Coffee Alternative: Bran, Cornmeal, and Molasses Beverage

When the real thing wasn't at hand, rural folk in northern Canada made a coffee alternative from materials at hand.

coffee alternative - cornmeal and bran

Cornmeal and bran, mixed and roasted with molasses, is a Canadian coffee alternative invented in the early 20th century.

Photo by Fotolia/manyakotic

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The 1930s in rural northern Canada were tough times, but the ladies who kept house then were nothing if not inventive. My mother-in-law, for instance. If she ran out of real coffee, she had this resourceful recipe for a coffee alternative:

Homemade Coffee

2 cups bran
1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup hot water

Mix thoroughly. Roast evenly in hot oven until very dark. Keep mixing while roasting. The above recipe from her cookbook says nothing about what should be done after the mixture cools. One presumes — and only presumes, mind you — that it would be put through a hand-cranked food chopper.

Edna N. Sutherland
Vancouver, B.C.