Like Tea Time, Coffee has a traditional serving time as well. You didn’t know?
During the 30s to late 50s, married women rarely worked outside the house. But once the husband was off to work, the kids off to school and the kitchen clean, and if it were a Monday, the housewives were at the local coffee shop catching up on the weekend gossip.
Somewhere along the years, this idea changed and coffee became associated with morning and breakfast only. With the occasional after dinner cup, sometimes with dessert.
Today however, that’s all changed and coffee time is anytime of the day or night. But in the past, coffee time had the same status as Tea Time.
Which Coffee Is Served When?
The biggest consideration about what time coffee is served has more to do with what type of coffee is served when. More caffeinated coffee in the morning for the pick me up and less caffeinated in the late afternoon and evening so as not to inhibit sleep.
It used to be thought that you matched the color or roast to the time of day. A light roast had higher acidic and therefore a higher caffeine content The darker the roast, the lower acidic content and therefore the lower the caffeine. Unfortunately, we know better today. And figuring out the caffeine content isn’t so clear cut. Determining the caffeine level depends on the type of bean, how it’s roasted, how it’s ground and how it’s measured for brewing. For now, let’s make the caffeine discussion simple.
One of the easiest ways to limit the confusion is to select the right variety for morning, versus late afternoon and evening. And that means choosing a Robusta coffee for servings prior to 3pm and an Arabica coffee for servings after 3pm.
Robusta coffee is a harsh-tasting, inexpensive coffee variety that contains nearly twice the caffeine of Arabica coffee. If you choose the average supermarket-brand of morning coffee, it will often contain a blend of both Robusta and Arabica. When prepared identically, the store brand cup of coffee contains nearly twice the caffeine per cup than the 100% Arabica cup of coffee prepared the same way.
In in the past when Tea time was a serious event, coffee was still part of breakfast. Prior to the mid-1800s, breakfast was often around 8:00 in the morning. But as the working class began to start their day earlier and earlier, that morning cup of coffee occurred between 6:00 and 6:30am. It’s the first cup of the day and should be light, but hold the highest caffeine content.
With lunch being at noon, people looked for a mid-morning pick up, and they found it in Morning Coffee. Unlike breakfast coffee time, Morning Coffee typically occurred between 9:00 and 10:00am. It might also be where the idea of “Second Breakfast” came from as it was often served with some form of biscuit.
Morning coffee provided workers and stay at home women, time to catch their breath from morning duties. Before the coffee shop era, women gathered at the neighbor’s house and caught up on the local news or gossip. Toast, croissants and fruit enhanced breads or biscuits were always part of this mid-morning coffee time. And it was always casual. This isn’t tea time of the aristocrats who slept in till 10:00am. These were working folks, who had already put in several hours of hard work. And often had more to do.
Coffee with a brisk taste, a light body, and a high caffeine content is served as a stimulant. Therefore, a beverage that is served at breakfast, mid-morning and lunch in a large cup. This type of coffee would and is often served up to 3pm. There’s no real reason why 3pm is the cut off. But it’s thought to be the hypothetical hour that allows one’s physical body time to work off the caffeine that might keep you up at night.
For after 3pm and the rest of the day, coffee often gave way to tea. It wasn’t until after dinner that coffee makes it appearance again. Often seen as helping the digestion, coffee was used after dinner to ease the grumbling sounds of a full belly. Even in the high houses, coffee was served either with dessert, or after dinner in the sitting or drawing room. Coffee with a strong taste, heavy body, and a low caffeine content is served as a digestive aid. It wasn’t served to keep you awake after the heavy evening meal.
In the evening, coffee was part of the formal event of dinner. Dressing for dinner was popular even among the working class. Though their attire may have been significantly understated in comparison, it was still considered proper to appear in your best for dinner at the dining table.
After Dinner or Late Evening Coffee:
Coffee in the drawing room was often served as beverage for relaxation. In the days of old it wasn’t thought to change the brew but rather change the amount served. There really is a Proper Cup Size to use during each coffee serving time. At this time of day, the smallest size cup is used to serve late evening coffee.
Today coffee isn’t reserved to a few times a day. It can be an all day beverage being prepared in varying ways. And varying flavors as well. Whether the flavors are added in decorative designs, or part of the coffee itself, it’s a world-wide obsession. So you can hold your own coffee party from morning to night, with any type of menu you desire. Consider having your own Coffee Party, instead of formal tea party. Or turn your Coffee Party from an informal gathering into a formal event and have a little fun.