How do you take your coffee?

It’s International Coffee Day so naturally I’m thinking about coffee! A little more than usual, anyway. I have coffee everyday, and I drink it black — a habit I picked up while drinking strong Turkish coffee in Serbia.

Last week I realised — horror of horrors — that we were out of coffee and placed an emergency Ocado order. It was not so easy for Brits on the Balkan front who were also fond of coffee. The nectar of gods was not so widely available, and it often came in a format that many of them never learned to appreciate. L G Moore, for instance, recorded in his diary:

“Secured tin of coffee out of canteen stores. No milk or sugar so we shall have to wait.”

Moore couldn’t fathom drinking his coffee black! He must have given up, because he later wrote: “Sold coffee.”

(L G Moore, “Papers,” IWM, 21 Apr 1917)

L Creighton, on the other hand, complained:

“It is impossible to go near a Serb without being given a cup of Turkish coffee.”

(L Creighton, “Papers,” IWM 92/22/1, 6 May 1917)

As though that is a problem!

British officers drinking Turkish coffee in Macedonia, 1916. © IWM (Q 32354)

When you’re off to a hostile environment, such as the wilds of wartime Macedonia, or the Frankfurt Book Fair, it’s good to be prepared with a stock of your own provisions from home and a travel kettle/ small paraffin stove. Milk and sugar might be difficult to come by, but if you’re away from the comforts of home, you want you coffee how you like your coffee, whether that’s black, milk two sugars, or not Turkish.


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