How Did “Coffee Break” Come Into Being? Well, It Involves World War II, Women And Weaving

by Mallika Khurana
How Did “Coffee Break” Come Into Being? Well, It Involves World War II, Women And Weaving

Today, the coffee break culture has become deeply ingrained in workplaces around the world. It has evolved into a cherished and essential part of the work routine for many employees.  Taking short breaks during the workday not only revives us but also improves productivity and focus. Stepping away from the desk and engaging in a coffee break can help us refresh our minds, reducing stress and enhancing overall work performance. It is most definitely the best part of a workday, which everyone looks forward to. But who made it a tradition? Well, there is an interesting story behind it, and you must know all about it!

Coffee Breaks Originated During The World War II

Origin of coffee breaks
Photo Credits: Canva

The origin of the coffee break can be traced back to a small Denver tie-making company called Los Wigwam Weavers during World War II. In the early 1940s, many skilled male weavers from this company were enlisted in the armed forces, leaving behind a predominantly female workforce. As the story goes, these women found it challenging to keep up with the demanding work of weaving ties without regular breaks. 

In response to this situation, the company’s management decided to introduce short breaks during the workday to allow the weavers to rest, stretch their legs, and, of course, enjoy a cup of coffee. The coffee breaks proved to be beneficial, as they not only provided a moment of relaxation but also offered an opportunity for the employees to socialise and share ideas. The practice soon spread to other companies, becoming more widespread and eventually gaining popularity in workplaces across the United States.

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It Is Much More Than A Ritual Today

History of coffee breaks
Photo Credits: Canva

The coffee break’s success during World War II helped solidify its place in American work culture and set the stage for the modern coffee break we know today. It became an essential part of the work routine, promoting well-being, productivity, and camaraderie among employees. Whether in small groups at the office pantry or in coffee shops nearby, we often use this time to catch up on personal matters, discuss work-related topics, or simply enjoy each other’s company.

Even the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend of virtual coffee breaks. When working remotely, employees found ways to connect virtually over coffee, using video conferencing platforms to maintain social connections and combat isolation. The coffee break culture today is not just about a quick caffeine fix but has evolved into a meaningful and significant aspect of work life, all thanks to those unsung heroes.

What does the coffee break look like at your workplace?

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva