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Coffee Making

( Originally Published 1900 )



THE making of coffee is another point that the general public require to be educated in. There are probably dozens of patent contrivances each described by their inventor as the only one whereby coffee can be properly made, just as there are scores of recipes which might be tabulated under the heads of simple, elaborate or impossible. Some of these latter tell you to boil it ; some never to boil it, only bring it to the boil ; some require broken up egg-shells to clear it ; some, fish scales. The following is a specimen of what has been recommended, and deals not only with the making but with the roasting. Like many of these old recipes there are difficulties that need some explanation ; for instance, how are you to " crack with the teeth " that which is burning hot ? or, how, after roasting till it is black, can you continue until it is white ?

COFFEE-MAKING IN 1662

There is an old cook-book, published in 1662, that gives what is, perhaps, the first recipe for coffee. The recipe is as follows :—" To make the drink that is now much used, called coffee. The coffee berries are to be bought at any druggist, about 7s. the pound. Take what quantity you please, and, over a charcoal fire, in an old frying-pan, keep them always stirring until they be quite black, and when you crack one with your teeth that it is black within as it is without, yet if you exceed, then do you waste the oyl, and, if less, then it will not deliver its oyl ; and if you should continue fire till it be white, it will then make no coffee, but only give you its salt. Beat and force through a lawn sieve. Take clear water, and boil one-third of it away, and it is fit for use. Take one quart of this prepared water, put in it one ounce of your prepared coffee, and boil it gently one hour, and it is fit for your use ; drink one quarter of a pint as hot as you can sip it."

As for the apparatus in which to make it, there are many excellent ones, but simplicity is what is wanted for the majority of households. Those that have a spirit lamp underneath, and force the boiling water through the coffee, are possibly those that make coffee perfectly, with most regularity, simply because the water must boil. Their cost is, however, beyond the range of a great many. The old fashioned " percolates " is also an excellent coffee-pot, provided the water is boiling, but it will not rank as perfection if it is made of any metal, for metal is an abomination to coffee. An earthenware percolater can be obtained at a reasonable price, and these, together with other utensils for coffee-making, can rightly and wisely be added to the stock of the grocer who wishes to see his coffee trade flourish. For ordinary households there is nothing better than an earthenware jug, unless it is the simple " coffee jug," which has -been largely introduced of late years. A card with the following simple instructions might well be supplied " Warm the jug, place in it freshly-ground coffee in the proportion of one tablespoonful to every half-pint of water, as soon as the water boils pour in three parts of that which is required, stir it well and then add the remainder of water." If these simple rules are carried out, by the time the coffee is required the grounds will have sunk to the bottom and a liquid will be procured both clear and bright. These are a few of the simple ways in which a grocer may call attention to, and thus advertise his own pure coffee. By emphasizing the purity of coffee—if he must sell chicory let him make an effort to sell it always separately—for it is the liking of pure coffee which is the test which will last, and which will not be satisfied unless it is supplied daily. This is an age of advertisement and in some form or another it must be done if the consumption of coffee is to increase. The grocer appealing to his own neighbourhood is best able to do this, the wholesale dealer has no margin of profit to give away in this manner, unless he first takes it by an enhanced price from the retailer while the importing merchant or planter could only do it by making his production into a proprietary article, in order to ensure a consumption of his own production and not of his neighbour's. We certainly do not think that the way to increase the consumption can be to advertise that coffee contains a dangerous poison and to recommend one that has had it extracted. Such may attract a few faddists who think they cannot drink coffee—probably because they never tried—and it would be well in advertising to state that the coffee sold has had nothing taken from it, but contains all the nutriment and stimulating properties which are the valuable constituents of coffee. It is satisfactory to notice that the Food Congress held in Paris in October, 1909, passed a resolution " That the extraction of caffeine is a sophistication and should be prohibited."



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