Maxwell House Red Coffee Mug from the 1980s

The MAin Coffee Trend of the 80s -

And How They Contributed to Today's Coffee Culture

by Jane Duncan, freelance writer

June 10 2021

Over 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily all over the world. While today’s coffee choices largely revolve around complicated drinks orders and the drive-thrus of well-known coffee giants, it didn’t start out that way. When it comes to coffee trends back in the 1980s, there are a number of different trends that kickstarted the coffee culture we all know and indulge in today.

Top image: Maxwell House coffee mug (UK) from the 1980s. License: CC0 1.0 (public domain) free for reuse.

The popularisation of speciality coffee

While ordering a complicated coffee drink is no big deal today, the beverage had a very different life in the 1980s, where the staple norm was generally known to be a simple cup of coffee that was made at home in the standard coffee maker.
However, this all changed in the 80s, when advancements were made in terms of packaging. In turn, this led to finer, fresher roast coffee to be found in the supermarkets for home brewing, and this led to a focus on the quality of the taste. Today’s espresso and specialty coffee market was also kickstarted in the 80s, with specialty cafes specialising in espresso-based coffees becoming much more relevant in the later part of the decade.

An Appreciation for Flavoured Coffee

While the rise in popularity of specialty coffee undoubtedly led to the modern coffee-drinking trends of today, there was also significant traction gained where flavoured coffee was concerned. In fact, advertisements from companies like General Foods International Coffees tempted customers with full flavoured selections, including options like Creamy Orange Cappuccino and Chocolate Suisse Mocha.
Today, flavoured coffee is widespread, and one of the most popular beverages in the world, with current favourite flavours including pumpkin, caramel, and vanilla — proving that the flavoured coffee trends of the 80s may have launched perhaps one of the most popular coffee trends of today.

The Rise of To-Go Lids

Today’s on-the-go coffee culture was also kickstarted in the 80s, and the to-go lid played a major role throughout the decade — particularly in 1984, when the company Solo filed a patent for the “Traveler’s lid”, which revolutionised the way people could take their pick-me-up with them wherever they needed to go.

However, the Traveler’s lid really gained traction with paper cups, which also made a comeback in the 80s due to the decision that then Starbucks owner, Howard Shultz, had to make in 1987. In order to accommodate both the planned expansion for the coffee giant, as well as their specialty drinks, Solo’s Traveler’s lid — which only worked with paper cups — was the most logical choice for the brand, consequently leaving styrene cups in the past.

Coffee is a staple for many of us, with several trends of the 80s still around today. With notable mentions including speciality and flavoured coffee, in addition to the prominent to-go lids, it’s clear to see that innovations in the 80s still play a major role in today’s coffee culture.

NESCAFÉ Cylindrical Coffee Tin from the 1980s

Nescafe cylindrical coffee tin from the 1980s (UK) License: CC0 1.0 (public domain)

Kenco Rich Instant Coffee