Until the invention of the coffee mill in 1687 coffee in Europe and North America was mostly sold unroasted and unground. At this point, talking about quality was a weird thing, but even weirder was what unscrupulous vendors used to do with it to increase their profit. Because of the colour and powerful aroma of the ground coffee it was easy to mix it with other similar looking substances without anyone knowing about it. You cannot imagine what was put into the coffee! Among the substances used were roasted rye, grated burnt crusts, roasted acorns, sand, clay and sawdust. Even worst was the situation in East London where the so called “liver-bakers” were selling their…um, coffee. You can guess what they used to mix in the ground coffee, can you? That’s right – baked and ground into powder liver of oxen or horses. Disgusting? I would say very, very creative…or just greedy.
Today there’s not a chance of foreign “things” to be found in your ground coffee, but if you’re ever in doubt, especially if you think there’s ground liver in it, I know a trick, listen: put the brewed coffee aside to cool down and see if there’s a thick skin formed at the top. If there is – don’t drink!!! 😀
I would never have guessed what they have put in the coffee…seriously.