Parish magazines can offer a fascinating insight into the cultural trends and day-to-day interests of parishioners throughout time. Alongside parish news, there would often be articles of more general interest for people to enjoy. These could cover all kinds of topics including household cleaning tips, jokes, and in this case, recipes.
This is an extract from a Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, dated 1968 (document reference: D/P89/28A/32). It shares some coffee recipes, using Camp coffee essence, for people to try out at home. We have put a transcript of the text at the bottom of this article if that helps you to read it.
Camp coffee is a chicory and coffee essence which is typically used for drinks, bakes, and desserts. First produced in 1876, it was designed to be enjoyed as a convenient alternative to coffee while camping outdoors. It was created for the Scottish regiment, Gordon Highlanders, on their campaign in India, as depicted on the logo. You can find out more about its history and how the logo has changed over time online.
As the slogan, ‘Ready Aye Ready’ suggests, this coffee is a quick and easy drink to make. Camp coffee essence had a resurgence in popularity in Britain in the 1950s and 1960s before freeze-dried instant coffee was introduced and became the norm in the 1970s. These recipes from 1968 would have been shared during the height of its popularity.
The coffees depicted, in typically attractive 1960s mugs, look very tempting on the page of the parish magazine so one of our colleagues started to wonder if perhaps we were missing a trick by no longer using essence in favour of instant granules. To find out, they gave the coffee recipes a try. The results are in and their verdict is given below:
Swiss Mountain Coffee: 3/5 - it was lovely but it didn’t need the double cream.
Mid-Morning Coffee: 3.5/5 - the honey made a very nice addition to this sweet coffee.
Coffee Ginger Cream: 4.5/5 - ginger and coffee are a match made in heaven!
Spiced Jamaican Coffee: 1/5 - orange juice and coffee make a less desirable match.
All four of the recipes were very sweet and the ingredient list of the essence itself puts sugar at the very top, so it would be most suited to people who like a sweet coffee. With the addition of whipped double cream on top, these make for a decedent start to the day which is perhaps a little too rich. A swap for a light whipping cream which looked much better on top, was slightly less indulgent.
The Coffee Ginger Cream recipe was a surprise success. The ginger added an extra kick to the drink, which was a welcome boost to help wake up in the morning. This will probably be made again!
The Spiced Jamaican Coffee was the least favourite. The citrus taste of the orange juice and rind was too over-powering. It had quite an acidic after-taste which wasn’t very appealing. Not to mention the extra mess that was created in the kitchen by grating the rind! This may be an extra step too far during a busy morning.
Nothing quite beats the taste of coffee from whole beans, but it was a fun alternative to use Camp Coffee essence. Perhaps an experiment with it to make iced coffee is in order. Today Camp Coffee Essence is mostly used for baking, so perhaps a coffee cake to accompany a coffee is the way to go.
Fancy having a go yourself? Here is the transcript of the recipes should you feel like taking the plunge:
"In the home
Here are some unusual coffee drinks you might like to try. Serve in gay, attractive mugs.
Swiss Mountain Coffee
1 pint milk; 2 tablespoons Camp coffee essence; sugar to taste; 2 tablespoons double cream, lightly whipped.
Heat milk to just below boiling point. Stir in coffee essence. Pour into mugs or cups, sweeten to taste. Top with lightly whipped cream. (Makes 4 cups).
½ pint water; ½ pint milk; 1 tablespoon honey; 2 tablespoons coffee essence.
Bring water, milk and honey to almost boiling point, stirring to dissolve honey. Add the essence. Pour into cups or mugs.
Coffee Ginger Cream
½ pint milk; ½ pint water; 2 tablespoons Camp coffee; soft brown sugar to taste; ½ teaspoon ground ginger; 2 tablespoons cream, lightly whipped.
Heat milk and water to just below boiling point, add coffee, brown sugar and ground ginger. Pour into mugs or cups and top with whipped cream. Sprinkle a little brown sugar on top.
Spiced Jamaican Coffee
1 pint water; 2 level teaspoons brown sugar; ½ level teaspoon powdered cinnamon; grated rind and juice of 1 orange; 2 tablespoons Camp coffee; single cream or top of the milk.
Bring water, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange juice and grated rind slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, add coffee. Strain into cups. Serve with cream or top of the milk.
Incidentally, it is always as well to have plain coffee and cold milk to hand. Many people prefer it this way – particularly continentals, who say that, just as we would not use hot milk in tea, they find hot milk completely alters the taste of true coffee."