Postum, That Vintage Coffee Drink

Posted on 04 Oct 2017 22:55

Vintage Postum Ad, c. 1911

vintage ad for Postum coffee substitue, c. 1911

Public domain via vintage.comImage Source

vintage ad for Postum coffee substitue, c. 1911

Public domain via vintage.comImage Source

Charley Post, the inventor of Grape-Nuts, the coffee alternative Postum, and the name behind Post Cereals hated caffeine and wanted Americans to drink his Postum instead. He had a dark little secret, though: He was never able to kick his own coffee habit. 1

Post began his company, the Postum Cereal Company to market Postum, made from wheat bran and molasses. Amazingly, owed the genesis of his idea to Kellog and his time at Kellog's Battle Creek Sanitarium. 2 Using slogans such as "If Coffee Don't Agree, Use Postum Food Coffee." Charley Post called coffee a poisonous drug, comparing caffeine to cocaine, morphine, nicotine, and even strychnine. 1 Although these are all alkaloids, they are of different classes and part of a group of over 3,000 known plant alkaloids, which can have diverse effects on the human body. Some of these effects are quite medically valuable.

Can You Still Get Postum?

Postum was discontinued in 2007 when Kraft acquired General Foods. In 2012, Eliza's Quest Foods, out of Charlotte, North Carolina, purchased Postum, and is now marketing the product in an original, cocoa, and "coffee" flavor. According to the Amazon listing for the original, the formula is slightly different from the original General Foods/Kraft version.

Postum, in its day, actually tasted quite good, in my opinion. It was no coffee substitute, though, which explains why old Charley was never able to give up his morning joe.

Other Coffee Substitutes

There is more than one coffee substitute, of course. Chicory has long been used as a substitute for coffee. In fact, you may want to try coffee with chicory. Pero is a coffee-like beverage make from barley, malted barley, chicory, and rye. Pero is the only product mentioned on this page beside Postum that I have tried and it has become a regular hot beverage for me. I would recommend it for those who really want to quit drinking coffee or just for anyone who wants a different kind of hot beverage to enjoy. While it is definitely coffee-like, more-so than the original Postum, I would point out that those who have always put sugar and milk in their coffee, as I have, may have an easier time accepting this and other such products as "coffee" than those who prefer their coffee black. However, I enjoy it for its own sake. For Pero or any other such product, you must adjust the amount of powder you use to get the taste you prefer. Don't be a stickler for instructions!

Kaffree Roma has a similar formula to Pero, without the rye.

Cafix contains roasted barley, rye, chicory, and sugar beets.

There are several others, all of which use barley as a base grain, along with rye, chicory, and additional ingredients. Inka coffee drink contains the same ingredients as Cafix, above.

1. Marion, Nancy E., and Willard M. Oliver. Drugs in American Society: an Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. ABC-CLIO, 2015.
2. Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Oxford University Press, 2013.

This article contains one or more Amazon affiliate links. See full disclosure.

Follow or Subscribe

© 2018 by Eric Troy and CulinaryLore. All Rights Reserved. Please contact for permissions.