Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Coffee & Chicory, Inside The New Orleans Coffee Industry, 1800s - Part 2

Blogger's Note: Not surprising to those who live here, New Orleans might just be where the morning coffee break originated early in the 20th century.  You can walk down any number of streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans and see coffee shops at many levels of repair, or charming lack there of, the local houses all offering the same potent morning brew - Coffee with Chicory. Coffee society in New Orleans began with one woman, Rose Nicaud.  Located on historic Frenchmen Street in the French Quarter, the aptly named Cafe' Rose Nicaud, gives us her story, and the beginning of our city's long-standing love affair with coffee.

Article from the September 30, 1941 issue of The New Orleans Item, entitled Boston Tea Party Gave U.S. Coffee Drinkers A Start:


(Above) Color Print Advertisement for Importers Coffee Company in New Orleans, Lousiana.

"The British are largely responsible for the popularity of coffee in America and doubly-so for the addition of chicory.  Coffee was taken up by the New Englanders (sic) after the Boston Tea Party, a demonstration against the exorbitant tax on tea.  From there it spread to other parts of the English-speaking America.

(Above) Original Tea Leaves, steeped in Boston Harbor after being dumped overboard during the Boston Tea Party of December 16th, and collected on the shores of Dorchester Neck on the morning of December 17, 1773.  On display at the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

How It Started: During the Napoleonic wars the British blockade kept coffee from the continent.  French, Belgians, Dutch, and Germans found that the root of chicory, when roasted and ground, offered a nice substitute.

This was mixed with coffee in the case of the fortunate who had some but wanted to stretch it, drunk straight by others, and mixed with roasted acorns and cereals by still others.  When coffee came back, the acorns and cereals went by the board, but the chicory persisted.  It still does, to the disgust of the green coffee men.

It is so unpopular, as a matter of fact, that Ukers, a New York green coffee man, in his thoroughly-embracing book on the subject of coffee, ironically says:

'In Europe, chicory is not regarded as an adulterant.  It is an addition, or modifier, if you please.  And so many people have acquired a coffee and chicory taste, that it is doubtful if they would enjoy a cup of real coffee if they should ever meet it."

Continue Article: | Coffee & Chicory - Part 1 | Coffee & Chicory - Part 3 | Coffee & Chicory - Part 4 |