Station: [13] Room 7: Wall-Mounted Coffee-Grinder and Coffee Substitute

Ersatz coffee? Coffee so weak it was see-through? Real coffee made from beans? The seventh mill in the top row will give us an opportunity to tell you something about all these "hot beverages".

The blue and white wall-mounted grinder has two hoppers, one for coffee, the other for malted grain. The crank is removable, so you have a choice of grinding one or the other. Have you noticed the arrows on the hoppers? For coffee powder, please crank to the right; cranking to the left produces malted grain powder to brew barley “coffee”. It’s still a popular coffee substitute even now.

We mentioned coffee substitutes like chicory coffee earlier, in connection with the firm of Franck, which was already producing the chicory beverage by the early 19th century. We even have one of the firm’s advertising posters hanging in our stairwell. But the history of coffee substitutes can be traced back to the time of Frederick the Great, who established a state coffee monopoly in 1781 – something else we mentioned earlier. Since coffee was unaffordable, people started looking for alternatives. The first factories were set up to process chicory in the second half of the 18th century.

After the Second World War, coffee was again expensive and in short supply. Back then, a pound of coffee cost roughly 60 marks – and a lot of people were making no more than 180 marks a month. That was why the coffee people brewed was often weak. It was dubbed “Blümchenkaffee” -- flower coffee – because it was so watery, you could see the décor at the bottom of the cup.

An alternative was grain coffee substitute, which was made from malted and roasted barley and hot water. Barley coffee was pale yellow in colour, though if you mixed it with chicory, it took on a darker cast. Its German name “Muckefuck”, which sounds rather rude in English, is derived from the French "mocca faux", meaning "fake coffee".

But this wonderful coffee grinder allowed people to make their own blend of real coffee and malted barley coffee. This was what people often drank as coffee on weekdays. But on Sundays, there was "real coffee from beans", in other words, unadulterated coffee. 

Please take as long as you like to look at these decorative wall-mounted grinders. Afterwards, we’ll be heading up the stairs to the second floor.

All depictions: © Kaffeemühlenmuseum Wiernsheim