On a mountaintop near Charlottesville, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson built the architectural wonder he called Monticello, or “little mountain.” It is the only house in America listed as a United Nations World Heritage Site. But did you know that besides being President, architect, inventor, world traveler, and all his other attributes, Jefferson was also a coffee afficianado? Not long ago, I was given a beautiful souvenir coffee mug from Monticello and with it an interesting little pamphlet I’ve reproduced below.
In 1824 Thomas Jefferson deemed coffee “the favorite drink of the civilized world.” Jefferson enjoyed the coffee houses of Williamsburg and Paris, and served coffee at the President’s House, Poplar Forest, and Monticello. He preferred beans imported from the East and West Indies, and abhorred the “green” or unripe beans that were popular in America at the time.
Jefferson estimated that a pound of coffee a day was consumed at Monticello during his retirement. His cellar was stocked with unroasted beans in barrels weighing as much as 60 pounds. Small quantities of beans were roasted and ground in the Monticello kitchen, and then prepared according to the recipe of Adrien Petit, Jefferson’s French maitre d’hotel: “On one measure of the coffee ground into meal pour three measures of boiling water. Boil it on hot ashes mixed with coal till the meal disappears from the top, when it will be precipitated. Pour it three times through a flannel strainer. It will yield 2 1/3 measures of clear coffee.” Coffee was served at breakfast, and likely after dinner, in a silver coffee urn made to Jefferson’s design.
For information on visiting Monticello, click here.