“MIT” is internationally recognized shorthand for technological and academic excellence. When filmmakers want to establish a character as a brilliant scientist or engineer, they throw in a line about her MIT education or cut to his class ring. So when advertisements in the 1930s showed a serious white-coated MIT scientist holding aloft a flask with “the perfect cup of coffee,” the American public listened. In 1920, the National Coffee Roasters Association gave Professor Samuel Cate Prescott $40,000 to establish a new laboratory devoted to perfecting coffee. The resulting guidelines—one tablespoon of coffee per eight ounces of water, just short of boiling, in glass or ceramic containers, never boiled, reheated, or reused—were the result of three years of study. More important than the recipe, however, was the refutation of coffee opponents who claimed coffee was a “slow poison.” Wrote Prescott, “Coffee was the servant rather than the destroyer of civilization.” MIT researchers also were active in serious food technologies, working on techniques for preserving taste, nutrition, and texture in canned goods as well as developing nutritional guidelines for preventing nutritional deficiencies.
George Washington coffee can on loan from George Washington Coffee, Port Angeles, WA.