The Surprising Origins of Irish Coffee: A San Francisco Tale

February 26, 2024

 Origins of Irish Coffee: San Francisco's Story

Origins of Irish Coffee: A San Francisco Story

To craft a rich and creamy Irish coffee, one must blend whiskey, coffee, sugar, and top it off with a layer of thick cream. But do you know the true history of Irish coffee and its surprising origins in San Francisco?

The Birth of Irish Coffee at Foynes Airbase

The story begins in the 1940s at Foynes Airbase in Ireland, a crucial stop for transatlantic flights. Passengers often faced long delays because of bad weather. Chef Joe Sheridan concocted a new drink to comfort and warm the weary travelers.

He combined hot coffee with a generous splash of Irish whiskey, a spoonful of sugar, and topped it off with freshly whipped cream. This delightful creation soon became known as Irish coffee.

Introducing Irish Coffee to the World

Irish coffee’s popularity grew and eventually made its way to the United States. In the 1950s, travel writer Stanton Delaplane discovered Irish coffee while visiting Ireland. Impressed by its taste and warmth, he brought the recipe back to his hometown of San Francisco.

Delaplane introduced Irish coffee to Jack Koeppler, the owner of the Buena Vista Café. Intrigued by the drink, Koeppler and Delaplane set out to recreate the perfect Irish coffee. They faced a challenge, however, as the cream would not stay afloat on top of the coffee.

After much experimentation, they discovered the secret to achieving the perfect layer of cream. By aging the cream for at least 48 hours and lightly whipping it, they perfected their Irish coffee recipe. As a result, Irish coffee swiftly gained popularity among patrons at the Buena Vista Café, becoming an instant hit.

Irish Coffee: A Symbol of Warmth and Fellowship

The popularity of Irish coffee spread throughout San Francisco and beyond. It became a signature drink of the city and a must-try for tourists. People flocked to the Buena Vista Café to experience the perfect blend of Irish whiskey, coffee, sugar, and cream.

Today, the Buena Vista Café continues to serve Irish coffee just as it did back in the 1950s. We take pride in our tradition of carefully preparing every glass of Irish coffee, ensuring that each one reflects its rich history and originality.

The legacy of Irish coffee endures, and it’s no wonder why. This beloved beverage has become a symbol of warmth, comfort, and fellowship around the world. Whether you’re sipping it at home or in a lively café, Irish coffee has a way of bringing people together.

Check out the Irish Coffee recipe HERE.

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