Monday, November 29, 2010

Cold Coffee

I don’t believe I have given you a recipe for making coffee during the lifetime of this blog. You may even believe that this would be a ridiculously unnecessary waste of blog space, and perhaps it is – although, on thinking about it, I have had more awful cups of coffee in my life than fantastic cups, in coffee-shops in several countries, so perhaps that is an assumption that needs challenging. In tea-addicted England in the 1840’s, however, coffee was somewhat of a mystery in most households. The editor of the Magazine of Domestic Economy saw fit to include a recipe (economical of course) for coffee in 1840.

And as for those of you who think you don’t need a recipe for coffee - I bet you don’t have one making it with cold water in your armamentarium.

The following novel recipe for making excellent coffee has been addressed by Professor Gregory to the Editor of the Kelso Mail.

“Sir, - The present high price of tea, likely as it is to rise still higher, gives a new degree of importance to the use of coffee as an economical substitute for it. Unfortunately, however, the making of coffee is so little understood in this country, that many are deterred from trying it by its notorious badness. It cannot therefore be indifferent to your readers to be put in possession of a simple and cheap method of making the very finest flavoured coffee.
This method is founded on the fact that cold water is capable of extracting all the pleasant and aromatic parts of roasted coffee, and may be described as an economical method of extracting coffee by means of cold water. As the most delicious part of the aroma of coffee is dissipated by boiling, coffee prepared by cold water is decidedly superior in flavour to that made by boiling.
The only apparatus required is a cylinder or percolator and a few quart bottles. The percolator is a cylinder, twenty to twenty four inches long, and two to two one eighth inches wide, terminating below in a funnel, the neck of which enters a bottle placed to receive the coffee. The following is the method of using this simple apparatus:- The throat of the funnel being lightly stopped with a clean bit of cotton wool, half a pound of ground coffee is to be mixed up in any convenient vessel with so much cold water as thoroughly to moisten it and give it the consistence of thin porridge. When this has stood for an hour or so, the mass is introduced into the percolator by means of a wide funnel. It immediately begins to drop into the bottle, and already the drops consist of a very strong infusion, nearly black. When the mass ceases to drop, the coffee is still impregnated with a very strong liquor. To obtain this, pour on gently through the upper end of the percolator as much cold water as fills it to the top. The pressure of this column of water forces out the liquid which is in the pores of the coffee and fresh water takes its place. This, in its turn, becomes charged though less strongly with the soluble parts of the powder and is in its turn displaced by the water above. At last, when the liquor which passes through (the cylinder being filled up from time to time) becomes very pale, the operation may be stopped, as the liquid remaining in the powder is now too weak to repay the trouble of extracting it. The whole of the liquors which have passed through, and to collect which several bottles may have been required, are to be mixed together; and if the directions above given be exactly followed, it will be found that, when made up, if necessary to the bulk of six imperial pints, the resulting liquid is strong and perfectly clear coffee of the most delicate flavour. Should six pints have been passed through, the liquors, when mixed, are ready for use; but if the filtered liquors amount, for example only to four pints, two pints of water are to be added. This sometimes happens, because from a variety of causes, the coffee is sooner exhausted in some experiments than in others.
… I ought not to omit to add that the exhausted coffee yields, when boiled with water, so much soluble matter as to furnish a considerable quantity of very tolerable coffe, not equal, certainly, in flavour to the cold infusion, but far from being disagreeable. When the cold infused coffee is to be used, it must, of course, be heated; but it ought only to be brought to the boiling point, not boiled, as boiling dissipates a great part of the flavour.

Quotation for the Day.

In America you can buy bucket-sized cups of coffee in any flavour you like other than coffee-flavour.
Author Unknown

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