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  • Caroline Martin

Coffee Grinder Circa 1800

Coffee has long been a beverage of choice for New Yorkers. The first known coffee house in the New World was The Kings Arm, founded in 1696, located in what is now Cedar Street in New York City. Coffee houses during this time served a similar function to taverns as both a restaurant and gathering place for the spread of ideas and information.


Though coffee was available, tea was still the preferred drink of the American colonists until the Boston Tea Party in 1773 when a group called the Sons of Liberty protested the tea act imposed on the colonists by the British Parliament by tossing crate fulls of tea from the East India Trading Company into the Boston Harbor. After this event it was considered unpatriotic to buy tea and so many colonists switched to coffee.


Coffee was mostly imported from the Caribbean and Brazil, as most of our coffee still is. But unlike other imports during this time there was such an abundance of coffee being produced and traded that it was still affordable to the average person when most other imports would not have been.



There is a coffee grinder on display in the Benjamin Patterson Inn (originally the Painted Post Tavern) that would have been used by Sarah Patterson when she and her husband were innkeepers from 1796 to 1803. Coffee would have been a popular drink with travelers coming through the inn due to its energizing properties.


Sarah would have most likely made coffee one cup at a time. She would first have to roast the coffee beans and then grind them in a grinder affixed to the wall (pictured right). She would put the grounds into a cup and then pour in hot water. The coffee would have been served black with the grounds still in it.


If you would like to learn more or see more of Sarah’s kitchen implements you can take a tour of the Heritage Village. Tours will be offered Monday–Saturday at 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm, throughout the summer.

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