13 October 2008
Americans love coffee. Even before fancy coffee joints became ubiquitous, many of us drank gallons of the stuff. It's one of the most popular items to stockpile for survival-minded folks. Coffee can be grown in some locations in the southern U.S., and in a greenhouse in colder areas. However, it takes a lot of coffee berries (the actual fruit of the coffee tree) to make a pound of roasted, ground coffee. So growing your own brew isn't practical for most of us.
Coffee substitutes don't necessarily taste the same as the real thing; I personally find them to have a “green” or herbal taste. Several different types of alternatives are available at health food stores (and sometimes in regular stores as well), but the price of these products is generally pretty high. So I've compiled a variety of recipes for coffee substitutes here. Some of these would work well to stretch a supply of the real thing, even if the taste isn't great on their own. In fact, Louisiana-style coffee (mixed with roasted chicory root) works that way.
Many of these recipes call for an old-fashioned percolator without a basket, which then requires that the grounds be “settled” before serving. If you don't want the extra fiber that results from that process, try using a French press. If you don't have one, you might want to look for them in thrift stores. I have two that I use for coffee and one that I use for tea; the three of them cost me $4 all together!
Enjoy these recipes! If you try them, let us know what you think by posting on the forum.
The following recipes are derived from the article “Jive Java”, from the Mother Earth News, February/March 2000.
- Root brews: Wash and slice (or chop) the following roots: chicory, dandelion, Jerusalem artichoke, beet, carrot, parsnip, burdock, or salsify. Slow-roast at 300º until crisp and dark brown. Grind and infuse like regular coffee.
- Seed substitutes: Try roasting barley, wheat, rye, wild grass seed, shrub carob (Ceratonia siliqua), coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica), bitterroot seeds (Lewisia rediviva), or cacao (Theobroma cacao). Though admittedly, if you can grow cacao, you might want to use it for chocolate making! But that would require another article. ;) Other seeds that could be used include juniper berries and beechnuts. You also might want to add caraway, cardamom, or other spices to your ersatz blend. Spices are often used to flavor commercial coffee substitutes.
- The next set is from The Confederate Housewife, compiled by John Hammond Moore (1997: Summerhouse Press, pages 22-24). This is a very interesting book for those interested in all sorts of substitutions, because of the privation caused by Northern blockades during the Civil War. (Or, if you prefer, the War Between the States. Or the War of Northern Aggression. Take yer pick!)
- --Toast corn meal, mix half-and-half with ground coffee. Another recipe suggests using the toasted cornmeal by itself as a substitute.
- --Acorn coffee: shell, split, dry, and roast acorns; grind and use like coffee.
- --Beets: cut into small pieces, roast until very dry but not burned, grind and use.
- --Rice: roast until dark brown, grind and use.
- --Grapeseeds: Press out oil (can be used for salads and cooking); dry and boil until a beverage is obtained. (The instructions here are a bit skimpy.)
- --Rye: Parboil (cook about halfway—no time specified); dry, roast, grind, and use.
- --Sweet potatoes: Peel, dice, dry, roast until dark brown, grind and use.
- --Sugar cane seed: roast and grind like coffee. I know, I know, very few folks can grow sugar cane, let alone obtain seed from it. But I decided to go ahead and include it in case someone can use the idea.
- --Peas: dry, roast, grind, use like regular coffee.
- --Chinquapin: No directions given here; you're on your own with this one!
- --Persimmon: Save persimmon seeds after cooking the pulp. Roast well so they will be “tender in the center” (that's what the directions say, folks!). Mix with two parts dried, roasted potatoes, grind, and use like regular coffee. The instructions here are sketchy.
- --Okra seeds: Dry, roast well, grind and use.
So there are several options for you. Good luck, and don't forget to report your results!
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