The invention of instant coffee, dissolvable in hot water, was credited to a Japanese chemist working in Chicago in 1901.
Turns out, it was a Kiwi - more 10 years earlier.
David Strang, who owned a coffee and spice works factory in Invercargill, applied (and got) a patent for soluble coffee powder in 1889 under the name Strang’s Coffee.
But until recently it was a barely known fact until the Historic Places Trust registered the house owned by one of his sons, James.
Strang was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1847, and one of his first jobs was in a coffee warehouse. He was only 16 when he boarded the Barwood to come to New Zealand in 1863, landing in Bluff.
He worked in several trades until in 1872 he established a coffee factory in Esk Street, Invercargill. The business grew quickly, expanding into other foods including spices sold around New Zealand and Fiji.
Strang’s products began winning awards around the country and in Australia.
In 1889, he applied for the patent for soluble coffee, the first of its kind in the world and began selling it. With sharp marketing in mind, he sent samples to newspapers to get the word out.
The Otago Daily Times reviewed the substance: "Strang's soluble coffee powder requires no boiling, but is made instantly with boiling water. Then, again, it can be made in a breakfast cup and requires neither the use of pots nor the employment of experienced cooks."
He was also one of the first people to successfully claim a patent under New Zealand law.
He said he used a ‘dry hot air’ process to make it, essentially blowing hot air over liquid coffee until it reduced to a solid.
Strang also filed patents for a "coffee-roasting apparatus of novel design" and Strang's Eclipse Hot Air Grain Dryer. He was also credited with making mocha.
He married Mary Jane Ramsey in 1877 and they had five sons and six daughters.
Strang died aged 69 on July 19, 1916 and is buried in Eastern Cemetery in Invercargill with his wife
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