Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Some Excellent Coffee Recipes"

“Almost everyone likes coffee and is glad to hear of good coffee recipes” said the Decatur Review on Sunday morning, August 21, 1898. I doubt too many of the newspaper’s readers, or the readers of this blog would disagree with that statement. The newspaper went on to give “Some Excellent Coffee Recipes” including coffee bonbons, coffee wafers, tarts and sponges, but first of all, it gave instructions for the starting point – “a good cup of coffee.” I doubt that those of you who are serious coffee-lovers, familiar with the beverage produced by a modern machine with a skilled barrista in charge, will think much of the advice, but here goes:

Fill a coffeepot three-quarters full of boiling water, and put in the coffee carefully, a spoonful at a time, stirring it thoroughly between each spoonful; then set it on to boil gently, still stirring to force it into combination with the water. After a few minutes draw it to one side, and let it continue gently boiling for one hour; then draw it off the fire, but as it finally boils up, throw in about half a cupful of cold water to let it settle, which it should be allowed to do as far from the fire as possible. In about one hour or less, the coffee should be quite clear. Then pour it off into another coffeepot, taking care not to disturb the sediment.
Coffee made in this manner may be kept three days in summer and longer in winter and is always conveniently ready when wanted, as it only has to be heated in the coffeepot, and is ready for use.

There you are: a good boiling for an hour, then another good heating up again (and again and again, for up to three days, perhaps?) after the hour of settling the sediment. Alas! You do need two coffee pots. But think of the convenience of several days’ supply of the beverage!

The next recipe in the article was for “Vanilla Coffee” - without the vanilla. Considering the cost of vanilla beans, it could (I am not saying should) be tried.

Vanilla Coffee. Boil a cupful of oats in soft water for five or six minutes. Throw the water away; then fill it up again with the same quantity of water and let it boil for 30 minutes. After that strain it through fine muslin or silk and use the water for making coffee. It will then have the most delicious flavor of vanilla.

 Who knew? Oats can give the flavor of vanilla at a fraction of the price! Of course, you do also have a muslin or silk cloth to wash at the end of this process, but is this a reasonable price to pay for the convenience of a pile of cooked porridge oats for breakfast?

Tell me, is this advice going to change your coffee-making practice?


Anonymous said...

The Vanilla Coffee sounds like a fun experiment, I'll give it a go!

Ken Albala said...

But aren't you really intrigued about what it might taste like? I really like cowboy coffee, boiled for a long time, but then drunk with the sludge, like Turkish. Who knows, this might be good.

Anonymous said...

No, I don't think I will give up my Melita cone over coffee cup method for this variation. I have seen similar recipes in other 19th century I recall Alexis Soyer had a very different take but I don't have his book to hand at the moment.

The Old Foodie said...

I am intrigued indeed, Ken. Most of the coffee afficionados that I know are horrified at the idea of coffee boiled for a long period. But I am a dyed in the wool tea-drinker, and have low expectations and understanding of coffee. I think this version may be OK if it is sweetened, and without milk, - is that cowboy-style? Shall we try it, and compare notes?

The Old Foodie said...

Hi rowanberry wine. you have reminded me about Soyers recipe - must go and look it up. I am also intrigued by the cold-coffee method which I mentioned in a previous post - although I havent tried it yet!