Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More on Proust's coffee

Corcellet coffee, that is:

It being an acknowledged fact that French coffee is decidedly superior to that made in England, and as the roasting of the berry is of great importance to the flavour of the preparation, it will be useful and interesting to know how they manage these things in France. In Paris, there are two houses justly celebrated for the flavour of their coffee — La Maison Corcellet and La Maison Royer de Chartres; and to obtain this flavour, before roasting they add to every 3 Ibs. of coffee a piece of butter the size of a nut, and a dessertspoonful of powdered sugar; it is then roasted in the usual manner. The addition of the butter and sugar develops the flavour and aroma of the berry; but it must be borne in mind that the quality of the butter must be of the very best description.

Isabella Beeton, The Book of Household Management; Comprising Information for The Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper And Under House-Maids, Lady's-Maid, Maid-of-All-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nursemaid, Monthly, Wet And Sick Nurses, Etc. Etc. Also, Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda; with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of All Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort. (London: S.O. Beeton, 1861), 876.
Butter-roasted — who knew? (Not me.)

Vietnamese coffee, it seems, is still butter-roasted — the French colonial influence. Reader, if you can recount a close encounter with butter-roasted coffee, please share.

Given recent posts on Orange Crate Art, I should note that Isabella Beeton, "Mrs. Beeton," was, it seems, a plagiarist.

Related posts
Proust's coffee
All Proust posts (via Delicious)

comments: 7

Elaine Fine said...

Boy, Proust's coffee must have been quite different from Balzac's coffee. And if you read the comments you will notice that this translation was apparently lifted (without attribution) from an article in Harpers.

Michael Leddy said...

Balzac: what a maniac! According to Mme. Albaret, Proust always took his coffee with milk.

Genevieve said...

"...it had to be bought at a shop in rue de Lévis in the seventeenth arrondissement where it was roasted, to make sure it was fresh and had lost none of its aroma." (from your earlier post about Proust's coffee)

I wonder if the butter-roasted coffee might develop a rancid flavor if it's not used promptly.

Tom the Piper's Son said...

Verlaine's coffee had a green tinge to it...
Seriously, I shall have to investigate if these Maison Corcellet or Maison Chartres roasts are available as imports. I've always loved the Vietnamese style coffee and am somewhat relieved to hear the flavor is not just determined by sugar (condensed sweet milk?) content.

Michael Leddy said...

Genevieve, Elaine wonders about that too.

Tom, Royer de Chartres seems not to have made it past the 19th century — Mrs. Beeton and another 19th-century book are the only references I've found.

I just discovered that there's an absinthe-and-coffee product, Artemisia. It claims to be the "elixir of passion." It also seems to be the elixir of carelessness — its website refers to "abinthe."

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the late entry to this thread. You can find butter roasted coffee throughout SE Asia. I lived on the island of Penang in Malaysia and there are still several active roasters using butter. I have read that this is an adaptation of the Hainese coffee. I'm not sure who first created butter roasting of coffee beans, but the process is still the predominate method in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and apparently vietnam. I was told by a local in penang that the indian's adapted using ghee instead of plain butter, much less burn, more roast. I was also told that in the hills of malaysia and indonesia where the coffee is grown they had butter and wok as their only tools available to roast, hence why it is done that way. This is all hear say, not true verified research, but my own experience confirms the richness of butter roasted coffee. and for a cheap substitute, try boiling ground coffee and water with a bit of butter in a sauce pan, strain into your cup and enjoy.

Michael Leddy said...

Anon., thanks for your really informative comment. An Asian market nearby is now selling butter-roasted coffee from Vietnam, and I may have to quit my Café du Monde decaf to give it a try.