An Ordinary Cup o’ Joe

Whether you like your brew light, dark, milky or sweet, this chilly weather leaves many reaching for a hot cup of coffee to warm up and wake up. As I sipped my own morning cup, I wondered what images our collections would hold of my coffee drinking comrades. I searched our holdings for relatable and intriguing images of history’s coffee drinkers.

<em>Battersea incident, England, January 1945--A.W.V.S. canteen serves hot coffee</em>. Photo by Toni Frissell, January 1945. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g04342

Battersea incident, England, January 1945–A.W.V.S. canteen serves hot coffee. Photo by Toni Frissell, January 1945. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g04342

I often associate the scrumptious liquid with the notion of sensual and enigmatic poets and thinkers, the inspired coffee shops of New York, and Seattle’s salty piers. The image below brings to life the international nature of New York’s lower Manhattan gathering spots.

<em>New York, New York. Italian-American cafe espresso shop on MacDougal Street where coffee and soft drinks are sold. The coffee machine cost one thousand dollars.</em> Photo by Marjory Collins, August 1942. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d21749

New York, New York. Italian-American cafe espresso shop on MacDougal Street where coffee and soft drinks are sold. The coffee machine cost one thousand dollars. Photo by Marjory Collins, August 1942. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8d21749

Browsing our online catalog, I fell deeper and deeper into a cultural investigation of the company I keep, in this society of coffee drinkers. I find it fascinating that this drink of choice has served such a wide range of consumers all over the world. The photos below show cool girl folk singer Mary Travers, patrons of Hotel de Gink in New York, and even soldiers during wartime all savoring a sip of this delicious brew.

Mary Travers, half-length portrait, seated in kitchen, drinking a cup of coffee. Photo by John Bottega, World Telegram &amp; Sun, November 17, 1965. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.06607

Mary Travers, half-length portrait, seated in kitchen, drinking a cup of coffee. Photo by John Bottega, World Telegram & Sun, November 17, 1965. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ds.06607

<em>Hotel de Gink -- morning coffee</em>. Photo by Bain News Service, between 1910 and 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.18191

Hotel de Gink — morning coffee. Photo by Bain News Service, between 1910 and 1915. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.18191

<em>Free coffee wagon, Lotzen</em>. Bain News Service, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915.//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.19251

Free coffee wagon, Lotzen. Bain News Service, between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915.//hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ggbain.19251

Learn More:

Delicious Coffee! Lithograph by Currier and Ives. 1881. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b50391

Delicious Coffee! Lithograph by Currier and Ives. 1881. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b50391

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