And especially after the War of 1812, and still today, coffee reigned and reigns supreme. Americans consume more than (almost) THREE times the amount of tea, soda, and sparkling fruit juice COMBINED. Source
I've loved coffee since a child. My grandmother had a collection of miniature cups, and one of my earliest memories is of her pouring coffee (probably more milk than coffee) into one of the tiny cups so I could drink coffee, too. Grandmothers are wonderful, aren't they? Also, another strong memory from childhood was the aroma released from the newly opened can of GI coffee my parents purchased from the commissary.
Yes, it was like a scent from heaven!
Just like us, folks heading West were great coffee lovers. Coffee gives us a jolt of energy, invigorates us, as no other drink seems to do, and the people needed that extra jolt as they encountered daily struggles and heartache in the new frontier.
Cowboys enjoyed their coffee as well. On cattle drives, when alertness was valued, especially since cowboys could be in the saddle for up to sixty hours at a time, the cook kept a three- to five-gallon tinned iron pot going most of the time. Fresh grounds were added to the old until the pot was filled, and then the cook would have to dump it and begin again.
One cook reported using over 175 pounds of coffee beans in one month. Yes, beans which had to be ground. Today, coffee snobs grind their own beans for better-tasting coffee--back then, it was a necessity.
And before the 1860s, people had to roast the beans themselves by using a shallow pan in the oven or something similar to a bedwarmer over the fire on the hearth.
The Arbuckle Brothers, wholesale groceries, were the first to package and sell coffee (their most famous brand was Ariosa) in the West. Here's an interesting paragraph from "Cowboy Coffee":
Many ranch cooks bought Ariosa in 150-pound cloth sacks, which could be made into dish towels, aprons, bandages, and so forth. Even more versatile were Ariosa’s wooden shipping crates. The large crates, which held 100 one-pound bags, were made of sturdy Maine fir because they had to withstand shipment over many miles of rough road. After the crates had been carefully opened and emptied, the wood was used to build furniture, shelves, storage bins, chicken coops, and the like. Sometimes a crate was recycled as a crib for a baby or as a coffin when an in-fant died. The wood from several crates could be nailed to-gether for an adult’s coffin. Occasionally, a settler man-aged to col-lect enough crates to add a room onto his cabin. Arbuckle’s smaller shipping crates, which held 25 one-pound bags, were used for tool chests, wagon boxes, wood boxes, panniers, and such.
Arbuncle's coffee reigned supreme for a number of years until Folgers came along to successfully compete.
And so I must ask... What's in your cup? If you are like me, and the cowboys of lore, it's the hearty, robust drink we love so much--coffee.
In the Brokken Road series, we often have scenes depicting the drinking of coffee or the lack thereof. Here's one from Brokken Redeemed:
It was Calvin Meyers. “Good morning, Mr. Hale. The sheriff sent me to deliver a message.” Calvin peered around Chance.
“What are you doing?” Chance asked irritably. He had not even had his first cup of coffee and wasn’t up for chitchat.
Calvin smiled up at him and raised his eyebrows. “I was looking for Mrs. Hale. I heard you and Miss Deborah tied the knot.”
Chance frowned at him. “She’s indisposed. What does the sheriff want?”
Calvin got very still and focused on a spot on the door frame near Chance’s head. “She said to inform you the circuit judge will be in the conference room at the bank at two o’clock sharp. You and Miss Deborah… I mean, Mrs. Hale, are to be there.” He looked down at his boots when he spoke his next words. “Said if she had to come after you, you’d be in a sorry mess.”
Chance gritted his teeth and spoke through a clenched jaw. “Tell the sheriff we will be there.”
He closed the door in Calvin’s face and then felt a little ashamed. It wasn’t Calvin’s fault. He was only the messenger.