Authentic Substitute Coffees During The Civil War

donna

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As I have posted before, coffee by far was the most popular beverage in the North and the South. It was especially loved by soldiers. The North did not run out of coffee during the war but in the South it became nonexistent.

Southerners had many substitutes for coffee which included chicory, acorns, beans, beets, corn, cornmeal, cotton seeds, dandelion root, okra seeds, , peanuts, peas, sugar cane seeds, and wheat berries. These were parched, dried, browned or roasted and used to make coffee. Other versions of coffee used tubers like carrots, potatoes and yams which were cut into small pieces, dried, toasted and ground up to make coffee.

Many soldiers (prisoners) referred to substitute coffee as Lincoln Coffee. As Lonnie R. Speer in his book "Portals To Hell" states: "Lincoln coffee, what any coffee made from substitutes was called. The boiling of parched corn, rye, and even wood splinters were several methods resorted to. A derogatory term referring to the belief that President Lincoln was responsible for the current state of affairs and what the prisoners were reduced to doing in order to have some simulation of coffee."

I will post many substitute coffees and hope others will add to this list. A very informative article on substitute coffee is "Confederate Coffee Substitutes, Articles from Civil War Newspapers", at http://www.uttyler.edu/vbetts/coffee.htm

As the "Bellville Texas Countryman" published on June 12, 1861: 'The times are so hard, that many families have taken to drinking coffee but once a day. It is a good time to retrench and reform, when you can't help it."

So many Southerners, soldiers and Civilians alike, resorted to many ingredients to make a cup of coffee.
 

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donna

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From Isabelle Benton's "Book of Household Management", 1861:

Instant Coffee

To every 1/4 pound of ground coffee, add one teaspoonful of powdered chicory and one pint of water. Freshly roast the coffee, put into a percolator or filter with the chicory and pour slowly over it the above amount of boiling water. When it has all filtered through, warm the coffee to bring it to the simmering point, but do not allow it to boil, then filter it a second time, put it into a clean, dry bottle, cork it well, and it will remain fresh for several days. Two tablespoons of this essence are quite sufficient for a breakfast-cupful of hot milk.

This is an early use of coffee and chicory to make coffee last.
 

donna

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Cane Seed Coffee

A coffee substitute in the South during the blockade. It was brewed from the seeds of sugar cane that were parched and ground.
This one from "The Language of the Civil War" by John D. Wright

Another version Georgia Cane Seed Coffee

If sugarcane can be obtained, dry it, toast and parch, and grind as coffee beans. It requires longer brewing than regular coffee to make a proper drink.
From "A Taste of War" by William C. Davis.
 

donna

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Chinquapin Coffee

A coffee substitute in the South during the blockade. It was made from the dried and ground nuts of the chinquapin tree which is member of the beech family.

Yorkville Chinquapin coffee

Boil chinquapin nuts, dry thoroughly, and toast until very hard, Grind and brew as with regular coffee.

From: "A Taste For War" by William C. Davis.
 

donna

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#6
Okra Coffee

A coffee substitute made of okra by southern women during the restrictive war years when the price of coffee soared to $70 a pound.

Recipe from "The Southern Banner, Athens, Georgia, February 11, 1863:


Parch over a good fire and stir well until it is dark brown, then take off the fire and before the seed get cool put the white of one egg to two tea-cups full of okra, and mix well. Put the same quality of seed in the coffee pot as you would coffee, boil well and settle as coffee.
 

donna

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Pea Coffee

A coffee substitute in the South during the Union naval blockade. It was brewed from English peas roasted until they were dark brown

Georgia Republican Pea Coffee

Take dried peas and roast them until they turn a cinnamon brown. Crush and grind as with coffee beans and brew.

From: "A Taste For War" by William C. Davis.
 

donna

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Potato and Persimmon Coffee

A southern coffee substitute used during the blockade, made of persimmon seeds that were boiled and parched, with mashed potatoes mixed in for body. Coffee was also made of dried and parched sweet potatoes.

Confederate Baptist Potato and Persimmon Coffee

Boil persimmon and then sieve the fruit to save the seeds. Wash, dry, and roast the seeds, then grind. Meanwhile, dry potatoes thoroughly, roast until hard, and grind. Mix two parts potato grinds to one part persimmon grounds, and brew coffee.

From: "A Taste For War" by William C. Davis.

Sweet Potato and Persimmon Coffee

"Another important item is, to save the seeds of the persimmons after they have boiled, and you let out the slop, for they are excellent for coffee, rather stronger and rougher than the genuine, Rio, hence, I mix two parts of dried sweet potatoes to one of persimmon seed. Dr. Buck says this coffee is equal to Java coffee! By boiling the seeds are rid of all mucilaginous substances, and just right for coffee or buttons. If you use them for buttons, the washer woman will hardly break them with her battling stick. For coffee they should be parched twice as long as any other substitute, so as to make them tender to the centre." From: "The Southern Banner", Athens, Ga., October 28, 1863.

Musilage is a gummy secretion present in various parts of vegetable organisms.
 

donna

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Sweet Potato Coffee

Peel your potatoes and slice them rather thin, dry them in the air or on a stove, then cut into pieces small enough to go into the coffee mil, then grind it. Two tablespoons full of ground coffee and three or four of ground potatoes will make eight or nine cups of coffee, clear, pure and well tasted. Recipe from "Albany Ga. Patriot", December 12, 1861.
 

donna

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Rye Coffee

Another substitute coffee in the South was Rye Coffee. Rye was boiled until the grain burst, and it was then left in sun to parch. Some southerners vowed it was the closest to real coffee of all the imitations. This from "The Language of the Civil War" by John D. Wright.

Mercury Rye Coffee

Take the rye, boil it, but not so much as to have it burst the grain; then dry it, either in the sun, on the stove, or in a kiln, after which it is ready for parching. Then grind like real coffee.

From "A Taste For War" by William C. Davis.
 

donna

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War Coffee or Sumter Watchman Coffee

A coffee extender used in the southern states during the blockade. One spoonful of real coffee was mixed with one spoonful of toasted cornmeal and then boiled well. The recipe was published in the "Tri-Weekly Watchman" newspaper of Sumter, South Carolina on July 8, 1861. It was sent by a reader.

The actual recipe for Sumter Watchman Coffee:

Coffee can be stretched by mixing 1 spoonful of regular coffee grounds with an equal amount of toasted cornmeal. Percolate or boil, and strain as with coffee.


From "A Taste For War" by William C. Davis.
 

donna

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Another substitute was beet coffee.

Laurensville Beet Coffee

Dice freshly washed and peeled beets, and toast them until thoroughly dry but not burnt. Grind in a mill, and then put 1 1/2 cups in a 1 gallon of water with one egg, stir to mix thoroughly, and bring to a boil. Serve with cream and sugar.

From: 'A Taste For War" by William C. Davis.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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BEET coffee? My only real phobia, swear to Gawd, if I have one, would be beets- just hate the things. Do not mind snakes, spiders, love large dogs, ( not crazy about monkeys ) , lizards, just loathe beets. I'd surrender to a beet held to my head before a gun. Beet coffee. My idea of h*ll.

That makes sense, what someone said about the colonists refusing to drink tea, and why we're all now coffee drinkers. The UK still just adores its tea- here it's mostly the special herb teas, not the Earl Greys, etc., folks drink. With our country so closely aligned with the UK with the early settlers, you would think the whole tea tradition would have carried on- makes sense on why it did not.

Thanks for these, Donna. It's a great thread, really interesting, albeit a little 'iew' first thing in the morning. :smile:
 



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