[Sca-cooks] Coffee mill documentation needed

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Fri Jan 11 15:53:52 PST 2008

>> Sorry I'm not on SCA Cooks anymore (19 kingdom heraldry lists kind of
>> loads one's inbox) but you can take the info back.  Ukers has been put
>> into Google Books:
>> http://books.google.com/books?id=Y5tXt7aoLNoC&pg=PA480&dq=Ukers,+W#PPA618,M1
>> That'll take you to the pages the herald I'm working with has found,
>> but alas none of the pictures of the grinders are dated to period.
>> Thanks!
>> - Teceangl

It's good to know that Ukers is now webbed.

Page 616 has the only grinding devices dated prior to 1600, the Egyptian 
mortar and pestle and the Roman conical grain mill.  Since Roman mills could 
be a little wasteful and I know of no table top versions, I would think that 
the mortar and pestle would have been  the tool of choice for grinding 
coffee.  Mechanical spice grinders date from around 1400 in Europe, but I 
suspect they used primarily by spicers to prepare spices for sale.  I've 
been trying to find an illustration of a mechanical grinder for some time, 
but haven't had much luck.  On the otherhand, mortar and pestle are 
ubiquitous in most of the illustrations of spice shops and apothecaries. 
The illustration on Franisco Serene's webpage ( 
http://www.silk.net/sirene/ ) has one.

While I can make a case for coffee in Sufi rituals from around 1250, general 
use and commercialization of the coffee industry only begins in the Arab 
Peninsula around 1457 and takes until around 1520 to spread through the Arab 
world.  Coffee drinking arrived in Italy around 1585, but it is 1640 before 
coffee is being imported for sale in Europe.  Mechanical coffee grinders 
seem to date from the early 17th Century when coffee drinking was becoming a 
habit for much of Europe and the Middle East.  Unless one of us comes across 
an illustration of one of the early spice grinders (which might have been 
used for coffee grinding), I would say you're out of luck.


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