Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Winter-Spring 2019

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s the soon-to-be-caffeinat- ed stumble towards their favorite morning dispensaries, we realize we have morphed into a coffee culture. It wasn't always so. In the 1970s the roasts were light and bland, and the decaf versions were worse. There was very little exciting about coffee, and in fact, coffee drinking had been on a decline. The market grew even smaller at the onset of the 1980s when coffee growers and retailers realized that the current 20-29 year olds had little interest in coffee, which they associated with their parents and grandparents. This group preferred "soft drinks." For the coffee industry to survive, it needed a new marketing strategy. Enter the specialty coffee, stage right. The vision was a type of coffee to appeal to every person, including flavored coffees for the "soft drink generation." As coffees became more personal, more accessible, the group that the market feared it had lost, the 20-29 year olds, had been snagged. They had found their niche. My love affair with coffee started as a child. We were not allowed to have it. My mother believed it would stunt our growth. So, this taboo made my desire to taste it become even stronger. I would watch my dad pour a "Cup of Joe" in his mug every morning before he left for work in the fields. The aroma was divine but I dared not drink any if I wanted to avoid being short my whole life. I discovered that my parents' coffee came in colorful tins with great graphics. These would never be discarded, as they found new life as containers hold- ing nuts and bolts in my dad's workshop. My sisters and I would separate all his hardware and place them in these tins, which helps to explain why some tins maintained such good condition for generations. Coffee tins came into being in the early 1800s when people bought green coffee beans to roast and grind fresh at home. Pre-roasted and packaged coffee became popular much later in the late 1880s. By 1914, as coffee companies experimented with ways to attract cus- tomers, they realized that they could sell more coffee by producing reusable tin containers with beautiful graphics. Not only was this very inexpensive advertising, it also increased the likelihood that the tin would be saved and reused for some other purpose. Of those that did survive, many of the more desirable ones have become almost impossible to find due to the many collectors competing for them. This scarcity and popularity has caused prices to soar dramati- cally in recent years. 100 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 9 COLLECTING T E X T A N D P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y M A R J O R I E S N O W The Power of the Coffee Bean A Very collectible "tall" coffee tin with bail handle, depicting "Mammy" graphics, valued at $250.

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