As far as commodities go, coffee is second only to oil in the global marketplace. In America, it is the beverage of choice as evidenced by the fact that we are the largest consumers of coffee per capita. However, how did we get here? Moreover, how has the coffee culture in this country evolved over the years? It all started with the American Revolution.
Americans were largely tea drinkers during the colonial period. The vast majority of colonists were of British heritage, and imported tea was relatively inexpensive. Then came the Boston tea party, when revolutionaries overran a fleet of ships in the Boston harbor in 1773, throwing an entire shipment of tea overboard. It was a protest against the unpopular Tea Act, which had imposed a tax on tea and gave the East India Company a virtual monopoly on tea imports.
From that point forward, consuming British tea was considered unpatriotic in the colonies. And because domestic tea production was almost nonexistent, coffee emerged as the replacement hot beverage. It has never looked back.
America’s newly found freedom after the Revolution resulted in a culture desperate to break all ties with its imperial past. Coffee was now seen as an American beverage while tea was relegated to British loyalists. This gave rise to the cultivation of coffee here in the States and the start of our ‘official’ coffee culture.
With increased cultivation on American soil, the price of coffee began dropping through the early 19th century. Creative individuals also figured out new ways to roast, grind, and blend coffees to achieve different kinds of flavors. Slowly but surely, coffee was being transformed from just a hot beverage into a social drink. Coffee houses began opening in some of America’s largest cities, albeit in small numbers.
The Industrial Revolution is responsible for catapulting coffee into its position as the world’s number two commodity. With industrialization came the ability to roast and grind coffee on a large enough scale to make it affordable for anyone. The Industrial Revolution also brought us mechanical grinders, electric percolators and, eventually, the fancy and highly technological equipment we use today.
The modern coffee culture we associate with the chic, urban coffeehouse can be traced back to Seattle in the early 1970s. The first Starbucks opened in 1971 amidst a number of competitors in the city’s Capitol Hill district. As a city with a cutting-edge technology industry and plenty of young, affluent residents, it was only natural that Seattle’s coffeehouse culture would spread across the United States en masse. Even our 21st-century love of gourmet coffees and designer flavors traces its roots back to Seattle.
Galaxie Coffee is thrilled to be part of an industry that is so vital to America’s culture and economy. As a leading office coffee service provider in the New York area, we do our best to stay on the cutting edge in order to meet the demands of our customers.