Some time ago I came across in an article written nearly eighty years ago about breakfast. After all the various pieces of advice from setting a tray for breakfast in bed, to organising a table, to frying bacon, cooking porridge or preparing finnan-haddie, there comes a piece about coffee. I guess when it was written ‘ordinary’ people (like us) didn’t have as much access to coffee and tea was the preferred or maybe only breakfast drink. When we did have coffee at home it was made in a percolator and was mainly chicory. There was of course, Camp Coffee which you can still get today and is in fact coffee and chicory essence. I do have some in the cupboard, but I use it for flavouring cakes.
So what does the article say about coffee?
A cup of coffee seems to earn a considerable degree of appreciation, not perhaps entirely disproportionate, since the production of it does not necessarily come easily.
These days it does! Most people have instant coffee in their kitchen and some of it is very good, but if you like ‘real coffee there are masses of ways it can be made, mostly very convenient. The simplest I guess is filter coffee made with a jug, a filter and filter paper. There are different sorts of percolators – we had a very simple one at home when we were children and the sound of it still echoes in my memory! Now there are all sorts of machines and gadgets to prepare and produce coffee however you like it.
There are certain preliminaries which have to be settled before you can be sure you will produce uniformly good coffee day after day. For instance, it is advisable to choose a brand of coffee suited to the type of water in your locality, for the same brand of coffee may taste good in one place and poor in another.
A good firm of coffee merchants will generally advise on this, as well as on the degree of roasting of beans to suit your taste. ‘French roast’, for example, produces a dark coffee and there are various degrees of colour in the finished bean. It is also necessary to decide to what degree of fineness your coffee is to be ground, and this will depend on the method you adopt for making it. Your coffee merchant will also recommend a good breakfast coffee and another suitable for after dinner.
These days coffee is drunk whenever anyone wants it. I generally have tea first thing, coffee after breakfast, coffee during the day, tea in the afternoon, more coffee, coffee during the evening and maybe a mug of tea before bed… we do drink a lot of coffee, and tea!