Coffee beans spilled onto a wooden table.
The Battlefield Alternatives For Coffee During The Civil War
During the Civil War, the coffee-loving troops from the South were left without their morning caffeine, which led them to use creative substitutions like sweet potatoes.
According to NPR, those in the Confederate military would “roast rye, rice, sweet potatoes or beets until they were dark, chocolaty and caramelized.”
American Battlefield Trust further explains that soldiers would turn to anything they could roast to make coffee, such as chicory, peas, dandelions, acorns, and even peanuts.
The popularity of this method was noted by the Lansingburgh Historical Society and an 1861 article from the American Agriculturist for the Farm, Garden, and Household.
The article details a recipe by a Mrs. Ann Hoopes, whose instructions included washing and peeling sweet potatoes, cutting them up, and drying them in the oven.
Lastly, the potatoes are roasted in the oven until they look brown. No grinding is required for this recipe — just bring on the hot water and brew.