The United States imports its coffee principally from Central America, Mexico and Columbia. The following from Bulletin No. 13, United States Department of Agriculture, Division of Chemistry, gives a good idea of the appearance of different coffees. Of the following statements, those in quotation marks are from the observations of Lascelles:
Coffee Plant, Flower and Bean Pod
"West India coffee is for the most part even-sized, pale and yellowish, firm and heavy, with firm aroma, losing little in weight by the roasting process.
Brazil coffee is larger, less solid, greenish or white, usually styled by the brokers "low" or "low middling."
"'Java coffee is smaller, slightly elongated, pale in color, deficient in aroma and essential oil, and light.'
"'Ceylon produces coffee of all descriptions, but ordinary plantation coffees are even colored, slightly canoe shaped, strong in aroma and flavor, of considerable gravity, and admit better of adulteration than most other kinds.'
"Mocha is usually considered the best coffee of commerce. It is stated that East India coffees are sometimes shipped to Arabia, and exported from this latter country as genuine Mocha coffee. The seeds of the Mocha are small and dark yellow.
"Java coffee, when new, is a pale yellow, and is then cheaper than when old and brown. This color is partly a result of the method of curing, in addition to the effects of age. The high price of Java has led to the coloring of cheaper grades with mineral pigments, or otherwise, in imitation of the favorite coffee. It may be well to state that this practice cannot be general, since no foreign coloring matters are found in the Javas examined in the course of investigation treated of in this work, though it is probable that coffees colored by exposure to a high, moist heat may have escaped detection."
The alkaloids of tea and coffee are about the same, both chemically and physiologically. That in coffee is known as "caffeine," and is smaller in amount than "theine," the alkaloid of tea.
Ground coffee is sometimes adulterated by the use of cereals, beans, peas, and acorns. Chicory is probably the most-used adulterant. One test for chicory is to put a portion of ground coffee into a glass of cold water. A quick sinking, with a brown coloring of the water, indicates the presence of chicory. This is not an infallible test, for it is sometimes so prepared as to float. Cereals will sink, but with slight, if any, discoloration.
There are many substitutes for coffee, as preparations of chicory, cereals, caramel, and legumes.
Coloring is resorted to in whole coffee, as in tea, to give an inferior or damaged coffee the appearance of something better.
Coffee which is two-thirds Java and one-third Mocha is desirable. Two heaping tablespoonfuls to each pint of water makes a good coffee. The above coffee, when genuine, is expensive, and there are other mixtures making mild coffees which are cheaper and very desirable.
Old Time Coffee Pot and Hot-water Pot
As to whether coffee made with a cloth strainer allowing the beverage to trickle is better than coffee made with boiling water and cleared with egg depends upon individual taste. For settling coffee, nothing is better than egg white. The yolk should not be used, as it adds little to the coffee, and is good for salad dressing.
Use the same quantity of coffee as given above, but not ground quite so fine. Put the coffee, a little egg white, or egg shell (perfectly clean), into a bowl, moisten with cold water, and mix well. Put into coffee pot, rinse the bowl, and use in all half the amount of boiling water necessary for the coffee. Let stand on stove until it boils, then let simmer about five minutes, or steep like tea, add the remainder of the boiling water, pour out a cup of the coffee, pour back into the pot, add one tablespoonful of cold water, and serve.
Beat an egg and mix with one cup of water in a bowl. With the egg and water mix five tablespoonfuls of ground coffee. Put into coffee pot. Pour a second cup of cold water into the bowl, rinse, and pour into coffee pot. Set on the range, and when it reaches the boiling point add the remaining pint of cold water. Let it reach the boiling point again, and pour in four or five tablespoonfuls of cold water to settle. Let set five minutes, and serve.
Make according to directions on the packages
Bran four quarts. Molasses one pint (best New Orleans). Rub together with the hands, and brown nicely in the oven. To make coffee, use twice as much of this as of genuine coffee. Make in same manner as genuine coffee.
When a coffee pot with a cloth bag or other strainer is used, it will be necessary to put into the bag two table spoonfuls of ground coffee for each pint of water. Pour the water around the outer edge of the coffee, close to the sides of the pot first, and gradually approach the center, so that the dry coffee will not be forced against the sides of the strainer. Coffee should be ground quite fine, but not pulverized. When the water is on, cover, allow to trickle through, then pour on another third, and when this has passed through, put on the remainder. Pouring on a little at a time removes the strength better, and if it is drawn off and poured over, it loses flavor when passing through the air.