Coffee drinking has become a way of life for many of us and has replaced some of the more traditional drinking habits of many countries. Many of the countries of Europe that have been historically been tea drinking nations have found that coffee is rapidly replacing tea as the nation's favourite drink.
Coffee has had a brief spell of mass popularity before, back in the 1970's and 1980's when coffee percolators were all the rage people bought into the fashion for coffee, trying to emulate some of their more refined and cosmopolitan European cousins by drinking fresh coffee. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your opinion of coffee percolators their time was only ever going to be a brief one as the coffee that they produced was nothing like that which you would find in an Italian or French café as well as being quite difficult to master.
So after a brief interlude during these years where coffee was the fashionable hot drink to have at home, helping you and your family to look more sophisticated, the focus drifted back to tea drinking. It was during this time that the market exploded for instant coffee, which had been around for many years previous but had only been a very small market. There was certainly a growth in the popularity of coffee during the percolator years during which many people decided that they preferred the taste of coffee to that of tea. These people wanted all of the flavour of good coffee but without all of the hassle of setting up the coffee percolator every time they wanted a fresh tasting cup of coffee.
This is where the instant coffee wars began. It seemed for a while that every other advertisement on the television was for one brand of instant coffee or another, with each brand trying to out do the other by adding a high flying celebrity to their advertising campaign. Some brands, which are today seen as inferior coffee brands, spent millions upon millions of dollars on raising the profile of their brand, and this advertising certainly worked.
For many years instant coffee was a staple purchase for many families in their weekly shop, again eating into the sales of tea. The instant coffee market was growing at a huge rate year on year but as with every market things had to move forward to ensure that the growth was sustained. It was now that the home filter coffee machine was introduced to the market.
The idea of filter coffee machines was simple, add freshly ground coffee into a cone of filter paper at the top of the machine through which boiling water was slowly filtered, leaving the used grinds in the filter paper and the water / coffee to pour down into a collecton jug that was sat on a hot plate to keep your freshly brewed coffee hot for ever if you so wished.
These machines were very popular indeed, taking the place of the percolator in many peoples kitchens but even though these machines were much easier to operate than a percolator people soon got fed up with them. By this time people really knew what good fresh coffee should taste like so the instant coffee people started to experiment to see if they could get the fresh coffee taste into an instant coffee.
This challenge is still going on but with the massive growth in the number of small coffee shops in towns and the fact that so many fast food chains now sell very good fresh coffee people are moving away from the instant brew. Coffee is massive business, you only have to try to count the number of different Starbucks type coffee houses that you have been to in the last year to try to get some idea with how the explosion has affected society, coupled with this you also have the new wave of home coffee machines that have appeared in shops which are as near to good tasting coffee made at home as we have ever had.
Coffee looks like it is here to stay, who knows when or if ever this current wave of popularity will start to slow down but it appears as though we all might appreciate what exactly a good cup of coffee is.
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Harwood E Woodpecker