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Art. IV.-COFFEE, AND THE COFFEE TRADE.*
The Coffee-Tree or Coffea Arabica is an evergreen shrub, with oblong pulpy berries, which are first of a bright red, but afterwards become purple. It is stated by Niebuhr to have been brought from Abyssinia, to Yemen by the Arabs, from a country similar to their own plains and mountains. By that people it has for ages been cultivated in the hilly range of Jabal, in a healthy temperate climate, watered by frequent rains, and abounding in wells and water-tanks. A combination of circumstances seems to favor the cultivation of coffee in Arabia, which can hardly be attained elsewhere. Frequent rains, and a pure and cloudless sky causing an almost uninterrupted flood of light, communicate an excessive stimulus to all the functions of vegetation, and are causes of the perfect elaboration of those delicate principles on which the aroma of the coffee is dependent.
The seed consists of much horny albumen and a peculiar principle or alkaloid, termed cafeine, which is identical with the active principle of tea, theine, as well as with paraguaine, the alkaloid of the Paraguay Tea. The seed is used in a raw state in medicine ; but when roasted, it forms the well-known coffee of Commerce. The coffee-plant begins to produce fruit when two or two-and-a-half years old; but the quality of the seeds from young stems is not so good as that from stems four or five years old. The size and color of the bean (as the inner part of the seed is called) vary considerably, those from the West Indies being larger than those from the East.
Much more depends upon the manner of roasting and making the coffee than upon the quality of the bean. The superiority of French coffee, in the preparation of which little or no Mocha coffee is used, proves this position. The taste of raw coffee is somewhat sweetish ; but the application of heat in the process of roasting produces important changes. The bean incrcases to nearly twice the original size, while it loses about a third of its weight; a powerful and agreeable odor is evolved, and a large quantity of empyreumatic oil, which appears in small drops on the surface, is formed along with a bitter principle, probably by an alteration in the cafeine and of the saccharine matter. The roasting should take place in a close revolving iron cylinder, over a clear but moderate fire, and should not be carried too far: when the beans have acquired a light chestnut color, the roasting should be discontinued. The beans are then to be cooled quickly by being tossed up into the air, and the grinding, or rather rough pounding, should be performed in a covered mortar or mill. The drink should be prepared from it as soon as possible, by infusion, which is preferable, unless some apparatus be employed by which a kind of decoction is made in a close vessel. About half an ounce of coffee-powder should be used for every eight ounces (half a pint) of water. In Britain the roasting is generally carried too far; and the subsequent partsof the process, instead of being performed immediately, are often postponed for days or even weeks, by which the aroma is dissipated; when made, the liquid is generally deficient in strength and clearness. The employment of white of egg or tish-skin to clarify is decidedly objectionable : elearness is thus purchased, but at the expense of the strength.
Por articles on this subject see Merchants' Magazine for July and August, 1850, (vol. xxiii., pages 59 and 172,) also the number for December, 1851, (vol. xxv., page 690,&c.) For statistics of imports and exports see “ Coffve,” in index of each voluine.
It was an endeavor to establish an improved mode of roasting coffee that led to the death of Mr. Dakin, of London in 1848. His plan consisted in placing the coffee in a cylinder lined with silver, and in inclosing this cylinder within a cellular steam oven, or cylinder, patented by other parties. The heat attained within the oven was very great, and the metal of the oven was not sound enough to resist its action; an explosion ensued, with a fatal result. The silver or silvered cylinder was an intended means of retaining the fine qualities of the coffee, without acquiring any defective qualities during the roasting.
The addition of milk (which should always be hot) and of sugar highten the nourisbing qualities of coffee, and in the morning render it a more substantial article for breakfast. When taken after dinner to promote digestion, it should be without milk, and, where the palate can be reconciled to it, without sugar.
The coffee trade has been wholly created since the beginning of the eighteenth century. Nearly all the coffee which now comes to Europe is the produce of trees propagated from a single plant, which, baving been raised from seed procured from Mocha in Arabia, by Van Hoorn, governor of Batavia, was sent by bim to the Botanical Garden at Amsterdam, and the progeny of which was, in the year 1718, twenty years after its reception from Java, sent to Surinam.
The coffee imported into England in 1849, amounted to the following quantities :British...
Of this quantity nearly 37,000,000 lbs., were brought from Ceylon alone. *
The rapid increase of of the quantity of coffee produced in the Brazils is expressed in the following table, compiled by the Brazilian Consul General :
It would seem, from this table, that the production of coffee in Brazil doubled
five years up to 1840, since when it has increased 80 per cent. The increase since 1835 has been 200 million pounds, and of that increase, the United States have taken one-half.
The following table shows the quantity annually imported into the United States from the four leading countries of production, and also the whole quantity imported into the Union during the past 18 years :
• Knight's Cyclopedia.
IMPORT OF POUNDS OF COFFEE INTO THE UNITED STATES.
Total. 1834... 26,571,368 19,536,457 15,141,779 5,307,186 80.153,366 1835. 35,774,876 29,373,675 19,276,290 4,728,890 103,199,577 1836.
46,810,219. 17,850,736 11,772,064 8,850,658 103,"90,507 1837.
33,906,236 29,503,553 9,252.636 1,779,819 88,140,403 1838
27,411,986 33.051,651 11,375.350 2,423,277 88,130,720 1839. 48,694,294 26,181,489 9,726,495 5,628,348 106,696,992 1840... 47,412,756 25,331,888 9,153,524 4,343,254 94,996 095 1841.. 59,575,722 17,198,573 12,547,791 6,794.702 114,918,783 1842... 61.248,942 14,321,458 11,530,102 9,781,418 112,764.635 1843,.. 49,515,666 16,611,287 10,811,288 1,638,307 92.295,660 1844... 95,291,484 18,628,875 20,781.461 8,740,841 158,332,111
78,553,616 1,157,794 13,090,359 3,925,716 108,133,369
97,353,697 2,326,497 12,734,753 2,819,411 132,812,734 1847...
94,916,629 6,673,479 19.085,277 17,819,345 156,716,575 1848... 110,927,284 2,258,710 16,990,976 3,037,377 150,559,138 1849.... 122,581,183 4,000,986 13,384,474 4,208,078 165,334.700 1850..., 90,319,511 3,740,803 19,440,985 5,146,961 144,986,895
107,578,257 3,099,084 13,205,766 2,423,968 152,453,617 Nearly the whole increase in the import of Brazil coffee was, it appears, at New Orleans, to supply the Western trade. The import of coffee from Brazil in 1844 was extraordinary, amounting to nearly half the whole product of that country. Coffee, up to. 1832, paid a duty of 5 per cent; since that year it has been free. The effect of this change is seen in the following table : IMPORTS OF COFFEE INTO THE UNITED STATES, WITH THE EXPORTS AND QUANTITY RETAINED FOR CONSUMPTION, ALSO THE DUTY AND AVERAGE PRICE.
Duty Avg. cost
Export. Consumption. per Ib. per lb.
Pounds. Cents. Cepts. 1821 21,273,659 9,387,696 11,886,063
20 1822 25,082,390 7,267,119 18,515,271
5 1823 37,337,732 20,900,687 16,437,045
20 1824 30,224,296 19,427,227 19,707,024
20 1825 46,390,620 24,512,568 20,678,062
17 1828 37.319,107 11,584,713 31,734,784
5 1827 50,051,986 21,697,789 28,350,197
55,194,697 16,037,964 39,156,733 1829.
61,133,538 18,083,843 33,04 9,695 5 1830. 51,488,248 13,124,561 38,363,687
2 1831 81,747,386 6,056,629 75,702,757
91,722,329 55,251,158 40,471,171 1 10 1833 99.955,020 24,899,114 75,057,906
10 1834. 80,150,365 35,806.861 44,346,505
10 1885 103,190,777 11,446,775 91,762.802
10 1836 93.790,507 16,143,207 77,647,300
10 1837 88,140,403 12.096,332 76.044,071
10 1838. 88,139.720 5,267,087 82,872,633
106,696,992 6 824,475 99,872,633 1840
94.996,095 8,698,334 86,207,761 1841 144,987,787 5,784,536 109,200,247
9 112.764,635 5,381,068 107,383,567 free. 8 1843 82,295,660 6,378,994 85.916,666
64 1844 158,332,111 8,620,291 149,711,820
6 1845 108,133,369 18.501.972 94,631,397
132,812,734 8,275,542 124,537,192 1847
156,716,576 6,383,583 150,332,992 1848 150,559,138 6,998,088 143,561.050
165,334,700 14,880,429 150,964,271 1850.. 144,986,895 15,287,499 129,699,396
8 1851 152,453,617 3,513,126 148,920,491
The population of the United States in 1840 was, in round numbers, 17 millions. The average consumption for the three years 1839-40-41 was 984 millions of pounds, which gave a consumption of 57 pounds per head. The average for the three years including the census year 1850, was 143 millions of pounds, and the population was 23 millions, which gave a consumption of of pounds per head. In 1830 the consumption was only 3 pounds per head; but the price had ruled nearly double what it did in the three years preceding 1850. In 1821 the consumption per head to the inhabitants of the United States was 1 pound 4 ounces.
In 1830 the proportion had increased to 3 pounds per head, the foreign price having fallen 50 per cent. After the 31st December, 1830, coffee paid 2 cents, and in 1831, 1 cent; after which it was free. The importation in the year 1831 doubled in consequence of the reduced duty, and the consumption per head for the four years ending with 1812 averaged 6 pounds per head, having quadrupled to each inhabitant since 1821. A large proportion of the increased consumption, as seen above, is derived from the Brazils; the effect of the production of which country has been to the price of coffee, what the products of the Southern States have been to that of cotton. From 1820 to 1840, the Brazilian product increased 1,100 per cent, or 155,000,000 pounds. In the same time the consumption in the United States increased 137,000,000 pounds; leaving an increase of 18,000,000 pounds of Rio Coffee, besides the enhanced products of all countries, to supply the increased consumption of England and Europe. The result has been the great diminution in price evinced in the above table. The cost per pound to the consumer was in 1831 further reduced by the removal of the duty; that is, the coffee which cost 9 cents in 1830, cost the consumer 16 cents duty and charges. The same coffee now costs 7 cents—a reduction of 9 cents, which has given the spur to the consumption. In England, foreign coffee paid 16 cents per pound duty, and colonial coffee 8 cents, until 1845, when colonial was reduced to 3d. and foreign to 7d. The consequence is, that while the United States, with a population of 17,000,000, consumed in 1844, 149,711,820 pounds of coffee, Great Britain, with a population of 27,000,009, consumed 31,934,000 pounds only, or less than one-fourth the consumption of the United States. In 1851 the figures remained nearly the same, viz:-148,920,000 pounds in the United States, and 32,564,000 pounds for Great Britain. Now the effect of this increased consumption of Brazil coffee on the American trade is as follows:
1834. 1813. 1851. Import of coffee from Brazil.
..... lbs. 26,571,318 49,515,666 107,578,257
...value. $2,819,028 $3,392,960 $8,881,105 Export of United States produce to Brazil.... 1,586,097 2,409,419 3,128,956
This increased export does not appear to suffice for the compensation of the large increase in the value of coffee purchased, and it is time that some movement were made to check English influence in that quarter and induce Brazil to place her best coffee customer at least on as favorable footing as others.
Considerable ingenuity has been displayed in devising apparatus for preparing coffee for the table. The ordinary coffee-pot is the plainest and simplest of all; there is no contrivance for filtering the coffee. In Dresden and other parts of Germany, a thick piece of flannel, or some other woven material, is laid in a funnel, the ground coffee is placed on the flannel, and the boiling water filters through the coffee, the flannel, and the funnel, to a
vessel below-carrying with it the flavor of the coffee without the grounds or sediment.
Platow's Autoinaton Coffee-Pot has for its object to make coffee in less time and in a better manner than by the ordinary method. The machine consists of two parts. There is at the top a glass vase which screws off and on by means of wooden handles, and is furnished with a long narrow straight tube, resembling the pipe of a common funnel, and reaching nearly to the bottom of a metallic urn placed beneath the vase. Boiling water is poured into the vase in quantity sufficient for the coffee to be made; and this is allowed to descend into the urn. The ground coffee is then placed within the vase, on a small perforated silver plate. A lamp containing spirit or naphtha is placed beneath the urn, and in a short time the peculiar action of the apparatus develops itself. The steam formed on the surface of the water in the urn forces, by its elasticity, the water up the tube into the glass vase; where it acts upon the coffee in the usual way for extracting the qualities of the berry. When the coffee is so far prepared and is required to be fined, the lamp is removed, the formation of steam ceases, a partial vacuum is formed in the urn, and the external atmosphere, pressing on the open vase, presses or strains the coffee, first through the grounds and then through the perforated silver plate, so that it trickles into the urn in the state of a pure bright decoction. It is thus seen that the liquid makes two descents and one ascent between the vase and the urn, during the process. In a cheaper form of the apparatus, a common fire or lamp is used instead of a spirit lamp.
A coffee-pot of rather complicated structure was patented by Mr. Andrews of Wolverhampton in 1842. This coffee-pot had no less an adjunct than a small forcing-pump, placed near the handle. The boiling water was poured in the forcing-pump, while the ground coffee was put in a perforated vessel in the middle of the coffee-pot, and the hot water being forced by the pump, was made to saturate the ground coffee in a way which (we presume) was supposed to produce a result adequate to the costliness of the apparatus.
Waller's Coffee-Pot, patented in 1847, differs in many particulars from all the others. A horizontal partition, perforated near the center with fine holes, divides the vessel into two equal chambers; an open pipe leads nearly from the top of the upper chamber to near the bottom of the lower chamber, and another pipe leads from the perforations some way down the lower chamber, with a tap or cock which can be worked by a handle protruding through the side of the coffee-pot. The requisite quantity of water, either hot or cold, is poured into the upper chamber, and allowed to flow through the perforations and small pipe into the lower chamber ; the ground coffee is placed on the perforated plate, the spout is closed with a cork or plug, and the vessel is placed on the fire. As the water becomes heated, the steam generated bas no outlet upwards or sideways, and it therefore presses on the water, and forces it up the long pipe, whence it falls into the upper chamber upon the ground coffee. When all the water is thus forced the coffeepot is removed from the fire, the vacuum in the lower chamber is condensed, the plug is removed from the spout, the top of the short pipe is opened, and the water trickles through the ground coffee and through the perforations into the lower vessel imbibing all the soluble and aromatic properties of the coffee as it descends.*
* Knight's Cyclopedia.