Appalachia Appalachian Food

Good Coffee

Coffee in Appalachia


The old coffee mill that hung on grandma’s kitchen wall has disappeared. The homemade oven Grandpa used to parch his own coffee has been torn down and carted off. The country store up at the crossroads no longer handles the big tow sacks of green coffee beans. The fire-blackened old tin coffee pot has been replaced by the percolator.

And the art of brewing coffee is almost lost.

“Folks nowadays,” said the Old Man, “just don’t know what a good cup of coffee is. Real tastin’ coffee’s a scarce thing. Most of the stuff a body drinks ain’t fit to put in your mouth. It ain’t got no body to it and it don’t taste like coffee used to, at lease not like the kind your grandma cooked.”

The Old Man considers himself an authority on coffee. And well he should. He was born in 1859 and he’s been sipping it black and scalding-hot for most of his 97 years.

“I reckon,” he said, “I’ve parched and ground as much coffee as any man in these mountains. Folks used to say I had a right good hand for parchin’ coffee. Just wasn’t ever ‘body that could parch it. Some parched it too much and others never parched it enough. Like makin’ molasses. You’ve got to know when it’s right for takin’ off the fire.”

Mountain Cooking written by John Parris


I come from a family of coffee drinkers. I never seen any of them parch coffee beans, but most of them liked it black, strong, and scalding hot. Pap preferred to use a perculator to make his coffee, The Deer Hunter does too.

I was probably the girls age when I started drinking coffee. I’m not as tough as The Deer Hunter and Pap, like Granny I like cream in my coffee. I only drank coffee of the morning, but it was the first thing I went for after getting up from the bed.

My illness earlier in the summer came with a never drink coffee again order from my doctor. Boy I knew that would be hard, but I was so miserable I’d have given up anything and like a good girl I haven’t even tasted coffee since the day he told me not to.

Man I missed it! More than the taste I missed having something hot to drink of the morning and I didn’t like messing up the routine I’ve been living for the last 20 years.

Miss Cindy bought me some low acid coffee but I was too afraid to try it. Then about a week ago she came in with a jar of Postum which is a coffee substitute made from roasted wheat grain and molasses, it’s all natural with no acid.

I’ve been drinking Postum every morning since she brought it over. It’s not coffee, but it’s not bad!



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  • Reply
    October 24, 2017 at 1:09 am

    I feel so badly for you Tipper. I am so hard headed I would change doctors. I believe I truly could give up almost anything easier than coffee. Once in my twenties I had a bad UTI and the doctor told me to quit drinking coffee. As soon as I finished the antibiotics I resumed my morning coffee. I have drank it ever since. It is an upper for me, and is a comfort for about anything that ails me. When my sis shows up I know to put on the coffee pot with milk for creamer…no additives with ingredients with long names I cannot pronounce.
    On a lighter note, my Mother and I read about roasting dandelion roots and drinking like coffee. This was in the seventies and too much trouble to try again. It surprised us what a good substitute it was. I’ve given up lots of sweets and cut back on carbs, but I will try always to keep my coffee. That is a tough one for you, and I sure hope you find a god substitute.

  • Reply
    Stacey Wheeler
    October 23, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Glenn and I are coffee drinkers in the morning as well. Not too many people need to converse much with me until I’ve had some coffee in my system. You mentioned your routine of something hot in your hands in the morning. I was wondering if you enjoyed drinking hot tea?
    In the winter time we drink hot tea before we go to bed and we look forward to it each winter. Good seeing you again this past conference. Your girls Chitter and Chatter are adorable and I love them to death! Hugs to you all!

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    October 23, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I love coffee with half&half, no sugar, drip maker but strong and HOT. If I’m out Panera or Dunkin is my fav.
    The dark roasts and espressos are just burned beans, dont like those.
    I dont like tea because I dont like it without sugar and lime or lemon so Id just soon have limeade as I’m sure I dont care for the the tea ‘weeds’. We’re all different.
    My Granny sure knew a lot of ‘teas’ for illnesses. And yuk, they were awful.

  • Reply
    Leslie Haynie
    October 23, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    I had to give it up too. My substitute is called Dandy blend and it’s pretty tasty.
    It still isn’t good old coffee though. Thank goodness we can still smell it!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    I used to drink 2 – 3 ten cup pots per day. My doctor told me to either quit or switch to decaf. I tried decaf several days and gave up. It just wasn’t the same.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    I agree with Ron Stephens about “Campfire coffee” being the best ever. I’m a coffee nut and I’ve been drinking that stuff for many years. Daddy and mama drunk coffee too strong for me and I had to water it down some. Anymore, I drink the “Lite” kind, the other stuff made my heart flutter, but I Love my coffee all thru the day. …Ken

  • Reply
    eva m. wike
    October 23, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Life Is Tuff! Tipper I hope your ‘getting past coffee’ becomes easier as WINTER makes a great show of SNOW! Hot chocolate will be your treat!!!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    October 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Rainy day. Screened-in porch. Two old cats sleeping near my feet. Cardinals singing. Blue Jays quarreling. Crows around the woods. Vic and Sade on the radio. Fresh, clear, hot coffee.

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    October 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve had to cut down but thank goodness not out! I like real cream in mine–the thicker the better.
    Mama used to tell about a cousin with the improbable name, Horace Cuddy, who put butter in his coffee. Sounds awful but I guess there’s a good bit of butter in that cream I like so much.

  • Reply
    Rosamary Christiansen
    October 23, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Good morning..My day begins with coffee and The Blind Pig like so many of your readers. My coffee of choice is Gevalia Traditional Roast regular with creamer. My folks drank coffee made by putting water in pot, adding coffee grounds boiling it til it looked and smelled like coffee. Poured thru a strainer into the cup was mom’s method. Dad didn’t seem bothered by coffee grounds with each swig. I have made it their way, next in a pot with basket inside for the grounds, Bunn, Gevalia’s, and Mr.Coffee’s. My current one is a 4 cup Mr.Coffee that I love because I can make a mugfull fast in a.m. This one has lasted me at least four years and I make several pots a day.
    Tipper, it is so good to hear you are feeling better at long last. Your kind friend helped you find a coffee substitute when you needed one the most. What a blessing. I have seen Postum in The Vermont Country Store catalog for years.
    I have a question. What does parched mean? Never heard that one before.
    Am 66 years old, and always drank coffee so strong, it could raise a blood blister on a rawhide boot. My husband calls it oil straight out of a chainsaw. He never drinks coffee, but admits to how good it smells.
    Good health to you and your family.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    October 23, 2017 at 11:19 am

    The longest forty-five seconds of the day is the wait for my Keurig coffee maker to dispense the first of my seven daily cups. Coffee, a habit most sailors acquire,

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 23, 2017 at 11:15 am

    Like Pap and the Deer Hunter I drink my coffee hot and black. Cream and/or sugar in coffee are a sacrilege in my book. I use a cheap Mr. Coffee 5 cup maker because I am the only one in the house man enough to drink coffee. It says “5 cup” but I make it full and it will fill my “I Love My Grandpa” cup up twice. That’s my daily fix of caffeine.
    My parents didn’t roast their own but they had a percolator. The basket and the stem thing sat up in the kitchen cabinet. They made coffee by first getting the pot to boiling then adding the coffee directly into water. They boiled it until the grounds sank to the bottom. That was the indication it was ready. The percolator body had a strainer in the spout that caught any errant grains. When you wanted to make the next pot, you dump the former grounds in the slop bucket (pigs like coffee too), ranch out the pot and you’re ready to go. If you were out of coffee or didn’t have money to buy any, the grounds could be reused. You have to boil them longer and the coffee will be weaker but it will suffice. That’s the only good time for sugar and cream. It makes a coffee flavored drink. Like cream of coffee soup.
    Grammaw drank lots of coffee and always had a pot on. She used the percolator like it was designed. She used 8 O’Clock from the A&P and she made it stroooong. I love the smell of coffee but if you get it too strong it starts to smell skunky. That’s how Grammaw’s house smelled when her coffee was brewing. I’d always have a comment for her like “dogs treed a skunk last night, huh?” or “got you a new pet Grammaw?”
    “You want a cup of coffee?”
    “No, Thank you!”
    “Ranch” is not a typo.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    October 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

    More coffee stories in our family that would fill a small book! Dad used to say the coffee wasn’t hot or strong enough until he could stick in a teaspoon and see it bend a little! I don’t how he checked the spoon the first time unless it was to stir the loosed (drugs) grounds around that fell from the old strainer. For he never used cream or sugar in his hot and black as pitch coffee. Mom used to say it was a wonder he didn’t scald his gut and pointed that out to him when he would get the belly ache!
    When I was a girl, my Dad roasted his own coffee beans. Oh my, I can smell it now! If coffee tasted as good as fresh roastin’ coffee beans it would take a army to keep the cup away from “swaller” place!
    I tasted a cup of coffee while visiting my Grandmother’s as a child. They all laughed at me that I wouldn’t like it and thought that would be the end of it…NOT…I craved coffee ever since! Always slipping a sip of Mom’s watered down creamed cup the habit grew and grew. Maybe if my first taste had been from my Dads cup…hot, bitter and strong, I might never have drunk the stuff!
    Anyhow that is when drinking the morning Postum stated. Mom and Dad tried to break me from the craving of good ole stove perked mountain coffee….Didn’t happen! Still love my coffee today! Sometimes twice or thrice a day!
    Enjoy your Postum! I wish I had a cup of it now for the memories I am sure would fall from my eyes. I can see my parents pleading with me to just try a cup…I did, and drank it for a while at least until junior high school!
    I am still short…so I am sure it was the mountain roasted coffee that stunted my growth…Forget about the tendency of other family members having a short stature! ha
    Thanks Tipper, great roast today….errrr, I mean postum….errr, I mean POST!
    One has to do what one has to do…I only went off strong coffee when I was with child…and when I would get a stomach ache…

  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Here are some original ads that Postum used. Seems they were ahead of their time:

  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 9:17 am

    I’ve got to have my coffee with lots of liquid Coffeemate first thing in the morning. My daughter and her husband used to parch coffee beans for their church to sell locally and on a website. The church bought a roaster and had green coffee beans delivered from one of the countries where it is grown and hand picked. The fresh roasted coffee was amazing! We don’t attend that church any longer, but I’m sure they still sell the coffee. It’s very expensive, but it’s worth buying a bag occasionally for a treat.

  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Thought you might enjoy a bit of Postum’s history:
    A Rich Tradition Since 1895
    In 1895, the first batch of Postum was made by C.W. Post in a small white barn in Battle Creek, Michigan. Little did he know that his cereal beverage would become a mainstay in American cupboards, celebrated for its roasted flavor and its association with warmth, comfort and family tradition.
    Building a Loyal Following
    Postum was introduced as the first product in the new Postum Cereal Company, which became General Foods in 1929. Attracting a large following of loyal users, Postum became the top-selling coffee alternative and other caffeinated beverages. During World War II, Postum’s popularity soared as Americans sought a coffee replacement, which was being rationed. Like so many others before them, these new families tried Postum – and loved it.
    “Bring Back Our Postum”
    In 2007, the beloved brand was discontinued when Kraft acquired Postum through General Foods. Postum lovers responded with a passionate campaign to “Bring Back Our Postum”, using online petitions, blogs and websites to garner support. Their voices were heard loud and clear. In 2012, the coffee substitute, Postum, was purchased by Eliza’s Quest Foods of Charlotte, North Carolina. The company was founded by June and Dayle Rust, two long-time Postum users who grew up with it in their families and who appreciate the deep emotional connections with the brand.
    So raise a mug and toast the return of an old friend – because Postum is back, using the same original recipe used by C.W. Post.
    Many blessing on the day!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 8:58 am

    My mother-in-law was the same way with her coffee – it was more of a comfortable routine than the obsession her husband and son had; but when she had to give it up, she “went back” to the Postum she had been given as a child. She said she never felt quite “grown up” drinking it but it was better than nothing.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    October 23, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I love my coffee in the morning and it’s one of first orders of the day. Shoot, my routine is a cup of coffee and reading your blog each morning. The two just go together kinda like biscuits and gravy! I like my coffee with cream and I like it strong.
    We currently use a Kureig coffee maker because we got it as a gift. It is so easy and quick and makes a great cup of of coffee. We used a drip maker before and still use it in our camper. We also have a stove stop percolator that is about 50 years old that we use when the power goes out. I typically only drink it in the morning but if I do have a cup in the evening I’ll use decafffinated.
    I’m sorry you had to give up coffee but if I had to for my health I would too.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 23, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Yes, that’s pretty much me to but I haven’t been sworn off. I start my day with coffee because otherwise I am a slow starter. I have long disliked that fact but there it is.
    I once did some reading about smoked coffee and a professional coffee roaster did say that temperature and timing are everything and it is both art and science. (Seems smoking coffee does not work well at all, sorta like smoked meat in chili.)
    I guess if I could have the choice I would want ‘campfire coffee’ boiled in one of those old percolator pots with the see-thru glass bubble, strong, black as sin and with a hint of smoke. Throw in a baloney biscuit and there is breakfast, lunch or snack. Wish I had some.
    I tease people that there is no bad coffee, just some better than others. But that is not really so. Bad coffee is really really bad.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    October 23, 2017 at 8:12 am

    My grandfather drank postum. He started when WWII rationed coffee and never stopped. I remember them letting me have some when I was a kid and how grown up I felt.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 23, 2017 at 7:50 am

    There is always adjustments in life, mostly I only make adjustments when I have to. One exception to that was when I quit drinking coffee a few years ago. I switched to green tea a few years ago without too much difficulty. It provided me with a replacement that I could still enjoy in the morning.
    After a few years with no coffee I recently went back to my old friend. I have a cup once in a while at mid day. Not every day, mind you, just once in a while. I think I might appreciate it more now that it’s not a daily habit.
    Tipper, you have,once again proven what a remarkable woman you are. When they told you no more coffee, that’s what you did….and I didn’t even hear you whine or complain as most would. You just followed the doctors directions.
    I am pleased that the postum is working for you!
    The Deer Hunter does love his coffee made in that stainless steel pot in the picture!

  • Reply
    October 23, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Tipper, have you tried really good coffee ice cream? If your doc okays it, you might find it a pretty fair consolation. Maybe not first thing in the morning, though 😉

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