During the mid-nineteenth century, most coffee was purchased in bulk, as green unroasted beans at the local general store. The green coffee beans were then roasted and ground at home. Coffee was usually brewed just by boiling the grounds in water. The Young Housekeeper’s Friend, by Mrs. Cornelius, a cookbook and housekeeping guide published in 1867, provided the following instructions for making coffee:
To roast Coffee.
As this must be done well in order to have good coffee, directions for it may not be amiss. There are often little stones in coffee, of the same color with it; 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. The best kinds are the Java and the Mocha, and it is considered and improvement to mix the two. West India coffee, though of a different flavor, is often very good.
To make Coffee.
Put a coffee-cup full into a pot that will hold three pints of water; add the white of an egg, or two or three clean eggshells, or a well cleaned and dried bit of fish-skin of the size of a ninepence. Pour upon it boiling water and boil it ten minutes. Then pour out a little from the spout, in order to remove the grains that may have boiled into it, and pour it back into the pot. Let it stand eight or ten minutes where it will keep hot, but not boil; boiling coffee a great while makes it strong, but not so lively or agreeable. If you have no cream, boil a saucepan of milk, and after pouring it into the pitcher, stir it now and then till the breakfast is ready, that the cream may not separate from the milk.