Instant coffee brands from the 1970s

Nescafe instant coffee, 1970s
Nescafé instant coffee. The tin is of a type used in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In the 1970s our taste for coffee was increasing. Tea was still the favourite drink in the UK, but more people were buying coffee as well. Most people preferred instant to real coffee, because it was quicker and easier to make. In 1972, 30% of households bought a jar or tin of instant coffee each week.[1]

In the series Public Eye from the early 1970s, Frank Marker regularly shopped for 'office comforts' - tea bags and instant coffee.

In the 1970s there were several different types of instant you could buy. Most coffee was powdered, but freeze-dried and granular coffee were also becoming popular. To suit people preferring a milder drink, several brands of mild instant coffee were also on the market.

Powdered coffee

Manufacturers made powdered instant coffee by roasting coffee beans and making real coffee with water. They then dried the coffee out by spraying it through hot air. This then left with a powder which would be reconstituted when adding hot water. Powdered coffee is also called 'spray dried'.

Some of the most popular brands of instant powdered coffee in the 1970s were:

Source: 'Instant coffee and coffee whiteners' published by The Consumers' Assocation in Which? November 1973, page 338

Prices are for a 4oz jar. (See Pounds and Ounces)

Granular coffee

Granular was a new technique in the 1970s. The coffee was made by the same process as powdered, but the manufacturer stuck the powder together in lumps. It looked similar to the more expensive freeze-dried coffee. Nescafé was the most well-known example of this style.

Source: 'Instant coffee and coffee whiteners' published by The Consumers' Assocation in Which? November 1973, page 338

Freezed-dried coffee

Freeze-dried coffee was the Rolls Royce of instant coffee. It was supposed to preserve as much of the flavour as possible.

Source: 'Instant coffee and coffee whiteners' published by The Consumers' Assocation in Which? November 1973, page 338

Mild coffee

Mild instant coffee was made by using milder coffee beans. It was not necessarily weaker in caffeine content. In 1973 you could get the following brands of mild instant coffee:

Source: 'Instant coffee and coffee whiteners' published by The Consumers' Assocation in Which? November 1973, page 338

Decaffeinated instant coffee

Decaf is nothing new. In the 1970s you could get:

Source: 'Instant coffee and coffee whiteners' published by The Consumers' Assocation in Which? November 1973, page 338

Coffee Break

Does anyone remember Coffee Break?

As well as these powdered or granulated instant coffees, there was a newcommer on the market called 'Coffee Break'. It was liquid instant coffee to which you added boiling water to get a milky coffee.

Coffee whiteners and creamers

As well as instant coffee, coffee whiteners were also gaining popularity in the 1970s. They were also being served as an alternative to milk or cream on some flights. You could get the following brands in the 1970s:

Source: 'Instant coffee and coffee whiteners' published by The Consumers' Assocation in Which? November 1973, page 338

References

[1] 'The Female Consumer' by Rosemary Scott, published by Associated Business Programmes, London, 1976 page 17

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Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history
Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history