View Full Version : Navy coffee recipe, please.

Johnny L.A.
10-06-2001, 04:40 PM
"Navy coffee" is brewed strong, with a pinch of salt. But my dad (a "mustang" Naval officer) is gone now, and I don't know how to make it.

Percolator, or drip? How strong? Salt in the basket, or in the pot? How much is "a pinch" of salt? Salt takes away the bitterness. But what if the coffee isn't bitter in the first place? What's the best brand to use?

Thanks from this "Navy Brat".

10-06-2001, 08:26 PM
First, some things I found during the search that maybe you know already but others will be interested to know:

Cup of Joe
Josephus Daniels (18 May 1862-15 January 1948) was appointed Secretary of the Navy by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Among his reforms of the Navy were inaugurating the practice of making 100 Sailors from the Fleet eligible for entrance into the Naval Academy, the introduction of women into the service, and the abolishment of the officers' wine mess. From that time on, the strongest drink aboard Navy ships could only be coffee and over the years, a cup of coffee became known as "a cup of Joe".

Lots of mustang NAVY links here:

As for the coffee:

It is the Lifeblood of the NAVY:

With old recipes here:

Did not have time to compare all but here are the more up to date recipes:
Type “coffee” in the field and the recipes are in Acrobat format (small and sweet though)

Curiously, salt does not appear as an ingredient buy my WAG is that some salt remained (remains?) in the water that the sailors had to use and now is added (for tradition?) if you like it. Or it could be that the NAVY still roasts his own beans and salt is involved in the process?

10-06-2001, 08:49 PM
I had to make many, many pots of coffee as a mess crank (one who spends their first 90 days or so working on the mess decks. Think of it as KP for 90 days straight).

We used a large commercial drip coffeepot and coffee, period. No salt was added, at least I never added any. That it is strong comes from the fact that the Navy has no contracts with suppliers that have decent coffee.

It is possible that the salty taste does come from the fact that shipboard water is naturally salty. When a ship is in port, she's hooked up to local water. IIRC, ships at sea have a special desalinization process that isn't perfect, but it comes fairly close.


Johnny L.A.
10-06-2001, 11:16 PM
Interesting links, GIGObuster. I wonder if I can get some Navy-roasted coffee? Dad's gone, my uncle, a retired Master Chief, doesn't live near a base... I have a friend who's a former Army heli pilot who goes to the VA to get her medicals occasionally...
Curiously, salt does not appear as an ingredient buy my WAG is that some salt remained (remains?) in the water
No salt was added, at least I never added any.
Hm. Whenever I hear the phrase "Navy coffee", it always includes "brewed with a pinch of salt". I did wonder about the salinity of the water used aboard ship, but then I remembered that salt (or eggshells, BTW) attenuate bitterness.

Johnny L.A.
10-06-2001, 11:45 PM
Well, I just found this at http://www.salt.co.za/nfsalty.htm:
Adding a pinch of MARINA salt in coffee will improve the flavour and remove bitterness of over-cooked coffee
Not a Navy site. I'm thinking that the salt would be added to thr cup, rather than the pot. But I still seem to remember reading somewhere (where was it? The Hunt for Red October?) that the coffee was brewed with salt.

Slithy Tove
10-06-2001, 11:57 PM
You made me dig out my old paperback of "The Sand Pebbles," by Richard McKenna:

"Holman found some eighth-inch copper tubing and wound it into a steam coil and hooked it into the back pressure line to the feed heater. He got a gray enamel pitcher and some mess cups from Wong and began making engine room coffee. The smell of the coffee, added to the odors of hot oil, hot metal and scortched rubber packing, made the engine room smell right to him for the first time. You always put a big pinch of salt into a pot of engine room coffe before you boiled it, to make up for the salt you lost in sweating. It gave the coffee a special flat, oily kind of taste."

10-07-2001, 12:02 AM
I spent 10 years in the engine room of merchant ships and while not the Navy there were many shared traditions and routines. There was always a salt shaker next to the percolator and the first thing a first-trip wiper (entry level position) was taught was to add a dash of salt to the coffee strainer.

10-07-2001, 12:03 AM
No salt in the pot. It's hard on the equipment, to say the least, and will have the Chop (Supply Officer) quite pissed at you when the pot has to be replaced. The evaporators on board ship are quite good, and if you get water coming out with enought salt to be tasted, the DCA (Damage Control Assistant), Engineer, Chop, and Skipper are all going to want to talk to the people operating the evaporator. It won't be a fun conversation, either.

On the other hand, Navy coffee tends to sit on the burner, and it's brewed strong to start, so before long, it's bitter, thick, and nasty. Adding a pinch of salt to a cup of lube-oil thick coffee is just the thing to make it drinkable.

And before anyone else says it, "Coffee-Swillin' Squid" would be a great band name.

Fear Itself
10-07-2001, 12:05 AM
Originally posted by Johnny L.A.
I did wonder about the salinity of the water used aboard ship, but then I remembered that salt (or eggshells, BTW) attenuate bitterness. That would be Cowboy Coffee (http://www.foodshow.com/(VIgSITOR)/news/april3.htm):Chef Pedalino described the process for making cowboy coffee. Starting with cold water add ground coffee—a dark roast, but not quite French. (The resort has its own Sacajawea blend roasted by a local beanery.) Bring to a boil over the open fire. Let simmer for about seven minutes, then move off to the heat. Add crushed eggshell and a pinch of salt to reduce harshness. "The egg shells are important for tradition, not culinary sake." Pour into tin cups and serve.

10-07-2001, 01:43 AM
Ya know, Johnny, tradition's a wonderful concept. And I understand nostalgia. But I'd highly recommend a few trips to a really good cafe, where they serve espresso (not starbucks). Try some of their blends and roasts till you find one you really like, then buy the beans. Grind it fresh yourself, brew strong as you like, and enjoy.
I remember navy coffee. I miss the travel. ;)
Are you still in LA?

Johnny L.A.
10-07-2001, 10:38 AM
mangeorge: Yeah, still in Hell-A. I'm working on a couple of things, but they're going painfully slowly.

About the espresso. I'm too cheap and drink too much of it to pay for it at a café. I have a traditional stove-top espresso pot that makes fills my 14 oz. cup with thick black elixer very nicely. The bad news is that espresso uses lots of coffee groungs. The good news is that I get 26 oz. cans of French Roast beans for only $7.49 at Trader Joes.

Tradition? Nostalgia? Yeah, that's there. But I like to try different coffees. I have an electric percolator, a stove top percolator, a manual drip pot, an espresso machine, a couple of stove-top espresso pots, a French press, a pair of Vietnamese coffee makers, and I've been known to have Instant coffee for emergencies.

Tranquilis: Makes total sense. I was wondering how, if the salt was put into the pot, they kept the metal from corroding. Sounds like just the thing for the coffee at work.

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