Some Suggestions about its Composition, Preparation and Service.
THE beverage of the masses, in this Country, in all social gatherings, is unquestionably the cup of coffee; and that almost independently of the personal preference and taste of the individuals making up the assembly. Another thing which may be remarked in this connection is that for popular favor at such times a strong, pungent flavor is much more satisfactory than the milder variety. People tolerate, and in fact seem to enjoy at such a time a beverage which would not be accepted if served at their own tables. Is this fact due to the quickened and stronger nervous and mental action of the system? Quite possibly this may be the fact: for who does not realize that the full enjoyment of a smooth, mild coffee requires a frame of mind in harmony with the beverage, the quiet of the home circle, or the congenial presence of a few friends who may sip and taste, and enjoy, free from harassing cares, or excitement of any nature? There are almost as many preferences as to the flavor of coffee as there are individual temperaments, and those who have studied the matter think there is a marked relation between the two.
All coffees may be classed, so far as the natural flavor of the berry is concerned, as strong or mild; but there are so many variations in the degree of roasting, and perhaps in the substitution of other kinds when the favorite runs low, that the only certain way to obtain just what is wanted is to patronize a regular coffee dealer of firm principles, pay him a fair price for supplying just what is wanted, and rest confident that he will do so.
Speaking of this matter of substitution, while there is no doubt that it is resorted to in a greater or less degree, it is gratifying to believe that adulteration of coffee, especially the admixture of chicory, is but very moderately practiced in this country.
This is in contrast to the condition of things in England, where writers who claim to speak with authority admit that pure coffee is but rarely met with. A great deal of chicory is used there for mixing with the berry, and many of the consumers have come to prefer the mixture to the pure coffee.
This, like the grade of coffee to be used is a matter of taste, pure and simple. There harmful qualities about chicory, according to our medical friends, many of whom regard it as a safer beverage for some classes of people, than the real article. The worst which can be said is that when it masquerades as coffee it is sailing under false colors, and probably costing the consumer more than it ought. Those who prefer the chicory article should not hesitate to ask for it, and the dealer ought to be equally honest in making his sales.
First and last there are a good many substitutes for coffee, some of which are simple, some ingenious, and others deliberately dishonest. One of the second class has lately been reported from Germany, which is a land quite noted for “made-up” coffees. This is made from malt, which is soaked in warm water and dried, sprayed with a coffee liquid or with an extract of coffee, coated with cocoa butter or some simliar fatty matter, and then roasted. It is said when well prepared to make a fairly acceptable substitute for the genuine coffee.
REMEMBER IN MAKING COFFEE.
That the same flavor will not suit every taste.
That the time for ” steeping” should be regulated by the coarseness of the grains.
That every one can be suited to a nicety by properly blending two or more kinds.
That equal parts of Mocha, Java and Rio will be relished by a good many people.
That a mild coffee can be made dangerously strong and still retain the mildness of flavor.
That the enjoyment of a beverage and slavish devotion thereto are quite different things.
That the flavor is improved if the liquid is turned from the dregs as soon as the proper strength has been obtained.
That where the percolation method is used, the coffee should be ground very fine, or the strength will not be extracted.
That if the ground coffee is put into the water and boiled, it should be rather coarse, otherwise it will invariably be muddy.
That a good coffee will always command a price; but that all high-priced coffees are not necessarily of high quality.
That in serving, the cups and cream should be warm ; the cream should be put in the cup before the coffee is poured in, but it is immaterial when the sugar is added.
That a level tablespoonful of the ground coffee to each cup is the standard allowance, from which deviation can be made in either direction according to the strength desired.
– A Lover of Coffee