By Paul F. Long any are the theories and scholarly dissertations regarding the factors most viable in the winning of the West. Admittedly, settling and bringing civilization to the West was a many-faceted thing, involving a great variety of persons from multiple backgrounds and occupations. An unprecedented stream of people flooded West as the East became settled, especially following the great conflict between the North and South that we referred to as the Civil War. With them came the coffee habit, and the means of brewing their favorite hot beverage. Probably no nation in the history of mankind had witnessed such a movement and transportation of a large population of its people, from one section of the country to settle in another. Too, those who ventured out into the West comprised
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of a great diversity of individuals coffee, perhaps in the mistaken belief good for goat herders, so soon, with with varied interests and reasons that coffee originated in that country, some modifications such as roasting for trekking westward. A quest for was Java. Apparently coffee was the berries, the Ethiopians became adventure, the seeking of prospercommonly referred to by this name coffee topers and cultivators of cofity or wealth, curiosity, the desire to in the West, as I can recall in the lat- fee. Coffee as we know it was an own property where there was land ter 1930s hearing my father talking for the taking, was the stimulus for about having a cup of “java.” Arabian innovation, when around The story of the origin, cultivamany individuals. In addition were 1000 AD they began to roast the those with some monetary means tion and spread of this addictive beans before brewing. The Arabiwho were interested in commerbrew is a fascinating one. Historians exported coffee from Ethiopia cial enterprise – merchants, and controlled the market tradesmen and entrepreneurs. source of this “bean broth.” In the case of Civil War Great care was taken to make veterans, many left the East certain no fertile coffee seeds because of being rendered or live plants were shipped, homeless and without properenabling the growth or sproutty, so the West was the becking of coffee plants outside of oning siren of opportunity. Arabia. In fact, thinking that Certainly, not a few individuthe coffee plant was native to als made a swift departure Arabia, early botanists gave for the West just ahead of the the common coffee plant the law or a committee of angry scientific name of Coffea aracitizens. bica. Another encouragement Another word associated to westward expansion was with coffee is Mocha. When the railroad, which snaked the Arabians exported coffee out on the plains and ultifrom Ethiopia, many of the mately spanned the continent. shipments came to the city of Once the railroads provided Mecca in Yemen – the main a means of shipping cattle to port for the one sea route to Eastern markets, great cattle Mecca was Mocha. Due to ranches began to flourish and these circumstances, one farmers or plowmen followed superior Arabian coffee was the rails westward, taking dubbed Mocha, a word that up homesteads or settling on has for many become another cheap land bought from the word for coffee. railroads. Towns soon sprang Cowboys at the rear of the chuckwagon, one is operating the coffee grinder. Having a good thing goup where settlement proing, the Arabians jealously vided a sufficient trade area to bring ans believe that coffee originated guarded the export and sale of coffee profitable revenue to merchants and in the Horn of Africa in the country to other countries. It was in Mecca tradesmen. of Ethiopia, where it apparently that the first coffeehouse opened, and All these were factors in wingrew wild in the Province of Kaffa, these centers of society and enterning the West, but perhaps another sometime around 800 AD. Various tainment quickly spread across the factor should be cited which surely stories are told of how the useful Arab world. In time, coffee exportaplayed a significant role – coffee, a properties of the roasted coffee bertion reached Europe; in 1683, Venebrew that was universally consumed ries brewed into a beverage were tian traders brought the first coffee by Americans regardless of occupadiscovered; some of the stories were to Europe and the first coffeehouse tion, racial background and social most fanciful. One story that has in Europe opened in Venice in that status. Apparently “Arbuckles” was persisted is that a goat herder noted same year. the coffee of choice among Westernafter his charges had chewed on the ers of all persuasions and ultimately red berries they were stimulated and the word Arbuckles and coffee lively in behavior, in fact the anibecame synonymous among Westmals stayed awake most of the night. erners. Another western name for Voila! What was good for goats was
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Soon the consumption of coffee could be persuaded to forgo their lated from German into English.) Equally illustrative of the cofand the frequenting of coffeehouses daily visit to the coffeehouse during spread through Europe. Coffeethose dreadful years.” But probably fee craze in Europe during the 18th houses had become highly popular the two most famous habitues of Century, music books used in the in London by the min-1600s. An English coffeehouses during the 18th American public schools had a intriguing discovery was a map Century were Samuel Johnson and coffee round in them which had of literary London depicted on the his biographer and hero-worshiporiginated in Germany and been flyleaf and back cover of a college ping companion (some critics suggest brought to America by immigrants. text. The map was one of London toady), James Boswell. The round used in music classes In Germany, no lesser musical during the 17th and 18th centuries was simply titled Coffee and re– the time of such literary greats lated the addictive enslavement as Samuel Pepys, Samuel Johnof the popular brew. In spite of son, Addison and Steel, Oliver the many coffeehouses (where Goldsmith and Jonathan Swift, tea also was served) in England, to name but a few. On the map when the early colonists came in red print were listed some to America, tea was the drink of dozen to a dozen and a half cofchoice. However, coffeehouses feehouses. At these establishwere established in New York, ments, famous literary figures Boston, Philadelphia and smaller and literary clubs met for coffee cities as early as the late 1680s. and discussion – as no doubt did Early coffee shops in America many other citizens. It is said, arose from the espresso and pasand likely is true, that for nearly try – centered coffeehouses in the a hundred years coffee eclipsed Italian communities in the larger tea as the national drink of the American cities. As in Europe peoples of the British Isles. the coffeehouses became social Apparently then as now, centers and venues for business coffee topers were determined transactions. It is said that the to have their daily fix. It is reNew York Stock Exchange and corded that during the 17th Centhe Bank of New York started in tury when the bubonic plague coffeehouses. However, had it not been swept over England in the years between 1603 and 1665, killfor King George and the Parliaing some 150,000 persons in ment of England, Americans London, the coffeehouses still might have been a nation of tea operated. Daniel Defoe, whom drinkers instead of large coffee The cookie’s domain -- the chuckwagon with a huge coffee pot hangmany of you will remember as topers. The first direct cause of ing over the fires. the author of the classic Robthe war between the colonies inson Crusoe, also wrote what was immortal than the great Johann Seand England was the Proclamation probably the definitive work on the bastian Bach may have been a cofof 1763 that closed territory west of plague, a scholarly work titled fee drinker. At least he was aware the Allegheny mountains to Colonial The Journal of the Plague Years. of the addition of this beverage as he settlers. Further acts brought deteDefoe also was apparently hooked wrote a cantata on the subject. The rioration of relationships between the on coffee. It is recorded – when the humorous Coffee Cantata written by colonies and the mother country, culplague was raging through London Bach concerned a father’s attempt to minating in the famous Boston Tea – that “Neither Samuel Pepys (a felstem his daughter’s addiction to the Party – resistance brought about by low haunter of coffeehouses whose fashionable drink. A few lines from an act of Parliament, which placed a writings included the famous Diary the musical illustrated the problem, tax on tea coming into the colonies. Much earlier in England, King of Samuel Pepys) nor Daniel Defoe “Father, don’t be so hard! If three times a day I can’t drink my little Charles II had tried to suppress the cup of coffee, then I would become London coffeehouses saying they so upset that I would be like a dried were “. . . places where the disafup piece of roast goat.” (Obviously fected met and spread scandalous the lyrics suffered a bit when transreports concerning the conduct
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of His Majesty and his Ministers.” Charles II was so right as history proved, for it was in a coffeehouse named the Green Dragon in Boston that the Boston Tea Party of 1773 was planned by a group of American patriots. So in part, out of the background of this rebellion and action of dumping the cargo of tea from British ships in Boston Harbor (and other
An early wooden container of Arbuckles Coffee which was sold under the name of “Arbuckles” Ariosa Coffee.
Atlantic harbors) into the bay, came the American preference for coffee as the drink of choice rather than tea. And when the early pioneers came out to the western plains and mountains, it was a battered coffeepot that was brought along, not a teapot. Many of those who settled the West were apparently heavy coffee topers – cattlemen, teamsters, trappers, railroad laborers and military personnel – all these enjoyed and were dependent upon the magical brew. Apparently – as recorded in both history accounts and western fiction – coffee was one of the chief staples of cowboy diet. A cowboy traveling or out on the range for any length of time, carried along a supply of coffee beans and a battered old coffeepot. Many business places and certainly the local marshal or sheriff’s office would have a coffeepot simmering throughout the day. Reportedly the coffee brewed in such places left much to be desired. It is recorded that generally the coffee and grounds from earlier batches of coffee were not emptied but rather more coffee and more water were added at the beginning of the day. The coffee of the ranchers and cow-
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hands, lawmen and other westerners was “brown gargle” – hot, black, strong and thick. On the great trail drives the ever-ready pot of coffee simmering on the cooking fire or tended by the cook was even more important than the chow provided. Coffee in great volumes was consumed at meals and during the night by the cowhands guarding the bedded cattle. Cowboys coming off duty from night-guard could expect to find a pot of coffee on or hanging over the coals of the fire. Not only was the coffee most welcome on cold rainy nights but it helped to keep the cowboys awake as they sometimes
got very little sleep – just as eating coffee beans worked to keep goats awake, the brew from the beans also worked on cowboys. Slim rations might be tolerated for awhile, but a steady supply of dark strong coffee was a necessity. A coffee incident is recalled when my father, an uncle and two older brothers were making sort of an abbreviated trail drive. Not cattle, but a herd of horses were driven from Western Colorado to Central Kansas in 1931. Our family was moving from our homesteaded grassland in Colorado following several discouragingly dry years – fortunately we escaped Western Colorado
Where it all started. Pike Place Market in Seattle, the location of the first Starbucks store, known as Pike Place Starbucks. It is still operating. Starbucks went on to become the largest coffee company in the world. Photo -- Lynnette Brown
just ahead of the worst days of the Dust Bowl. My uncle who lived in Kansas, convinced my father that a herd of draft horses could be profit-
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ably sold there. So a herd was accumulated and the drive was made from near Two Buttes, Colorado to Rice County, Kansas. With the herd was driven a covered wagon of sorts – metal Ushaped supports were attached to a wagon bed and a tarpaulin was placed over these to provide shelter for sleeping at night and hauling cooking equipment. Cooking was done over a wood fire at stops along the way. One morning one of my brothers who was 16 and already a coffee toper, was assigned the chore of preparing breakfast and specifically brewing coffee. The “coffee pot” was a gallon tin Karo syrup bucket. Although he should have known better, the young cook securely and tightly applied the lid on the Karo bucket that held the heating coffee, perhaps he thought to hasten the brewing process. The inevitable happened, the boiling coffee produced considerable steam pressure and the brew erupted from the pail, dousing the hapless cook with liquid. With the arrival of the horse herding crew back in Kansas, we regarded our brother’s face with awed fascination. It was a mass of blisters and peeling skin. Until after the close of the Civil War, coffee purchased by stockman, ranchers, cowboys and others in the West, was in the form of green coffee beans. So two things were necessary for the wandering cowboy or trail cook to brew up a pot of coffee, first the coffee beans had to be roasted, and then “grinding” must be accomplished. In the case of the cowboy traveling or working out on the range, the roasting part could be done in a skillet or a discarded tomato can – certainly this was not an exact science and often the beans were burned. After roasting, grinding the coffee created another problem. One method was to use the trusty six-shooter, likely the butt of the gun, to smash or pulverize the beans, the same tool often used
to drive staples. So making coffee at that period was not all that easy. But pity not the poor cowboy; ironically enough, before 1865 cowboys drank fresher coffee than
Old coffee roasters -- United States Patent Office, John Arbuckle, Jr., Allegheney City, Pennsylvania. Letters Patent No. 73,486, dated January 21, 1868.
most Americans do today. For coffee prepared on the range, green coffee roasted in a skillet and ground (or pulverized) just before brewing, was much fresher than supermarket coffee where the coffee is roasted and stored in cans months previous to its consumption. But in 1865 following the end of the Civil War, a new patented process for roasting and coating green coffee beans with an egg and sugar glaze to seal in the flavor was developed. John Arbuckle and his brother, Charles, partners in a Pittsburgh grocery business, presented their new product to America. The coffee
was packed in one pound airtights, a revolutionary process that some coffee topers compared to the invention of the wheel! No longer was coffee burned while roasting, and the means of realizing a consistently delicious cup of coffee from fresh beans made the Arbuckles’ product an instant success. In fact, so successful was the product, marketed under the trade name of Arbuckles Ariosa Coffee, that in the West the word “Arbuckles” became interchangeable with the word “coffee”. It is recounted in Western lore that not uncommonly a cowboy would advise, “Don’t talk to me in the morning until I have my Arbuckles.” Generally it was said that the “recipe” for coffee was a handful of coffee in a cup of water. On the can of Arbuckles was proudly imprinted the legend, “The Coffee That Won The West.” In good measure the dependence and importance of coffee to those who worked at ranch chores was exemplified by my father, who was a cattleman and worked much with livestock. I recall an occasion when the coffee supply failed to last until the next shopping trip to town. My father was grouchy as a bear coming out of hibernation, and I recall his moaning about having a “dark brown headache.” As youngsters we were somewhat perplexed as to what a “dark brown headache” might look like – apparently it was something awesome. In addition to having a good product, the Arbuckle brothers had good sales and advertising savvy. Arbuckles coffee was shipped all over America in sturdy wooden crates, one hundred packages to a crate. In the West, Arbuckles so dominated the market that many cowboys were not aware that there
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were any other brands available. A sales gimmick was to print signature coupons on the bags of coffee redeemable for all manner of items such as handkerchiefs, razors, wedding rings – things which were attractive to cowboys and other western inhabitants. But although roasted and packaged, the coffee beans still had to be ground. Pulverizing with the butt of a six-shooter might work for the cowboy when on the range or when grub-riding. However, the amount of coffee required by a chuck wagon cook required that it be ground – some chuck wagons had a coffee grinder attached to the side of the vehicle. A boon to both chuck wagon The interior of a typical modern coffee shop. Photo -- Lynnette Brown. cooks and cowboys was another Arbuckle innovation. Inside each package of Arbuckles was a Starbucks stores bloomed across American like spring stick of peppermint candy. It is recounted that when the flowers, enabling it to become the largest coffee company cook called, “Who wants the candy?” the cowboys vied in the world. Starbucks brewed coffee would surely – sometimes with violence – for a turn at operating the have whetted the palates of the old chuck wagon cooks coffee grinder. or the working cowboys whose brew would have floated Seeing the importance of this beverage to Americans horseshoes – it packs an extremely high caffeine punch. and to the winning of the West, it seems only fitting that Today, the Arbuckles Coffee company still thrives another coffee enterprise would have originated in the along with the Johnny-come-lately Starbucks chain and West. Established in 1971 in Seattle, the first Starbucks various other coffee firms. So it can well be said that Store or coffeehouse opened across the street from Pike American coffee companies are still gastronomically Place Market, and still does business as the Pike Place winning the American West, the rest of the USA, and a Store. Offering a delicious coffee of high caffeine content, good share of the remainder of Planet Earth.
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