We last left off at the Industrial Revolution and the need for coffee to keep workers awake.
Today we pick up at the Gold Rush. When people caught wind of gold in the west, there was a race to the hills and of course they needed their coffee to stay awake at the sluice box.
James Folger, the youngest of three brothers who had come west to seek his fortune. He realized quickly, however, that he could make his fortune by bringing coffee to the miners working day and night. He would roast and grind coffee, then package and haul it by the pound to those at the mines. A fresh egg would sell for as much as thirty cents on the trail during that time, so as you might imagine, a whole pound of coffee brought a much higher price.
On the tails of this increase in coffee consumption were rich investors, trading in coffee as a family business. The Sandborne brothers were up and coming coffee investors who developed the concept of pre-staled coffee. Folgers and other companies like them, roasted and packaged their ground coffee specifically for the consumer, but the Sandborne brothers went one step further with their Mocha Java brand. This pre-staled product allowed for quicker packaging after roasting, which meant more coffee on the shelves.
One of the Sandborne brothers took his daughter to their coffee plantation in Brazil for a tour of the production. Upon seeing the great misfortune of the farmers and how poorly they were treated, she wrote in her journal, "Someone must do something."
It is no secret that fair market goods are dedicated to giving the farmer or industrial worker a fair price for their labor. Sandborne's daughter imagined a market in which this would be the normal treatment for each laborer, whether in the field, the warehouse, or the office.
Join us next time when we discuss America's consumption during wartime and how instant coffee got its start.