Coffee-to-go or "coffee to go" refers to the practice of enjoying coffee on the go in a disposable cup. It originated with the invention of the paper cup in 1907, which was originally intended for drinking water. During the Spanish flu outbreak, the use of paper cups increased for hygienic reasons, leading to coffee and other drinks being consumed in these cups. The modern concept of coffee-to-go as we know it today came about twenty years later when 7-Eleven in New York offered hot drinks to go. Starbucks later introduced the lid for coffee-to-go cups. This development spread and coffee-to-go became popular in many cafés and chains.
Coffee-to-go in its current form has existed since 1964, when 7-Eleven began offering coffee and hot drinks to go. The use of paper cups with lids for coffee-to-go spread in the 1980s and was originally intended for the milk foam in specialities such as cappuccino and latte macchiato. Today, the lids are mainly used to prevent coffee from spilling on the go.
The coffee-to-go trend reached Germany in the 1990s, inspired by American coffee chains. Tchibo introduced the first German coffee-to-go in 1996, initially offering traditional filter coffee to go. Soon after, other coffee creations such as latte and cappuccino were also offered in the to-go format. In 1998, the first American-inspired coffee house opened in Germany. Since then, coffee-to-go has become extremely popular not only in Germany, but also in the German-speaking region and worldwide.