The “Singapore Free Press” recommends the use of the coffee leaf as a substitute for the berry. The writer appears to be an Eng lish planter of the Dutch settlement of Pa-dang, in Sumatra, where the coffee plant has been cultivated for several generations, and where it is now produced in larger quantity, and of better quality than in any country of the Malayan Islands, Java excepted. The coffee plant is an evergreen large shrub, which yields a profusion of leaves, and bears fruit for about twenty years. The leaf, and even the twigs, have, in a minor degree, the same stimulating and exhilarating property as the berry, and its habitual use by the natives of the country, agricultural Malays of very sim ple habits, and little amenable to innovation, shows that they at least find the coffee leaf to make a wholesome and agreeable beve rage. The introduction of this article into our -consumption would, we cannot help think ing, be a benefit to the poor, and to our co lonial planters. In order to render coffee leaves marketable for European consumption, the best mode of preparation will consist in subjecting them to the same kind of manipulation as tea under goes ; and for this purpose it would probably be expedient, at first, to employ, for instruc tion, Chinese skilled in the art, such men as Mr. Fortune lately brought from the northern provinces of China to Upper India. The leaves of coffee, neither fleshy nor succulent, are even more easily dried than those of tea, and being larger and more abundant, while the plant itself is more easily reared than tea and embraces a much wider geographical range, it is certain they might be sold at a lower price than the poorest Bohea. It may be added that the leaves so prepared would not be amenable to the charge of adulterations so often urged against the ground berry.
This article was originally published with the title "A Rival to Tea" in Scientific American 8, 29, 232 (April 1853)