Obtaining and Roasting Coffee For A.E.F. in France - 1919
Some Unusually Interesting Facts and Pictures of the Coffee Roasting Plants in France to Supply the American Soldiers with their Needed Beverage.
1st Lieut. S. A. Levy,* who was in charge of the Coffee Department of the A. E. F.. standing before what was once a beautiful mansion but which has been shattered beyond all recognition by German shell fire. This picture was taken near Vimy Ridge along the Chemin des Dames. The two officers standing with Lieut. Levy are Major McColl and Capt. Harris.
First Lieutenant S. A. LEVY who, before the war, was in charge of the New Orleans office of A. C. Israel, coffee importer and jobber, visited The Spice Mill office, July 16th. Lieut. Levy, after two years in the service, twenty months of which were spent with the American Expeditionary Forces in France, returned to the United States on the steamship Rotterdam, ar riving at Hoboken, June 1, 1919, having sailed from Brest, France, on May 21st.
Arriving in France in October 1917, Lieut. Levy was located at General Headquarters of the A. E. F. at Chaumont, department of the Haute Marne, where he was on duty in the Adjutant General's office until July, 1918. At this time, the War Department and the Commanding General, Service of Supplies, authorized the construction in France of coffee roasting plants, capable of providing roasted and ground coffee for an army of 5.000,000 men, and Lieut. Levy was transferred to duty with the Chief Purchasing Officer, Q. M. Corps, in Paris, which department wasder the general supervision of Brig. Gen. C. R.
Kxanthoff, and Lieut. Levy was put in charge of manufacturing, supplying and purchasing in Europe of all coffee for the entire American Expeditionary Forces.
Cylinders in Course of Construction. A. E. F. Coffee Roasting Plant No. 1, at Corbeil-Essones, in the Department of the Seine and Oise.
Cylinder after Completion. A. E. F. Coffee Roasting Plant No. 1, at Corbeil-Essones, in the Department of the Seine and Oise.
Green Coffee belonging to the U. S. Army stored in the Warehouse of the "Grand Moulin de Corbeil," the Largest Flour Mill in Europe.
Battery of Cylinders at A. E. F. Coffee Roasting Plant No. 1, in operation. Each Roast, as it came out of the cylinder, was carefully inspected and passed upon by the sergeant in charge of the roasting room, before the finished product was issued to the troops at the Front.
The coffee roasting division was only one of the many departments under the Chief Purchasing Officer, as the purchasing and manufacturing of every describable kind of quartermaster material for the American Expeditionary Forces in France was centered in the General Purchasing Board.
Cloth was woven in Spain for the manufacture of uniforms, sardines were purchased in Portugal, also cocoa beans which were used in the manufacture of chocolate candy in France—these are only a few of the myriad of supplies purchased and manufactured as essential in the operations of our over-seas forces. Every kind of supplies necessary for the American Expeditionary Forces which it was possible to purchase.
in the Allied and neutral countries of Europe were bought, as our transports were busy in bringing troops to France, and the War Department relied, to a very large extent, on the General Purchasing Board in France to supply these troops with food and clothing.
A. E. F. Coffee Roasting Plant No. 1, at Corbeil-Essones, in course of construction.
At the time of the armistice, our coffee plants in France were turning out enough roasted and ground coffee for approximately 2,000,000 men. While awaiting the arrival of green coffee requisitioned from the United States, the markets of every allied and neutral country in Europe was scoured for available green coffee supplies and 3,000 tons were bought in Great Britain—this being British prize coffee—and approximately 5,000 tons from the French which was, for the most part, some of the old valorization coffee which was still in store in Havre.
At the time of the armistice, one United States coffee plant was already in operation, capable of turning out approximately 1,500,000 rations of roasted and ground coffee per day.
Two other large plants were in the course of construction at Bordeaux Gievres and a fourth was contemplated at St. Nazaire. Several private coffee roasting plants were requisitioned from the French, pending the completion of the army plants.
These plants were located at Paris, Havre, Marseilles, Bordeaux and Nice. The plants enumerated were all operated under Lieut. Levy's command. Pending the arrival of coffee roasting machines from the United States, a very efficient coffee roasting apparatus was manufactured in one of the French foundries, which was patterned after a model in use in France for years.
Each machine was capable of containing 325 lbs. green coffee, and coke was used for fuel. All motive power for the propelling of the plant was generated by two large Wintethur Swiss motors. The army plants were operated 24 hours per day, with shifts of men of eight hours each.
There were associated with and serving under Lieut. Levy several men prominently connected with the coffee business in this country, among whom were: Mr. Biedermann, son of one of the Biedermann Bros., Chicago; Frank Goldhart, with Sprague & Rhodes, New York; Fred Satink, with J. H. Windels, New York; First Lieut. Frank Cheek, son of J. O. Cheek, of Cheek-Neal Coffee Co., Nashville, Tenn.; Second Lieut. R. W. Lamprecht, with C. E. Bickford & Co., Chicago; Sergeant 1st Class Becker, with Hard & Rand, Chicago; Sergeant Backus, with Schnull & Co., Indianapolis; Sergeant S. E. Underwood, with Grossfield & Roe Co., Chicago; Sergeant 1st Class Vack B. Schwarz, of S. Schwarz & Co., Vicksburg, Miss., and Sergeant Wagenseller, with Thomson-Taylor Spice Co., Chicago.
"Obtaining and Roasting Coffee for A.E.F. in France," in Simmons' Spice Mill: Devoted to the Interests of the Coffee, Tea, and Spice Trades, New York: The Spice Mill Publishing Company, Vol. XLII, No. 8, August 1919 p. 1034-1037.