Even if you have a taste for fine coffee, you may soon be among them. Our age of creeping coffee mania means it’s now possible to pay $2, $3, even $6 a cup for instant coffees made from single-origin, fair trade coffee beans, using methods that preserve their flavor. The challenge for the new wave of US-based instant coffee disruptors like Sudden, Voila, and Swift Cup is that decades of famous advertising means the medium is synonymous with iconic brands like Sanka and Folgers Crystals—warm memories but mediocre taste.
Put the kettle on and let’s celebrate the moments of our lives, and whatever comes next.
20: Estimated percent increase, yearly, for Chinese demand for coffee
$28: Price for an eight-cup pack of Sudden single-origin instant coffee
$13.65: Price for a 16 oz. can of Folgers Crystals, which makes approximately 180 8 oz. cups
34: Percent of retail coffee sales that are instant, worldwide
317: Cups of instant coffee per capita that Georgians, the world’s leading instant coffee drinkers, consumed in 2016, according to Euromonitor
5,500: Cups of Nescafé consumed each second, worldwide
1904: The first decaffeinated coffee is sold in Europe under the name Kaffee Hag
1910: Brooklyn, NY-based G. Washington Coffee Refining Co. starts producing the first mass market instant coffee
1923: Sanka is introduced to the US and a nation becomes hooked on the idea of instant decaf
1938: Nestle debuts Nescafé
—Jordan Michaelman, co-founder of Sprudge, to Quartz
the 1993 comedy Cool Runnings about a Jamaican bobsled team features a character named “Sanka Coffie,” a clear violation of Roger Ebert’s First Law of Funny Names: No names are funny unless used by W.C. Fields or Groucho Marx.
☕️ In 2000, Folgers enlisted KISS frontman Paul Stanley to sing its famous “best part of waking up” jingle. It never aired, but it did leak.
☕️ Actor Robert Young made more money on his one-minute Sanka ads than for his roles in Father Knows Best or Marcus Welby, M.D.