The perks of vintage coffee: How a cup of joe became the #1 drink all across America, plus old-fashioned ways to make it

Take a coffee break - vintage ads

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Coffee is everyone’s favorite — no matter what you call it

By Aline Law – Valley Times (North Hollywood, California) January 9, 1954

The Arabs call it Qahwah; Persians call it Qehve; the Russians (who don’t claim to have invented it) call it Kophe; in China, where all the tea comes from, they call it Kaifey.

We Americans know it better as “Draw One,” “Java,” “Ink” or just a plain “cup of coffee.”

Every young girl should know how to make coffee - 1940
What every young girl should know: How to make coffee (1940)

If there is one beverage which can really be called universal, it’s coffee. In every corner of the world, coffee is a favorite drink. But because it’s made from the same roasted bean doesn’t mean you’d recognize the drink.

Take Syria, for example, where pulverized coffee is boiled three times and served with cinnamon sticks. How about Italy, where some like to have their Espresso served with steam-puffed milk for a beverage called Capuccino.

A desire for Creme Anglaise would take you to Brittany. You’d think of Paris for fiery, potent Cafe Diable. And for a taste of Kaffee Schlagg, you could possibly wander to Old Vienna.

But with some perseverance and a knack for making friends you could sample the world’s coffee prepared in a multitude of ways without leaving your own city.

ALSO TRY: How to make a good cup of coffee – Continental style (1903)

Good things happen over coffee - Christmas 1947
Good things happen over coffee – Christmas (1947)


1/4 cup (large) of regular brewed coffee
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup light cream

METHOD: Mix the ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil. Serve immediately, Makes one cup.


This is the simplest way to make French Coffee, Prepare your coffee in your favorite manner.

Bring a small pot of milk to a boil. Hold the coffee pot in one hand and the hot milk pot in the other. Pour both together into cups so they mix as you pour.


1 quart strong coffee, prepared your favorite way
1 teaspoon clove
1 stick cinnamon
12 lumps sugar
Grated rind of one orange
1/2 cup brandy

METHOD: Pour into a chafing dish the coffee, cloves, sugar, cinnamon and orange rind. Ignite burner under dish and heat contents thoroughly.

Pour brandy in chafing dish, ladle and ignite it with a match. Dip the ladle into the dish mixing the brandy with the other contents.

Continue filling ladle with brandy and igniting until half cup is thoroughly mixed with other contents. Serve in small Demi-Tasse Cups or Diable Cups. Serves 10-12.

MORE: Celebrate the moments of your life: General Foods International Coffee ads from the ’70 & ’80s


The Turks drink their coffee black — never with cream. To make it they use a tall, tapering pot called a Birga, which is never covered, Try it in your own kitchen for a different coffee sensation.

8 heaping teaspoons extra fine ground coffee
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
8 cups boiling water

METHOD: Pour contents into a pot. Bring to a boil and remove from flame. When bubbling stops, put back on stove and bring to a boil again. Repeat this three times. Let pot stand off flame for a few minutes before serving. NEVER SERVE MILK OR CREAM WITH TURKISH COFFEE. Serves 8-10.


Prepare coffee in usual way. Pour into cups and pile a huge amount of fresh whipped cream on each cup. Close your eyes and you’ll imagine you’re in Old Vienna.

Bless his heart — Jim’s making coffee! (1950s)

Nothing satisfies like coffee - Vintage ad from the 1950s

Vintage “give yourself a coffee break” ad (1952)

Vintage give yourself a coffee break ad from 1952

ALSO SEE: Contest craze: The coffee-drinking record breakers (1927)

Vintage coffee break with Agnes Moorehead (1953)

[Future “Bewitched” star Agnes Moorehead shown here with Charles Boyer, Charles Laughton and Sir Cedric Hardwicke]

When you have to be alert, have a cheerful cop of coffee! Your mind is clearer… solutions are nearer… when you give yourself a coffee break.

Coffee break - Agnes Moorehead 1953

George & Gracie loved their coffee

George Burns & Gracie Allen lovin’ their cups of joe at CBS

LIFE Jan 5, 1953 coffee george gracie burns

“Do-it-yourself” is easier — with a “Coffee-break” (1957)

  • Keep some baby oil or soft soap on your hands, especially the nails and cuticles, for easy wash-up after painting. For a restful, zestful “lift” on the job, give yourself an occasional “Coffee-break”!
  • Upholstering is a two-fisted job. Hold fabric or webbing taut with one hand, hammer tacks in with the other — a magnetic hammer picks up the tacks for you. A good, full-bodied cup of coffee makes work easier.
  • Less chance of the big ones getting away if your equipment is in top order beforehand. For tops in coffee every time, too, use 1 Standard Measure (2 level tablespoons) for each 6-oz. cup of cold water.
  • What’s the pleasantest way to avoid “Gardener’s back”? — a “Coffee-break”! Planting hint: don’t skimp on stakes — tie up all the young plants you want to grow strong, straight and healthy.
  • Smart carpenters when working in hardwoods, use soap on screws or saws. And they cool off with good Iced Coffee. Hint: Freeze coffee cubes in refrigerator trays and use with regular strength coffee. It won’t dilute.

Now with the job well done, you owe yourself a rest and a reward — a “special recipe” coffee! For the colorful 32-page booklet, “Fun With Coffee,” send 25¢ and your name and address to the Coffee Bureau.

There is nothing so satisfying as a good cup of coffee

Do-it-yourself work is easier with a coffee break (1957)

Coffee is like friendship: Warm and strong

These vintage ads are from the 1960s

Make it coffee - Vintage 1962

Vintage coffee break ad from 1962

Coffee is like friendship - warm and strong - vintage 1963

ALSO TRY: Mocha sour cream cake (1973) & Mocha magic torte recipe from 1982

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