Brain Pickings

The Art of Coffee: A Mad Men Era Short Film


“Success lies in a single word: Care.”

Beyond being the world’s favorite hot beverage, coffee, as any aficionado will tell you, is a matter of a great art and, often, great snobbery. But what, exactly, makes the ancient beverage that manifests in your cup every morning a modern masterpiece? This delightful Mad-Men-era short film, produced by Vision Associates in 1961 as promotional material for the Coffee Brewing Institute, traces the art and culture of coffee from its harvesting and production to its many traditions of preparation (Viennese! Parisian! Venetian! Turkish!), to the three elements that converge into its “fine flavor.”

How, then, do we make the perfect cup of coffee to our taste? Success lies in a single word: Care. Three simple ingredients go into the brewing process: water, coffee, time. Care will produce a perfect result every time.

The film, titled This Is Coffee!, is now in the public domain, made available by the Prelinger Archives, who have previously shown us how bananas became a global commodity and why illegal drugs are like LEGO.

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