Coffee - a simple drink and a staple all over America. No one thinks of cowpokes sitting around the campfire drinking tea. Heck, no! Those men drank something as strong as they were. They drank coffee! Maybe and maybe not, often it was coffee, but it wasn't very strong.
Coffee has its roots so far back in history that we tend to think that it was strictly an American drink. It wasn't. Tea was the new comer to England. Coffee houses in England had a new drink to serve, tea, and they advertised it heavily. But once we had that little tea party in the Boston Harbor, drinking tea was considered British and coffee was patriotic. Well, we've been drinking coffee since our forefathers brought it with them from England as a household staple in the 1600's.
But things change and sometimes quickly. The Civil War left the South broke. Obtaining coffee beans was somewhat of a luxury for many people. They cheated. They added chicory or other beans to the supply of coffee they did have. Today we still drink coffee with chicory. It's found under the brand name of Luzianne. They carry several coffees so be sure it says chicory. There are quite a few companies that carry chicory flavored coffee.
Chicory is the root of a daisy-like plant, with leaves that taste much like a dandelion and both have the same sort of root, although the chicory tends to be fatter. There's all sorts of differences between the two, but apparently, if the root is sliced and
roasted, it gives a nutty-peppery flavor to the coffee. Today most people who like chicory-flavored coffees would tell you that it's smoother tasting yet has that special chicory kick.
Wheat has been added to coffee beans. It's harvested before the wheat ripens. But many a cook has taken the berries/grains from the wheat, toasted them, and added them to coffee. The Indians used acorns, and then acorns mixed with coffee beans. Almost any sort of bean including soybeans can be roasted and added to coffee beans. Coffee has a strong flavor that mixes well with other things.
Postum was created by Post Cereal in 1895 and marketed as a coffee substitute. There's no coffee in it. Caffeine-free, it is made from wheat bran, wheat, and molasses. It's still available today.
As people made their way west, it wasn't unusual for the supply of coffee beans to run low and they added to the beans. Even the most affluent ranch family could discover that a severe winter forced them to blend their coffee beans with other food sources to stretch supplies.
Those cowpokes may have discovered that the cattle drive, because of weather or some other factor, took longer than expected. Those beans were blended with whatever they could find.
There were wagons moseying westward that were robbed, destroyed by fire, or washed away while crossing a stream or river. With them went supplies, including the coffee beans. Pioneers looked for things to use that would make a hot beverage.
So it wasn't unusual for the woman of the house to mix the coffee beans with a little something to stretch the supply. What they used changed the flavor of the beverage. Those little
The women who braved the plains, the Rocky Mountains, or other areas west of the Mississippi did what they could to provide a beverage with or without the meal. They used what they had. Coffee was a favorite and still is. Using roots, fruit/berries, seeds/grains, or nuts to the coffee often became a common practice that is carried on today. If you get a chance to try one of these old-fashioned coffees, do it. You just might find a favorite.
On A Personal Note
I'm back and glad to be here again. Two months was a long time to be gone. But I'm almost fully recovered, and I'm back to writing. I'd like to thank all of you who sent prayers and good wishes my way. Nine hours of surgery and the only problem I have is damage that was done to an eye. With a little more luck, my eye will heal completely and I'll actually be able to see what I'm typing. Seeing is a little iffy right now, but I'm confident that in a few more months everything will be great!