The NESCAFÉ® brand adorns the shelves of supermarkets all over the world. It’s a tried-and-trusted friend, one we turn to time and time again to share a cup with a loved one or to offer a delicious start to the mornings. It’s almost as if NESCAFÉ® has always been there, a welcome familiar face, always ready to embrace us with the wonderfully rich taste we know and love. But it’s not always been a permanent fixture, and the history of NESCAFÉ® is a story that’s made to be told.
The idea of instant coffee
The story starts in 1929, when Louis Dapples, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nestlé received a very special request from Brazil. In order to combat the enormous coffee surplus in the country, it was proposed that Nestlé create a coffee product that was quick to make and also reduced the amount of unnecessary waste from the coffee bean harvests.
The initial idea was to manufacture a cube-shaped coffee tablet, one that simply needed hot water adding for an instant brew. However, after a significant amount of research, the initial tablet form proved to not be a viable option as the iconic flavour couldn’t be retained. With this idea ruled out, chemist, Max Morgenthaler, set back on the road to discovery.
The NESCAFÉ® brand is born
Morgenthaler had the idea of creating a powder rather than a cube, and he discovered that the flavour was best retained when carbohydrates were added to the product, producing a result much more similar to that of coffee beans.
After 7 years of careful development, this soluble coffee was launched in Switzerland under the NESCAFÉ® name. The new product was a hit from the get go, with the yearly reserves selling out in a mere 2 months. By 1940, NESCAFÉ® was sold in more than 30 countries, spanning across all continents. But this is all just the start of the history of NESCAFÉ® and exciting developments were still ahead…
World War II brought a different battle
The outbreak of World War II was initially difficult for the NESCAFÉ® brand, as it proved hard for the product to be distributed, which meant losing out on valuable custom from countries the brand was previously popular in. However, by 1941 NESCAFÉ® managed to turn this around and instant coffee was included in the emergency rations of every US solider. When the war came to an end in 1945, NESCAFÉ® , was added to CARE packages for the needy populations across Europe and Japan, which was a key point in NESCAFÉ® history as it boosted demand to new levels.
Rise of competitors
Due to the increased popularity of the product, it’s only natural that competitors emerged, trying to stake their ground in the market. So, in order to stay ahead of the curve, the NESCAFÉ® product was developed even further. In the early 1950s, the discovery was made that the flavour protecting carbohydrates – previously found in glucose solution – could be extracted straight from the coffee bean, resulting in a much richer product.
Refining the product
The 1960s was a key turning point in the history of NESCAFÉ®. Beginning with the economic boom which saw refined manufacturing processes, then in 1962 the original tin was done away with, opting for the more sophisticated glass jar we see today. The second half of the 60s was full of new developments too, with NESCAFÉ® GOLD being released in Europe in 1965, a delicious product that swayed even the fussiest of coffee drinkers. Then in 1966, the formula evolved from powder to granules, and 1967 brought the introduction of the iconic red mug, with it initially being released in Canada, before eventually becoming the global logo in 1970.
NESCAFÉ® on screen
It was the 1980s which saw NESCAFÉ® making an impact in the world of TV advertising. Releasing the Alta Rica and Cap Colombia blends at the beginning of the decade and airing a wanderlust inducing TV spot alongside it. Depicting a steam train travelling through stunning landscapes of coffee growing regions, the image was set of NESCAFÉ® as a premium brand with exotic tastes to offer.
The end of the 1980s saw NESCAFÉ® continue to wield the power of TV with an advert series for NESCAFÉ® GOLD. Airing a short love story over a series of TV spots, detailing a couple falling in love over a cup of the blend. The advert proved to be a sensation to viewers across the country.
Expanding the product offer
In 1984, the NESCAFÉ® brand expanded the coffee offering to consumers, widening the range to coffee beans, ready to drink canned coffee and milk-coffee blends. It was during this time the brand began to merge with Italian coffee culture, releasing products such as NESCAFÉ® Espresso and Cappuccino in 1986. This new product range set NESCAFÉ® apart from the other brands on the market, as consumers had the freedom to choose whatever beverage they fancied.
Entering the coffee machine market
During the late 90s, coffee beans became more automated in industrial countries, resulting in more coffee being consumed in public areas. So, with this in mind, NESCAFÉ® set to enter the coffee machine industry, and in 2006, Dolce Gusto coffee machines launched, followed by the NESCAFÉ® Milano, developed for the catering industry in 2011.
Developing conscious coffee
From the early 2000s, we set our sights on becoming one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly coffee brands in the world. With this in mind, 2005 saw the development of the world’s first Fairtrade certified NESCAFÉ® blend, The NESCAFÉ® Partners Blend.
In 2010, we started to focus on more sustainable development, bringing the NESCAFÉ® Plan into play. Purchasing exclusively from local coffee growers and offering well-informed agricultural advice, the plan continues to improve to lives of those in the coffee industry to this very day.
That’s the history of NESCAFÉ® to date. As a company, we are constantly evolving to ensure modern day demands are met and that the products you know and love are always there to welcome you back, time after time.
Thirsty for more fascinating stories? Read our article on the history of coffee, next.