Can you remember a time before Starbucks? A time before the tall, no-fat latte with caramel drizzle (yes, this does exist). For some of us, this may seem unimaginable, considering it now sells roughly 4-billion cups annually and is so deeply ingrained in culture. To jog your memory of a time before the franchised giant, let’s go on a coffee-fuelled journey of the past.
Coffee’s humble beginnings
In the beginning, brewing was a simple process that involved steeping the ground and roasted coffee into hot water and drinking the brew that resulted. However, this takes time and, as we all know, every minute spent waiting for your coffee is precious.
Society's impatience gave rise to the first machines designed to reduce brewing and extraction times. The process began in the coffee houses of Italy at a time when steam was being harnessed for the power of industry. By applying the concept to coffee, brewing times were reduced and a few short decades later the classic espresso machine we are familiar with today was born with the first patent going through in 1884. Quickly, coffee became an indispensable part of people's daily routine.
Rise of the artist
At this point, coffee was still a simple combination of ground beans and water. The next revolution was the addition of milk and milk substitutes that dramatically increased the menu board at your local cafe, with options like the latte, cappuccino, macchiato, mocha, etc. As we began to experiment with milk foam, the coffee artist emerged, with world latte art championships now occurring annually. A unique skill that reveals coffee’s true beauty.
As the coffee world was expanding, it was inevitable that big business would find its way in. Starbucks is the best-known example today, but even it once started as a small bean distributor until Howard Schultz discovered it on a trip to Seattle (hear how it all started). Today, Starbucks has globalized the trend of sugar-filled coffee, with coffees like the grande, iced, sugar-free, vanilla latte with soy milk (yup, again, this does exist).
So, what’s next for coffee?
Alternate methods of brewing have increased in popularity, like crystalized $6 instant coffee, vacuum shots, and rapid cold brews. Innovations are offering convenience and taste advantages over the traditional espresso, but one thing doesn’t change – our love for coffee.
No matter how you like your coffee, it’s all based on the same three principles:
- Roast and grind the bean
- Extract the flavor by brewing the coffee
- Separate the mixture from the grounds.
As we continue to look for more from our daily cup of coffee, truly inspiring innovations are sure to follow (hint: checkout out our Smarter Coffee).