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View Full Version : What is/was "Boston-style coffee"?


Scarlett67
06-04-2004, 06:41 PM
Mr. S and I had lunch today in a diner with a long history -- it had in each booth a copy of the original menus from 1937. Pretty entertaining reading. The priciest item on the menu was steak for $1.00. There was also Heinz turtle soup, several flavors of phosphates, and daily plate lunches for 35.

One item had us flummoxed: Boston-style coffee, 10. Regular coffee was 5, so there must have been something mighty special about the Boston-style version to double the cost. Anybody know what it was? Googling yielded no information.

Thanks much!

RealityChuck
06-04-2004, 08:00 PM
Made it Boston baked beans, of course. :)

samclem
06-04-2004, 08:12 PM
There was a brand of coffee called "Woods Boston Coffee" in the teens and later. I can't say that this has anything to do with your question.

postcards
06-04-2004, 08:58 PM
Coffee made with cream.

Make it with tomatoes and it's Manhattan coffee.

Papermache Prince
06-04-2004, 09:01 PM
Postcards has it right. Walk into a Boston area Dunkin' Doughnuts, ask for a regular coffee, and you'll be given one with milk in it. If you want it black, you'd better ask for it "black." Whether that's what the menu meant, I couldn't say.

TellMeI'mNotCrazy
06-04-2004, 09:22 PM
Coffee made with cream.

Make it with tomatoes and it's Manhattan coffee.


And SDMB style coffee... Coffee all over your monitor.

Thanks for that one, postcards!

peri
06-05-2004, 06:01 AM
Coffee with extra cream

Scarlett67
06-05-2004, 06:35 AM
That's it, huh? Surprising. Didn't *everyone* have cream in their coffee back then? (Not a big dieting culture, everything fried in lard, etc.) Perhaps it was a Depression-era thing that cream in your coffee was special?

And here I had been thinking that it might be "Irish" coffee, with a shot of booze; Boston = high Irish population. The place did offer a variety of bottled beers at the time.

postcards
06-05-2004, 09:17 AM
Geez, and I was just making a clam chowder joke!

Biffy the Elephant Shrew
06-05-2004, 10:23 AM
Geez, and I was just making a clam chowder joke!
"Chowdah! Chow-dah!"

ratatoskK
06-05-2004, 10:42 AM
I think in New York a "regular" coffee is also with cream? So what's with the "Boston" thing?

Annie-Xmas
06-05-2004, 10:53 AM
I first read the expression "Boston Coffee" in a guidebook for Brits coming to the USA. In the years I lived in Boston and drank coffee, I never heard the expression.

I think it's one of those foods like "English Muffins" that are unknown in the place they are named after.

Billdo
06-05-2004, 11:39 AM
I think in New York a "regular" coffee is also with cream? So what's with the "Boston" thing?

In New York, "regular" coffee is with milk and sugar. (Assuming you don't mean regular to mean non-decaf or non-flavored.)

twinqtsdad
01-09-2013, 12:57 PM
:cool: I agree with the Coffee with extra cream, not milk. I learned this "style" serving coffee about 40 years ago at White Castle. I was instructed that it was not only extra cream but half coffee and half cream. The customers that ordered it said it not only sweetened the coffee it cooled it down as well.

Mangetout
01-09-2013, 01:06 PM
I think it's one of those foods like "English Muffins" that are unknown in the place they are named after.

What's strange is that American Cheese is not one of these.

tdn
01-09-2013, 01:10 PM
Walk into a Boston area Dunkin' Doughnuts, ask for a regular coffee, and you'll be given one with milk in it.

I'm not so sure that's true anymore. It was true maybe 30 years ago.

TriPolar
01-09-2013, 01:40 PM
I think it's one of those foods like "English Muffins" that are unknown in the place they are named after.

I was surprised that London Broil is not a dish known in London England. Maybe it came from London Ontario or some other London though.

I don't drink coffee, so I have no idea what a Boston style or regular coffee in Boston means, but I've heard that 'regular coffee' varies by region.

Delta-9
01-09-2013, 01:44 PM
I worked in a small coffee shop in a local department store while growing up here in Chicago-istan, and when a customer ordered a Boston coffee, it meant they want lots of cream.

Telemark
01-09-2013, 01:59 PM
I'm not so sure that's true anymore. It was true maybe 30 years ago.
Or maybe 9 years ago when this thread was started.

mark24c
01-09-2013, 02:00 PM
I was surprised that London Broil is not a dish known in London England. Maybe it came from London Ontario or some other London though.

I don't drink coffee, so I have no idea what a Boston style or regular coffee in Boston means, but I've heard that 'regular coffee' varies by region.

What on earth is London Broil?

TriPolar
01-09-2013, 02:21 PM
What on earth is London Broil?

A non-specific piece of roasted beef. Sometimes from the round or the sirloin, but there are a lot of different cuts used. It's like a very thick steak, roasted or broiled, and sliced thin.

Here's a thread from Cafe Society on the subject (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?t=593517&highlight=london+broil). Scylla put a great looking recipe in there.

Lukeinva
01-09-2013, 02:32 PM
That is a lot of cream for double the price.

FrankJBN
01-09-2013, 02:42 PM
Two weeks ago at Dunkin Donuts in NJ, a "regular" coffee was still coffee, cream and sugar as it was 30 years ago at White Tower.

FrankJBN
01-09-2013, 02:46 PM
Perhaps the OP started folks wondering - I note that are are plenty of references to Boston Style coffee on Google today. On the first two results pages all references are created after date of OP.

Leo Bloom
01-09-2013, 02:58 PM
I think in New York a "regular" coffee is also with cream? So what's with the "Boston" thing?You never get cream for your coffee unless you are in a fancier-than-coffee shop restaurant, and even then you usually have to ask for it.

John Mace
01-09-2013, 03:00 PM
Postcards has it right. Walk into a Boston area Dunkin' Doughnuts, ask for a regular coffee, and you'll be given one with milk in it. If you want it black, you'd better ask for it "black." Whether that's what the menu meant, I couldn't say.

I don't think that's so prevalent now, although maybe still in R.I.

But it must be very confusing for someone back then to see "Boston Style" and "Regular" listed as separate items, with different prices.

A few nights ago on Jeopardy, under the "American regionalisms" category, the answer was: A New England expression for what the rest of the country calls a milkshake. I knew the answer was "What is a frappe?", but I would have been tempted to say "What is a cabinet". The latter being a Rhode Island-ism and so maybe not qualifying as broadly New England.

Leo Bloom
01-09-2013, 03:08 PM
Cabinet. Never, ever heard that. Etymology?

John Mace
01-09-2013, 03:20 PM
Cabinet. Never, ever heard that. Etymology?

Few have. I think it is thought to be that the ingredients, or some of the ingredients, were kept in a "cabinet".

tdn
01-09-2013, 03:50 PM
Cabinet is Rhode Island, not New England?

Sort of makes sense, as the only person I heard call it that was raised in the Attleboro area.

TriPolar
01-09-2013, 03:50 PM
Few have. I think it is thought to be that the ingredients, or some of the ingredients, were kept in a "cabinet".

Yeah, one of those mysteries that will never be solved. Like why the state is called Rhode Island.

tdn
01-09-2013, 04:04 PM
I knew the answer was "What is a frappe?",

How did they pronounce it?

YourAdHere
01-09-2013, 06:25 PM
Postcards has it right. Walk into a Boston area Dunkin' Doughnuts, ask for a regular coffee, and you'll be given one with milk in it. If you want it black, you'd better ask for it "black." Whether that's what the menu meant, I couldn't say.

Slight nitpick - cream is default, not milk.
Small hot regular = 2 (squirts of ) cream, 2 sugars
Med regular (hot)- 3 creams, 3 sugars
Etc

Source - worked in a Boston area dunkin donuts in high school

Shagnasty
01-09-2013, 08:02 PM
Cabinet. Never, ever heard that. Etymology?

All you have to do is go down your local spa, probably right next to the packie and they will tell you.

etv78
01-09-2013, 08:07 PM
I'm not so sure that's true anymore. It was true maybe 30 years ago.

It was definitely true 8 years ago! :rolleyes:

Shagnasty
01-09-2013, 08:10 PM
Yeah, one of those mysteries that will never be solved. Like why the state is called Rhode Island.

I know you are from Rhode Island but the full name of the state is the most descriptive of all states: Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. That about sums it up. You have Providence plus a whole bunch of large islands, the most important being Newport, that are close enough together to be connected by big bridges plus some that are offshore like Block Island. You could do some ocean filling to make it one contiguous land-mass but it wouldn't do any good. It is still going to the smallest state by far. Some people have ranches bigger than that. Unlike #2 Delaware, though Rhode Island has personality and personality goes a long way. I can be at the Rhode Island border 15 minutes from now if I wanted to and it would be about the same thing crossing from Canada into the regular U.S. culturally speaking. That is one strange little state you have going there and I don't mean that as a bad thing.

Scarlett67
01-09-2013, 08:11 PM
OP here. Wow, blast from the past! No idea why I didn't get the clam chowder joke; I got it this time around!

Still wondering. The "extra cream"/"cream instead of milk" theory seems most plausible.

Lemur866
01-09-2013, 08:21 PM
Unlike #2 Delaware, though Rhode Island has personality and personality goes a long way.

We'd have to be talking about one charming motherfucking state.

TriPolar
01-09-2013, 08:29 PM
That is one strange little state you have going there and I don't mean that as a bad thing.

I don't take it as a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it's the reason I decided to stay here.

We'd have to be talking about one charming motherfucking state.

Niecefucking state actually.

Hershele Ostropoler
01-10-2013, 01:41 AM
My neighborhood grocery store, here in Brooklyn, used to carry Autocrat syrup, but no more, alas.

(There, that's on topic whether we're talking about coffee or Rhode Island.)

Colibri
01-10-2013, 09:45 AM
Moved to Cafe Society.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

tdn
01-10-2013, 10:02 AM
It was definitely true 8 years ago! :rolleyes:

Really? Maybe I'm just out of the loop, but I haven't heard it in a real life situation since the 80s.

ThelmaLou
01-10-2013, 10:03 AM
As long as we're on the subject, somewhere on the Food Network, I heard about a drink called Coffeemilk. I think it was bottled and only available in one of the New England states. Anyone familiar with it?

TriPolar
01-10-2013, 10:10 AM
As long as we're on the subject, somewhere on the Food Network, I heard about a drink called Coffeemilk. I think it was bottled and only available in one of the New England states. Anyone familiar with it?

That's the Autocrat syrup Hershele is talking about. They are the major provider of coffeemilk products here in RI.



My neighborhood grocery store, here in Brooklyn, used to carry Autocrat syrup, but no more, alas.

(There, that's on topic whether we're talking about coffee or Rhode Island.)

TriPolar
01-10-2013, 10:11 AM
NM, double post

UncleMoose
01-10-2013, 10:19 AM
Some Rhode Island info -
To answer tdn, "frappe" is pronounced frap (rhymes with wrap) - if you pronounce it frap-pay, it means you're not from around here.
From shagnasty, a "spa" was a mostly a soda fountain, where you would go to get tonic (soda), milkshakes (which did not have ice cream), or frappes/cabinets (which did have ice cream). I don't know where "cabinet" came from either.
A "packie" is a liquor store. At one point the law was that liquor stores had to wrap the contents of a sale in wrapping paper and tie it up with string. You couldn't walk out of the store with a bottle (even a bag with a bottle in it), you walked out with a package.
The reference to Autocrat syrup leads back to coffee flavoring. No, not flavoring you put in coffee, but Autocrat was (mostly) known for making (sort of) coffee flavored syrup you could add to milk. Many people know of chocolate milk, some know of strawberry milk, but round these parts you could get coffee milk, coffee milkshakes, coffee cabinets (here we go again), and even coffee shakes from McDonald's. These tasted nothing like real coffee - I grew up drinking coffee milk, but I've never learned to drink real coffee.
I once ordered coffee milk, and got a cup of coffee and a glass of milk. Turned out the waitress had just arrived from Long Island.

fumster
01-10-2013, 02:45 PM
I don't think that's so prevalent now, although maybe still in R.I.Still going strong in Boston. Just got back from Quincy, MA the home of the first Dunkin Donuts

Ike Witt
01-10-2013, 02:52 PM
If I ordered a cup of coffee and got coffee with cream in it, I would expect my money back, or my order made right.

Telemark
01-10-2013, 03:25 PM
If I ordered a cup of coffee and got coffee with cream in it, I would expect my money back, or my order made right.
You'd spend a lot of time being annoyed in the greater Boston area.

etv78
01-10-2013, 04:34 PM
Really? Maybe I'm just out of the loop, but I haven't heard it in a real life situation since the 80s.

I was refering to the fact the OP is 8 years old.

fumster
01-10-2013, 06:41 PM
If I ordered a cup of coffee and got coffee with cream in it, I would expect my money back, or my order made right.That's only if you ordered a "coffee regular" or "regular coffee" if you just order "coffee" they'll ask how you want it.

Sal Ammoniac
01-10-2013, 07:27 PM
Speaking of Dunkin Donuts, my smartphone reveals there are 29 of them within a two-mile radius of me. So guess what part of the world I live in.

elfkin477
01-10-2013, 08:12 PM
I think it's one of those foods like "English Muffins" that are unknown in the place they are named after.Yep. I was startled to learn that normal hotdog buns are known as "New England style" everywhere but here.



ThelmaLou, yes. To me it tastes like someone put out cigarettes in very weak chocolate milk. Needless to say I'm not a fan of coffee milk.


Sal Ammoniac, clearly you live around here. Else you couldn't give directions by the distance to the nearest DD.

TBG
01-11-2013, 03:45 PM
Speaking of Dunkin Donuts, my smartphone reveals there are 29 of them within a two-mile radius of me. So guess what part of the world I live in.

Not near me, I only have 13 in a 10 mile radius. :(

:D

fredboston2002
08-15-2013, 04:53 PM
"Boston Coffee" is a term used in other parts on the country, other than Boston, to refer to coffee with a lot of cream and sugar. In Boston - you just order by saying you want your coffee "Regulah (sic.)" Most Bostonians drink and order coffee that way. For example, when I was in Chicago and would go to a Dunkin Donuts I would order a Boston Coffee. If you asked for it that way IN Boston, they'd think you were nuts!

In these days with all of the special coffee drinks, this term is probably out of use, but that's the deal.

John Mace
08-15-2013, 04:56 PM
"Boston Coffee" is a term used in other parts on the country, other than Boston, to refer to coffee with a lot of cream and sugar. In Boston - you just order by saying you want your coffee "Regulah (sic.)" Most Bostonians drink and order coffee that way. For example, when I was in Chicago and would go to a Dunkin Donuts I would order a Boston Coffee. If you asked for it that way IN Boston, they'd think you were nuts!

In these days with all of the special coffee drinks, this term is probably out of use, but that's the deal.

You resurrected a 9 year old thread to repeat information that was already given in post #5?

Annie-Xmas
08-15-2013, 05:01 PM
What's strange is that American Cheese is not one of these.

I was surprised that London Broil is not a dish known in London England. Maybe it came from London Ontario or some other London though.

I don't drink coffee, so I have no idea what a Boston style or regular coffee in Boston means, but I've heard that 'regular coffee' varies by region.

Yep. I was startled to learn that normal hotdog buns are known as "New England style" everywhere but here.

That you all for your prompt responses to my "Boston coffee" answer.

obfusciatrist
08-15-2013, 05:20 PM
Playing with Google Books to look into this query (before noticing it is a zombie),

I wonder if it might originally have been something more than just coffee with cream? I find this snippet (http://books.google.com/books?id=yCZIAAAAYAAJ&q=%22boston+coffee%22&dq=%22boston+coffee%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vkMNUvHeEs3eyAH7l4GQBg&ved=0CEEQ6AEwAw) (though annoyingly can't see more than that) from a 1931 issue of American Cookery:

...the place, the coffee was excellent, better that he best coffee in other places. Our whole family would appreciate knowing how to make your Boston coffee.

How to Make Boston Coffee
This query fills us with both pride and confusion. Pride to think that a...

.....

...quart of water. Even if you follow the last two rules you still won't be able to make Boston coffee unless you use Boston city water. Say, why don't you pack up and move to Boston? We should just be awfully glad to have you.


The missing instructions may be
Step 1: Make coffee
Step 2: Put cream in the coffee

but now I'm more curious.

But whatever it is, it can't have been much of a thing. Google Books returns almost nothing and Google Ngram returns null for both "boston style coffee" and "boston coffee".

obfusciatrist
08-15-2013, 05:26 PM
Oh, this snippet is from a 1908 issue of Up to the Times Magazine.

"What is Boston coffee?" asked the customer at the lunch counter. "It's the kind you put the cream in first," answered the waiter girl. "But why is it called Boston coffee?" "Because the cream is put in first." "Yes, I know but when a man orders...

Why it would matter that you pour the coffee into the cream instead of the cream into the coffee, I don't know.

svd678
08-15-2013, 05:27 PM
When I was a soda-jerk in a suburb of Boston many years ago, many asked for "coffee half". (half milk) Never heard of Boston coffee. Regular coffee is coffee that's not decafe, now anyway. I don't think we served decafe back then.

Skammer
08-15-2013, 06:12 PM
All you have to do is go down your local spa, probably right next to the packie and they will tell you. Yeah, wicked pissah!

lisiate
08-15-2013, 06:13 PM
Oh, this snippet is from a 1908 issue of Up to the Times Magazine.



Why it would matter that you pour the coffee into the cream instead of the cream into the coffee, I don't know.

Milk first or milk second (http://theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-1400,00.html)is a perennial issue in the tea-drinking world.

Mr. S and I had lunch today in a diner with a long history -- it had in each booth a copy of the original menus from 1937. Pretty entertaining reading. The priciest item on the menu was steak for $1.00. There was also Heinz turtle soup, several flavors of phosphates, and daily plate lunches for 35.

One item had us flummoxed: Boston-style coffee, 10. Regular coffee was 5, so there must have been something mighty special about the Boston-style version to double the cost. Anybody know what it was? Googling yielded no information.

Thanks much!

In all the years since the OP was posted I'm the first to ask about the "several flavors of phosphates" on the menu?

Peremensoe
08-15-2013, 06:38 PM
Ask what?

obfusciatrist
08-15-2013, 08:14 PM
In all the years since the OP was posted I'm the first to ask about the "several flavors of phosphates" on the menu?

Phosphate soda (http://theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/phosphate-with-a-twist/308404/)

lisiate
08-16-2013, 08:02 AM
Huh well you learn something every day.

Ann Hedonia
08-16-2013, 10:23 AM
This link gives a 1918 recipe and it seems to indicate that "Boston style coffee" is made with an egg. Seems to make more sense than just "extra cream" since the diner charged twice as much for it.

http://metaphoriclabs.com/articles/boston-coffee-recipes/

obfusciatrist
08-16-2013, 12:29 PM
Interesting and with that I found this recipe for roasting your own beans from Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book in which egg is added to the coffee "for clearing." It has a recipe for adding the egg when roasting the beans where this is "the cheapest form in which to use egg for clearing" but also for adding the egg (and shell) when boiling the coffee ("or the whole egg may be beaten with the ground coffee, and such portin of it used as is needed, keeping the remainder closely covered").

And there's this paragraph from Steinbeck's Travels with Charley:

I went into my house and set coffee to cooking, and remembering how Roark Bradford liked it, I doubled the dosage, two heaping tablespoons for each cup and two heaping for the pot. I cracked an egg and cupped out the yolk and dropped shells and white into the pot, for I know nothing that polishes coffee and makes it shine like that.

Though this page suggest it was primarily just a way to settle grounds out of boiled coffee, which doesn't seem like something you'd pay extra for.

http://voices.yahoo.com/egg-drop-coffee-old-fashioned-way-coffee-215477.html

WestCoastWriter
12-15-2013, 03:41 PM
My Dad was a short-order cook in the early 1940's... and as I grew up, I often heard him refer to (and order his coffee) as "Boston-style. So, to answer your question:
"Boston" style coffee means lots of extra cream... double or triple the usual amount... which also accounts for the extra cost in the 1930's. It was generally taken with sugar as well.

WestCoastWriter
12-15-2013, 03:45 PM
PS: Definitely NOT served with an egg in it !

Jesse Pinkman
12-15-2013, 03:50 PM
It's coffee that plays wicked hahd when it goes to the pahk.

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