Sunday, March 17, 2013

Water, Coffee, and a Bit of Flannel

Coffee wasn't this fancy back in the 19th century. I was appalled when, for my latest novel, I had to research how to make coffee over an open fire. Really? No French Press? How did them there pioneers survive? At least give the wagon master a Keurig. Sheesh.

Nope. Coffee, as it related to the pioneer, poor, or those without a local cafe, was rustic. Cowboy-Coffee got its name because those brave men of the west drank it fully-loaded, like their pistols. Water, grounds, heat, pour, and sip. The ladies apparently didn't appreciate grounds between their teeth, and without doing the proper research on when toothpicks were invented, I'm going to take a wild stab at the fact it wouldn't have mattered much. Unless you want a late night snack hiding between your molars, at some point, the grounds needed to go.

SO! First to grind the coffee. A lot of people chose to pack the handy-dandy hand-cranked coffee grinder. You could purchase ground coffee at a mercantile, but it wasn't as fresh--it's not like it was shipped overnight from Guatemala. SO grind away. Or as the Yankee soldiers used to do, the green coffee bean would be roasted over the fire (albeit not perfectly) and then smashed to smithereens with the the butt of their rifle. Sigh. No coffee snobs allowed in those days. Another travesty of the Civil War.

Then. Enter flannel--or any other finely woven fabric. It was perfect. No filters? Cut up Pa's shirt. A basic cup of good coffee with an adequate filtering system, came to the fore when open campfires or fireplaces were the place to be--or necessity driven. The grounds were mixed with the water in the kettle, heated, and then poured through flannel to capture the offensive little critters. Henceforth and forevermore giving a slight bit of culture to the pioneer woman who's base needs included--coffee.

Trust me, when it comes to coffee, there are no lengths too far to travel to get a good cup. And while Wyatt Earp just added his grounds to his chaw, my great-great grandmother chose the more refined way within her financial means ... water, coffee, and a bit of flannel.

Hoist ho! and drink heartily my mateys! (oops--wrong century)

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... and I'm giving away a 1/2 lb. bag of Jamaican-Me-Crazy coffee from my local shop... so comment here to win, "like" my Facebook page and leave a comment there for another entry, and visit my daily blog for more Jaime-Professional Coffee Drinker craziness.

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Jaime Wright -

Writer of Historical Romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Work in HR and specializes in sarcasm :)

63 comments:

  1. interesting didn't know all about coffee (still doesn't make me want to like it) Its interesting when instant coffee came in many like my mum who had to grind their coffee before loved the instant coffee and she did til the day she died. She didn't want to go back to grinding coffee where as many have gone to the coffee machines but most are not the older generation. She did like her cappuccino.

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    1. Good point about instant coffee!! I guess it was like the best modern "invention" -- although as a coffee snob, I can't say I'm thrilled with the taste ;)

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  2. I do love a good cup of coffee. I'll even take a bad cup if that's all there is as I do love coffee! Thank you for the interesting facts.

    Have a wonderful day! I've got to go get a cup of the wonderful brew my husband just made.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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  3. Oh my, love this post. All of my favorite things....cowboys, pioneers and above all, COFFEE! These posts are so fun!

    bcrug(at)myfairpoint(dot)net

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    1. I know, right? The best three things of history!

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  4. I'm a tea sipper and have a cup every morning and evening, but we now have a Keurig. I love French Vanilla or Hazelnut flavors, but not if it tastes like coffee. :) I add 1/3 cup skim milk to it and a packet or two of Stevia before I can drink it. If I had to grind coffee beans or strain it through flannel, my dear husband would never get coffee unless he did it himself. Oh, wait, he does that anyway because if I made it, the coffee would melt his spoon.

    Great post and I plan to visit your website soon.

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    1. Tea is okay too, I'll give you a pass :)

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  5. Lady DragonKeeperMarch 17, 2013 at 8:55 AM

    And that is why I don't drink coffee except for those loaded with chocolate, sugar, and cream ... I'm a wuss, I can't do straight up coffee. =) It's little details like straining coffee grounds with cloth and flannel that bring historical novels to life, IMHO, so thank you for your research!

    jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

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  6. When did they add egg or egg shells to the mix? Boiled on the back of a wood stove ~ I am not a coffee drinker but your 1/2 lb. would make an awesome gift for my dear husband. For Christmas? Our youngest daughter got him a French Press after she found out if he liked how she was making coffee when we were at her home for Christmas. He is becoming a connoisseur with different flavors and blends. Give me a good Earl Grey anytime! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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    1. Liked and left comment at your FB, and over at your blog ~ loved the layout and content of Anne's review of Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings! Kathleen

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    2. Thx, Kathleen! :) We love having you at our blog http://coffeecupsandcamisoles.blogspot.com ! And glad you got a chance to enter again :) here AND there! :)

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  7. Everything was so time-consuming! It's hard to imagine. It certainly made for a quite different life than we have today in our "instant" culture.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. I know!! I bet they enjoyed their coffee even more what with all the work involved!

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  8. I myself am not a coffee drinker I prefer tea but my husband and dad as well as daughter enjoy it.

    griperang at embaraqmail dot com

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    1. Ahh, well, your family makes up for your tea ;) (don't be shocked -- I love a good cup of tea too)

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  9. What a lot of work, not worth it to me because coffee isn't my thing but...have to admire our hearty ancestors. I was actually quite surprised when I found out that there were coffee houses back in the 1700's, a lot of 'revolutionary' talk went on in those places as well.
    Jasmine A.
    montanamade(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Oh yes, coffee houses go waaaaay back :)

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  10. Thanks for writing these posts. They are so interesting. And thanks for having the giveaway.

    Rose
    harnessrose(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. no prob, Rose! Glad to have you hear!

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  11. Nifty facts about the history of coffee. Fresh ground is the best! If it's made just right, no need to dress it up with anything. A good ole' cup of black java will do any day :)

    homesteading at charter dot net

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  12. Such a lover of coffee..gotta have my morning cup every day! Thanks for the giveaway.

    truckredford (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Hard to get started without it isn't it?

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  13. Liked you on FB!!

    truckredford (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. Hey thx!!! We'll see you around FB then! :)

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  14. Oh my, I would be so lost without my coffee!! I have a cup right here beside me as I write this comment. Thanks for the suggestion of flannel - will remember that next time I forget to buy coffee filters....lol
    bettimace(at)gmail(dot)com.

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    1. Would be kinda fun to brew it the old way, wouldn't it?

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  15. It's hard to imagine drinking coffee that way but they didn't realize how good we have it today. Boy are we spoiled! Thanks for the info and the opportunity to win...Linda

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    1. My e-mail address is dmcfarl101(at)juno(dot)com.

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  16. I 'liked' you on Facebook, too....Linda
    dmcfarl101(at)juno(dot)com

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    1. Awww, thx Linda, see you around FB then!! :)

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  17. LOL, those poor cowboys and such! I have two signs in my kitchen I think you need: Coffee, if you aren't shaking... you need another cup! Sarcasm: now served all day!
    :) Thanks for the funny post!
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

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  18. Enjoyed reading the comments. Very informative. I like coffee especially the bold tasting ones. Today though, I will raise one up for the Irish.
    HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY

    JWIsley(at)aol.com

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    1. I just had some last week called the Dirty Irishman. WOW! A great flavored coffeebean

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  19. this was a fun post! thanks, Jamie. Happy St. Paddy's Day, my dear lass. :)

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  20. Love coffee especially the fancy ones like the Frapps and blended drinks one gets at fancy coffee houses. I even liked the kind my dad made in an old granite coffeepot when we went on trips to the desert....he boiled the water over an open campfire and threw in a handful of coffee grounds....ah, the good ol days.
    JFWisherd(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Oh yes! Campfire coffee is the best! :)

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  21. Some recent history: My granny in New Orleans didn't have paper filters years ago
    and made sheet cotton pouches for her white porcelain cafe' au lait pot. My newly-wed parents visited her and my father thought they were dirty socks!

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  22. Interesting post. Boy are we spoiled. : )
    Not sure I would have made the wagon train trek without a Starbucks to stop at now and then.

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    1. THAT would make an interesting fiction book... a gal running a coffee house somewhere along the wagon trail! LOL

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  23. I have used the older kind of coffee in my kitchen and over a camp fire, but, I prefer the modern ones. LOL I follow this site and have liked your FB. Thanks for the give-away. Don't know why I keep trying for the Kindle. LOL I will leave a comment on your blog. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. It's fun to keep trying :) :) So glad to have you around the blogs and FB!

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  24. Not much of a coffee drinker...but, I do love Hot Chocolate or Hot Apple cider. I do love the smell of coffee. Sometimes you can tell if the coffee is sweet or strong,just by the smell. strgth4yu@hotmail.com

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  25. Interesting post on coffee... I don't think I could function without my coffee as a nurse and mom! Lol
    Lisa
    deiselbuffs@yahoo.ca

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  26. That would be terrible! Drink far too much coffee to take the time for that.

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  27. When I lived in Wyoming, we visited a working ranch that also put on a dinner show. They made their coffee in big metal garbage cans over the fire, and put the coffee grounds in tube socks! They said they bought new ones just for us - I can only hope! ;) So, I guess if you run out of flannel, a sock will do! Ah, I think I'll just stick to my paper filters!
    Thanks for the fun and delicious topic!

    jimmynmatthewsmom [at] netzero [dot] com

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  28. I've made coffee over an open fire and had to strain the coffee. Did not think of using flannel though!

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  29. Good evening, Ms. Wright,

    I personally have come to love auto drip coffee makers, but my all-time favourite if I can get the grounds right, is by way of French Press! I truly have 4 sizes of the Press! :) Laughs. The only fly in my ointment would be that I do not own a coffee grinder, which I think is what is missing, because if you order coffee pre-ground that's one thing, but I've noticed that if your in a grocery store its harder to control the consistancy and the quality of the grind! :( I enjoyed reading this post, because I apparently would have been one of the sole pioneer women with a heap of flannel + books in her covered wagon!! Laughs!!

    Would love to try your favourite brew! :)

    inkand-blogaways(at)usa.net
    //Florida

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  30. Interesting! Thanks for the opportunity to win the coffee.

    bonnieroof60@yahoo.com

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  31. Jaime, this was very informative. I can't even imagine having to drink coffee with the grounds still in it..I freak if I see just one tiny speck in my cup. :)

    debsbunch5[at]jesusanswers[dot]com

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  32. I know you love your coffee...I'm a coffee lover wanna be, but ultimately give me a hot cup of tea or even cocoa and I'm a happy girl!

    I do love to hear about how they did things in the past. It would be interesting to live a day the way they did and see how much "free" time we have, wouldn't it??

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  33. Interesting info about the flannel filter (which I will file away for future use!). A friend of mine worked for a bit as a teacher somewhere in Eastern Europe when she was younger (almost 20 years ago). I can't remember which country. She said they drink their coffee w/the grounds in it! They make the coffee, add whatever milk or sweetener you want, then you wait for the grounds to settle. You have to sip it gently to keep the grounds settled. I couldn't do it! I gag on coffee grounds. Soooo happy to live in this time as much as a love Westerns :-)

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  34. Kay_M is the WINNER of the 1/2 lb bag of coffee!! :) :) Kay, I'll contact you via email very soon! :) Congrats

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  35. I'm half Norwegien and my aunt says that I don't even make a good Norwegien because I don't drink coffee, lol. My kids don't either really but the rest of my family does.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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