I am writing a story about a physician in Philadelphia in 1904. I read that Hills Bros. packaged the first 'vacuum packed tins' of coffee. I just don't know if there was enough distribution that he would have been able to buy it. I could have him buy coffee beans from a coffee grinder, I suppose, but I still don't know how it would have been brewed? Gas stove? Wood burning stove?


  1. Coffee History
  2. Hills Brothers
  • 1
    From your link: "When Reuben and Austin began to produce roasted coffee there were at least twenty-five other companies already engaged in some form of coffee production and distribution in San Francisco including, of course, the well-known Folger Company ..." Jun 29, 2022 at 23:21
  • Followed by: "In 1898, Edward Norton, of New York, was granted a United States patent on a vacuum process for canning foods, subsequently applied to coffee. Others followed. Hills Brothers, of San Francisco, were the first to pack coffee in a vacuum, under the Norton patents, in 1900." If not from Hills Bros all the way from San Francisco, I'm sure your protagonist could obtain vacuum packed coffee from NYC. Jun 29, 2022 at 23:22
  • 1

1 Answer 1


A copy of the 1902 Sears and Roebuck catalog #112 found at archive.org gives an idea of what type of items might have been commonly used for coffee consumption at the time.

We can see from the first page, coffee could be ordered direct from Sears, in a variety of blends and up to 10lb weights.

enter image description here

Other coffee related items can be found throughout the catalog.

Matching coffee and tea pots were available in various grades and styles: enter image description here

Canisters, strainers, and trivets to place the hot coffee pot on:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Full kitchenware sets included the coffee pot:

enter image description here

..and of course even a selection of stoves which variously burned wood only for lower end models, or coal and wood for sturdier grades:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Great idea looking at the SR Catalog. Well done. Appreciate the answer.
    – david
    Jun 30, 2022 at 18:07
  • You just have to appreciate that even in 1902 there were a dozen different varieties of coffee available to everyday Joe. :)
    – fgysin
    Jul 1, 2022 at 7:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.