Article 51: Coffee and the American Dream

29/09/2020
4176
Cowboy coffee is a beverage with characteristics of American culture, representing the desire to conquer and explore.

Cowboy coffee is a beverage with characteristics of American culture, representing the desire to conquer and explore.

Coffee, tea, and chocolate were brought into the United States almost simultaneously. However, Americans have chosen coffee as a beverage of patriotism, the spirit of freedom and at the same time realizing the American dream.

“Drinking coffee is patriotic”

Since the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), migrations to the “New World” have taken place massively. The wave of immigrants brought culture from all over the world to this land.

The first coffee shops in America were founded by the British, imprinted with traditional British coffee shops – an academic place honored as “Penny University”. Over the cup of coffee was the debate on the issues of the times. Customers coming to American coffee shops were mostly navigators, explorers, merchants, millitary officers and soldiers… so, coffee shops in America influenced social life in a unique way. If in the UK, the coffee shop started the era of enlightenment and the scientific revolution, in America, the coffee shop was the place to rise to the revolution to gain independence and freedom for the people.

The coffee shop, when appearing in America, aroused the self-made man mentality, each person decides their own fate, asserts themselves in their efforts and creativity.

The coffee shop, when appearing in America, aroused the self-made man mentality, each person decides their own fate, asserts themselves in their efforts and creativity.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, America was colonized by the Spanish, Dutch, French and British. This nation was the consumption market for the products of the colonial empires. After the British expanded their influence in America, they imposed a thorough tax on the trade industry, especially on goods imported from the mother country to increase revenue. Americans realized that, if they lost their economic autonomy, it would eventually damage all of the nation’s freedom.

Green Dragon Tavern, a coffee shop that opened in Boston’s downtown in 1697 was known as the Headquarters of the Revolution. This is where freedom lovers and American Revolutionary leadership discussed the institution of an independent democracy. Important political organizations such as the Freemasons, Sons of Liberty, Boston Caucus, Committees of Correspondence connected at the Green Dragon Tavern cafe and launched the Boston Tea Party plan in 1773.

When the citizens of Boston threw tons of tea into the sea to protest the tyranny of British policies, they also urged Americans to use coffee as a beverage representing the spirit of freedom-loving, affirming sovereignty of the Americans.

After the Boston Tea Party event, coffee was considered the “king on the American dining table”. The coffee house expanded its functions and became a space for business transactions, political conferences, drama theatres, concerts, exhibitions and other social and cultural activities. The Exchange Coffee House in Congress Square was an important trading floor in the early 19th century and an ambitious symbol of Boston commerce. The Tontite Coffee House in New York was the first version of the New York Stock Exchange. The Mississippi riverside cafes in New Orleans such as Maspero Coffee House, Café du Monde, Café Au Lait, Royal Blend, CC’s Coffee House… were the places where most of the transactions between big businesses in the city were done. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange has its roots in the financial activity of the London Coffee House on Market Street.

Coffee is an essential beverage in the history of American social development, playing an important role in realizing the dream of a better, richer and happier life.

Coffee is an essential beverage in the history of American social development, playing an important role in realizing the dream of a better, richer and happier life.

The coffee shop was chosen as a place to start a business not simply because of the beverage against British tea but because of the desire to assert oneself. Those who immigrated to the United States were largely low-class, they shook off the past, instilling in their minds a desire for wealth, power, and greatness.

The American concept of self-made man means that destiny is the result of personal efforts. Therefore, each person aroused the spark of creativity to renew himself. Coffee and coffee shops became important catalysts to activate and sublimate creativity. The discussions over a cup of coffee were intellectual and multi-dimensional, supporting the determination of the appropriate human direction for action to bring about good results. For the same reason, a coffee shop was not only a meeting place, but also a place to represent great aspirations, where people placed their trust and seek a way to change their lives

Coffee on the journey to perfecting the “new world”

After gaining freedom, Americans continued to seek to establish their own identity to truly be a nation. The first class of settlers in East America acted and thought like Europeans. National leaders recognized the need to establish freedom by freeing Americans from European thinking.

In 1893, historian Frederick Jackson Turner published his “Frontiers thesis” emphasizing that the American character was made up of the American Border (including geography, history, and American culture). They had to conquer undeveloped lands, establish the “New World”. Turner’s ideas inspired the initiation of the great exploration of many frontiers such as the Mississippi River, the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the American Southwest, the West Coast, Hawaii, etc., with a special focus on “The Wild West”.

The pioneers who came to the West brought coffee beans with them to maintain their mental strength to overcome all challenges. They went in groups. Between re-energizing pauses and evening shifts of watch, they poured coffee directly into the kettle and bring it to a boil over the fire. They sat together, telling stories or sharing new ideas. This way of enjoying coffee is still preserved as a tradition of American coffee culture and is called Cowboy Coffee.

According to the expedition, coffee shops were also formed on new lands. With a liberal, multicultural style, the cafe was a place where strangers who were looking for their dream life gathered. To feel that they belonged to the community, shared the same vision and helped each other to coexist and develop.

Coffee shops on State Street (Chicago) developed jazz, blues, rock music… Mountain Moving Coffeehouse (Chicago) represented gender equality thinking. Organizations Studio Watts, Watts Writers Association, Westminster Association performed art, music, theater and film at Watts Coffee House and Watts Happening Coffee House (Los Angeles). This creative environment was the premise for the establishment of the Mafundi Academy of Culture and Arts – a center for educating the sense of community through drama and film.

“Coffee is an indispensable drink for the leaders. Give them coffee, they will be strong enough to overcome all difficulties.” – Lieutenant William H.C. Whiting (1824-1865

“Coffee is an indispensable drink for the leaders. Give them coffee, they will be strong enough to overcome all difficulties.” – Lieutenant William H.C. Whiting (1824-1865

The café gradually turned from a community center to an educational center, a meeting place for professionals. Ideas were incorporated into business plans, new policies and ideals disseminated. New inventions led to the creation of new industries and economic growth. In 1968, Texas Coffee Company successfully produced coffee packaged in vacuum packaging, starting the industrial coffee industry revolution in the US. The Hollywood movie industry, the Silicon Valley, the aerospace industry gradually took shape in the land that was once a wild place. And America really separated from European thinking, from a colonial nation to a superpower in many areas.

The American Dream is the dream of a better, richer life. Is a belief in freedom, allowing all citizens regardless of nationality or permanent resident to have the opportunity to choose and decide for their own destiny, to assert themselves in effort and creativity. Since the founding of the country, the pursuit of a free life, and then the aspiration to create great stature for the people, for the nation, coffee has always been chosen as the beverage of the American spirit, expressing the aspiration to live towards a happy future for all people.

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Source: “The Philosophical Way of Coffee” – copyright by Trung Nguyen Legend