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House of Coffee / Newsletter  / 1953 – 2023 Two Coronations – Two Britains

1953 – 2023 Two Coronations – Two Britains

On the momentous occasion of the Coronation of King Charles, it is only fitting that we take a trip down memory lane to dispel a long-held misconception regarding the British coffee culture during the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953. A widely held belief is that coffee was rationed during that time, but in reality, it was simply not as popular as one might imagine. As we gear up for the celebrations, it is estimated that a staggering 95 million cups of coffee will be consumed, highlighting the drastic change in British coffee culture since the 1950s.

Contrary to popular belief, the rationing of coffee in post-war Britain was not the case. While several commodities were indeed rationed, such as sugar and petrol, coffee was not among them. The austerity of the time may have played a role in shaping this misconception, but the truth lies in the fact that coffee was simply not as popular as tea.

Tea has long been synonymous with British culture, and in the 1950s, it held a firm place in the hearts of the nation. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the British government prioritised the import of tea, as it was seen as an essential morale booster for the recovering nation. This further solidified the position of tea as the nation’s preferred hot beverage.

During the 1950s, coffee was largely viewed as an exotic and, to some extent, a luxury item. It was not readily available, and the coffee that was consumed was predominantly in the form of instant coffee. The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 did not change this fact, and tea continued to reign supreme as the beverage of choice during the historic event.

Fast forward to the present day, and the British love affair with coffee is undeniable. The burgeoning coffee culture has seen an exponential growth in the number of coffee shops, artisan roasters, and home brewing aficionados. This is a far cry from the coffee landscape in 1953, where instant coffee was the order of the day and specialty coffee was a rare find.

One could argue that the British coffee revolution began in the 1990s when the first wave of coffee chains such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee, and Caffè Nero began to make their mark on the high streets. The introduction of these chains not only popularised coffee but also played a pivotal role in transforming coffee into a social experience.

Since then, the British coffee scene has evolved to embrace the third wave of coffee, which places a strong emphasis on the quality of beans, roasting techniques, and brewing methods. This has led to an explosion of independent coffee shops and roasters, who pride themselves on serving the finest coffee available. The nation’s palate has evolved, and discerning coffee drinkers now appreciate the nuanced flavours and aromas that different beans and brewing techniques can produce.

As we approach the Coronation of King Charles, the contrast between the coffee culture of 1953 and now could not be more apparent. As the nation comes together to celebrate this historic event, it is estimated that a whopping 95 million cups of coffee will be consumed. This colossal figure is a testament to the shift in British coffee culture and the nation’s newfound appreciation for the beloved beverage.

So, as we raise a toast to the new King, let us also raise our cups of coffee and appreciate the journey this humble beverage has taken in the United Kingdom. From the misconceptions of rationing in 1953 to the flourishing coffee scene we enjoy today, the transformation is nothing short of remarkable.

In conclusion, the myth of coffee rationing during Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953 can be laid to rest, as we now know that it was merely the relative unpopularity of coffee at the time that led to this erroneous belief. As we gather to witness the Coronation of King Charles, it is fascinating to reflect on the incredible metamorphosis of the British coffee culture over the past seven decades. From its humble beginnings as an exotic luxury to its current status as a daily staple and social phenomenon, coffee has truly carved out its place in the hearts and mugs of the British public. So, let us celebrate this momentous occasion and the extraordinary journey of coffee in Britain by savouring our favourite brews in honour of the new King. Cheers to the future of coffee and the reign of King Charles!

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