What did the Victorians do before Starbucks?

So, it was  a long weekend holiday morning and I was longing for something a little stronger than my usual cup of tea.

My boyfriend wasn’t up yet, so I couldn’t quite bring myself to ”borrow” some of the coffee I usually make for him first thing in the morning (we have one of those thermal-keepy-warmy types of coffee pot) before he’d had the chance to get some first.

Oh, how I longed for a latte from Starbucks.  Preferably a low-fat, decaff vanilla latte with no sugar but, as my boyfriend complains when he orders it for me, “That’s not real coffee.  What’s the point?”.  I don’t have them too often, but sometimes, just sometimes, the longing gets too much.

Then, Mrs Beeton came along and rescued me.

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Sufficient.—6 tablespoonfuls of strong coffee, or 2 tablespoonfuls of the essence, to a breakfast-cupful of milk.

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I figured that 6 tablespoons of coffee from the coffee pot wouldn’t be noticed by my boyfriend… at least, so I hoped (he loves his morning coffee, down to the very last sugary drop).

In 5 minutes I had myself a lovely hot mug of cafe au lait (latte).  I intended to add cream to the milk mix at first but, as I reached out to pick up the cream, I changed my mind and decided to save myself a few calories for the chocolate cake I intended to eat later.

OK, so it’s never going to be exactly the same as a lovely cup of Starbucks coffee, but Mrs Beeton’s cafe au lait certainly did the trick.  It’s very quick and easy enough to put together – very easy-does-it for a long weekend breakfast.

As I don’t like the taste of strong coffee, I was pleased at how very mild it was (which makes me wonder what coffee was like in those days, given that she had this to say about English coffee-making at the time: “This preparation is infinitely superior to the weak watery coffee so often served at English tables.”

But, as my boyfriend pointed out, perhaps they used a different type of roast back then, or the cups may have been smaller.  Either way, this cafe au lait is light and good.

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Cafe au Lait (Recipe 1812): http://www.mrsbeeton.com/37-chapter37.html#1812

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