The World’s First Instant Coffee, Nescafé, Marks Its 75th Anniversary

Nestlé is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its flagship instant coffee brand Nescafé. The brand, which was conceived soon after the Wall Street Crash in 1929, turned to be extremely successful and has spread across more than 180 countries. Nescafé, which is claimed to be the world’s first instant coffee, is now consumed in giant volumes—over 5,500 cups of different brand’s varieties are drunk every second globally.

Photo: The picture uses a cardboard product illustration, Scandinavia, the 1950s, (click to enlarge)

Nescafé started from innovation. As result of the crises, in 1929 the Banque Française et Italienne pour l’Amérique du Sud had a lot of coffee beans unsold in warehouses in Brazil, and Nestlé was commissioned to develop a formula of “soluble coffee cubes” to “save” the coffee. A chemist Dr Max Morgenthaler was hired to find a solution to this problem, and after spending a few years on the project, he discovered that to preserve the coffee aroma in a soluble coffee one had to create it with enough carbohydrates. Following numerous sampling sessions and technique improvements, the soluble coffee product named Nescafé finally hit the market in Switzerland on April 1, 1938.

The product quickly rolled out across other markets. In two years, the brand’s soluble coffee was already present in 30 countries across the globe, including the UK and the USA. Along with Switzerland, these markets consumed over three quarters of the brand’s worldwide production during the years of WWII. Due to the longer shelf life, the product became even more popular during the tough war times, when its sales doubled. In 1952, Nescafé’s developers introduced another innovation to its formula without adding extra carbohydrates. Since that time, more tweaks to the formula were introduced and the product’s range expanded to include new flavors and varieties.

Later the brand launched coffee stick packaging to let consumers enjoy the coffee on the go and introduced capsules and machines to let people brew it at home. Professional coffee brewing Nescafé systems are now installed across 400,000 foodservice points worldwide, serving 175 cups per second. While expanding the volume of its coffee production, the brand also pursues sustainability goals as part of the Nescafé Plan outlined in Mexico City in 2010—by 2015, the brand aims to buy over 180,000 tonnes of coffee from sustainable sources.

To celebrate the 75th Nescafe anniversary, the company has created a slideshow from the archive photos and promotional materials from 1930s to our days.