using what he calls the “Dry-Hot Air” process in Invercargill, New Zealand. He’s also credited with inventing the “mocha”. 
  • 1901 Japanese-American chemist Satori Kato invents first successful method of creating stable, soluble coffee powder in Chicago.
  • 1910 George Constant Louis Washington takes Kato’s process and commercializes it for the first time.
  • During WWI instant coffee gains popularity as US Military begins to buy the product for rations.
  • 1930 Brazil has a large surplus of coffee beans and asks the chairman of Nestle to create a soluble coffee product to help with storage problems and raise profits.
  • 1937 Nestle scientist Max Morgenthaler invents Nescafe.
  • WWII instant coffee again gains popularity as its used for military rations.
  • 1960’s A new process is invented called agglomeration which steams coffee particles in order to create crystals, but another heating process only worses the flavor.
  • 1980’s Instant coffee can now be made using freeze drying which produces higher quality coffee with better taste.
  • 2015 Sudden Coffee invents new process for brewing and drying coffee to create the best tasting, highest quality instant of all time, thereby making great coffee accessible to everyone, anywhere. Obviously we’re a little biased, but we truly believe this. Try Sudden for yourself and you’ll know what we’re talking about.

For a little more in depth look at the history of instant coffee, check out this Smithsonian article

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