Persons who drink coffee habitually, and who are particular about its flavour and quality, should purchase the best kind in a raw state, and have it roasted at home. This can be done in very small quantities by means of the inexpensive apparatus shown above; and the supply of charcoal needed for it being very trifling indeed. The cylinder which contains the coffee should be only half filled, and it should be turned rather slowly over the fire, which should never be fierce, until a strong aromatic smell is emitted; the movement should then be quickened, as the grain is in that case quite heated, and it will become too highly coloured before it is roasted through, if slowly finished. When it is of a fine, light, equal brown, which must be ascertained, until some little experience has been acquired, by sliding back the door of the cylinder, and looking at it occasionally towards the end of the process, spread it quickly upon a large dish, and throw a folded cloth over it. Let it remain thus until it is quite cold, then put it into canisters or bottles, and exclude the air carefully from it.
Mr. Webster, in his admirable Encyclopædia of Domestic Economy,* says, "Mr. Donovan recommends that, instead of roasting the coffee in an atmosphere of its own steam, it should first be dried in an iron pan, over a very gentle fire, being constantly stirred until the colour becomes yellow; it is then to be pounded into coarse fragments, by no means too fine, each grain being divided into four or five parts only: it is then to be transferred to the roaster, and scorched to the proper degree." This plan we have not tried, because we have found the other to answer quite well though Mr. Donovan's might nevertheless prove a very superior one.
* This work contains much useful and valuable information oil an infinity of subjects connected with Domestic economy.
It is more usual at the present day to filter than to boil coffee, but many persons still prefer the latter mode. The degree of strength which is to be given must of course depend on the taste of 'those for whom it is prepared; but it should always be good when served to strangers, as a preference for weak coffee is very rare, and in a vast many instances it would be peculiarly disagreeable to the drinkers, more especially so to those who have resided much abroad, where this beverage is in general much better prepared than it is here.
An ounce of the berries, if recently roasted, and ground at the instant of using them, will make, with the addition of a pint of water, two breakfast-cupsful of sufficiently good coffee for common family use. It will be stronger if slowly filtered in what is called a percolator, or coffee-biggin, than if it be boiled. Press the powder closely down, measure the proper quantity of water into a common coffee-pot, or small kettle, pour in sufficient to just wet the coffee in the first instance, and then' add the remainder slowly, keeping the water boiling all the time. Let it run quite through before the top of the percolator is lifted off, and serve it very hot with boiling milk or cream, or with both, or with boiling milk and cold cream. The proportion of coffee, after the first trial, can easily be increased or diminished at will. To make French breakfast-coffee, pour only a third as much of water on the powder, fill, the cups two-thirds with good new boiling milk, then add the coffee, which should be very strong.
For the café noir served after dinner in all French families put less water still (this is the very essence of coffee, of which, however, not more than a small cup about two-thirds filled, and highly sweetened with sugar in lumps, is generally taken by each person), and serve it without cream or milk, or any accompaniment, except white sugar-candy in powder, or highly refined sugar in lumps. This is drunk immediately after the dinner, in families of moderate rank,, generally before they leave the table; in more refined life, it is served in the drawing-room the instant dinner is ended; sometimes with liquors after it, but not invariably.
To boil coffee and refine it: put the necessary quantity of water into a pot which it will not fill by some inches; when it boils, stir in the coffee; for unless this is at once moistened, it remains on the top and is liable to fly over. Give it one or two strong boils, then raise it from the fire, and simmer it for ten minutes only; pour out a large cupful twice, hold it high over the coffee-pot and pour it in again, then set it on the hob for ten minutes longer. It will be perfectly clear, unless mismanaged, without any other fining. Should more, however, be deemed necessary, a very small pinch of isinglass, or a clean egg-shell, with a little of the white adhering to it, is the best that can be used. (We cannot recommend the skin of any fish.) If tried, with the same proportions by both the methods we have given, the reader will easily ascertain that which answers best Never use mustard to fine coffee with. It is a barbarous custom of which we have heard foreigners who have been in England vehemently complain!
Patent Percolator with Spirit-Lamp.
Coffee, 2 ozs.; water, 1 quart Filtered; or boiled 10 minutes; left to clear 10 minutes.
Make some coffee as strong and clear as possible, sweeten it in the cup with white sugar almost to syrup, then pour brandy on the top gently over a spoon, set fire to it with a lighted paper, and when the spirit is in part consumed, blow out the flame and drink the gloria quite hot