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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Industrial Revolution Drinks Third Wave Coffee

This is part two of our coffee in history series about coffee’s impact on historical events and their connection to modernity. Last week we explored the link between coffee, the Enlightenment, and modern-day cafes. This week, we’ll switch gears and look at coffee in the Industrial Revolution and its link to the Third Wave of coffee movement. 

Jittery Over Drunk 

"One way to explain the Industrial Revolution is as the inevitable consequence of a world where people suddenly preferred being jittery to being drunk." ~Malcolm Gladwell 

The interminably long days coupled with monotonous (yet hazardous) tasks made working in a factory during the Industrial Revolution taxing and difficult. These conditions, combined with low wages and a high cost of living rendered most working-class people extremely poor. With poverty came food insecurity and hunger. Many working-class people during the time turned to coffee to fill their stomachs and fuel their days. Some historians even posit that without coffee, the working masses would have been far less productive, turning to beer instead and coming to work drunk, unfocused and sleepy. 

The link between the Industrial Revolution and coffee is now clear, but what’s the link between the Industrial Revolution and the Third Wave? While during the Industrial Revolution coffee was mainly a tool to keep people sated and awake during their long work hours, the Third Wave movement is the polar opposite. Coffee is about more than simply caffeinating people, but about the story behind those who grew it, the taste, and the brewing method. The link between the two events demonstrates the distance the coffee world has crossed in the last 200-400 years.