Period Civil War era coffee.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Today we have a wide selection of different style of coffee from many areas of the world. I assume this was not the norm during the Civil War. So where were Civil War coffee beans grown? I wonder how Civil War coffee tasted. I guess if the coffee was hot and strong is all a Civil War soldier might hope for.
 

lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
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Apr 18, 2019
What an interesting topic and one I hadn't thought of. A really great question. I do think this is really more of a three part question than just one. To know how Civil War era coffee tasted we need to know: where did the beans come from, how were they roasted, and how were they brewed. Any one of those changes the taste of coffee quite a bit. Just think of the changes in the way we drink coffee now compared to 40 years ago. The taste of drip brewed coffee is very different from the percolated coffee we had when I was a kid.

This, I think, will take some research. The source of the beans might be in ads in old newspapers. Brewing techniques should be mentioned in CW era cookbooks. Roasting though - did people buy their beans pre-roasted as we do? Or did they roast them at home? And how dark did they roast them? Coffee today is typically a much darker roast than it used to be.

Of course, knowing the internet, there may be an article that explain all of this already out there. It could even be on CWT! @donna has an encyclopedic knowledge of old posts in this forum so if the taste of Civil War coffee has been discussed she will know 🙂
 

donna

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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May 12, 2010
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Now Florida but always a Kentuckian
In the 19th century the majority of Coffee to America was from Brazil. It came into New Orleans and was sent to the North and South. Other Latin American countries also started cultivation of coffee.

The Union solder was given 36 lbs of coffee a year. They were beans both roasted and unroasted. Confederates were given less coffee and as time went by they (soldiers) began making substitute coffees for consumption.
 

sehillard

Private
Joined
Apr 18, 2018
I read that soldiers would call it "Beef Tea" because often the cook or the soldiers at their campfires would make the coffee in the same pot they made beef stew in the previous day and often the pot was not well washed, so the coffee would have vefry much a beef flavor to it.
 

lupaglupa

2nd Lieutenant
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Apr 18, 2019
I read that soldiers would call it "Beef Tea" because often the cook or the soldiers at their campfires would make the coffee in the same pot they made beef stew in the previous day and often the pot was not well washed, so the coffee would have vefry much a beef flavor to it.
I have made stew with coffee in it and it's very good. Coffee with stew in it seems less appealing
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2020
Location
North Carolina
If modern coffee percolators were not made until 1865, how did most people make their coffee?
It seems that on the CS side, after they roasted the bean, they ground it up by whatever means possible, placed the grounds into a pot or boiler, and boiled it. On the US side, it seems that the coffee was issued already ground. They probably boiled it next.
 

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