That famous portal for coffee connoisseurs, (?!?), keeps the hits on coming. This time it’s the latest installment on the history of coffee: History of Coffee: Part IV – Commercialisation of Coffee.

The so-called ‘Dark Ages’ of coffee lasted from the mid-19th Century to the late 20th Century. In that time, roasted coffee went from a neighborhood (dare I say artisan?) product, often roasted at home, to a highly commercialized and industrialized commodity that looked and tasted nothing like coffee — all in the name of convenience and modernization.

Beginning with John Arbuckle in 1865, packages of ground, roasted coffee were marketed and distributed regionally. By glazing the roasted beans like an Easter ham, Arbuckle developed a method for retaining some of the roasted coffee’s freshness while transporting the product over longer and longer distances. This process was later extended to national and international distribution networks.

The pursuit of profit — rather than quality — also lead to heavy use of cheaper robusta bean stocks. Ultimately, the death of coffee culminated in the introduction of coffee’s Orange Tang equivalent, instant coffee, in the 20th Century … where the end product resembled processed grit-in-a-can rather than anything you would call coffee.

The author, James Grierson, has written four other parts in this online series on the history of coffee: Coffee Knowledge.