You probably know the feeling. It’s the middle of the afternoon, you’ve been dragging since lunchtime, and you need a quick pick-me-up to make it through the rest of the day.
Sounds like it’s time for a coffee break — and what better day to take one than on Thursday, National Coffee Break Day, a special observation of the 100th anniversary of the National Coffee Association, a trade association and lobbying organization that promotes coffee consumption. To mark National Coffee Break Day, the association has put together a website filled with coffee facts, historical print and television advertising, and coffee’s big moments in pop culture.
Here are some tidbits to think about while sipping that mid-afternoon cup:
It’s an American thing: While people have enjoyed coffee around the world for centuries, the concept of the coffee break is distinctly American. It traces back to the 1880s, when a group of working women in Wisconsin would briefly go home in the morning and the afternoon and grab a cup of leftover coffee from the pot on the stove, then head back to work.
It really will perk you up: According to Robert Nelson, president of the association, the coffee break is an important part of the average workday. “It’s important to take a break,” he says. “And there’s nothing better than to take a break around a cup of coffee. In fact, science shows that coffee makes one more alert and productive.”
It can make you a “Coffee Achiever”: Back in the 1980s, American coffee consumption was lagging. So the coffee association ran a series of ads on channels like MTV designed to create a “new coffee generation.” The spots featured rockers like David Bowie and Heart, along with, oddly, actress Cicely Tyson and Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas. Whether this paved the way for the coffee boom of the late ’80s and ’90s is unclear. So what’s a coffee achiever today? “One who enjoys a cup of coffee and uses that coffee to interact with family, neighbors, friends and workplace peers would qualify as a real achiever,” Nelson says.
The coffee world is changing: According to Nelson, the recent introduction of single-serve coffee products like Starbucks’ VIA instant coffee is just the beginning. Look for more brewing systems designed for one-cup coffee-making in the near future. Why single cups? They’re ideal for people who want premium coffee without having to brew an entire pot — like during a coffee break.