Sunday, August 24, 2014

Some History of Coffee In New Orleans

In the New Orleans Coffee DistrictThe history of New Orleans as a coffee port may be considered as beginning with the transfer of Louisiana by Napoleon Bonaparte to the United States in 1803. In this year, according to Martin's History of Louisiana, New Orleans imported 1438 bags of coffee of 132 pounds each. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, settlers in large numbers had crossed the Allegheny Mountains from the Atlantic states into the valley of the Ohio River; and their crops of grain and provisions were exported by means of cheaply constructed rafts and boats, which were floated down the river to New Orleans, where they were generally broken up and sold for use as lumber and firewood—there being, at that time, no power available for propelling them back against the current of the river.

From 1803 until 1820, on account of the difficulty of navigating upstream, New Orleans imports did not increase as rapidly as exports. In 1814, however, the first crude steamboat had begun to carry freight on the river; and by 1820, the supremacy of New Orleans as the gateway of the Mississippi Valley had been for the time established by this new means of transportation. The coffee-importing business flourished; and, from its modest beginning in 1803, grew to 531,236 bags in 1857.


By this time, however, New Orleans had begun to feel the competition of the Erie Canal, and of the systems of east and west railroad lines which had been in the course of active construction during the preceding fifteen years. The railroad systems which had as their ports Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, entered upon a desperate war of freight rates, each in the endeavor to establish the supremacy of its own port. As the building of railroads had been entirely east and west, and no large amount of capital had been invested in north and south lines, much of the business of the valley was diverted to the Atlantic ports, apparently never to return to New Orleans.

In 1862, on account of the blockade of the port, not a bag of coffee was imported through New Orleans, and practically none came in until the year 1866, when the small amount of 55,000 bags was the total for the year. At about this time, Boston and Philadelphia became negligible importing quantities; the business of Baltimore continued to be quite prosperous; and New York rapidly increased her imports and took the commanding position.
 
Shipments were by sailing vessels, a full cargo being about 5000 bags. Fancy grades, like Golden Rios, washed and peaberries, were shipped in double bags. Musty coffees were common, and every bag in a cargo was sampled for must. S. Jackson was first to issue regular manifests. With the entry of steamers into the coffee transport business, New Orleans was placed at a disadvantage as steamer rates were about twenty cents a bag higher to New Orleans than to New York, and imports were limited. The subsequent revival of the business was due largely to Hard & Rand. Being unable to obtain steamer rates equal to those quoted in New York, Hard & Rand chartered steamers for New Orleans; and soon the trade began to offer cost and freight to New Orleans.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Smells Like Coffee, 1957

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From 1957, this well-produced Hills Brother's coffee commercial claims that it is the first instant coffee that "smells like coffee". This does precede "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by many years! Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Folger's Coffee TV Commercial

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A vintage P&G ad for Folger's coffee, with Mrs. Olsen budding in just in time to save another couple's relationship! Enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Instructions for Making French Coffee, 1836

From "Domestic French Cookery", 4th ed., 1836. This is an interesting description of making boiled coffee, and includes the admonition to "grind the coffee while warm"!

Let the coffee be roasted immediately before you want to use it, as it loses much of its strength by keeping.

Its color, when done, should be a fine bright brown; but by no means allow it to scorch. A cylindrical coffee-roaster that can be turned by a handle, and sets before the fire, is far preferable to a pot or a pan. Grind the coffee while warm.

If you intend to make half a dozen cups of coffee for drinking, measure six cups of water of the same size, and put the water into the coffee-pot. Set it on hot coals, and when the water boils, put in two or three chips of isinglass, or the white of an egg. Then throw in six large tea-spoonfuls of ground coffee. Stir it several times while boiling, and set it several times back from the fire to diminish the boiling gradually.

When it has boiled sufficiently, remove it entirely from the coals, pour in a cup of cold water, and then put it in a corner and let it settle for half an hour. Afterwards pour it off from the grounds into another pot (which must first be scalded), and set it close to the fire, but do not let it boil again.

If you intend to serve it up with hot cream, you must make the coffee stronger. While the coffee is clearing, boil your cream or milk, and pour some of it hot into each cup of coffee.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Instructions for Home-Roasting Coffee, 1884

From the "Hand-Book of Practical Cookery for Ladies and Professional Cooks", by Pierre Blot, 1884.

In roasting, good coffee swells about thirty-three per cent., and loses about sixteen per cent. in weight.

Roast once a week or oftener.

Put coffee in the apparatus (cylinder, or drum, or roaster), the quantity to be according to the size of the roaster, or according to how much is needed. Have a rather slow fire at first; when the coffee has swollen, augment the fire, turning, shaking, tossing the roaster, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly, and take from the fire a little before it is roasted enough; the roasting will be finished before the coffee gets cold and before taking it from the roaster, which you continue turning and shaking as if it were yet on the fire.

A charcoal fire is the handiest, and more easily regulated.

It is well roasted when it evaporates a pleasing odor and when of a brownish color.

Then take it from the roaster, spread it on a matting or on a piece of cloth, and put it in a tin-box as soon as cold.

It is exceedingly difficult, if not utterly impossible, to roast coffee properly by machinery, and for two reasons: in the first place, there is too much of it in the cylinder to roast evenly, some berries are burned, others not roasted enough; the other is, that being turned by machinery, the cylinder is turned regularly and is neither shaken nor tossed; and even if there were not too much coffee in it, some berries would be much more roasted than others.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Price of Coffee in 1910

Advertisement for Coffee in 1910
From the "Alexandria Gazette" in Alexandria, VA, November 9, 1910.

Here is a very interesting price list that is a snapshot of the times. With sugar at 5 cents a pound and beef anywhere from a couple cents to 15 cents, "good" coffee from "Rio" was 16 cents a pound, and "Chase and Sanborn's Best Coffee" was 22 cents!

In inflation-adjusted terms, this is $3.52/pound for the Rio coffee and $4.84/pound for the Chase and Sanborn.

People liked their coffee then almost as much as today...


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Coffee is the New Wine: Story on NPR

Editor's note: here's an interesting and fun story on NPR that deals with the increasing interest in quality coffee. Discusses specialty roasters, baristas, how to taste. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/08/16/158932704/coffee-is-the-new-wine-heres-how-you-taste-it