1920 Coffee Trade Association Advertisement

promotional advertisement for coffee
Source: Good Housekeeping (1920)

Is drinking coffee a good or bad habit? People have been asking this question for more than a hundred years.  A 1920 promotional advertisement by a coffee trade association called the Coffee Trade Publicity Committee of the United States claimed that the debate was over – and that coffee is good for us. 

However, a quick online search suggest that the trade association was over-optimistic, and, that the debate continues. According to the Mayo Clinic there are both benefits and risks related to drinking coffee:

Coffee may offer some protection against:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Liver disease, including liver cancer
  • Heart attack and stroke

Coffee still has potential risks, mostly due to its high caffeine content. For example, it can temporarily raise blood pressure. Women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding need to be cautious about caffeine. High intake of boiled, unfiltered coffee has been associated with mild increase in cholesterol levels.

47 thoughts on “1920 Coffee Trade Association Advertisement

    1. hmm. . . not sure why your like button doesn’t work. I see that there are several others who liked this post, so it must have worked for them. Hopefully you are able to get the issue resolved easily.

  1. I like coffee so I’m going to say that it is good for a body. I refuse to allow myself to think otherwise. Must stay positive in these trying times. 😉

    1. “Normal-minded” was one of my favorite phrases in the ad. It’s interesting how the ad author framed the words to make readers possibly worry if they didn’t agree.

  2. Coffee is one of the best “inventions” of all time. Also, as the ad demonstrates so ably, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Thanks, Sheryl!

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed this post. I’m often surprised by how little some things have changed over the past hundred years (and how much other things have changed). If I had been around back then, I’m not sure that I would have been able to guess where the big changes would actually occur.

  3. I have been a moderate coffee drinker for 57 years. All I’m sure of is that whatever was declared good for us that long ago has probably changed several times since then. SINCE is the operative word, only it should be spelled SENSE. We should have the good sense to do most things moderately. My mother knew a person who are so many carrots she turned yellow. When I begin to look like a coffee mug, I’ll cut back.

  4. I guess I’m in the minority since I don’t drink coffee and never have. I just can’t get past the bitter taste. As for the pros/cons all have merit and each person must make the decision for themselves. I gave up caffeine in sodas nearly 15 years ago and have never regretted it!

  5. When I was an office worker, many decades ago, I drank more coffee than was good for me, but in moderation, it’s one of the real pleasures of life. I usually have two cups in the morning, and a cup with dessert if I have it with the evening meal. Despite what they say about its tendency to keep us awake, I can drink a cup, and go right to sleep.

    I was interested in the note about boiled coffee and cholesterol. My Swedish grandparents drank only boiled coffee with an egg to settle the grounds. It’s more work than I’d want to go to, but it certainly was delicious.

        1. I just googled this, and it doesn’t look too difficult. I don’t react to coffee quite like you do. It’s a little late for me to be drinking coffee tonight so I may have to give this a try tomorrow morning. 🙂

  6. If coffee brightens a morning for a person that good for mental health .🤓 hot coffee in hand on a cold day is marvelous.

  7. It’s fun to read the thoughts on coffee from back then.
    Thanks for sharing the thoughts of coffee’s possible health benefits.

  8. Witches being burned at the stake for a coffee ad??? I wonder if the person who dreamed this visual concept up had much of a career in advertising 🙂 That being said, coffee is definitely beneficial—especially for anyone who has to interact with me before I’ve had mine! I’ve tried to go without, but life’s too short. Coffee makes it last longer.

    1. This ad is definitely over the top, and you may be right that the ad writer was very inexperienced, but somehow all its excesses – the statements and image about the witches and the odd phrases (“frenzy and prejudice,” “food faddists and temperamental extremists,” “normal-minded, healthy people,” “cheer and solace of all”) – pull me into the ad and make it memorable.

  9. My husband and I are among the few people I know who don’t like coffee. But then, we start our days with Diet Coke, so we can’t exactly brag on our healthy choices……

  10. Love how your recipe has that classic look to it. Reminds me of the old library index cards they used to use.

    Yours Truly, a coffee-aholic. Cheers!

  11. I get up too early NOT to have coffee to help start my day. It has never presented any health problems. No one size fits all answer here, but I do recommend moderation.

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