Chicken Coop Chatter©
Up until about the time the Civil War ended, coffee beans were only available as green, That meant the beans had to be roasted over a camp fire or a wood cooking stove. If they were not carefully watched, they could burn, rather than roast and when that happened, even one burned or scorched bean would ruin the entire bunch.
In a receipt from 1840, it instructs how to roast the beans and use them to make the coffee.
The manner in which coffee is roasted is of great importance to its flavour. If roasted too little, it will be weak and insipid; if too much, the taste will be bitter and unpleasant. To have it very good, it should be roasted immediately before it is made, doing no more than the quantity you want at that time. It loses much of its strength by keeping, even in twenty-four hours after roasting. It should on no consideration be ground till directly before it is made. Every family should be provided with a coffee roaster, which is an iron cylinder to stand before the fire, and is either turned by a handle, or wound up like a jack to go of itself. If roasted in an open pot or pan, much of the flavour evaporates in the process. Before the coffee is put into the roaster, it should be carefully examined and picked, lest there should be stones or bad grains among it. It should be roasted of a bright brown; and will be improved by putting among it a piece of butter when about half done.
Watch it carefully while roasting, looking at it frequently.
A coffee-mill affixed to the wall is far more convenient than one that must be held on the lap. It is best to grind the coffee while warm.
Allow half a pint of ground coffee to three pints of water. If the coffee is not freshly roasted, you should put in more. Put the water into the tin coffee-pot, and set it on hot coals; when it boils, put in the coffee, a spoonful at a time, (stirring it between each spoonful,) and add two or three chips of isinglass, or the white of an egg. Stir it frequently, till it has risen up to the top in boiling; then set it a little farther from the fire, and boil it gently for ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour; after which pour in a tea-cup of cold water, and put it in the corner to settle for ten minutes. Scald your silver or china pot, and transfer the coffee to it; carefully pouring it off from the grounds, so as not to disturb them.
If coffee is allowed to boil too long, it will lose much of its strength, and also become sour.
Source: Directions for Cookery, in it's Various Branches (1840)
Our dad, as many of you know, was a true American Cowboy, and I can remember him talking about the coffee on the trail, that *it wasn't even good until they put an old dirty sock in it and could cut it with a knife* and *that's what made the hair grow on his chest*. It was often said, that trail coffee could "float a horseshoe". To mellow out the coffee, an egg and even crushed egg shells were added, which helped to take some of the bitter, stout flavor out. Today in some espresso's you can actually purchase what is called *Egg Coffee*, which some believe is a whole new concept when in actuality it has been used since at least the Civil War days.
It was about the end of the Civil War, when the Arbuckle brothers devised a way to ship fresh-roasted coffee beans, by coating them with a mixture of egg white and sugar, to keep them sealed and fresh. After roasting the coffee beans and coating them, they were packaged in one pound packages and packed into wooden crates of 100-one pound packages.
*Cookie*, *Sourdough*, or *Sourgut* as the trail cooks were called, bought up these crates of packaged coffee beans along with other supplies they needed to feed hungry, thirsty cowboys on the trail. Each package of coffee beans contained a peppermint stick. Since the coffee beans had to be ground, it took time from the trail cook's busy day to grind those beans. Instead, he'd call out from the chuck wagon, to those within hearing distance, "Who wants the Candy". Even the toughest wranglers would break a leg to get there first to be the one to win the candy and grind the coffee beans for the next hot pot of coffee.
Arbuckle coffee beans were so popular on the trail, that most cowboys had no idea there was any other brand of coffee available. Today in 2013, Arbuckle's legendary coffee beans are still available. Packaged the very same way they were nearly 150 years ago, including the peppermint stick tucked inside. So if you want to try some of the real campfire, *Cowboy Coffee*, you can still find that brand in it's traditional packaging.
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