September 29 is National Coffee Day, a time to celebrate the real fuel that runs the American economy. There is a National and International version of this holiday; International Coffee Day is observed on October 1, and is said to have started in Japan in the 1980s. The U.S. based National Coffee Day seems to have its earliest mentions online circa 2005.
National Coffee Day will be celebrated on Friday, September 29, 2023.
On National Coffee Day, there’s no need to pay full price for a fresh cup of coffee. Many local coffee shops, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Peet’s Coffee, Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme and more offer a free coffee on this day.
There is more information about the history of coffee itself than there is about the history of National Coffee Day. For many the real fun of observing September 29 is the free coffee you may find at local and national retailers, learning the history of America’s favorite stimulant is a bonus.
There is a famous story, prior to 1000 A.D., of an Ethiopian goat herder watching his animals eating berries, getting agitated, and refusing to sleep afterwards. This is the most basic version of the coffee origin story; the legend includes mention of people trying to brew a concoction from these berries, experimenting with this new, energizing drink.
Those running local houses of worship noted that it was easier to stay alert during evening prayers after consuming the drink; it would not be long before coffee became an important part of the morning routine for millions.
When international trade began including bags of coffee beans, local businesses started cashing in on the craze including the creation of some early versions of what we know today as a coffee bar or coffee house. In Europe the first coffee house seems to have emerged late–in the 1600s.
- 1900: Hills Bros. starts vacuum-packing tins with its coffee. It’s the beginning of the end of local coffee roasting shops, though likely no one realizes it yet..
- 1901: Chicago chemist Satori Kato invents what we know today as instant coffee.
- 1920: Prohibition begins, and as a consequence more people start drinking coffee.
- 1938: Nestle invents freeze-dried coffee.
- 1942: During World War Two, American soldiers get instant Maxwell House coffee as part of their meal kits. Coffee hoarding at home resulted in rationing.
- 1946: The espresso machine was created In Italy.
- 1971: Starbucks opened its first location at Pike Place public market in Seattle.
The most obvious way to celebrate National Coffee day is to drink coffee, but half the fun is finding where to get FREE coffee on September 29. Your local coffee shop may or may not take part in a coffee giveaway to celebrate, but many national brands do. For example, in 2019 the Costa Rican Tourist Board offered free coffee to people in New York City, and in 2022 Dunkin’ Donuts announced a free medium coffee available on Sept. 29 at participating locations. You must be a rewards member to claim your coffee, so it may be smart to prepare ahead of time. You may also find Starbucks offering free Pike’s Place roast coffees near you.
Tim Hortons has been known to celebrate National Coffee Day over several days before and after the holiday. In 2021 they offered free donuts to those who bought coffee on the 29th but the campaign lasted until the end of November.
Other national retailers who have offered free coffee on September 29 include Panera Bread, WaWa, 7-Eleven, Krispy Kreme, and even Barnes & Noble. Some of these retailers ask you to bring your own cup, others may hand out free coffee in the form of free individual-size packets of roasted coffee beans.
There are other ways to celebrate; you can try a new coffee drink such as a Vietnamese Iced coffee, a flat white, or even a double espresso. You can also try different types of coffee–a shade-grown Ethiopian roast, a locally roasted brew made by local coffee artisans using hand-roasted beans is also a great thing to try.
But why stop there? Some people decide to take the plunge and purchase an upgraded coffee maker or espresso machine. If you are in the market for a more elaborate setup for your coffee habit, be sure to read the reviews on sites like Amazon.com or Starbucks.
You want to look at these reviews for a few different features including how easy or difficult it is to clean the machine, steam wand where applicable, and other features. How easy is the machine to use and is it too complicated for a first-thing-in-the-morning brewing?
Sometimes more complicated isn’t always better, especially when it comes to your coffee maker. But if you like a machine with plenty of bells and whistles, be sure those features are ones you’ll use over the long term.