Updated: May 29
THE HISTORY OF COFFEE, AMERICA'S NATIONAL DRINK.
Immediately after the Boston Tea Party took place in December of 1773, coffee was eagerly embraced by the patriots of the day as it showed a symbolic rejection of the English practice of drinking tea. This sentiment became so pervasive that coffee was declared the National Drink of the American colonies by the Continental Congress.
Coffee houses soon became gathering places for patriots such as Paul Revere, John Adams, George Washington and others known as the Sons of Liberty. The Declaration of Independence had its first public reading outside the Merchant’s Coffee House in Philadelphia. Later, a New York City coffee house served as the stage giving a hero’s welcome to General Washington upon his arrival to be inaugurated as our first president.
Not only did coffee promote the spirit of our nation, but business was often conducted in these favorite gathering places. The New York Stock Exchange evolved from the Tontine Coffee House. Other important cities saw their coffee houses become hubs of political discussion and commerce.
GEORGE C. WASHINGTON AND HIS COMPANY
Over a century later, in 1908, George Constant Washington (who claimed to be a distant relative of our first president) was waiting for his wife to join him for coffee on their coffee plantation in Guatemala when he noticed a powdery substance forming on the spout of his silver coffee pot. Being intrigued as both a chemist and an inventor, he experimented further. His efforts led him to establish the first commercial “soluble” (instant) coffee process with his company, the G. Washington Coffee Company of Morris Plains, New Jersey. During WWI, the company’s entire output was requisitioned by the US Army to provide soldiers with their “cup of George” in the valiant effort to defend Europe. As a dominant producer at that time, the G. Washington Coffee Company proudly advertised its contribution to the war effort, “G. Washington’s Refined Coffee has gone to WAR.” The company maintained its dominance in the coffee market for several decades following the war.
The doughboys frequently called for a “cup of George” rather than coffee. Following are two of the comments made by American soldiers who were fighting in the European trenches and enjoying, as they called it, their “cup of George”, named for the company’s owner, George Constant Washington of Brooklyn, NY.
“I am very happy despite the rats, the rain, the mud, the draughts [sic], the roar of the cannon and the scream of shells. It takes only a minute to light my little oil heater and make some George Washington Coffee…. Every night I offer up a special petition to the health and well-being of [Mr. Washington].”
“There is one gentleman I am going to look up first after I get through helping whip the Kaiser, and that is George Washington, of Brooklyn, the soldiers’ friend.”
Did you know that coffee was called a “cup of George” long before it was called a “cup of Joe”? Have you ever wondered how the phrase "cup of Joe" got started? We know these two facts. First, that the name George is often shortened to “Geo.” and secondly, that there’s no written record of the term “cup of Joe” until after 1930. Coffee’s “cup of George” got started during WWI, long before it was referred to as “Joe”. Is this where “cup of Joe” originated? Did Geo. get shortened to Joe? It makes a lot of sense. Check it out on Wiktionary!
GEORGE WASHINGTON INN AND COFFEE
More recently, in the development of George Washington Inn on Washington’s beautiful Olympic Peninsula, the owners began a search for a fine coffee that would honor our founding father’s legacy. The setting of a west-coast Mount Vernon replica seemed to call for a beverage that would link the historical aspects of George Washington’s era to the 21st century. Upon discovering the family connection through the former G. Washington Coffee Company, there was an added impetus to carry on the coffee tradition.
WASHINGTON'S FINEST COFFEE
George Washington Coffee, a specialty gourmet coffee that is roasted on-site at the inn, was reborn with a commitment to live up to the high standard of the Washington name and the former coffee company that once carried its founder's name.
Today fine green coffee beans are sourced by an importer in Seattle. At the right stage of ripeness, these Arabica coffee cherries are hand-picked from the lush verdant mountainsides of Guatemala, located near the equator where coffee grows best. After drying and processing, these premium coffee beans are shipped to Seattle and subsequently roasted to perfection by the inn’s proprietor for their guests. Fresh bags of coffee are also available for purchase in the gift shop. The commitment at George Washington Inn is to provide guests with the finest coffee in the world.
ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:
Dan Abbott, Owner George Washington Inn
939 Finn Hall Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362
Dan Abbott is also an Edward Jones Financial Advisor in Sequim. His office is located at 990 E Washington Street, Sequim. 360-683-0605
(Portions of this article were excerpted from Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast)