Coffee Tables: Where Do They Come From

Ottoman Turks first introduced the drink and the term “coffee” to the European continent where it gradually spread to America. For that reason, some people say that the Turks introduced the “coffee table” at the same time. However, that has never been confirmed. Coffee began to grow in popularity not only in America but already had a substantial following throughout Europe.

Following the War of 1812, Britain placed a ban on tea imports to America. Consequently, Americans naturally began to consume less tea and more coffee. Eventually, the popularity of coffee in America appeared to gain an edge over tea that it has not lost since. But exactly where does the coffee table come in?

Designs of Coffee Tables

The original coffee table, typically, is a normal table with shorter legs to make the table lower to the floor. The Japanese were actually using these types of tables for centuries. Because the Japanese were seated on the floor with crossed legs, the table was used with a sofa or pillows. It’s not clear as to the precise time that the contemporary expression “coffee table” came to use. Most people placed the date somewhere around the late 18th to the early 19th century.

Whatever the case, if the decision was left to the British or perhaps Chinese, we would be calling this unique piece of furniture a “tea table”. Actually in a lot of countries worldwide they do refer to this table as a “tea table”. But the fact remains, the cup most often placed on American tables is filled with coffee, therefore, the name “coffee table” has stuck. There are a lot of different stories about the origin of the coffee table.

One thing is definite, this particular furniture piece has become a staple in a great many American and homes. The designs and styles of today’s coffee tables may vary from the classic rectangular design. They include such contemporary designs as an aquarium style coffee table or even a foosball coffee table. I was surprised to discover that the design of the coffee table is said to actually be based on the tea table.

Where Coffee Tables Generally Found

The coffee table is traditionally a style of low, long table that is made to be positioned in the

front of (or alongside) a sofa, couch, or upholstered chair and cups or glasses are placed on them. Since coffee is a popular drink the tables were called “coffee tables”. They were also used to hold such things as books, magazines, decorative objects, and items that were used while sitting, like beverage coasters. There are also certain scenarios, such as parties, where plates of food might be put on the table.

Coffee tables are generally located in the sitting room or living room. They are available in different price ranges and variations in style. These tables might also include cabinetry or compartments for storage of small items. Generally, coffee tables are constructed from wood, but metal tables have also become popular. Typically, aluminum or stainless steel are being used for table construction.

Why is it Called a Coffee Table?

Could it be because coffee is the most popular beverage in America? It appears that the term table was simply added to coffee and it stuck. Or maybe there is more to than that? I asked a number of my colleagues and friends and they merely shrugged their shoulders. No one appears to know!

Most people drink coffee regularly and have furniture in their home and they don’t know where it got its name! I began searching for answers at the spot where the majority of people go to find information about everything – the internet.

It has been suggested that the lower table height combined with the distinctive shape made it easier for friends to set down and handle their coffee. It is also true that in the 1920’s coffee was becoming increasingly popular in the US. Therefore the popularity of the coffee table for the home was increasing also.

So there we have it, the present day coffee table has become more popular than ever. The funny thing today in some homes is that it makes no difference where the name comes from. There a are a large number of people who won’t even allow you to place coffee on the supposed “coffee” table. Yet it’s neat and interesting to see how items and their history have evolved over time.