COFFEE affords very little nourishment, and is apt, if drank strong, to occasion tremors of the nerves. It is very bad for bilious constitutions. The calm, phlegmatic temperament can bear it. With a good supply of cream and sugar, drank in moderation, by those who exercise much and take considerable solid food, it may be used without much danger.
Coffee is somewhat like tea in composition. It contains tannic acid, and therefore a tin coffeepot should never be used. The flavor can be extracted from coffee by boiling it or by pouring boiling water through it. Coffee should not boil longer than three minutes, as much tannic acid is extracted by long boiling.
Because coffee contains volatile substances, it should not be purchased ground, unless in small quantities, and it should then be kept in tightly covered jars or cans. When freshly roasted, coffee has the best flavor. In this condition, it is crisp and emits a strong aroma.
TO ROAST COFFEE
There are often little stones in coffee and of the same color; therefore, pick it over carefully. If you have no coffee-roaster, put it into a round-bottomed, iron kettle, and let it be where it will be hot an hour or two without burning. Then put it where it will brown, and stir it constantly until it is done. If it is left half a minute, the kernels next to the kettle may be burnt black, and this is enough to injure all the rest. It should be a dark, rich brown, but not black. Before taking it up, stir in a piece of butter the size of a small nut. Put it, while steaming hot, into a box with a close cover.
In a small family, not more than two pounds should be roasted at once, as it loses its freshness by being roasted long before use. For the same reason it should be ground as it is wanted. The practice of grinding up a quantity for two or three weeks, is a poor one.
TO MAKE BOILED COFFEE
After scalding the coffee pot, put one-half cup cold water and one-half cup ground coffee into it. Stir well and then add three cups boiling water. Allow it to come to the boiling point and boil for 3 minutes. Pour a little of the coffee into a cup to clear the spout of grounds, add another half-cup of cold water, and put back on the stove to reheat, but not to boil. When hot, serve at once. Never allow the liquid to stand on the grounds for any length of time, for the longer it stands the more tannic acid will be drawn out.
As coffee made by boiling is usually somewhat cloudy, it may be cleared in one way or another. The last cold water is added for this purpose, for as it is heavier than the warm liquid, it sinks to the bottom and carries the grounds with it. Coffee may also be cleared by stirring a small quantity of beaten raw egg, either the white or the yolk, or both, into the grounds before the cold water is added to them. One egg will clear two or three potfuls of coffee if care is exercised in its use. What remains of the egg after the first potful has been cleared should be placed in a small dish and set away for future use. A little cold water poured over it will assist in preserving it. If the egg shells are washed before the egg is broken, they may be crushed and added to the grounds also, for they will help to clear the coffee. The explanation of the use of egg for this purpose is that it coagulates as the coffee heats and carries the particles of coffee down with it as it sinks.
Another very satisfactory way in which to make boiled coffee is to tie the ground coffee loosely into a piece of muslin, pour the boiling water over it, and then let it boil for a few minutes longer than in the method just given. Coffee prepared in this manner will be found to be clear and therefore need not be treated in any of the ways mentioned.
[Never substitute a woolen for the muslin strainer, as that fabric, being animal should never come in contact with heat; while cotton or linen, being of vegetable fiber, is easily washed clean and dried].
HOW TO MAKE STRONG COFFEE
If you wish to have really strong coffee, allow a cup of freshly-ground coffee to a quart of boiling water. Put the coffee in a bowl and wet with half a cup of cold water. Stir in the white and shell of a raw egg, and turn into a clean, newly-scalded coffee-boiler. Shut down the top and shake hard up and down half a dozen times before pouring in the boiling water. Set where it will boil hard, but not run over for twenty minutes. Draw to the side of the range and check the boil suddenly by pouring in a third of a cup of cold water. Let it stand three minutes to settle, and pour off gently into the pot which is to be set on the table. Scald the milk to be drunk with coffee, unless you can serve really rich cream with it.
For the following method of preparing coffee, a drip coffeepot is used. A drip coffeepot is provided with a perforated receptacle or a muslin bag in which the finely ground coffee is held. The boiled water is poured through the ground coffee. Use tw0-thirds cup finely ground coffee to five cupfuls freshly boiled water.
Heat the coffee by steaming it, placing a little boiling water in the bottom of the coffeepot and the ground coffee in the coffee bag or perforated cup. Remove the bag or cup and pour the water from the pot. Return the bag or cup to the coffeepot and slowly pour over it the freshly boiled water. If it is desired to make the coffee stronger, the beverage may be poured over the ground coffee a second time. Care should be taken, however, not to cool the coffee in so doing. Wash the coffee bag in clear cold water and dry in the air. Renew the bag occasionally.
Filtered coffee may also be prepared in a coffee percolator. A percolator is so constructed that the water is heated in the pot and kept at boiling temperature while passing through the ground coffee. The method of preparing the beverage depends upon the construction of the percolator. Follow the directions that come with it.
CARE OF THE COFFEEPOT
The coffee should never be allowed to stand in the coffeepot, but should be turned out at once after using. If any clear coffee is left, it may be used for spice cakes, jellies, or other desserts. The coffeepot should be washed well, and scoured if necessary. The spout needs special care in cleaning.