Coffee and the Lewis and Clark Expedition


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If you begin your day with a “grande” cup of coffee, you should stop and think about how quick and easy it is for you to get your morning fix.

In 1804, Captain Lewis bought 50 pounds of coffee beans. The bag is mentioned in the journals on April 16 and then re-appears when inventories are done at Fort Clatsop.

The beans would have been “green;” no pre-roasting was done since that took place in a skillet just prior to brewing. The longer the roasting, the darker the bean and the stronger the coffee. After the beans cooled, they’d be ground. While there was no mention of a coffee grinder in Lewis’s supply list, he did pack three corn mills.

A recipe from the 1844 “Kitchen Directory and American Housewife” specifies 1 tablespoon coffee to two cups of water, boiled together for 20 to 25 minutes, and then “clarified” with either an egg shell or a piece of fish skin.

So the next time you’re in the drive-through, appreciate how good you have it here in the 21st century!

Last updated: September 11, 2018