Ackermann’s Repository of Arts/Series 1/Volume 1/January 1809/Method of Making Coffee in Germany



It is well known to our readers, that a few months since, the situation of the planters, in consequence of the low price of West India produce, excited a considerable share of public attention both in and out of parliament; and however the collision of different interests may have prevented a perfect agreement as to the mode of doing it, yet all parties seemed to unite in opinion, that the planters were entitled to as much relief as could be extended to them, without doing injustice to interests of equal, if not of more importance. Without adverting to the assertion industriously propagated at the period to which we allude, that a sacrifice had been made of the landed interest, by permitting the distillery of sugar, we shall at present merely advert to that portion of relief which the reduction of the duties upon coffee was intended to afford them. This reduction has naturally led to a very great increase in the consumption of that article; and we are inclined to think, that if the mode of preparing it were rendered more simple for the lower classes, it would tend to lessen the enormous importation of thirty million pounds of tea, for the purchase of the greater part of which specie is now sent out of the kingdom. We feel much obliged by the following letter.

To the Editor of the Repository, &c.


All travellers who have visited the different parts of the Continent agree, that the Germans prepare coffee in the best manner, but few have troubled themselves to enquire how they prepare it. The writer of this (a native of that country) has, ever since her residence in England, continued to drink coffee as good as she used to do in Germany, by following the simple method practised by her countrywomen. Having been requested by several of her English friends to communicate the German mode of preparing coffee, she requests the editor of the Repository of Arts, &c., to insert the following information upon this subject.

The first, and in fact the chief object is, to procure the best coffee, and to roast it at home in small quantities at a time. This operation is best performed in a roaster of the annexed construction (Fig. 1.), it being easily turned, opened, and shut: whatever size the roaster may be, it never should be more than half filled, otherwise the coffee, which swells in the roasting, cannot be properly turned and shook, in which case a considerable part of it will remain raw, whilst the remainder will be burnt. The roaster should be enveloped in the fire, which should be as lively as possible: if the coal does not burn very brisk, chips of wood should now and then be thrown into it. The time necessary for roasting it cannot accurately be stated, as much depends upon the fire, and the quantity, and even the quality of the coffee. The roaster should be turned slowly at the beginning, and quicker as the operation proceeds, taking it often from the fire and shaking it: when some of the beans begin to crackle, the roaster must be opened, to examine if the coffee has acquired a light chesnut colour; if not, a few more turns over the fire will be necessary. When it has acquired this colour it should be thrown out into a clean coarse napkin, and shook in it till the coffee is almost cold; after this, it may be kept in clean glass bottles, or in seasoned canisters well closed. The sweating of coffee after the roasting ought to be prevented, as it gets damp, which renders it tough, and the grinding a few days after more difficult; over-roasting ii should be carefully avoided. The common tin pot for boiling it should not be used for any thing else but coffee; and should be large enough to contain about double the quantity that is wanted, in order to prevent it boiling over. One ounce and a half of coffee is sufficient for a pint of water; if it proves too strong, it may easily be weakened to every body’s taste by pouring boiling water into their cups. To clarify it the sooner, a small quantity of isinglass, or a few hartshorn shavings, may be boiled with the coffee. At first the coffee will rise to the top of the pot; it should then be taken off the fire, and this should be repeated till the coffee falls to the bottom, and a huge clear bubble forms at the top: when this takes place, it is sufficiently boiled, and will settle very soon, particularly after it is poured into the coffee-pot in which it is to be served. To this last may be fitted a strainer of tin, or a small sack of fine bolting cloth sewed to a tin circle (Fig. 2.); all other stuffs, such as linen, cotton, flannel, &c. make bad filters for coffee. Molasses and brown sugar give to good coffee a very bad taste, and refined sugar should always be preferred. The cream or milk that is to be taken with coffee should invariably be scalded. Those who have not been accustomed to prepare it in this way, can scarcely be said to have drank good coffee. I am your humble servant, D. T.

It was observed may years since by Dr. Percival, in his Philosophical, Medical, and Experimental Essays, that coffee was used as a beverage with peculiar propriety by the Turks and Arabians, because it operates as an antidote to the narcotic effects of opium, to the use of which these nations are particularly addicted. He likewise states, that having understood from Sir John Pringle, that an ounce of the best coffee, ground soon after it is roasted, and made into one cup, and taken without milk or sugar, was the best abater of the paroxysm of the periodic asthma, he had recommended it with considerable success, directing this quantity to be repeated at the distance of about half an hour. It is observed, that Sir John Floyer, after the publication of his book upon asthma, had contrived, during the latter part of his life, to relieve himself from, or at least to live with tolerable comfort under that disorder, by the use of coffee.

A severe head-ache is soon relieved by taking about eighteen drops of laudanum, and drinking immediately afterwards three strong cups of coffee. In about half an hour the pain will abate, without inducing drowsiness or even an inclination to sleep.

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