What is the origin of free coffee refills?

by Daniel V.
(Vulcan, AB)

Free coffee refills

Free coffee refills


QUESTION:


My son and I were sitting in a local restaurant the other day having brunch when the waitress walked over with a coffee pot and asked us if we would like a refill.

Nothing odd about that, it happens all the time. But it still surprises me. I mean, businesses don’t just give stuff away. The waitress didn’t walk over and ask me if I would like a couple of extra rashers of bacon, or a couple more eggs, easy over.

So that got me to wondering where the whole coffee refill or bottomless cup thing came from.

At some point a restaurant must have started offering free refills as a promotional gimmick. But when? And who did it first? Do you know?

I imagine that other restaurants picked up on the idea and it somehow stuck. It must have got to the point where if a restaurant didn’t offer a free refill, its customers would be disappointed, and maybe go some place else.

And then the idea spread to offering free cold drink refills. Or maybe that came first?

Sorry to ramble, and I know this isn’t the most important think in the world to know about. But I’m kind of intrigued.

Do you have any info on this?

Daniel


ANSWER:

Mark, hi

While you’re right in saying this probably isn’t the most important question on the average coffee drinker’s mind, I’m intrigued too.

You’re right, someone must have been the first to offer free refills of coffee. At some point it must have changed from simply being a neighborly thing to do, to being a gimmick to get people into a restaurant or diner.

But like I say, I have no idea.

So let’s throw this out there and hope another reader has the answer and will share it with us.

Best wishes,

Nick

Comments for What is the origin of free coffee refills?

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Nov 25, 2012
Quora
by: Dominique

I sent the question on Quora
http://www.quora.com/Coffee/What-is-the-origin-of-free-coffee-refills-http-www-coffeedetective-com-what-is-the-origin-of-free-coffee-refills-html

Editor's Note: Thanks! Let us know if you get some good answers.

Nov 25, 2012
North American Way
by: Debra-Lynn

I am not sure who began the free refills, however one thing I noticed having lived in London England is that coffee is considered a "Course". Here in N. America it is almost expected to sit down in a restaurant and to have a cup of coffee poured & placed in front of you before your meal order is given. Coffee and or tea often are part of the "Menu Plan". In the UK and many parts of Europe if you are offered a 3-Course Meal you can bet that Coffee is one of the 3-Courses.It is rare to find an establishment that will offer a second cup even if the first one is purchased. Gotta love N. America for the refills!

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