How The Workplace Coffee Break Was Created

When did coffee become such an integral part of corporate culture and the workday? That extra boost in the morning or mid-afternoon is commonplace today, but have workers always had access to a breakroom equipped with a coffee machine to refuel and make it through the end of a shift? To begin, Americans consume a large amount of coffee in a variety of styles and brewing methods. According to a National Coffee Association survey, 70% of Americans drink coffee at least once a week, and 62% of coffee drinkers drink their favourite brew daily.

Of course, coffee breaks are not solely for the purpose of drinking coffee. While some people use these breaks to smoke, take a walk, or scroll through Twitter, according to BrewSmartly, 43 percent of those surveyed use them to drink coffee. However, this was not always the case. Prior to the advent of online shopping and coffee chains such as Starbucks, which offer dozens of drink options ranging from seasonal lattes and frappuccinos to iced coffee, these workday breaks looked somewhat different. Indeed, coffee breaks originated in a small town in America’s Dairy Country, which now hosts a festival honouring the institution, according to the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Chamber of Commerce in Stoughton, Wisconsin, we owe the daytime respite known as the coffee break to the city’s Norwegian immigrants. In 1880, the Gunderson Tobacco Warehouse in Stoughton required additional assistance and turned to the female population to assist with steaming its tobacco. Women in Stoughton were able to run home during their workdays to check on their families and prepare dinner. After ensuring that everything was in order, they would stop for a quick cup of coffee, giving birth to the coffee break. Stoughton is so proud of its contributions to the workplace that they host an annual Coffee Break Festival in August.

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