What Types of Coffee Did Soldiers Drink in World War 2?

Coffee was originated in 850 AD. Yes, you would be surprised to know, but coffee is older than anyone can imagine. Shreds of evidence give us a hint that coffee was present in the 15th century in Yemen. After Yemen, people from Mecca and Medina got familiar with this luscious discovery. 

Coffee is widely used as a morning beverage to freshen moods and give their day a refreshing start. It might be shocking to know that coffee has been a faithful partner for soldiers during World War II. But the question is, what kind of coffee was available back in those days? Let us dig into the detail to know more about it. 

A Slight Throwback to World War II

A Slight Throwback to World War II

World War II happened between 1939 and 1945. It was a global war that involved many of the world’s countries. More than 100 million people were involved in this war. 

More than 75 million people died in World War II not solely because of fighting but also because of starvation, genocide, and diseases. 

History of Coffee Associated with World War II

Back in World War II times, coffee substitutes were used for making coffee. The most commonly used products were acorns, chicory, and grain. These substitutes are used by children and those who avoid caffeine because of specific reasons. Coffee made from any of these does not taste the same as ordinary coffee.

The majority of Americans have switched from tea to coffee long ago as it was assumed to be unpatriotic. During World War II, coffee was the only fresh food available for the army troops. Coffee gained popularity in America immediately after the Boston Tea Party. Thus, it became the staple for the American Military troops during World War II. Another reason for using coffee as a staple was that alcohol had been banned for soldiers during World War II. 

Types of Coffee used in World War II

1. Americano 

The American troops were stationed in Italy during World War II. The troops were given coffee during the war that they were not used to. So, they started making it their way. This version later became popular as Americano. 

Americans made it by boiling water and pouring it over the ground beans. Then, milk was added as per requirement. This method gives coffee a smooth and silky texture. Milk was optional, depending on the needs of the consumers. Americano is more on the sweet side compared to both cappuccino and espresso.

2. Cappuccino 

This version of coffee was served already in Italy before the advent of Americano. Cappuccino is an espresso-based coffee that originated in Italy. It is made using milk foam. There are a lot of variations in cappuccino. 

You can make it by using milk, non-dairy milk, or cream. To add more flavor, you can add chocolate powder too. But in World War II, coffee was a relatively newer discovery. So, the troops had to drink whatever was available in the form of a cappuccino. Cappuccino usually has a thick and creamy texture. 

3. Espresso 

Espresso and Cappuccino were among the oldest versions of coffee originated in Italy. Espresso was more on the stronger side than Cappuccino. It was made using strong black coffee without any milk. Italians would add sugar to balance the bitterness and strong flavor of espresso. 

Brands Preferred by Military Troops

The American troops preferred some particular brands during World War II, which are:

1. Maxwell House 

This brand (originated in America), supply coffee to countries including Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Kenya, and many more.

2. Folgers 

Folgers Coffee originated in the United States. This brand serves different forms of coffee, including ground, instant coffee, as well as k-cup coffee. It is not solely famous in America but also exported in Canada, Mexico, and Asia. 

Folgers Coffee has gained popularity since the 1990s, and Americans love having fine instant coffee produced by Folgers. Folgers began to be produced in San Francisco. William H. Bovee was the owner, and he thought of making a coffee that should be made in an instant. Before this launch, natives had to brew coffee on their own. So, Folgers is an important milestone in the history of coffee. 

During the hard times of World War II, Folgers coffee changed its packaging from steel jars to glass jars due to the shortage of metal. Although the deadly war brought about a severe metal shortage, Folgers coffee didn’t give up on serving its customers. 

3. Postum 


Postum contains coffee made up of wheat and bran. Although postum is a coffee substitute, it gained popularity during World War II because of the abrupt increase in its consumption. This brand originated in 1895 and is considered to be a healthier substitute for caffeinated drinks. 

Postum had launched its instant coffee before World War II. 

4. MRE 

MRE stands for Meals, Ready-to-Eat. This ration facility is meant to facilitate people who are in the area where other food supplies are not approachable. MRE contains foods that are all set to be eaten. Though they don’t taste the same as fresh food, they are sufficient to stay alive. In the conditions of war (including World War II), MRE served as the main supply of food.

Coffee was also included in MRE because it was one of the staples (as already mentioned). Usually, instant coffee is made a part of MRE because it is ready to drink. Consumers just have to pour the sachets of coffee in water, and that’s it. 


If you have thought that coffee is the latest invention, this article might have shocked you a bit. We cannot imagine that coffee has been serving humanity for how long after seeing that coffee has been one of the staples for soldiers during World War II. 

There were many reasons behind the increasing popularity of coffee back in World War II times. The troops were forbidden to use alcohol, and coffee was the best alternative to help them keep active in cold and harsh weather that the soldiers had to encounter. Coffee is one way to keep our brain cells active, and that was a time of distress, so it helped a lot.