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More Coffee Drinkers Out There Than Thought

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.   

I was surprised at the response to the column about coffee drinkers. Apparently there are more of you out there that we might be led to believe. A few miles from where I live, a Starbucks went out of business.  Someone once said the best way to sell something was to overprice it or say that it was stolen.  

A case in point, years ago in El Paso an old guy named Shamus came around to the offices in the downtown area and sold suit goods. They were cut in bolts that were exactly what it took to make a suit. He told people that his brother in New York was a fence and the goods were stolen and he did a good business.  

I even bought from him several times and so did my associate in the office.  We knew a tailor across the river in Juarez who would make a suit for a reasonable price. If you brought him a picture of a suit from Gentlemen’s Quarterly he would make a suit exactly like it. I think we all knew that the old man was running a scam but we still bought from him. His brother was probably in the dry goods business in New York and was legitimate–but as usual, I digress.  

Just after WWII, George Miles, who was married to Genie Meggs sister and had been a baker in the Navy, opened a coffee and donut shop on the corner by the Grand  Theatre. He made some of the best cake donuts that we had ever had and the business people on North Main who didn’t have time to go to the Blackmur Cafe, would drop in for a coffee and donut.

George had an advantage over Nick at the Blackmur Cafe as he would make fresh pots in a coffee maker rather than in a big urn. During holidays and other special occasions, George would call in R. L. Williams to help him with the additional load. R.L. was a good baker in own right although he didn’t work at it as his profession. I had to take a course in coffee making when I went to work for Standard Coffee and I even got a silver cup and a certificate stating that I was now a coffee expert.

Many people believe that all Louisiana coffee is mixed with chicory. Many are in different degrees but by and large dark roast PURE coffee is as widely used as the chicory blend.  Chicory is a root akin to a radish and in some countries is drunk minus the coffee.  

Although I don’t eat the food, McDonald’s has one of the best coffees to be found in a commercial restaurant. Since my Standard Coffee days, which is over fifty years ago, I have preferred a chicory blend coffee.  Sometimes I do mix different blends of Community and come up with my own concoction. I guess you can tell from these two columns, I am a true coffee lover and I don’t see how some people can make a bad cup, but they do.  

When we were in Hawaii several years ago I really did enjoy the Kona coffee which is grown on the island of the same name.  Even back then it was very pricey and they are now exporting it to the mainland and the price is extremely high.

In closing out the coffee connection, I offer three rules that can insure than anyone can make a good cup of coffee. First, a good grade of coffee, second good water, and third a clean pot–now isn’t that simple?   

I’ve been hoping that someone would send me some information about the Dow boarding house which was located by the railroad near where the Legion Hut is now according to what scant information I have.  The Dow and Block boarding houses and the Oak Hall Hotel all catered to the railroad men and traveling salesmen.  The Oak Hall in particular had a porch that went around two sides of the building as I understand it. The porch was important in  those pre-air conditioner and fan days. Since in the days before radio the Oak Hall offered entertainment provided by a lady who played the piano in the evening. The dining room was on the first floor as well.

According to my information it stood about where the City Hall is today.  It burned in the early thirties and the City Gym was built on the spot.  All of the High School basketball games were held  there as well as the Watermelon Carnival Balls. At least once a month a Country band would play and I have some fond memories of those as I’m sure some of you in my age group do as well. Let me hear from you. My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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