Specializing in Authentic Civil War Artifacts
  • Essence of Coffee

    This item is out of stock

    Essence of Coffee - Inventory Number: CAM 302  /  Sold

    Original Tin with period label, highly sought after example of the classic soldiers rations. Very good condition example with original contents.  This one originated in Maine in the 1970's from an original box from which they were individually sold.  Very nice original example!

    This was the essentially the original instant coffee of the Civil War era.  George Hummel unleashed the Essence of Coffee on an unsuspecting world, evaporating vast quantities of coffee — complete with Borden's condensed milk and sugar — into what is often described as a thick, brown sludge or a noxious, black grease. By all accounts, Union soldiers abhorred the stuff, and these were men who, according to Grinspan, would brew coffee with water from "brackish bays and Mississippi mud, liquid their horses would not drink" if that's what it took to sharpen their nerves and minds on the whetstone of holy caffeine.

    Despite the label's insistence that the product was "celebrated" and "more wholesome than pure coffee," the Essence of Coffee tested even the standards of these hardened soldiers. If that weren't bad enough, the men's already super-charged bowels were sometimes further corrupted by spoiled milk sold by sketchy dairymen, according to writer David A. Norris. So attempts to cut the reconstituted essence with "fresh" milk could prove a risky gamble.

    Inventory Number: CAM 302 / Sold