Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A New Rival to Tea.

In August 1854 the New York Daily Times followed up on an article a few weeks earlier on a ‘new rival to tea.’ A Dr. Stenhouse was the expert opinion called in to examine the specimen – dried leaves from the coffee bush, imported from Sumatra.

Dr. Stenhouse noted that “ the leaves had been strongly roasted in rather a rough manner, .. closely resemble Paraguay tea. … The coffee leaves, when digested with boiling water, yielded a deep brown infusion, which, in taste and odour, closely resembled a mixture of coffee and tea. On the addition of milk and sugar, it formed a very tolerable beverage; and, as the coffee-leaf can be imported into Europe for rather less than twopence a pound, the poorer classes are likely to find it a very useful substitute for tea and coffee.”

Coffee-Leaf Tea had a brief moment in the spotlight in the 1850’s. Samples were demonstrated at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, and other other journals discussed its history and possibilities:

“Coffee leaf tea is sipped in Sumatra, while the Ethiopians of Central Africa quaff the Absyssinian chaat. Thus we see that warm drinks are popular with Christian and Savage, and if we accept the wisdom of intuition and instinct, we must consider them, as a general rule, healthful.”

And “The natives universally prefer the leaf to the berry, giving, as a reason, that it contains more bitter than the berry, and is more nutritious.”

Surprising, that a tea made from the coffee bush that tasted like a mix of tea and coffee did not become an instant success or an enduring favourite, no?

German Coffee Cakes.
To make good coffee cakes in the German style, take two pounds of flour, a pint and a half of milk, three eggs, a quarter of a pound of butter. Set a sponge with one pint of the milk warmed, flour to make a stiff batter, and one cake of compressed yeast. When it has risen sufficiently, add the other ingredients, the butter being worked into the flour; then knead well. The cake should be rolled, or better, pressed out with the fingers very thin for baking. When in the pan, brush over with melted butter, and on top place chopped almonds, cinnamon, and sugar. Bake in a moderate oven. The cake may be sweetened to taste. The greater part of the sweetness should be on the top.
Apple cake and Kranzkuchen are made in the same way.For the apple cake, apples are cut according to size into halves or eights, and laid over the dough, pulled out very thin, and brished over with melted butter. There should be sugar and cinnamon on the apples, and also a few currants. When the apple cake is taken from the oven it is sprinkled with water with a brush to make it moist. This sprinkling must not be omitted or the quality of the cake will suffer. It is done “according to judgement.”
The ring, Kranzkuchen, and pretzel also, if made in a double ring, like the pretzel so familiar as an accompaniment to beer, are all made of coffee-cake dough. The dough is, as before, brushed over with melted butter, and upon the thin cake, sugar, cinnamon, chopped almonds, currants, and raisins are laid. The whole is rolled as a jelly cake, and then formed into a ring, Kranz, or double ring, pretzel, as desired, and is also baked in a moderate oven. When this is done, a thin frosting of the white of an egg and sugar is spread on it, and the result is a very delicious cake, which is eaten with an excellent cup of coffee.
New York Times, July 1897

Coffee Recipes.

To remind you: there is an archive of recipes using coffee as an ingredient on the now-defunct Companion Site. It is waiting HERE for me to import it all to this one, but it will have to wait a while.

Quotation for the Day …

It is true, says Liebeg, that thousands have lived without a knowledge of tea and coffee; and daily experience teaches us that, under certain circumstances, they may be dispensed with without disadvantage to the merely animal functions, but it is an error, certainly, to conclude from this that they may be altogether dispensed with in reference to their effects; and It is a question whether, if we had no tea and no coffee, the popular instinct would not seek for and discover the means of replacing them.... Isabella Beeton, 1861.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there hasn't been more of an effort by coffee growers to market this beverage - coffee leaves seem like such a natural byproduct of the coffee industry. I think I smell the next trendy new tea, coming to a Starbucks near you in 2010...

Anonymous said...

Yuck. I have never cared for coffee, hate getting iced tea that's been made in a coffee pot, would have no interest in coffee-tea.

The Old Foodie said...

I have been a bit surprised in this time of 'gourmet teas' that no-one has rediscovered this and made it trendy. Maybe next week's fashion?