|Image courtesy of|
Today's recipe on my recipe blog was for Cafe Mexicain, a whipping cream-topped coffee recipe which came from one of my new-found treasures, Betty Crocker's Guide To Easy Entertaining. (Click here to view the recipe.) This got me thinking about coffee in general, and what an important part it played in home entertaining in the 1950s. Any cookbook from that time period will have instructions for making coffee, as well as instruction on appropriate methods of serving it. When I first got my Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, I was surprised to find two entire pages devoted to coffee. It explains how to make coffee according to the kind of coffee maker you have, although most people nowadays only use drip coffee makers. (I, too, normally use a drip coffee maker, but will occasionally pull out one of my shiny, stainless-steel percolators for something a little different.) It also gives six essentials for making good coffee, which I will paraphrase below:
Six Essentials for a Cup of Good Coffee:
1) Fresh Coffee: Coffee looses freshness quickly when exposed to air. Keep it tightly covered and buy it often.
2) Use the Right Grind for the Right Maker: If you grind your coffee at home, your grinder will tell you which setting to use depending on your maker.
3) Use a Clean Coffee Maker: Wash your coffee maker with soap and water after each use. Use boiling water with soda to remove stains. Follow cleaning instructions on your coffee maker.
4) Use Fresh, Cold Water: Always start with cold water; do not use hot water from tap or kettle. Bring to a full, rolling boil before putting the coffee container itself into the coffee maker.
5) Use Enough Coffee for Desired Strength:
For weak coffee: 1 T. to 3/4 c. water
For medium coffee: 2 T. to 3/4 c. water
For strong coffee: 3-4 T. to 3/4 c. water
6) Serve Coffee as Soon as Possible: If you must let coffee stand, be sure to remove the grounds (i.e. percolated coffee). Keep very hot until serving; cold coffee loses flavor if it is reheated.
|Coffee advertisement from|
New York Tribune, 1919
Upon reading this, one of the first things I noticed was the coffee proportions according to the desired strength. Today, instructions on coffee cans usually read "use 1 tablespoon of coffee for each 6 oz (3/4 c.) of water and adjust amount according to taste." I was shocked to read that coffee from 1950 was prepared much stronger compared to our standards today. My! Like so many other things, it seems that even our coffee standards have lowered over the years! (However, I definitely fall into the strong coffee-lover category, and may therefore, be somewhat biased about this conclusion...)
|One of my two beloved percolators|