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    • You think 2014 is the heyday of coffee culture? Forget it. Your grandma knew how to drink coffee better than you ever will. Sure, Grams wasn’t making her daily cup in a Dragon, but she might have had a siphon, or even a Chemex–two coffee devices that have been around since (probably) long before you were born but still enjoy a cult following today. And in terms of marketing, the sweet sweet nectar of this seed from the tropics has been on people’s radar for quite some time now. In fact, there are times when you have to wonder if we didn’t understand the world of coffee just a little better before we started making it complicated.  Don’t believe us? Just check out these 10 vintage ads.

      1. The dream of the 1890s

      Cafe du Monde has been drawing crowds since 1862, and this ad from 1899 proves it. It’s here that coffee is served New Orleans style, mixed with chicory, a method developed by the French during the time of the Civil War. While chicory has stuck around, the racist imagery common in advertising at the time has thankfully declined.

    • 2. The world of (automatic) siphon coffee

      You might think Blue Bottle is to thank for siphon-mania, but you would of course be wrong. This ad from Life Magazine in 1943 tells us why this type of brew set up is “making coffee go further.” You get 18 more cups per pound! And it’s automatic, no fancy heat-lamps necessary!

      3. The original gimmick

      Coffee marketing didn’t start with crappy commuter mugs and bad cafe logos. Oh no, there was once a day when promotional deals involved works of art. “To secure a picture card like this you have only to buy a package of Lion Coffee.” If that wasn’t enough to get you to by it, note that “it is roasted with care, but is not ground.” Even in the days of the Woolson Spice Company people understood the value of whole beans.

      4. Who needs to put a ring on it when you can just serve morning coffee?

      Want to woo your loved one? It doesn’t get more complicated than serving a nice warm cup of coffee. In bed perhaps? With a fancy decanter set? Coffee: the tool of seduction since 1963. Hey, who said “I love you” was the best thing you could hear in the morning? Nope, it’s “I’ll make us some coffee.”

5. Don’t buy stale coffee

Okay wow there Chase & Sanborn, I know highly degrading sexist marketing was a thing in the 1900s, but still. Note: it’s never ok to hit a woman, or really anyone for that matter. Violence is never the answer. However, if someone serves you stale coffee you’re more than welcome to sass them in a non-derogatory, identity-affirming way.

6. Coffee can help you be a wizard

Oh Bill, you’re a coffee wizard! And all it took was serving a good roast. Take notice that it’s the same brand currently being served at the pop-up Friends cafe.

7. Your grandma was dreaming about coffee accoutrements before your parents were even born

Ah yes, back when an electric coffeemaker was only $13.95.

8. It’s got to be filtered

An ad from 1917. Just to think that we went from there, to pre-ground coffee, to instant, to coffee pods and back again.

9. The Europeans always do it better

Italian style! Viennese! Cafe au Lait! The Europeans always did coffee better, until you know, the Americans and the Australians did. But you’re still craving that continental, European way of life aren’t you? And the China!

10. There are tried and true rules to coffee…

And you better not break them, because they’ve been legit since 1948.


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