Beverages - Coffee
( Originally Published 1936 )
How COFFEE WAS DISCOVERED AND BEST WAY TO MAKE IT
The story goes that an Oriental goat herder noticed a strange hilarity in his goats on their return home every evening. To discover the cause of this he watched them and found that they devoured the berries of a plant which grew by the side of the road on their home-ward path. He tried some of the berries himself and was thrown into such a state of ecstasy that his neighbors thought he was drunk. Of this breach of the Mohammedan code, however, he was not guilty, for on recovering his wonted calm, he led them to the plant which bore the berries, and in this way coffee beans were discovered.
When coffee beans are roasted to prepare them for the market, they lose from 13 to 20 per cent of their weight. Half of this loss is moisture and half is organic matter. The organic matter which is lost is about 21 per cent of the total caffeine and 10 per cent of the fat.
In the process of roasting, a most important substance is produced in coffee, to-wit: the oil caffeol. The aroma and, in fact, most of the pleasure of coffee drinking, comes from this. The fragrance of caffeol is so powerful that one drop is said to be sufficient to scent a whole room.
Chicory is frequently added to coffee, especially by the French and Italians. Chicory is made from the roots of the wild endive. The process of drying converts its sugar to caramel. One pound of chicory is equal in coloring matter to three pounds of coffee, and since it is cheaper than coffee, it is considered a good adulterant. The pure food laws have caused chicory adulteration of coffee to be largely discontinued in this country, but in New Orleans chicory coffee is looked upon as an improvement. As it is in France and Italy. An Italian actually prefers that dreadful mug of mud he calls coffee to ours.
Probably the best coffee in the world is Arabian Mocha, but the choicest grades are almost completely consumed in Egypt and Turkey.
Finely ground coffee is the best, as coarse grounds take a longer time for infusion and lose flavor and aroma in the process.
What is the best way to make coffee? One almost trembles to bring up a question over which blood has drenched the grass of the dueling field, because of which the divorce courts are jammed, and little children cry aloud for their absent daddies or mammies.
But I take refuge in the report of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They recommend freshly ground coffee, fine or medium fine, infused for about two minutes in water at a little below the boiling point. In other words, the truth might as well come out, percolator coffee.
Dr. Harvey Wiley said coffee was a fair friend, but a dogmatic master. There are many people who seem to like a well brewed dogmatic master. If you want to break a person of the coffee habit, the best way is to make bad coffee.