Making Coffee from Scratch the Old-Fashioned Way


The authors of an 1877 cookbook wrote instructions for preparing coffee. I’m sure the recipe was easily understood by women of their era, but I had to read it several times.

Grind roasted coffee beans. Many people owned coffee grinders similar to the one in the photo. Turning the crank grinds the roasted beans. The grounds are collected in the drawer beneath the grinder. Some grinders attached to the wall.

Allow one heaping tablespoon of ground coffee per person and “one for the pot.” Mix the grounds with an egg (part or all of the egg) with enough cold water to moisten it thoroughly.

Boil a pint of water per person less one pint. For example, if ten people are drinking coffee, use nine pints. (If you find this confusing, read the original recipe!)

Place the prepared coffee grounds into “a well-scalded coffee-boiler.” (This may refer to a coffee pot that has been rinsed in hot water, but that’s just a guess.) Then add half the boiling water to the coffee pot.

Stop up the “nose” or spout with a rolled-up cloth to lock in the flavor. Boil for five minutes “rather fast,” stirring as the mixture boils up. Then simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.

Add the remaining boiled water to the coffee when time to serve.

The cookbook authors advise that boiling coffee a long time makes it strong but isn’t as flavorful as when following the above instructions.

Any coffee drinkers care to give this a try?

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 2011.



2 thoughts on “Making Coffee from Scratch the Old-Fashioned Way

  1. My grandmother used to boil coffee on her woodstove. I don’t remember if she stopped up the spout, and I was never allowed to drink it. They thought coffee would stunt a child’s growth.


Comments are closed.