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Saturday, November 30, 2019


New York City's Caffe Reggio in Greenwich Village was opened in 1927 a mere five years after this accompanying text was penned.

Now through the end of the year,’s regular Saturday morning postings under the title “Coffee Beans & Beings” will take on a more historical mien by posting selected items of interest
from the non-fiction opus “All About Coffee” by William H. Ukers, which was first published in 1922 by the Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company, New York.  The work has been retranscribed to the Internet and the Public Domain by Project Gutenberg as an e-book thanks to K.D. Thornton, Suzanne Lybarger, and Greg Bergquist, 2009.

The first All About Coffee installment is remarkable that it was written 100 years ago.  For its age it reads fairly contemporary. Given how many changes the world has produced, it remains remarkable how the story of coffee is so consistent even after so many years.

GUEST BLOG / By William H. Ukers, Editor, The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, New York—Civilization in its onward march has produced only three important non-alcoholic beverages—the extract of the tea plant, the extract of the cocoa bean, and the extract of the coffee bean.

Leaves and beans—these are the vegetable sources of the world's favorite non-alcoholic table-beverages. Of the two, the tea leaves lead in total amount consumed; the coffee beans are second; and the cocoa beans are a distant third, although advancing steadily.

But in international commerce the coffee beans occupy a far more important position than either of the others, being imported into non-producing countries to twice the extent of the tea leaves. All three enjoy a world-wide consumption, although not to the same extent in every nation; but where either the coffee bean or the tea leaf has established itself in a given country, the other gets comparatively little attention, and usually has great difficulty in making any advance. The cocoa bean, on the other hand, has not risen to the position of popular favorite in any important consuming country, and so has not aroused the serious opposition of its two rivals.

Coffee is universal in its appeal. All nations do it homage. It has become recognized as a human necessity. It is no longer a luxury or an indulgence; it is a corollary of human energy and human efficiency. People love coffee because of its two-fold effect—the pleasurable sensation and the increased efficiency it produces.

Coffee has an important place in the rational dietary of all the civilized peoples of earth. It is a democratic beverage. Not only is it the drink of fashionable society, but it is also a favorite beverage of the men and women who do the world's work, whether they toil with brain or brawn. It has been acclaimed "the most grateful lubricant known to the human machine," and "the most delightful taste in all nature."

No "food drink" has ever encountered so much opposition as coffee. Given to the world by the church and dignified by the medical profession, nevertheless it has had to suffer from religious superstition and medical prejudice. During the thousand years of its development it has experienced fierce political opposition, stupid fiscal restrictions, unjust taxes, irksome duties; but, surviving all of these, it has triumphantly moved on to a foremost place in the catalog of popular beverages.

San Francisco's Vesuvio's opened in 1948 and remains North Beach neighborhood's writer's den.
But coffee is something more than a beverage. It is one of the world's greatest adjuvant foods. There are other auxiliary foods, but none that excels it for palatability and comforting effects, the psychology of which is to be found in its unique flavor and aroma.

Men and women drink coffee because it adds to their sense of well-being. It not only smells good and tastes good to all mankind, heathen or civilized, but all respond to its wonderful stimulating properties. The chief factors in coffee goodness are the caffein content and the caffeol. Caffein supplies the principal stimulant. It increases the capacity for muscular and mental work without harmful reaction. The caffeol supplies the flavor and the aroma—that indescribable Oriental fragrance that wooes us through the nostrils, forming one of the principal elements that make up the lure of coffee. There are several other constituents, including certain innocuous so-called caffetannic acids, that, in combination with the caffeol, give the beverage its rare gustatory appeal.

You boys invited us over, so drink our coffee and eat our doughnuts

The year 1919 awarded coffee one of its brightest honors. An American general said that coffee shared with bread and bacon the distinction of being one of the three nutritive essentials that helped win the World War I for the Allies. So this symbol of human brotherhood has played a not inconspicuous part in "making the world safe for democracy." The new age, ushered in by the Peace of Versailles and the Washington Conference, has for its hand-maidens temperance and self-control. It is to be a world democracy of right-living and clear thinking; and among its most precious adjuncts are coffee, tea, and cocoa—because these beverages must always be associated with rational living, with greater comfort, and with better cheer.

Like all good things in life, the drinking of coffee may be abused. Indeed, those having an idiosyncratic susceptibility to alkaloids should be temperate in the use of tea, coffee, or cocoa. In every high-tensioned country there is likely to be a small number of people who, because of certain individual characteristics, can not drink coffee at all. These belong to the abnormal minority of the human family. Some people can not eat strawberries; but that would not be a valid reason for a general condemnation of strawberries. One may be poisoned, says Thomas A. Edison, from too much food. Horace Fletcher was certain that over-feeding causes all our ills. Over-indulgence in meat is likely to spell trouble for the strongest of us. Coffee is, perhaps, less often abused than wrongly accused. It all depends. A little more tolerance!

Good morning!
Trading upon the credulity of the hypochondriac and the caffein-sensitive, in recent years there has appeared in America and abroad a curious collection of so-called coffee substitutes. They are "neither fish nor flesh, nor good red herring." Most of them have been shown by official government analyses to be sadly deficient in food value—their only alleged virtue. One of our contemporary attackers of the national beverage bewails the fact that no palatable hot drink has been found to take the place of coffee. The reason is not hard to find. There can be no substitute for coffee. Dr. Harvey W. Wiley has ably summed up the matter by saying, "A substitute should be able to perform the functions of its principal. A substitute to a war must be able to fight. A bounty-jumper is not a substitute."

It has been the aim of the author to tell the whole coffee story for the general reader, yet with the technical accuracy that will make it valuable to the trade. The book is designed to be a work of useful reference covering all the salient points of coffee's origin, cultivation, preparation, and development, its place in the world's commerce and in a rational dietary.

Good coffee, carefully roasted and properly brewed, produces a natural beverage that, for tonic effect, can not be surpassed, even by its rivals, tea and cocoa. Here is a drink that ninety-seven percent of individuals find harmless and wholesome, and without which life would be drab indeed—a pure, safe, and helpful stimulant compounded in nature's own laboratory, and one of the chief joys of life!

Friday, November 29, 2019


RETRO FILES.  Pittsburgh, summer 1938.
The Iron City Brewery (also known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company) was started in 1861, located on 17th Street in Pittsburgh, by Edward Frauenheim, a young German immigrant. It was one of the first American breweries to produce a lager. The company soon began brewing Iron City Beer, which would become the enduring flagship creation of the Iron City Brewing Company.

By 1866, the business had outgrown it's building on 17th Street and moved into a four-story brick building at the corner of Liberty Avenue and 34th Street. Three years later, Iron City Brewery built an additional three-story building on the site.

The Pittsburgh Brewing Company, circa 1867.
The Iron City Brewery's fame spread quickly throughout the country's brewing industry. The Pittsburgh facility was one of the most complete and extensive breweries in the United States. It was one of the largest brewers west of the Atlantic Coast area.

In 1899, the Iron City Brewery merged with twelve other local breweries, along with nine others outside the county, to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Company. The headquarters and main operation of the newly formed brewers trust remained in Lawrenceville.

The Pittsburgh Brewing Company, located in Lawrenceville, in 1919.
Prohibition, starting in 1920, forced many breweries, distillers and taverns to close, yet the Pittsburgh Brewing Company survived. Before prohibition was repealed in 1933, The Pittsburgh brewer produced soft drinks, ice cream and "near beer," and also ran a cold storage business to endure those years.

By 1977, Pittsburgh Brewing Company was one of just forty breweries left in the country. In a move to restore stability during difficult financial times, the brewery introduced a new light beer, branded as Iron City Light, or IC Light. The new product quickly captured 80 percent of the local light-beer market, and helped increase the sales of regular Iron City beer, which soon regained the position of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s favorite beer.

The 21st century saw the Pittsburgh brewer again fall in hard economic times. In 2005, a sharp decline in sales forced the Pittsburgh Brewing Company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In 2007, the brewery was purchased and renamed to it's original name of "Iron City Brewing Company."

In May 2009, due to the aging Lawrenceville facility, Iron City Brewing signed a deal with the City Brewing Company to begin producing beer at their former Latrobe Brewing Company plant. Brewing started in June and bottling/kegging production resumed in July, 2009. The abandoned Lawrenceville building was named a Pittsburgh Historic Landmark in 2010.

The company's ties to Pittsburgh still exist, as the Iron City website still lists "a four-story brick building on the corner of Liberty Avenue and 34th Street" as the brewery's location.

After 149 years in Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh's iconic Iron City Beer is now produced in Latrobe. Despite the move, Iron City Beer will always be associated with the city of Pittsburgh. There are certain trademark items that people seem to relate to the city. There's the Steelers, and there's Heinz ketchup, and there's Iron City Beer. You can travel most anywhere in the country and walk around wearing an Iron City t-shirt. The odds are strong that you will be identified as a Pittsburgher.

As with most breweries, there are many specialty collector cans made to promote local sports. Iron City was one of the first to link their brews with the local sports franchises. For years they have created new collector cans to promote their product. There's also the Pittsburgh Brewery's specialty brew, Olde Frothingslosh, an ale that looks as good as it tastes. Yes folks, Iron City Beer is a Pittsburgh tradition like no other, and for those of legal drinking age, it's not a bad tasting brew.

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Today, the staff of takes a rare day off to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in America and to celebrate the birthday of a significant other, whom we love very much.  Peace be with all of us.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Reportedly, the last home Frank Lloyd Wright (this one designed on Mars like terrain in the northern foothills of the Greater Phoenix area) was recently sold at auction for $1.67 million, according to the auction firm handling the transaction.  That price seems a bargain given what auctioneer Nate Schar, director of Heritage Auctions told the media recently: "The new owner of the last home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright now owns a masterpiece by America's most iconic architect," Schar said.

The new owner, it appears got a good price because the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in September 2019 said the home had once been listed at $2.65 million.

Completed in 1967 after Wright’s death (April, 1959), the 3,100 square-foot North 36th Street property was originally commissioned and owned by Wright Clients: The Norman and Amy Lykes Family.  Over the years, the home was called “Circular Sun House.”

The home features 3 beds, 3 baths, 2 living areas and an office with 360-degree views on the inside, and a private entertaining terrace featuring an indoor wet bar and shimmering pool with fountain lined with mother of pearl.

The new owner, who has asked to remain anonymous, told media that he intends to “preserve the home and use it as a vacation home.”

Photos: Heritage Auctions and one image from Google Maps.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


Continuing’s new monthly series reflecting the signs of our time or how to cleverly direct the masses one sign at a time.  You’ll notice no captions because the who needs them.