Retro Coffee: The Charm of Mid-Century Lunch Counters

The mid century department store lunch counter offered a glimpse into a bygone era of American social and food culture. The counters were more than just food service areas; they were a fast paced social hub where shoppers and friends would stop for a brief meal and conversation over a cup of coffee.

The coffee served at most lunch counters were straightforward and most importantly, affordable. A stark contrast to the varied and often gourmet offered today. Coffee was typically strong, served in basic mugs or cups, with the focus on providing a quick, energizing drink. The experience was less about the coffee’s intricacies and more about the convenience and social interaction it provided.

The staff at the lunch counters were adept at handling high volumes, ensuring that even a brief visit was worthwhile. Alongside coffee, the counters offered simple food items like sandwiches, soups, and pastries, emphasizing ease of preparation with a small staff and speedy service.

The atmosphere at these counters was casual yet inviting, with long counters lined with stools and occasionally a few tables. This setup provided a welcoming environment that was not overly luxurious, underscoring the primary focus on shopping. The coffee cups used were notably smaller than today’s standards, typically holding about 9 to 11 ounces (I did find one source that said they went down to 8oz).

In terms of how much a cup of coffee cost at these lunch counters was surprisingly affordable by today’s standards. In the 1950s and 1960s, it might cost between 5 to 25 cents, reflecting the economic conditions of the era. The concept of free or reduced-cost refills, though not universal, was relatively common, showcasing the value placed on customer service and the low cost of coffee production at the time.

With the advent of fast-food chains and specialty coffee shops, these traditional department store lunch counters have largely faded into history. They remain, however, a symbol of a simpler time in American retail and social life, contrasting sharply with today’s coffee culture that emphasizes a wide variety of types, flavors, and brewing methods in more upscale settings.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going. If you enjoy my work, perhaps you would consider donating to my daily cup of coffee, thank you.


Adding Mid-Century Coffee Making Classics to your Kitchen

As a fan of the Mid-Century times in evoking the nostalgic charm of bygone eras, there’s a unique joy in curating a kitchen space for the coffee lover with a penchant for mid-century aesthetics. The era, stretching from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s, was a renaissance of interior design, where functionality and form danced together in an elegant ballet. For coffee lovers like me, this period offers a treasure trove of designs that are not just about brewing a morning cup but about celebrating the ritual of coffee making. In setting up a kitchen that breathes mid-century modernity, each coffee maker is selected not merely as an appliance but as a centerpiece that tells a story.

These pieces, from the sculptural grace of percolators to the understated elegance of the Chemex, are more than mere relics; they are functional artworks. They encapsulate the essence of mid-century design – minimal yet expressive, practical yet enchanting. The journey through selecting these mid-century coffee makers isn’t just about recapturing a style; it’s about rekindling a love affair with the art of coffee in an era that reimagined the modern kitchen.

Let’s go over what to look for with Mid Century style in mind, then where it may be possible to find those items. Each of the coffee maker styles have a unique look, brewing process and flavor. Decide if you are looking for a particular flavor or aesthetic.

Percolators: These were perhaps the most iconic coffee makers of the mid-century. Made of chrome, stainless steel, or even colorful enameled metal, percolators often featured a sleek, almost sculptural design. They worked by cycling boiling water through coffee grounds using gravity until the desired strength was reached.

Chemex Coffee Maker: Invented in 1941, the Chemex has a timeless design and is still popular today. It’s known for its hourglass shape and uses a pour-over method of brewing. Made of glass and often accompanied by a wooden collar, it epitomizes the mid-century modern aesthetic.

Siphon (or Vacuum) Coffee Makers: These were more elaborate and theatrical in their brewing method. Consisting of two stacked chambers with a siphon tube, they used vapor pressure and vacuum to brew coffee. They often featured glass and chrome materials, fitting well with the mid-century modern style.

Electric Drip Coffee Makers: Introduced in the later part of the mid-century period, these were more about convenience. They had a more utilitarian design compared to percolators but started to introduce the automatic brewing process we’re familiar with today.

Moka Pots: Although more associated with European homes, Moka pots were also found in mid-century American kitchens. Made of aluminum or stainless steel, they have a distinctive octagonal shape and brew coffee using steam pressure.

Now, a few options to find what you’re looking for –

Antique Stores and Flea Markets: These are excellent places to find original mid-century coffee makers. Items here can range from well-preserved pieces to ones that need a bit of restoration. It’s also a great way to get a feel for the era’s design firsthand. Most locations are a variety of resellers, some may not know how popular an item is so they will price lower, strictly based on a markup from what they purchased the item for. It doesn’t hurt to ask the person at the front if they know of any resellers with the items you’re looking for.

Online Marketplaces: Websites like eBay, Etsy, and Craigslist often have listings for vintage coffee makers. You can find a wide range of options, from percolators to Chemex coffee makers. Be sure to check the condition and authenticity, and ask sellers for more information if needed. Never do an in person cash purchase in a private area or by yourself. 

Specialty Vintage Shops: Some shops specialize in mid-century modern furniture and appliances. These are more curated than general antique stores and might offer higher-quality finds. With that exceptional quality comes higher prices too. 

Estate Sales and Auctions: These can be goldmines for vintage items. Estate sales often happen when someone is downsizing or after a family member has passed away, and they can include a range of household items from the mid-century period. Finding these can be done through specialized sites, most not requiring a person to be a member or carry any sort of certification to go. Rain or shine, if the sale has good things listed, there will be a line as they limit the number of people in. Many people do not enjoy the experience of going through a recently passed individual’s house. Most have a professional service go through and to organize and price, these folks will generally pull things of high value out for them to sell via other channels, lucky for you and me, mid century kitchen doesn’t usually fit that area for them. 

Online Retailers and Reproductions: If you prefer new items with a vintage look, many retailers sell reproductions of mid-century designs. These can offer the aesthetic of the era with the convenience and reliability of modern manufacturing. I see these all the time on Instagram as inline sponsored ads. As mentioned below, some of those can look similar but be modernized to better fit your lifestyle.

Facebook Groups: Joining groups or forums dedicated to mid-century modern design can be helpful. Members often share tips on where to find items, and you might come across local sellers. They are always a source for great pics of other people’s collection, as well tips for caring and using your finds.

Thrift Stores: While it can be hit or miss, thrift stores sometimes have mid-century items at lower prices. Regular visits are necessary to find what you’re looking for as there is usually a group that hangs out and grabs things they can resell. Sometimes, a less known item will go undetected for you to grab.

Remember to Verify Authenticity, not everyone that sells knows the history. Take your time to Check Condition, especially if friends and family will be admiring or your going to be using it. Compare Prices with both other resources as well other models that may look the same but may have different features, like drip coffee makers. Finally, Consider Your Need, it is the process of the way things were done before or you want the look but need the modern speed due to your life.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going. If you enjoy my work, perhaps you would consider donating to my daily cup of coffee, thank you.


Coffee Creations Pairing With Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Ah, Thanksgiving lunch is done, and now it is dinner time! A time when your fridge is brimming with an abundance of leftovers, each container promising a replay of the earlier time of eating a touch too much. But wait, what’s missing in this delicious picture of leftover delight? The perfect cup of coffee, of course. The right coffee can elevate your leftover turkey sandwich into a gourmet experience, transform a simple slice of pie into a café-worthy dessert, and turn a quiet evening of indulging in leftovers into a cozy, culinary adventure. Here are some coffee drink thoughts that would pair nicely with the leftovers of your choice:

First, the usual staples of the Americano, Mocha, Cappuccino, Espresso, Vanilla Latte shouldn’t just be forgotten, they are all easy and quick to make. The more specialized seasonal drinks that will kick up the plate of leftovers are fun as well, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Gingerbread Latte, Caramel Macchiato, and Vanilla Latte too.

For taking it to the next level, here are a group of coffee treats that are sure to step outside of the normal list:

Spiced Orange Mocha: Add a twist to the classic mocha by infusing it with orange zest and a pinch of holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. This coffee drink can complement the richness of turkey and stuffing beautifully.

Cardamom Latte: Infuse your latte with cardamom, a spice that adds a unique, aromatic flavor. Check, you may be surprised you have Cardamon amongst your spices. It’s a delightful match for the spiced and herby flavors in Thanksgiving dishes.

Hazelnut Cappuccino: The nutty flavor of hazelnut in a frothy cappuccino can provide a delightful contrast to the rich and savory flavors of traditional Thanksgiving meals.

Salted Caramel Affogato: If your waiting to drink coffee with dessert, try an affogato with salted caramel ice cream. Pour a shot of hot espresso over the ice cream for a sweet and slightly salty treat.

Apple Pie Latte: Infuse your latte with apple pie spices and a hint of apple or caramel syrup. This drink would be a perfect match for the warm, comforting flavors of Thanksgiving desserts. Yes, I have used a dab of the apple pie filling, but the ratio can be get right on the first try since different pies can have very different taste intensities.

Maple Bourbon Coffee: I needed to get at least one alcohol coffee on the list. Combine hot coffee with a splash of bourbon and maple syrup for a warming and slightly sweet drink. This pairs exceptionally well with the savory and hearty flavors of Thanksgiving dishes.

You can find one that you make with the same ingredients every time if they are regular spices, but you may find you need to tune each year if you use things from the leftovers to find the right taste and sweetness.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going. If you enjoy my work, perhaps you would consider donating to my daily cup of coffee, thank you.


Spooky Brews: Unraveling Coffee Superstitions Worldwide

With Halloween just around the corner (Halloween coffees covered earlier), I thought we should if there are many intriguing superstitions and folk beliefs for coffee across different cultures. Superstitions are often rooted in historical or regional contexts, add a bit of whimsical or mystical dimension to the simple act of brewing, pouring, or spilling coffee. From being seen as bringing good or bad luck to its role in peculiar rituals, the world of coffee superstitions is as rich and varied as the beverage itself. Here are a few my exploration found of some notable coffee superstitions:

Dropping and Spilling Coffee:

Various cultures associate different meanings with the act of dropping or spilling coffee. For instance, dropping a cup of coffee is often seen as a symbol of impending fear or an accident, so use the handle or well insulated mugs. On the brighter side, breaking a cup or glass of coffee is interpreted as a good omen, heralding well-being and luck, as long as it isn’t your favorite. Similarly, pouring coffee on oneself is also considered a sign of good luck, don’t forget to blot and not rub the stain. Spilling coffee beans on a table carries its own set of interpretations, although the specific meanings might vary across different cultures​​.

Some folklore even suggests that a coffee spill indicates that someone might be gossiping about you behind your back​ so it isn’t just “are your ears buzzing?”​.

Contrary to the those beliefs though, Egyptians have a positive take on spilling coffee. They view accidental coffee spills as a sign of incoming happiness and good fortune. So, if you happen to spill coffee while in Egypt, you might just receive smiles and cheers instead of sympathetic groans, as the spill is seen as a precursor to joyful times ahead​​. I’m not sure I would risk it without asking how your local friends feel about it first.

Coffee and Weather Prediction is an area our local specialist may want to turn to:

Another superstition suggests that a cup of coffee has the ability to predict the weather. The location of bubbles in a cup of coffee is believed to foretell the weather conditions; if the bubbles form in the middle, it’s expected to be sunny and fair, while bubbles forming around the outside of the cup are thought to indicate less pleasant weather ahead​.

Coffee Grinds, please refer to our previous posts on different grinds, it may make a difference:

Spilling coffee grinds carries a mystical significance in some cultures. It’s believed to be an omen that holds clues about what the future may hold. The exact interpretations might vary, but the act of spilling coffee grinds is seen as more than just a minor inconvenience, but a sign of something greater​.

And of course, there is fortune telling via the grounds too!

Regional Superstitions:

In New Orleans, a quirky 19th-century superstition discourages individuals from trimming their nails before having coffee on a Monday morning. This belief, dating back to 1886, reflects perhaps a cautious approach to starting the week with sharp focus and without any bad luck brought about by ignoring this ritual​. Plus, no one should be around sharp objects on any Monday morning.

One found, which has to be from a long time ago is about the U.S. Navy, especially the sailors, there exists a coffee superstition regarding the washing of coffee mugs. It’s considered bad luck to wash a sailor’s coffee mug, with some believing that the caked-on residue from old coffee enhances the flavor of the new brew. This superstition reflects a blend of naval tradition, camaraderie, and perhaps a touch of humor among the sailors​. Assuming it is like your bacon skillet.

Greek coffee culture, not agreed to by a Greek friend, embraces the overflow of coffee from a cup as a sign of good fortune. It’s believed that an overflowing coffee cup is synonymous with being filled to the brim with good luck. Locals might even cheer “youri youri” (good luck in Greek) if they witness coffee spilling over from your cup, a belief that reflects the positive outlook and vibrant coffee culture in Greece​.

Coffee and Relations:

There’s a belief that if a stranger spills hot coffee on you, the relationship with that person will turn friendly. This superstition adds a touch of warmth and potential friendship to an otherwise uncomfortable situation, showcasing the power of coffee to brew camaraderie even in unexpected circumstances​​. An important part of this item is it relies on the person receiving the coffee not being on the way to a meeting or having a bad day.

For fun or for folks that really believe, these coffee superstitions offer a glimpse into the myriad ways in which different cultures perceive and interact with our cherished coffee, adding a sprinkle of magic and tradition to our daily rituals.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.


Magical Mugs: A Sip into Halloween Coffee Concoctions

As the leaves begin to change and the nights grow colder, the allure of Halloween starts to envelop the air. It’s a time of year when the playful spirit of autumn beckons, and there’s a certain magic in every rustling leaf and shadowy corner. For many, the festive season is synonymous with cozying up indoors, and what could be more comforting than a warm mug cradled between one’s hands? 

Halloween-inspired coffee drinks, with their blend of seasonal flavors and whimsical themes, offer a delightful way to bring the essence of the holiday into our daily rituals. These bewitching brews, perfect for sipping on those chilly October nights, strike a balance between familiar coffee comforts and the enchantment of the season. Below are a few recipes that will not only tantalize your taste buds but also capture the spirit of Halloween, all from the comfort of your own home.

Pumpkin Spice Latte: The Pumpkin Spice Latte is a creamy, frothy beverage that marries the full-bodied taste of espresso with the sweet and earthy notes of pumpkin puree. This is accentuated by a symphony of spices, typically including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves, which are commonly associated with pumpkin pie. The drink is often sweetened to enhance its dessert-like qualities and is usually topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream, occasionally sprinkled with a touch more of the spice blend or cinnamon on top.

The color of the drink is a warm, inviting shade of light brown with orange undertones, reminiscent of autumn leaves or the pumpkins it derives its flavor from. Its aroma is intoxicating, filling the air with scents that immediately bring to mind cozy sweaters, falling leaves, and festive gatherings. The first sip delivers a creamy texture and a harmonious blend of the sweet pumpkin and the spicy kick, rounded off by the depth of the coffee.

Beyond its taste and aroma, the Pumpkin Spice Latte has become a cultural phenomenon, signaling the beginning of fall for many. Its popularity has led to numerous adaptations, from candles to breakfast cereals, all attempting to capture the PSL’s essence. However, it’s in its liquid form, cradled in a warm mug, where the true magic of the Pumpkin Spice Latte comes alive.


  • 2 cups milk (any kind)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1-3 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves)
  • ½ cup brewed coffee or espresso
  • Whipped cream (optional for topping)


  • In a saucepan, combine milk, pumpkin puree, and sugar. Heat over medium heat until hot, but do not boil.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and coffee/espresso.
  • Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

Ghostly White Chocolate Mocha: Silky and luxurious, the Ghostly White Chocolate Mocha glimmers with a creamy hue reminiscent of moonlit nights. The drink seamlessly marries the smooth and velvety notes of white chocolate with the bold intensity of espresso or dark brewed coffee. The result is a harmonious blend where the inherent sweetness of the white chocolate tempers the coffee’s bitterness, creating a balanced and rich flavor profile.

Its appearance often plays into its “ghostly” namesake. Topped with a cloud of whipped cream, it looks ethereal and airy, much like the gentle swirl of a phantom’s cloak. For a touch of playful Halloween-inspired artistry, the foam or cream can be adorned with chocolate chip eyes and a mouth, giving the beverage a spectral face. When presented this way, the Ghostly White Chocolate Mocha not only becomes a drink but a delightful centerpiece of any spooky festivity.

The aroma of the beverage is a heady mix of roasted coffee beans softened by the sweet undertones of melted white chocolate. When sipped, its creamy consistency envelopes the taste buds, first introducing the milky sweetness of white chocolate followed by the lingering taste of coffee.

In the vast array of coffee concoctions, the Ghostly White Chocolate Mocha stands out not just for its delightful flavors but for its thematic allure, making it a favorite during Halloween and beyond for those looking for a whimsical yet decadent coffee experience.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup brewed coffee or espresso
  • Whipped cream (optional for topping)
  • Chocolate chips or syrup for ghost face decorations


  • In a saucepan, heat milk and white chocolate until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  • Add brewed coffee or espresso and stir to combine.
  • Pour into mugs, top with whipped cream, and use chocolate chips or syrup to create a ghost face on top.

Black Magic Latte: This drink stands out immediately due to its striking, deep black hue, achieved through the addition of activated charcoal. The color is reminiscent of a moonless night, and it evokes feelings of mystique and wonder, drawing drinkers into its dark embrace. When set against the backdrop of a clear glass or contrasted with a white mug, its appearance is all the more dramatic.

Flavor-wise, the Black Magic Latte offers a balance between the familiar roasted notes of coffee and the subtle, earthy undertones introduced by the charcoal. While activated charcoal doesn’t have a strong flavor, its inclusion imparts a slight mineral taste which complements the coffee’s natural profile. Often sweetened and flavored with vanilla, this latte becomes a harmonious blend of deep, roasted flavors with a hint of sweetness and a touch of earthiness.

The aroma is predominantly that of freshly brewed coffee, underscored by the delicate scent of vanilla, which adds a touch of warmth and comfort to the otherwise enigmatic drink.

The Black Magic Latte is more than just a beverage; it’s an experience. Its unconventional color invites questions and curiosity, making it a perfect centerpiece for conversation. It embodies the spirit of magic and the unknown, drawing in those who are adventurous in their palate and keen to embark on a unique culinary journey into the realm of the mystical.


  • ½ cup brewed black coffee or espresso
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1-2 tbsp activated charcoal (ensure it’s food grade)
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar or sweetener (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • Brew your coffee or espresso.
  • In a saucepan, combine milk, activated charcoal, sugar, and vanilla. Heat until warm.
  • Pour the charcoal milk mixture into your coffee, stir well, and serve.

Witch’s Brew Frappuccino: Visually, the Witch’s Brew Frappuccino is a feast for the eyes. Typically characterized by its vibrant green hue, attributed to the inclusion of green matcha powder, it conjures visions of magical potions and elixirs brewed by witches in fairy tales. The deep green, often speckled with swirls from its blended ingredients, mimics the appearance of a frothy, spellbinding concoction that’s just been stirred in an age-old cauldron.

Flavor-wise, the frappuccino offers a refreshing blend of contrasts. The earthy, slightly grassy notes of matcha green tea are complemented by the rich and robust flavor of coffee or espresso. Depending on the sweetness level, there’s often a delightful sugary undertone that rounds out the beverage, making it both invigorating and indulgent. The icy, blended texture adds a cold, creamy dimension that makes it especially refreshing.

When sipped, the Witch’s Brew Frappuccino first introduces the palate to its creamy texture, followed by the unique, layered flavors of matcha and coffee. As the drink settles, the sweet undertones become more pronounced, creating a harmonious finish.

Beyond its taste, the Witch’s Brew Frappuccino is an embodiment of festive playfulness. It captures the imagination and evokes tales of magic, making it not only a beverage but a story in a cup. Perfect for those who love a dash of fantasy in their everyday lives, this drink is an ode to the mystical and the marvelous, beckoning all to take a sip of the extraordinary.


  • 1 cup ice
  • ½ cup milk (any kind)
  • 2 shots espresso or ½ cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1 tbsp green matcha powder
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar or sweetener (adjust to taste)
  • Whipped cream (optional for topping)


  • In a blender, combine ice, milk, coffee, matcha powder, and sugar.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Pour into a glass, top with whipped cream if desired.

Feel free to get creative and adjust ingredients based on your preferences. These drinks can be a fun way to get into the Halloween spirit.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.