The best coffee is imported. It is said to owe much of its superior quality to being kept long. Attention to the following circumstances is likewise necessary. 1. The plant should be grown in a dry situation and climate. 2. The berries ought to be thoroughly ripe before they are gathered. 3. They ought to be well dried in the sun; and 4. Kept at a distance from any substance (as spirits, spices, dried fish, etc.) by which the taste and flavor of the berry may be injured.
To drink coffee in perfection, it should be made from the best Mocha or Java, or both mixed, carefully roasted, and after cooling for a few minutes, reduced to powder, and immediately infused, the decoction will then be of a superior description. But for ordinary use, Java, Laguayra, Maracaibo, Rio and other grades of coffee may be used. An equal mixture of Mocha, Java and Laguayra make an excellent flavor. We have been recently shown (1865) some samples of African coffee from Liberia, which is said to possess a very superior flavor, The following mode of preparing it may be adopted:
1. The berries should be carefully roasted, by a gradual application of heat, browning, but not burning them.
2. Grinding the coffee is preferable to pounding, because the latter process is thought to press out and leave on the sides of the mortar some of the richer oily substances' which are not lost by grinding.
3. A filtrating tin or silver pot, with double sides, between which hot water must be poured, to prevent the coffee from cooling, as practised in Germany, is good. Simple decoction, in this implement, with boiling water is all that is required to make a cup of good coffee; and the use of isinglass, the white of eggs, etc., to fine the liquor, is quite unnecessary. By this means, also, coffee is made quicker than tea.
Generally, too little powder of the berry is given, It requires about one small cup of ground coffee to make four cups of decoction for the table. This is at the rate of an ounce of good powder to four common coffee cups. When the powder is put in the bag, as many cups of boiling water are poured over it as may be wanted, and if the quantity wanted is very small, so that after it is filtrated it does not reach the lower end of the bag the liquor must be poured back three or four times, till it has acquired the necessary strength.
Another Method.--Pour a pint of boiling water on an ounce of coffee; let it boil five or six minutes, then pour out a cupful two or three times and return it again, put two or three isinglass chips into it, or a lump or two of fine sugar; boil it five minutes longer. Set the pot by the fire to keep hot for ten minutes, and the coffee will be beautifully clear. Some like a small bit of vanilla. Cream or boiled milk should always be served with coffee.
In Egypt, coffee is made by pouring boiling rater upon ground coffee in the cup; to which only sugar is added. For those who like it extremely strong, make only eight cups from three ounces. If not fresh roasted, lay it before a fire till hot and dry; or put the smallest bit of fresh butter into a preserving-pan; when hot throw the coffee into it, and toss it about till it be freshened.
Coffee most certainly promotes wakefulness, or, in other words, it suspends the inclination to sleep.
A very small cup of coffee, holding about a wineglassfull, called by the French une demi tasse, drunk after dinner very strong, without cream or milk, is apt to promote digestion.
Persons afflicted with asthma have found great relief, and oven a cure, from drinking very strong coffee, and those of a phlegmatic habit would do well to take it for breakfast. It is of a rather drying nature, and with corpulent habits it would also be advisable to take it for breakfast.
_Arabian Method of Preparing Coffee._
The Arabians, when they take their coffee off the fire, immediately wrap the vessel in a wet cloth, which fines the liquor instantly, makes it cream at the top, and occasions a more pungent steam, which they take great pleasure in snuffing up as the coffee is pouring into the cups. They, like all other nations of the East, drink their coffee without sugar.
People of the first fashion use nothing but Sultana coffee, which is prepared in the following manner: Bruise the outward husk or dried pulp, and put it into an iron or earthen pan, which is placed upon a charcoal fire; then keep stirring it to and fro, until it becomes a little brown, but not of so deep a color as common coffee; then throw it into boiling water, adding at least the fourth part of the inward husks, which is then boiled together in the manner of other coffee. The husks must be kept in a very dry place, and packed up very close, for the least humidity spoils the flavor. The liquor prepared in this manner is esteemed preferable to any other. The French, when they were at the court of the king of Yemen, saw no other coffee drank, and they found the flavor of it very delicate and agreeable. There was no occasion to use sugar, as it had no bitter taste to correct. Coffee is less unwholesome in tropical than in other climates.
In all probability the Sultana coffee can only be made where the tree grows; for, as the husks have little substance if they are much dried, in order to send them to other countries, the agreeable flavor they had when fresh is greatly impaired.
_Improvement in making Coffee._
The process consists in simmering over a small but steady flame of a lamp. To accomplish this a vessel of peculiar construction is requisite. It should be a straightsided pot, as wide at the top as at the bottom, and inclosed in a case of similar shape, to which it must be soldered airtight at the top. The case to be above an inch wider than the pot, and descending somewhat less than an inch below it. It should be entirely open at the bottom, thus admitting and confining a body of hot air round and underneath the pot. The lid to be double, and the vessel, of course, furnished with a convenient handle and spout.
The extract may be made either with hot water or cold. If wanted for speedy use, hot water, not actually boiling, will be proper, and the powdered coffee being added, close the lid tight, stop the spout with a cork, and place the vessel over the lamp. It will soon begin to simmer, and may remain unattended, till the coffee is wanted. It may then be strained through a bag of stout, close linen, which will transmit the liquid so perfectly clear as not to contain the smallest particle of the powder.
Though a fountain lamp is preferable, any of the common small lamps, seen in every tin shop, will answer the purpose. Alcohol, pure spermaceti oil, or some of the recent preparations of petroleum are best, and if the wick be too high, or the oil not good, the consequence will be smoke, soot, and extinction of the aroma. The wick should be little more than one-eighth of an inch high. In this process, no trimming is required. It may be left to simmer, and will continue simmering all night without boiling over, and without any sensible diminution of quantity.
_Parisian Method of making Coffee._
In the first place, let coffee be of the prime quality, grain small, round, hard and clear; perfectly dry and sweet, and at least three years old--let it be gently roasted until it be of a light brown color; avoid burning, for a single scorched grain will spoil a pound. Let this operation be per formed at the moment the coffee is to be used then grind it while it is yet warm, and take of the powder an ounce for each cup intended to be made; put this along with a small quantity of shredded saffron into the upper part of the machine, galled a grecque or biggin; that is, a large coffee-pot with an upper receptacle made to fit close into it, the bottom of which is perforated with small holes, and containing in its interior two movable metal strainers, over the second of which the powder is to be pinged, and immediately under the third; upon this upper strainer pour boiling water, and continue doing so gently until it bubbles up through the strainer, then shut the cover of the machine close down, place it near the fire, and so soon as the water has drained through the coffee, repeat the operation until the whole intended quantity be passed. Thus all the fragrance of its perfume will be retained with all the balsamic and stimulating powers of its essence; and in a few moments will be obtained--without the aid of isinglass, whites of eggs, or any of the substances with which, in the common mode of preparation, it is mixed--a beverage for the gods. This is the true Parisian mode of preparing coffee; the invention of it is due to M. de Belloy, nephew to the Cardinal of the same name.
A coffee-pot upon an entirely new plan, called the Old Dominion, and made in Philadelphia, Pa., is very much liked by some. Perhaps, however, the old mode of boiling and clearing with egg, or the French mode, with the biggie or strainer, is the best.
Sufficient attention is not, however, paid to the proper roasting of the berry, which is of the utmost importance, to have the berry done just enough and not a grain burnt. It is customary now in most large cities for grocers to keep coffee ready roasted, which they have done in large wire cylinders, and generally well done, but not always fresh.
Boil a dessertspoonful of ground coffee in about a pint of milk a quarter of an hoer, then put in it a shaving or two of isinglass, and clear it; let it boil a few minutes, and set it on the side of the fire to fine. Those of a spare habit, and disposed towards affections of the lungs would do well to use this for breakfast, instead of ordinary coffee.
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