Subscribe: The Coffee Maker
Preview: The Coffee Maker

The Coffee Maker

All about the history, cultivation, brewing, drinking, appreciation, and advertising of coffee. Some articles are adapted from "All About Coffee", by William Ukers, Editor, The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, 1922. Other material from

Updated: 2017-08-21T08:48:44.579-07:00


Historic Parisian Cafes


Some of the historic cafés are still thriving in their original locations, although the majority have now passed into oblivion. Glimpses of the more famous houses are to be found in the novels, poetry, and essays written by the French literati who patronized them. These first-hand accounts give insights that are sometimes stirring, often amusing, and frequently revolting—such as the assassination of St.-Fargean in Février's low-vaulted cellar café in the Palais Royal. There is Magny's, originally the haunt of such literary men as Gautier, Taine, Saint-Victor, Turguenieff, de Goncourt, Soulie, Renan, Edmond. In recent years the old Magny's was razed, and on its site was built the modern restaurant of the same name, but in a style that has no resemblance to its predecessor. Even the name of the street has been changed, from rue Contrescarpe to the rue Mazet. Méot's, the Véry, Beauvilliers', Massé's, the Café Chartres, the Troi Fréres Provençaux, and the du Grand Commun, all situated in the Palais Royal, are cafés that figured conspicuously in the French Revolution, and are closely identified with the French stage and literature. Méot's and Massé's were the trysting places of the Royalists in the days preceding the outbreak, but welcomed the Revolutionists after they came in power. The Chartres was notorious as the gathering place of young aristocrats who escaped the guillotine, and, thus made bold, often called their like from adjoining cafés to partake in some of their plans for restoration of the empire. The Trois Fréres Provençaux, well known for its excellent and costly dinners, is mentioned by Balzac, Lord Lytton, and Alfred de Musset in some of their novels. The Café du Grand Commun appears in Rousseau's Confessions in connection with the play Devin du Village. Among the most famous of the cafés on the Rue St. Honoré were Venua's, patronized by Robespierre and his companions of the Revolution, and perhaps the scene of the inhuman murder of Berthier and its revolting aftermath; the Mapinot, which has gone down in café history as the scene of the banquet to Archibald Alison, the 22-year-old historian; and Voisin's café, around which still cling traditions of such literary lights as Zola, Alphonse Daudet, and Jules de Goncourt. Perhaps the boulevard des Italiens had, and still has, more fashionable cafés than any other section of the French capital. The Tortoni, opened in the early days of the Empire by Velloni, an Italian lemonade vender, was the most popular of the boulevard cafés, and was generally thronged with fashionables from all parts of Europe. Here Louis Blanc, historian of the Revolution, spent many hours in the early days of his fame. Talleyrand; Rossini, the musician; Alfred Stevens and Edouard Manet, artists, are some of the names still linked with the traditions of the Tortoni. Farther down the boulevard were the Café Riche, Maison Dorée, Café Anglais, and the Café de Paris. The Riche and the Dorée, standing side by side, were both high-priced and noted for their revelries. The Anglais, which came into existence after the snuffing out of the Empire, was also distinguished for its high prices, but in return gave an excellent dinner and fine wines. It is told that even during the siege of Paris the Anglais offered its patrons "such luxuries as ass, mule, peas, fried potatoes, and champagne." Probably the Café de Paris, which came into existence in 1822, in the former home of the Russian Prince Demidoff, was the most richly equipped and elegantly conducted of any café in Paris in the nineteenth century. Alfred de Musset, a frequenter, said, "you could not open its doors for less than 15 francs." The Café Littéraire, opened on boulevard Bonne Nouvelle late in the nineteenth century, made a direct appeal to literary men for patronage, printing this footnote on its menu: "Every customer spending a franc in this establishment is entitled to one volume of any work to be selected from our vast collection." Other famous cafes include the Café Laurent, which Rousseau was f[...]

Some History of Coffee In New Orleans


The history of New Orleans as a coffee port may be considered as beginning with the transfer of Louisiana by Napoleon Bonaparte to the United States in 1803. In this year, according to Martin's History of Louisiana, New Orleans imported 1438 bags of coffee of 132 pounds each. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, settlers in large numbers had crossed the Allegheny Mountains from the Atlantic states into the valley of the Ohio River; and their crops of grain and provisions were exported by means of cheaply constructed rafts and boats, which were floated down the river to New Orleans, where they were generally broken up and sold for use as lumber and firewood—there being, at that time, no power available for propelling them back against the current of the river.

From 1803 until 1820, on account of the difficulty of navigating upstream, New Orleans imports did not increase as rapidly as exports. In 1814, however, the first crude steamboat had begun to carry freight on the river; and by 1820, the supremacy of New Orleans as the gateway of the Mississippi Valley had been for the time established by this new means of transportation. The coffee-importing business flourished; and, from its modest beginning in 1803, grew to 531,236 bags in 1857.

By this time, however, New Orleans had begun to feel the competition of the Erie Canal, and of the systems of east and west railroad lines which had been in the course of active construction during the preceding fifteen years. The railroad systems which had as their ports Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, entered upon a desperate war of freight rates, each in the endeavor to establish the supremacy of its own port. As the building of railroads had been entirely east and west, and no large amount of capital had been invested in north and south lines, much of the business of the valley was diverted to the Atlantic ports, apparently never to return to New Orleans.

In 1862, on account of the blockade of the port, not a bag of coffee was imported through New Orleans, and practically none came in until the year 1866, when the small amount of 55,000 bags was the total for the year. At about this time, Boston and Philadelphia became negligible importing quantities; the business of Baltimore continued to be quite prosperous; and New York rapidly increased her imports and took the commanding position.
Shipments were by sailing vessels, a full cargo being about 5000 bags. Fancy grades, like Golden Rios, washed and peaberries, were shipped in double bags. Musty coffees were common, and every bag in a cargo was sampled for must. S. Jackson was first to issue regular manifests. With the entry of steamers into the coffee transport business, New Orleans was placed at a disadvantage as steamer rates were about twenty cents a bag higher to New Orleans than to New York, and imports were limited. The subsequent revival of the business was due largely to Hard & Rand. Being unable to obtain steamer rates equal to those quoted in New York, Hard & Rand chartered steamers for New Orleans; and soon the trade began to offer cost and freight to New Orleans. (image)

Smells Like Coffee, 1957


allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />

From 1957, this well-produced Hills Brother's coffee commercial claims that it is the first instant coffee that "smells like coffee". This does precede "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by many years! Enjoy.(image)

Folger's Coffee TV Commercial


allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />

A vintage P&G ad for Folger's coffee, with Mrs. Olsen budding in just in time to save another couple's relationship! Enjoy.


Instructions for Making French Coffee, 1836


From "Domestic French Cookery", 4th ed., 1836. This is an interesting description of making boiled coffee, and includes the admonition to "grind the coffee while warm"!

Let the coffee be roasted immediately before you want to use it, as it loses much of its strength by keeping.

Its color, when done, should be a fine bright brown; but by no means allow it to scorch. A cylindrical coffee-roaster that can be turned by a handle, and sets before the fire, is far preferable to a pot or a pan. Grind the coffee while warm.

If you intend to make half a dozen cups of coffee for drinking, measure six cups of water of the same size, and put the water into the coffee-pot. Set it on hot coals, and when the water boils, put in two or three chips of isinglass, or the white of an egg. Then throw in six large tea-spoonfuls of ground coffee. Stir it several times while boiling, and set it several times back from the fire to diminish the boiling gradually.

When it has boiled sufficiently, remove it entirely from the coals, pour in a cup of cold water, and then put it in a corner and let it settle for half an hour. Afterwards pour it off from the grounds into another pot (which must first be scalded), and set it close to the fire, but do not let it boil again.

If you intend to serve it up with hot cream, you must make the coffee stronger. While the coffee is clearing, boil your cream or milk, and pour some of it hot into each cup of coffee.(image)

Instructions for Home-Roasting Coffee, 1884


From the "Hand-Book of Practical Cookery for Ladies and Professional Cooks", by Pierre Blot, 1884.

In roasting, good coffee swells about thirty-three per cent., and loses about sixteen per cent. in weight.

Roast once a week or oftener.

Put coffee in the apparatus (cylinder, or drum, or roaster), the quantity to be according to the size of the roaster, or according to how much is needed. Have a rather slow fire at first; when the coffee has swollen, augment the fire, turning, shaking, tossing the roaster, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly, and take from the fire a little before it is roasted enough; the roasting will be finished before the coffee gets cold and before taking it from the roaster, which you continue turning and shaking as if it were yet on the fire.

A charcoal fire is the handiest, and more easily regulated.

It is well roasted when it evaporates a pleasing odor and when of a brownish color.

Then take it from the roaster, spread it on a matting or on a piece of cloth, and put it in a tin-box as soon as cold.

It is exceedingly difficult, if not utterly impossible, to roast coffee properly by machinery, and for two reasons: in the first place, there is too much of it in the cylinder to roast evenly, some berries are burned, others not roasted enough; the other is, that being turned by machinery, the cylinder is turned regularly and is neither shaken nor tossed; and even if there were not too much coffee in it, some berries would be much more roasted than others.(image)

The Price of Coffee in 1910


Advertisement for Coffee in 1910
From the "Alexandria Gazette" in Alexandria, VA, November 9, 1910.

Here is a very interesting price list that is a snapshot of the times. With sugar at 5 cents a pound and beef anywhere from a couple cents to 15 cents, "good" coffee from "Rio" was 16 cents a pound, and "Chase and Sanborn's Best Coffee" was 22 cents!

In inflation-adjusted terms, this is $3.52/pound for the Rio coffee and $4.84/pound for the Chase and Sanborn.

People liked their coffee then almost as much as today...


Coffee is the New Wine: Story on NPR


Editor's note: here's an interesting and fun story on NPR that deals with the increasing interest in quality coffee. Discusses specialty roasters, baristas, how to taste.

Early French and English Coffee Makers


About 1760, French inventors began to devote themselves to improvements in coffee-making devices. Donmartin, a Paris tinsmith, in 1763, invented an urn pot that employed a flannel sack for infusing. Another infusion device, produced the same year by L'Ainé, also a tinsmith of Paris, was known as a diligence. In 1779, Richard Dearman was granted an English patent on a new method of making mills for grinding coffee. In 1798, the first American patent on an improved coffee grinding mill was granted to Thomas Bruff, Sr. It was a wall mill, fitted with iron plates, in which the coffee was ground between two circular nuts, three inches broad and having coarse teeth around their centers and fine shallow teeth at the edges. De Belloy's (or Du Belloy's) coffee pot appeared in Paris about 1800. It was first made of tin; but later, of porcelain and silver—the original French drip pot. This device was never patented; but it appears to have furnished the inspiration for many inventors in France, England, and the United States. The first French patent on a coffee maker was granted to Denobe, Henrion, and Rouch in 1802. It was for a "pharmacological-chemical coffee-making device by infusion." Charles Wyatt obtained a patent the same year in London on an apparatus for distilling coffee. In 1806, Hadrot was granted a French patent on a device "for filtering coffee without boiling and bathed in air." This use of the word filtering was misleading, as it was many times after in French, English, and American patent nomenclature, where it often meant percolation or something quite different from filtration. True percolation means to drip through fine interstices of china or metal. Filtration means to drip through a porous substance, usually cloth or paper. De Belloy's pot was a percolator. So was Hadrot's. The improvement on which Hadrot got his patent was to "replace the white iron filter (sic) used in ordinary filtering pots by a filter composed of hard tin and bismuth" and to use "a rammer of the same metal, pierced with holes." The rammer was designed to press down and to smooth out the powdered coffee in an even and uniform fashion. "It also," says Hadrot in his specification, "stops the derangement which boiling water poured from a height can produce. It is held by its stem a half inch from the surface of the powder so that it receives only the action of the water which it divides and facilitates thus the extraction which it must produce in each of the particles." A coffee percolator was invented in Paris about 1806 by Benjamin Thompson, F.R.S., an American-British scientist, philanthropist, and administrator. He was known as Count Rumford, a title bestowed on him by the Pope. Rumford's invention was first given to the public in London in 1812. He has gained great credit for his device, because of an elaborate essay that he wrote on it in Paris under the title of "The excellent qualities of coffee and the art of making it in the highest perfection", and that he caused to be published in London in 1812. It was a simple percolator pot provided with a hot-water jacket, and was a real improvement on the French drip or percolator coffee pot invented by De Belloy, but not at all unlike Hadrot's patented device. Count Rumford, however, was a picturesque character, and a good advertiser. He is generally credited with the invention of the coffee percolator; but examination of his device shows that, strictly speaking, the De Belloy pot was just as much a percolator, and apparently antedated it by about six years. De Belloy employed the principle of having the boiling water drip through the ground coffee when held in suspension by a perforated metal or porcelain grid. This is true percolation. Hadrot did the same thing with the improvements noted above. Count Rumford in his essay admits that this method of making coffee was not n[...]

The Discovery of Coffee


(image) These legends about the early discovery of coffee are excerpted from "Coffee; its history and also its remarkable growth in the world of commerce (1898)"

In the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris is an old manuscript which contains the statement, that the use of coffee was known as early as 875 A. D., over a thousand years ago. But this manuscript is not explicit, and throws very little light into the haze of romance that surrounds the birth of coffee.

One legend says that when the pious dervish Hadji Omar fell under the ban of the people of Mocha, and was driven forth in the year 1285, A. D., to perish in the wilderness, he roasted some of the berries that grew wild in the thickets, and some of them accidentally fell into the water which he had collected for coffee drinking. He failed to notice it for some time, and when he did, lo! coffee was discovered. He stole back into Mocha, proclaimed his discovery, and the Mochans, who knew a good thing, took him back into favor, and made a saint of him on the spot.

Another story gives credit to the friar of a monastery for the first use of coffee. The friar had great difficulty in keeping his monks awake during devotions, and on being told by a goatherd of the exciting effect, produced on his goats by eating coffee berries, he decided to try them on his charge. He did so with admirable results and thus was discovered the great stimulating effects of coffee, which prepared the way for its world-wide popularity.

A more authentic account is given in a manuscript published in 1566 by an Arab sheik, which states that the learned sheik Djemal-eddin-Ebn-Abou-Alfagger brought coffee from Abyssinia to Arabia, in the neighborbood of 1400 A. D., and still another treatise places the date at which the Arabians found out its good qualities, about a century after. Some accounts say that it came direct from Abyssinia or Ethiopia to Arabia, and others give the Persians credit for having had the first taste of our familiar beverage, though I believe it was first used by them for medicinal purposes. Certain it is, however, that the introduction of coffee into the Mohammedan countries met with a great deal of opposition. One party contended that the roasted berry was a kind of coal, and the Prophet had very sensibly made it a law that coal should not be be eaten by his people. Another party maintained that it was an intoxicant, and as the Koran prohibits the use of intoxicants, it could not be partaken of by the faithful.

However, it was soon discovered that coffee was neither a fuel nor an intoxicating beverage, and so it came into general use. It began to be cultivated in Yemen, in southern Arabia, and for two centuries the entire supply of ihe world came from there. Even today the celebrated Mocha, or Mukha, comes from Yemen.


The Grinding and Packaging of Coffee


It is a curious fact that green coffee improves upon aging, whereas after roasting it deteriorates with time. Even when packed in the best containers, age shows to a disadvantage on the roasted bean. This is due to a number of causes, among which are oxidation, volatilization of the aroma, absorption of moisture and consequent hydrolysis, and alteration in the character of the aromatic principles. Doolittle and Wright in the course of some extensive experiments found that roasted coffee showed a continual gain in weight throughout 60 weeks, this gain being mostly due to moisture absorption. An investigation by Gould also demonstrated that roasted coffee gives off carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide upon standing. The latter, apparently produced during roasting and retained by the cellular structure of the bean, diffuses therefrom; whereas the former comes from an ante-roasting decomposition of unstable compounds present.

The surface of the whole bean forms a natural protection against atmospheric influences, and as soon as this is broken, deterioration sets in. On this account, coffee should be ground immediately before extraction if maximum efficiency is to be obtained. The cells of the beans tend to retain the fugacious aromatic principles to a certain extent; so that the more of these which are broken in grinding, the greater will be the initial loss and the more rapid the vitiation of the coffee. It might, therefore, seem desirable to grind coarsely in order to avoid this as much as possible. However, the coarser the grind, the slower and more incomplete will be the extraction. A patent has been granted for a grind which contains about 90 percent fine coffee and 10 percent coarse, the patentee's claim being that in his "irregular grind" the coarse coffee retains enough of the volatile constituents to flavor the beverage, while the fine coffee gives a very high extraction, thus giving an efficient brew without sacrificing individuality.

In packaging roasted coffee the whole bean is naturally the best form to employ, but if the coffee is ground first, King found that deterioration is most rapid with the coarse ground coffee, the speed decreasing with the size of the ground particles. He explains this on the ground of "ventilation"—the finer the grind, the closer the particles pack together, the less the circulation of air through the mass, and the smaller the amount of aroma which is carried away. He also found that glass makes the best container for coffee, with the tin can, and the foil-lined bag with an inner lining of glassine, not greatly inferior.

Considerable publicity has been given recently to the method of packing coffee in a sealed tin under reduced pressure. While thus packing in a partial vacuum undoubtedly retards oxidation and precludes escape of aroma from the original package, it would seem likely to hasten the initial volatilizing of the aroma. Also, it would appear from Gould's work that roasted coffee evolves carbon dioxide until a certain positive pressure is attained, regardless of the initial pressure in the container. Accordingly, vacuum-packing apparently enhances decomposition of certain constituents of coffee. Whether this result is beneficial or otherwise is not quite clear.(image)

Vintage Coffee Video: NoneSuch Coffee, 1934


allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />

Remember ladies, the way to a man's heart is thru the coffee pot!

Here's a vintage coffee advertisement from 1934 for NoneSuch Coffee, roasted using a new "secret process" and kept in the icebox! Pretty radical but it does seem to please Mr. Jones. The video is actually rather sweet and innocent, but is a reminder of how our consumerist culture got started and how far along it was already by the 1930's.

This video is courtesy of the excellent Prelinger Archives.


Coffee Harvesting in Brazil, 1913


(image) This is an interesting description of the process of harvesting and preparing coffee beans for market in Brazil, from "Across Unknown South America", by A. Henry Savage-Landor, 1913

The collection of the berries is the busiest process in the fazendas, and has to be performed with considerable care, for some of the berries are already ripe and dried when others hidden under the branches have not yet reached the required degree of maturity. An experienced hand can collect from 400 to 450 litres of coffee berries per day. It takes an average of 100 litres of coffee berries to produce 15 kilos of prepared coffee beans ready to be shipped. The crop is not the same every year. After one plentiful crop there generally succeeds one year, sometimes two or three, of poor—almost insignificant—collections, varying according to the care that is taken of the trees and the soil.

When once the coffee has been collected and transported to the fazenda in baskets, blankets and sheets, it is necessary to remove the skin and viscous pulpy matter which envelop the beans. This is done partly by maceration in water tanks, and afterwards by drying upon extensive flat terraces, tiled or cemented, and locally called terreiro. The process of drying by machinery has not been adopted in Brazil; principally because of its high cost. The coffee is first placed for some days in mounds on the terraces, until fermentation of the outer skin begins, which afterwards hastens desiccation when coffee is spread flat in a thin layer on the terraces. When once the coffee berries have been freed from their pulpy envelope and skin, the desiccation—if the weather is propitious—takes place in a few days. Care must be taken to move the berries constantly, so that they dry evenly on all sides, as perfect desiccation is necessary in order to preserve the coffee in good condition after it is packed for shipment.

There are two ways of preparing coffee for export—the humid and the dry. In the humid process the berries are placed in a special machine called despolpadore, which leaves the beans merely covered and held together in couples by the membrane immediately enclosing them after the skin and viscous sugary coating have been removed. Those coffees are called in commerce, lavados, or washed.

The dry process consists, after the berries have been skinned and dried, in removing part of the pulp and membrane in a special machine and a series of ventilators. They are then quite ready for export.

The preparation of coffee from the drying terraces is slightly more complicated. The coffee passes through a first ventilator, which frees it from impurities such as earth, stems, stones, filaments, etc.; from this it is conveyed by means of an elevator into the descascador, where the membrane is removed. Subsequently it passes through a series of other ventilators, which eliminate whatever impurities have remained and convey the coffee into a polishing machine (brunidor). There the coffee is subjected to violent friction, which not only removes the last atoms of impurity but gives the beans a finishing polish. The coffee is then ready for the market.(image)

Brew, Don't Boil


The old-time boiling method of making coffee has gone out of style, because the average consumer is becoming aware of the fact that it does not give a drink of maximum efficiency. Boiling the ground coffee with water results in a large loss of aromatic principles and a bitter flavor to the beverage. Also, the maintenance of a high temperature by the direct application of heat has a deleterious effect upon the substances in solution. This is also true in the case of the percolator, and any other device wherein the solution is caused to pass directly into steam at the point where heat is applied. Warm and cold water extract about the same amount of material from coffee; but with different rates of speed, an increase in temperature decreasing the time necessary to effect the desired result.

It is a well known fact that re-warming a coffee brew has an undesirable effect upon it. This is very probably due to the precipitation of some of the water-soluble proteins when the solution cools, and their subsequent decomposition when heat is applied directly to them in reheating the solution. The absorption of air by the solution upon cooling, with attendant oxidation, which is accentuated by the application of heat in re-warming, must also be considered. When an extract of coffee cools upon standing, some of the aromatic principles separate out and are lost by volatilization.

The method of extracting coffee which gives the most satisfaction is practised by using a grind just coarse enough to retain the flavoring components, retaining the ground coffee in a fine cloth bag, as in the urn system, or on a filter paper, and pouring water at boiling temperature over the coffee. During the extraction, a top should be kept on the device to minimize volatilization, and the temperature of the extract should be maintained constant at about 200° F. after being made. Whether a repouring is necessary or not is dependent upon the speed with which the water passes through the coffee, which in turn is controlled by the fineness of the grind and of the filtering medium.(image)

Judging Coffee Quality by Taste and Appearance


Before the beginning of the twentieth century, practically all the coffees bought and sold in the United States were judged for merit simply by the appearance of the green or of the roasted bean. Since that time, the importance of testing the drinking qualities has become generally recognized; and today every progressive coffee buyer has his sample-roasting and testing outfit with which to carry out painstaking cup tests. Both buyers and sellers use the cup test, the former to determine the merits of the coffee he is buying, and the latter to ascertain the proper value of the chop under consideration. Frequently a test is made to fix the relative desirability of various growths considered as a whole, using composite samples that are supposed to give representation to an entire crop. The first step in testing coffee is to compare the appearance of the green bean of a chop with a sample of known standard value for that particular kind of coffee. The next step is to compare the appearance when roasted. Then comes the appearance and aroma test, when it is ground; and finally, the most difficult of all, the trial of the flavor and aroma of the liquid. Naturally the tester gives much care to proper roasting of the samples to be examined. He recognizes several different kinds of roasts which he terms the light, the medium, the dark, the Italian, and the French roasts, all of which vary in the shadings of color, and each of which gives a different taste in the cup. The careful tester watches the roast closely to see whether the beans acquire a dull or bright finish, and to note also if there are many quakers, or off-color beans. When the proper roasting point is reached, he smells the beans while still hot to determine their aroma. In some growths and grades, he will frequently smell of them as they cool off, because the character changes as the heat leaves them, as in the case of many Maracaibo grades. After roasting, the actual cup-testing begins. Two methods are employed, the blind cup test, in which there is no clue to the identity of the kind of coffee in the cup; and the open test, in which the tester knows beforehand the particular coffee he is to examine. The former is most generally employed by buyers and sellers; although a large number of experts who do not let their knowledge interfere with their judgment, use the open method. In both systems the amount of ground coffee placed in the cup is carefully weighed so that the strength will be standard. Generally, the cups are marked on the bottom for identification after the examination. Before pouring on the hot water to make the brew, the aroma of the freshly ground coffee is carefully noted to see if it is up to standard. In pouring the water, care is exercised to keep the temperature constant in the cups, so that the strength in all will be equal. When the water is poured directly on the grounds, a crust or scum is formed. Before this crust breaks, the tester sniffs the aroma given off; this is called the wet-smell, or crust, test, and is considered of great importance. Of course, the taste of the brew is the most important test. Equal amounts of coffee are sipped from each cup, the tester holding each sip in his mouth only long enough to get the full strength of the flavor. He spits out the coffee into a large brass cuspidor which is designed for the purpose. The expert never swallows the liquor. Cup-testing calls for keenly developed senses of sight, smell, and taste, and the faculty for remembering delicate shadings in each sense. By sight, the coffee man judges the size, shape, and color of the green and roasted bean, which are important factors in determining commercial values. He c[...]

Philadelphia's First Coffee House


The first house of public resort opened in Philadelphia bore the name of the Blue Anchor tavern, and was probably established in 1683 or 1684; colonial records do not state definitely. As its name indicates, this was a tavern. The first coffee house came into existence about the year 1700. Watson, in one place in his Annals of the city, says 1700, but in another 1702. The earlier date is thought to be correct, and is seemingly substantiated by the co-authors Scharf and Westcott in their History of the city, in which they say, "The first public house designated as a coffee house was built in Penn's time [1682–1701] by Samuel Carpenter, on the east side of Front Street, probably above Walnut Street. That it was the first of its kind—the only one in fact for some years—seems to be established beyond doubt. It was always referred to in old times as 'Ye Coffee House.'"

Carpenter owned also the Globe inn, which was separated from Ye coffee house by a public stairway running down from Front Street to Water Street, and, it is supposed, to Carpenter's Wharf. The exact location of the old house was recently established from the title to the original patentee, Samuel Carpenter, by a Philadelphia real-estate title-guarantee company, as being between Walnut and Chestnut Streets, and occupying six and a half feet of what is now No. 137 South Front Street and the whole of No. 139.

How long Ye coffee house endured is uncertain. It was last mentioned in colonial records in a real estate conveyance from Carpenter to Samuel Finney, dated April 26, 1703. In that document it is described as "That brick Messuage, or Tenement, called Ye Coffee House, in the possession of Henry Flower, and situate, lying and being upon or before the bank of the Delaware River, containing in length about thirty feet and in breadth about twenty-four."

The Henry Flower mentioned as the proprietor of Philadelphia's first coffee house, was postmaster of the province for a number of years, and it is believed that Ye coffee house also did duty as the post-office for a time. Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette, in an issue published in 1734, has this advertisement:

All persons who are indebted to Henry Flower, late postmaster of Pennsylvania, for Postage of Letters or otherwise, are desir'd to pay the same to him at the old Coffee House in Philadelphia.

Flower's advertisement would indicate that Ye coffee house, then venerable enough to be designated as old, was still in existence, and that Flower was to be found there. Franklin also seems to have been in the coffee business, for in several issues of the Gazette around the year 1740 he advertised: "Very good coffee sold by the Printer."(image)

Coffee in Germany, 1922


Editor's note: this is an interesting description of cafe life in Germany between the wars. Germany originated the afternoon coffee function known as the kaffee-klatsch. Even today, the German family's reunion takes place around the coffee table on Sunday afternoons. In summer, when weather permits, the family will take a walk into the suburbs, and stop at a garden where coffee is sold in pots. The proprietor furnishes the coffee, the cups, the spoons and, in normal times, the sugar, two pieces to each cup; and the patrons bring their own cake. They put one piece of sugar into each cup and take the other pieces home to the "canary bird," meaning the sugar bowl in the pantry. Cheaper coffee is served in some gardens, which conspicuously display large signs at the entrance, saying: "Families may cook their own coffee in this place." In such a garden, the patron merely buys the hot water from the proprietor, furnishing the ground coffee and cake himself. While waiting for the coffee to brew, he may listen to the band and watch the children play under the trees. French or Vienna drip pots are used for brewing. Every city in Germany has its cafés, spacious places where patrons sit around small tables, drinking coffee, "with or without" turned or unturned, steaming or iced, sweetened or unsweetened, depending on the sugar supply; nibble, at the same time, a piece of cake or pastry, selected from a glass pyramid; talk, flirt, malign, yawn, read, and smoke. Cafés are, in fact, public reading rooms. Some places keep hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers and magazines on file for the use of patrons. If the customer buys only one cup of coffee, he may keep his seat for hours, and read one newspaper after another. Three of the four corners of Berlin's most important street crossing are occupied by cafés. This is where Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse meet. On the southwest corner there is Kranzler's staid old café, a very respectable place, where the lower hall is even reserved for non-smokers. On the southeast corner is Café Bauer, known the world over. However, it has seen better days. It has been outdistanced by competitors. On the northeast corner is the Victoria, a new-style place, very bright, and less staid. There no room is reserved for non-smokers, for most of the ladies, if they do not themselves smoke, will light the cigars for their escorts. Around the Potsdamer Platz there is a number of cafés. Josty's is perhaps the most frequented in Berlin. It is the best liked on account of the trees and terraces in front. Farther to the west, on Kuerfuerstendamm, there are dozens of large cafés. Some of the cafés are meeting-places for certain professions and trades. The Admiral's café, in Friedrichstrasse, for instance, is the "artistes'" exchange. All the stage folk and stars of the tanbark meet there every day. Chorus girls, tumblers, ladies of the flying trapeze, contortionists, and bareback riders are to be found there, discussing their grievances, denouncing their managers, swapping their diamonds, and recounting former triumphs. Cinema-makers come also to pick out a cast for a new film play. There one can pick out a full cast every minute. Then there is the Café des Westens in Kuerfuerstendamm, the old one, where dreamers and poets congregate. It is called also Café Groessenwahn, which means that persons suffering from an exaggerated ego are conspicuous by their presence and their long hair. At almost every table one may find a poet who has written a play that is bound to enrich its author and any man of means who will put up the money to build a new theater in which to [...]

Handling Coffee in San Francisco


(image) San Francisco ranks third in the list of United States coffee ports, having received its greatest development in the four years of the World War, when the flow of Central American coffees was largely diverted from Hamburg to the Californian port. In the course of these four years, the annual volume of coffee imports increased from some 380,000 bags to more than 1,000,000 bags in 1918. The bulk of these importations came from Central America, though some came from Hawaii, India, and Brazil and other South American countries. Because of its improved unloading and distributing facilities, San Francisco claims to be able to handle a cargo of coffee more rapidly than either New York or New Orleans.

Handling Central American coffees in San Francisco is distinctly different from the business in Brazil. In order to secure the Central American planter's crops, the importers find it necessary to finance his operations to a large extent. Consequently, the Central American trade is not a simple matter of buying and selling, but an intricate financial operation on the part of the San Francisco importers. Practically all the coffee coming in is either on consignment, or is already sold to established coffee-importing houses. Brokers do not deal direct with the exporters; and practically none of the roasters now import direct.

In recent years San Francisco has adopted the practise of buying a large part of her coffee on the "to arrive" basis; that is the purchase has been made before the coffee is shipped from the producing country, or while in transit. This practise applies, of course, only to well known marks and standard grades. Coffee that has not been sold before arrival in San Francisco is generally sampled on the docks during unloading, although this is sometimes postponed until the consignment is in the warehouse. It is then graded and priced, and is offered for sale by samples through brokers.

San Francisco is better equipped with modern unloading machinery and other apparatus than either New Orleans or New York, even more liberal use being made there than in New Orleans of the automatic-belt conveyors both for transferring the bags from the ships to the docks and for stacking them in high tiers on the pier. Another notable feature of the modern coffee docks is that the newer ones are of steel and concrete and, as in New Orleans, are covered to protect the coffee from wind and storm.(image)

Chicory and Coffee


This article is excerpted from the 1911 edition of a major British encyclopedia, and contains a brief discussion of how chicory has been used as a substitute for (or addition to) coffee.

The chicory or succory plant, Cichorium Intybus (natural order, Compositae), in its wild state is a native of Great Britain, occurring most frequently in dry chalky soils, and by road-sides. It has a long fleshy tap-root, a rigid branching hairy stem rising to a height of 2 or 3 ft.—the leaves around the base being lobed and toothed, not unlike those of the dandelion. The flower heads are of a bright blue colour, few in number, and measure nearly an inch and a half across. Chicory is cultivated much more extensively on the continent of Europe—in Holland, Belgium, France and Germany—than in Great Britain; and as a cultivated plant it has three distinct applications. Its roots roasted and ground are used as a substitute for, adulterant of, or addition to coffee; both roots and leaves are employed as salads; and the plant is grown as a fodder or herbage crop which is greedily consumed by cattle.

In Great Britain it is chiefly in its first capacity, in connexion with coffee, that chicory is employed. A large proportion of the chicory root used for this purpose is obtained from Belgium and other neighbouring continental countries; but a considerable quantity is cultivated in England, chiefly in Yorkshire. For the preparation of chicory the older stout white roots are selected, and after washing they are sliced up into small pieces and kiln-dried. In this condition the material is sold to the chicory roaster, by whom it is roasted till it assumes a deep brown colour; afterwards when ground it is in external characteristics very like coffee, but is destitute of its pleasing aromatic odour. Neither does the roasted chicory possess any trace of the alkaloid caffeine which gives their peculiar virtues to coffee and tea. The fact, however, that for over a hundred years it has been successfully used as a substitute for or recognized addition to coffee, while in the meantime innumerable other substances have been tried for the same purpose and abandoned, indicates that it is agreeable and harmless. It gives the coffee additional colour, bitterness and body. It is at least in very extensive and general use; and in Belgium especially its infusion is largely drunk as an independent beverage.

The blanched leaves are much esteemed by the French as a winter salad known by the name of Barbe de capucin.(image)

Some Interesting Claims Made About Coffee


One can not fail to note in connection with the introduction of coffee into England that the beverage suffered most from the indiscretions of its friends. On the one hand, the quacks of the medical profession sought to claim it for their own; and, on the other, more or less ignorant laymen attributed to the drink such virtues as its real champions among the physicians never dreamed of. It was the favorite pastime of its friends to exaggerate coffee's merits; and of its enemies, to vilify its users. All this furnished good "copy" for and against the coffee house, which became the central figure in each new controversy. From the early English author who damned it by calling it "more wholesome than toothsome", to Pasqua Rosée and his contemporaries, who urged its more fantastic claims, it was forced to make its way through a veritable morass of misunderstanding and intolerance. No harmless drink in history has suffered more at hands of friend and foe. Did its friends hail it as a panacea, its enemies retorted that it was a slow poison. In France and in England there were those who contended that it produced melancholy, and those who argued it was a cure for the same. Dr. Thomas Willis (1621–1673), a distinguished Oxford physician whom Antoine Portal (1742–1832) called "one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived", said he would sometimes send his patients to the coffee house rather than to the apothecary's shop. An old broadside, described later in this chapter, stressed the notion that if you "do but this Rare ARABIAN cordial use, and thou may'st all the Doctors Slops Refuse." As a cure for drunkenness its "magic" power was acclaimed by its friends, and grudgingly admitted by its foes. This will appear presently in a description of the war of the broadsides and the pamphlets. Coffee was praised by one writer as a deodorizer. Another (Richard Bradley), in his treatise concerning its use with regard to the plague, said if its qualities had been fully known in 1665, "Dr. Hodges and other learned men of that time would have recommended it." As a matter of fact, in Gideon Harvey's Advice against the Plague, published in 1665, we find, "coffee is commended against the contagion." This is how the drink's sobering virtue was celebrated by the author of the Rebellious Antidote: Come, Frantick Fools, leave off your Drunken fits. Obsequious be and I'll recall your Wits, From perfect Madness to a modest Strain For farthings four I'll fetch you back again, Enable all your mene with tricks of State, Enter and sip and then attend your Fate; Come Drunk or Sober, for a gentle Fee, Come n'er so Mad, I'll your Physician be. A Dr. Willis, in his Pharmaceutice Rationalis (1674), was one of the first to attempt to do justice to both sides of the coffee question. At best, he thought it a somewhat risky beverage, and its votaries must, in some cases, be prepared to suffer languor and even paralysis; it may attack the heart and cause tremblings in the limbs. On the other hand it may, if judiciously used, prove a marvelous benefit; "being daily drunk it wonderfully clears and enlightens each part of the Soul and disperses all the clouds of every Function." It was a long time before recognition was obtained for the truth about the "novelty drink"; especially that, if there were any beyond purely social virtues to be found in coffee, they were "political rather than medical." Dr. James Duncan, of the Faculty of Montpellier, in his book Wholesome Advice against the Abuse of Hot Liquors, done into English in 1706, found coffee no[...]

The Cafe de Procope


It was not until 1689 that there appeared in Paris a real French adaptation of the Oriental coffee house. This was the Café de Procope, opened by François Procope (Procopio Cultelli, or Cotelli) who came from Florence or Palermo. Procope was a limonadier (lemonade vender) who had a royal license to sell spices, ices, barley water, lemonade, and other such refreshments. He early added coffee to the list, and attracted a large and distinguished patronage. Procope, a keen-witted merchant, made his appeal to a higher class of patrons than did Pascal and those who first followed him. He established his café directly opposite the newly opened Comédie Française, in the street then known as the rue des Fossés-St.-Germain, but now the rue de l'Ancienne Comédie. A writer of the period has left this description of the place: "The Café de Procope ... was also called the Antre [cavern] de Procope, because it was very dark even in full day, and ill-lighted in the evenings; and because you often saw there a set of lank, sallow poets, who had somewhat the air of apparitions." Because of its location, the Café de Procope became the gathering place of many noted French actors, authors, dramatists, and musicians of the eighteenth century. It was a veritable literary salon. Voltaire was a constant patron; and until the close of the historic café, after an existence of more than two centuries, his marble table and chair were among the precious relics of the coffee house. His favorite drink is said to have been a mixture of coffee and chocolate. Rousseau, author and philosopher; Beaumarchais, dramatist and financier; Diderot, the encyclopedist; Ste.-Foix, the abbé of Voisenon; de Belloy, author of the Siege of Callais; Lemierre, author of Artaxerce; Crébillon; Piron; La Chaussée; Fontenelle; Condorcet; and a host of lesser lights in the French arts, were habitués of François Procope's modest coffee saloon near the Comédie Française. Naturally, the name of Benjamin Franklin, recognized in Europe as one of the world's foremost thinkers in the days of the American Revolution, was often spoken over the coffee cups of Café de Procope; and when the distinguished American died in 1790, this French coffee house went into deep mourning "for the great friend of republicanism." The walls, inside and out, were swathed in black bunting, and the statesmanship and scientific attainments of Franklin were acclaimed by all frequenters. The Café de Procope looms large in the annals of the French Revolution. During the turbulent days of 1789 one could find at the tables, drinking coffee or stronger beverages, and engaged in debate over the burning questions of the hour, such characters as Marat, Robespierre, Danton, Hébert, and Desmoulins. Napoleon Bonaparte, then a poor artillery officer seeking a commission, was also there. He busied himself largely in playing chess, a favorite recreation of the early Parisian coffee-house patrons. It is related that François Procope once compelled young Bonaparte to leave his hat for security while he sought money to pay his coffee score. After the Revolution, the Café de Procope lost its literary prestige and sank to the level of an ordinary restaurant. During the last half of the nineteenth century, Paul Verlaine, bohemian, poet, and leader of the symbolists, made the Café de Procope his haunt; and for a time it regained some of its lost popularity. The Restaurant Procope still survives at 13 rue de l'Ancienne Comédie. History records that, with the opening[...]

Coffee-Growing in Brazil in the 1920s


In Brazil, the Giant of South America, and the world's largest coffee producer, the methods of cultivation naturally have reached a high point of development, although the soil and the climate were not at first regarded as favorable. The year 1723 is generally accepted as the date of the introduction of the coffee plant into Brazil from French Guiana. Coffee planting was slow in developing, however, until 1732, when the governor of the states of Pará and Maranhao urged its cultivation. Sixteen years later, there were 17,000 trees in Pará. From that year on, slow but steady progress was made; and by 1770, an export trade had been begun from the port of Pará to countries in Europe. The spread of the industry began about this time. The coffee tree was introduced into the state of Rio de Janeiro in 1770. From there its cultivation was gradually extended into the states of São Paulo, Minãs Geraes, Bahia, and Espirito Santo, which have become the great coffee-producing sections of Brazil. The cultivation of the plant did not become especially noteworthy until the third decade of the nineteenth century. Large crops were gathered in the season of 1842–43; and by the middle of the century, the plantations were producing annually more than 2,000,000 bags. Brazil's commercial coffee-growing region has an estimated area of approximately 1,158,000 square miles, and extends from the river Amazon to the southern border of the state of São Paulo, and from the Atlantic coast to the western boundary of the state of Matto Grosso. This area is larger than that section of the United States lying east of the Mississippi River, with Texas added. In every state of the republic, from Ceará in the north to Santa Catharina in the south, the coffee tree can be cultivated profitably; and is, in fact, more or less grown in every state, if only for domestic use. However, little attention is given to coffee-growing in the north, except in the state of Pernambuco, which has only about 1,500,000 trees, as compared, with the 764,000,000 trees of São Paulo in 1922. The chief coffee-growing plantations in Brazil are situated on plateaus seldom less than 1,800 feet above sea-level, and ranging up to 4,000 feet. The mean annual temperature is approximately 70° F., ranging from a mean of 60.8° in winter to a mean of 72° in summer. The temperature has been known, however, to register 32° in winter and 97.7° in summer. While coffee trees will grow in almost any part of Brazil, experience indicates that the two most fertile soils, the terra roxa and the massape, lie in the "coffee belts." The terra roxa is a dark red earth, and is practically confined to São Paulo, and to it is due the predominant coffee productivity of that state. Massape is a yellow, dark red—or even black—soil, and occurs more or less contiguous to the terra roxa. With a covering of loose sand, it makes excellent coffee land. Brazil planters follow the nursery-propagated method of planting, and cultivate, prune, and spray their trees liberally. Transplanting is done in the months from November to February. Coffee-growing profits have shown a decided falling off in Brazil in recent years. In 1900 it was not uncommon for a coffee estate to yield an annual profit of from 100 to 250 percent. Ten years later the average returns did not exceed twelve percent. In Brazil's coffee belt there are two seasons—the wet, running from September to March; and the dry, running from April to August. The coffee trees are[...]

Caffeine-Free Coffee Trees


Certain trees growing wild in the Comoro Islands and Madagascar are known as caffeine-free coffee trees. Just whether they are entitled to this classification or not is a question. Some of the French and German investigators have reported coffee from these regions that was absolutely devoid of caffeine. It was thought at first that they must represent an entirely new genus; but upon investigation, it was found that they belonged to the genus Coffea, to which all our common coffees belong.

Professor Dubard, of the French National Museum and Colonial Garden, studied these trees botanically and classified them as C. Gallienii, C. Bonnieri, C. Mogeneti, and C. Augagneuri. The beans of berries from these trees were analyzed by Professor Bertrand and pronounced caffein-free; but Labroy, in writing of the same coffee, states that, while the bean is caffein-free, it contains a very bitter substance, cafamarine, which makes the infusion unfit for use. Dr. O.W. Willcox, in examining some specimens of wild coffee from Madagascar, found that the bean was not caffein-free; and though the caffein content was low, it was no lower than in some of the Porto Rican varieties.

Another source reports that Hanausek found no caffein in C. mauritiana, C. humboltiana, C. Gallienii, C. Bonnerii, and C. Mogeneti.(image)

The Physiological Action of Coffee


Drinking of coffee by mankind may be attributed to three causes: the demand for, and the pleasing effects of, a hot drink (a very small percentage of the coffee consumed is taken cold), the pleasing reaction which its flavors excite on the gustatory nerve, and the stimulating effect which it has upon the body. The flavor is due largely to the volatile aromatic constituents, "caffeol," which, when isolated, have a general depressant action on the system; and the stimulation is caused by the caffein. The general and specific actions of these individual components, together with that of the hypothetical "caffetannic acid," are considered under separate headings.

Coffee may be considered a member of the general class of adjuvant, or auxiliary, foods to which other beverages and condiments of negligible inherent food value belong. Its position on the average menu may be attributed largely to its palatability and comforting effects. However, the medicinal value of coffee in the dietary and per se must not be overlooked.

The ingestion of coffee infusion is always followed by evidences of stimulation. It acts upon the nervous system as a powerful cerebro-spinal stimulant, increasing mental activity and quickening the power of perception, thus making the thoughts more precise and clear, and intellectual work easier without any evident subsequent depression. The muscles are caused to contract more vigorously, increasing their working power without there being any secondary reaction leading to a diminished capacity for work. Its action upon the circulation is somewhat antagonistic; for while it tends to increase the rate of the heart by acting directly on the heart muscle, it tends to decrease it by stimulating the inhibitory center in the medulla.

The effect on the kidneys is more marked, the diuretic effect being shown by an increase in water, soluble solids, and of uric acid directly attributable to the caffein content of the coffee taken. In the alimentary tract coffee seems to stimulate the oxyntic cells and slightly to increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid, as well as to favor intestinal peristalsis. It is difficult to accept reports of coffee accomplishing both a decrease in metabolism and an increase in body heat; but if the production of heat by the demethylation of caffeine to form uric acid and a possible repression of perspiration by coffee be considered, the simultaneous occurrence of these two physiological reactions may be credited.

The disagreement of medical authorities over the physiological effects of coffee is quite pronounced. It will be noticed that the majority opinion is that coffee in moderation is not harmful. Just how much coffee a person may drink, and still remain within the limits of moderation and temperance, is dependent solely upon the individual constitution, and should be decided from personal experience rather than by accepting an arbitrary standard set by some one who professes to be an authority on the matter.(image)

Coffee-House Keepers' Tokens


The great London fire of 1666 destroyed some of the coffee houses; but prominent among those that survived was the Rainbow, whose proprietor, James Farr, issued one of the earliest coffee-house tokens, doubtless in grateful memory of his escape. Farr's token shows an arched rainbow emerging from the clouds of the "great fire," indicating that all was well with him, and the Rainbow still radiant. On the reverse the medal was inscribed, "In Fleet Street—His Half Penny." A large number of these trade coins were put out by coffee-house keepers and other tradesmen in the seventeenth century as evidence of an amount due, as stated thereon, by the issuer to the holder. Tokens originated because of the scarcity of small change. They were of brass, copper, pewter, and even leather, gilded. They bore the name, address, and calling of the issuer, the nominal value of the piece, and some reference to his trade. They were readily redeemed, on presentation, at their face value. They were passable in the immediate neighborhood, seldom reaching farther than the next street. C.G. Williamson writes: Tokens are essentially democratic; they would never have been issued but for the indifference of the Government to a public need; and in them we have a remarkable instance of a people forcing a legislature to comply with demands at once reasonable and imperative. Taken as a whole series, they are homely and quaint, wanting in beauty, but not without a curious domestic art of their own. Robinson finds an exception to the general simplicity in the tokens issued by one of the Exchange Alley houses. The dies of these tokens are such as to have suggested the skilled workmanship of John Roettier. The most ornate has the head of a Turkish sultan at that time famed for his horrible deeds, ending in suicide; its inscription runs: Morat ye Great Men did mee call; Where Eare I came I conquer'd all. A number of the most interesting coffee-house keepers' tokens in the Beaufoy collection in the Guildhall Museum were photographed for this work, and are shown herewith. It will be observed that many of the traders of 1660–75 adopted as their trade sign a hand pouring coffee from a pot, invariably of the Turkish-ewer pattern. Morat (Amurath) and Soliman were frequent coffee-house signs in the seventeenth century. J.H. Burn, in his Catalogue of Traders' Tokens, recites that in 1672 "divers persons who presumed ... to stamp, coin, exchange and distribute farthings, halfpence and pence of brass and copper" were "taken into custody, in order to a severe prosecution"; but upon submission, their offenses were forgiven, and it was not until the year 1675 that the private token ceased to pass current. A royal proclamation at the close of 1674 enjoined the prosecution of any who should "utter base metals with private stamps," or "hinder the vending of those half pence and farthings which are provided for necessary exchange." After this, tokens were issued stamped "necessary change."[...]