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Coffee Making in the Domestic Economy - 1919

Enjoying a Cup of Coffee in the Morning

The Importance and Procedure of Proper Coffee Making Expounded
by Edward Aborn Before Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences

The evolution of business life of to-day, the increased range of opportunity and responsibility coming to the manufacturer, especially of food products, and the evolution also of housekeeping under modern conditions with the changes and adjustments necessary to efficient housewifery, are well represented by the series of lectures recently given at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, by Miss Helen Louise Johnson.

Miss Johnson, as the housewife's teacher and representative, makes a study, at first hand, of the production of foods and drinks. Going into the factories and mills, she acquaints herself with knowledge by which the housewife may be able to choose wisely and use rightly the products which supply her family table.

The housewife, realizing the changes from former times when the home produced so much for which the factory now is responsible, is organizing leagues and clubs for investigation and inspection and for instruction in the “scientific management” of the home.

Miss Johnson has made herself the connecting link between the housewife organized in meetings and the manufacturer who finds in his trade associations a medium of expression to the consumer.

No product on the housewife's list is more vital and more necessary to understand correctly than coffee, and when Miss Johnson applied for information to the National Coffee Roasters' Association, a valuable opportunity was opened for both the coffee roaster and the housewife.

The result was an interesting and significant meeting of 400 women at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, Jan. 12. This meeting followed a previous lecture upon the subject of coffee by Miss Johnson.

In introducing the speakers Miss Johnson confessed that her previous opinions and teachings in favor of boiled coffee were incorrect and that by her own comparative tests she had found that the filtration method as described by Mr. Aborn produced a better cup of coffee than the boiling method, even to her prejudiced personal taste.

Edward Aborn, of Arnold & Aborn, New York, whose investigations on the proper making of coffee have been followed with great interest by the coffee trade at large, addressed the meeting on “Grinding and Brewing of Coffee.” He emphasized the following points in his discourse:

The coffee roaster is the family cook for coffee engaged in what used to be a household art when the housewife roasted coffee in her own oven. The housewife, brewing the roasted coffee, is engaged in the final manufacturing process, upon her depending the ultimate fate of the quality and health value of any coffee.

This meeting, therefore, became a conference of fellow manufacturers of mutual interest to the coffee trade and the home. The roasters striving to suit the consumers' taste and win success by perfecting their product by all possible means, found the family coffeepot too frequently a “grave” in which their fine quality and their hopes are buried.

By scientific investigation of the subject of brewing, certain fundamental principles were discovered which were not previously understood even by domestic science authorities who were teaching by old recipes with no scientific basis.

These principles, affecting both health value and quality value, should be known in every home and should be constantly put before the public. Grinding rules: The aromatic oils being stored in the fibrous cells of the bean are the more quickly, thoroughly and purely released as the “cells” are more thoroughly opened, the finer the granulation the stronger, the better and the purer the brew.

Uniform granulation is absolutely necessary to uniform brew.

Pulverized coffee, not coarser than finest corn meal, is the only granulation that is 100 per cent, efficient, yielding the fullest result in quality and strength. Water, at the full boiling point, is a vital necessity. The aromatic oils fuse instantly with boiling water, requiring the briefest contact only. Water under the boiling point is inefficient and futile.

Tannic acid, contrary to aromatic oils, is extracted by water at any temperature and requires time. The longer the contact of water and coffee the greater the yield of tannin. Tannic acid is the undesirable and unnecessary ingredient of coffee, making it bitter and decreasing its health value.

Following the above principles, the filtration method, asserted Mr. Aborn, produces better flavor, requires less coffee than any other method and practically eliminates tannin, the chemical analysis showing less than one-third of a grain per cup as compared with about 2% grains for boiled coffee.

The fundamental rules of the filtration method are:

  • Pulverized coffee: —Not coarser than fine corn meal.
  • Muslin filter bag: —Fine enough mesh to hold the grounds from going through. Cheese cloth too coarse. Bag must be large enough to insure quick flow. Too small a bag, a frequent fault, causing delayed filtration and overdrawing.
  • Boiling water: —At the absolute boiling point and fresh.
  • Action: —Pour, once only, the boiling water through the grounds, Don't flood the bag all at once; pour gradually.
  • Treatment of bag: —Rinse and place in cold water until next used. Never dry it, as drying causes decomposition and is one of the commonest causes of failure, producing a bad flavor. Bag keeps sweet if kept wet.
  • Vessel: —Heat before using.
  • Keeping hot: —Brew just before serving. Don't put the brew on the stove. Any degree of cooking or heating up causes a bitter taste. Put vessel in hot water if service is delayed or put the brew in a double boiler.

This constitutes the “law and the prophets” of coffee brewing.

The questions and answers following the address resulted in re-emphasizing the above points and developed an urgent demand for an efficient home mill by which fresh ground and finely ground coffee can be obtained.

Mr. Aborn explained that an official association mill was being perfected and would soon be ready for the market, a very satisfactory type having been developed by the association committee.

This mill is an improvement upon any mill before manufactured, he said, grinding to any degree of granulation, pulverizing efficiently and easily, and having new features such as a lock-nut which insured a fixed and uniform grind.

The meeting closed with cordial and approving individual expressions and a helpful and instructive occasion was recorded in favor of coffee.

"Coffee Making in the Domestic Economy," in Simmons' Spice Mill, March 1915, p. 230, 232.

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