A Taste for History: Beet Coffee Recipe

Looking for a coffee alternative? Try this recipe used during the Civil War era.

| July 2018

  • Add some vanilla for additional flavor for a delicious alternative to your morning cup of joe.
    Photo by Getty/mariiaplo
  • “A Taste for War” by William C. Davis explores the history of Civil War cooking and shares recipes that nourished life during hard times.
    Cover courtesy of the University of Nebraska Press

A Taste for War (University of Nebraska Press, 2011), by William C. Davis, explores the culinary history of the United States’ most devastating war and reproduces recipes originating from that time. William C. Davis, a professor of history, is a renowned author of southern and civil war history books and the director of programs for the Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech. This excerpt from A Taste for War is a recipe for Laurensville Beet Coffee.


  • Beets
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 egg
  • Cream
  • Sugar


  1. Dice freshly washed and peeled beets, and toast them until thoroughly dry but not burned.
  2. Grind in a mill and then put 1-1/2 cups in 1 gallon of water with one egg, stir to mix thoroughly, and bring to a boil.
  3. Serve with cream and sugar.

Laurensville, South Carolina, Herald, September 20, 1861.

More from A Taste for War:

Excerpted from A Taste for War: The Culinary History of the Blue and Gray by William C. Davis by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. ©2003 by Stackpole Books; first Nebraska paperback printing: 2011.

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