Vintage Ads: Coffee Talk

As the days grow shorter, we all need a little “oomph” to get the day going. These vintage coffee advertisements will put a little more pep in your step!


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As the days grow shorter, we all need a little “oomph” to get the day going. These vintage coffee advertisements will put a little more pep in your step!


Coffee Ad
May 1, 1920

This ad from the Joint Coffee Trade Publicity Committee of the United States was a collaboration between the U.S. and Brazilian coffee growers. The campaign was run in 306 newspapers, 21 periodicals, 50 grocery-trade magazines, and nine medical journals, according to All About Coffee by William Harrison Ukers. The ads enumerated health benefits, provided directions on how to make it, encouraged groceries and restaurants to offer it, and offered recipes to expand its use as a flavoring agent.


Coffee Ad
Maxwell House Coffee
January 6, 1923

Maxwell House had already been selling coffee for 40 years when this ad appeared in 1923. The bestselling brand for decades, it was named after the Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, which burned down in 1961.


Coffee Ad
It’s Time to Swing to Iced Coffee!
June 24, 1939

In an attempt to keep coffee sales flowing through the hot summer months, the Pan American Coffee Bureau created this marketing campaign around “Iced Coffee Week.” Who could resist these delicious recipes and adorable polar bears? Those of you sipping your salted caramel mocha Frappuccino can thank them.


Coffee Ad
September 21, 1940


November 2, 1940


March 15, 1941

Not satisfied with expanding the coffee drinking into the summer months, the Pan American Coffee Bureau now encouraged folks to drink coffee all day long — at every meal, morning, noon, and night. Concerns over insomnia were poo-pooed, as the effects were guaranteed to last only two hours.


September 14, 1946

Developed in Switzerland in 1938 as a way to find a use for surplus coffee beans in Brazil, Nescafé started importing its instant coffee to the United States after the end of World War II. It had been a popular item in Army rations, so Nescafé had no trouble making the transition to American households. It was the perfect beverage for a nation craving convenience and modernity.


Nothing Satisfies Like Coffee!
June 23, 1951

Once again, we hear from the Pan-American Coffee Bureau, touting a beverage so delicious it will lure maidens out of the lake. Ritz crackers made the perfect accompaniment.


A&P Coffee
September 17, 1955

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Coffee and Tea Company (A&P) created Eight O’Clock Coffee in 1859. A&P promoted its economical price and the grocer’s offer to custom grind the beans right in the store. A&P sold the Eight O’Clock brand in 2003 (and the grocery chain closed its doors in 2015), but you can still buy the coffee in other stores.

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  1. I forgot to mention that Margaret Hamilton did a series of Maxwell House TV ads in 1978 as ‘Cora’ a friendly, lovable storekeeper that interacted with the customers not unlike Vivian Vance, with her own charming style.

  2. All great ads, top to bottom. I noticed the first one was after World War I, which makes me wonder if/what role it played in starting the U.S. coffee craze that’s gotten increasingly out of control since the 1990’s.

    Love the 1923 Maxwell House ad. Very sorry to hear the Nashville hotel burned down at mid-century. My favorite TV ads for the brand were the ones Vivian Vance did in the mid-70’s!

    I’m sure there were people loading up their iced coffee in 1939 not unlike the way they do now. The 1940-’41 ads are classically Leyendecker, and fantastic! The ornate tapestry Nescafe ad is remarkable too. I’m a decaffeinated tea drinker, but LOVE the scent of coffee—-especially in the bins. There’s nothing like it, but chocolate comes closest.


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