I can’t drink coffee any longer, and haven’t since 1969. I used to consume it by the gallon, or by the thimbleful when I lived in Naples, Italy – lots and lots of thimbles. Back when “uno normale” cost 50 Lire, the equivalent of 8¢.


Nowadays my caffeine addiction is fed in other ways.


But there are times when a hot cup of something hits the spot, and this idea has never really appealed to me:


Enter Erzatzkaffee, a German word meaning “coffee substitute.” I remember hearing my mom talk about this when I was a kid back in the 50s, and the impression I got was that it was made from anything they could find, sorta like this:

Rag Man from Project Luser

Apparently it wasn’t quite as bad as all that. Mit herzlichem Dank an Benutzer Helmut0815 over at the Axis History Forum, I found this:

In wartime Germany as well as in early postwar era there was of course a massive shortage of coffee as Germany was cut off from it’s resources. Real coffee was only available on the black market.
So the people drank Ersatzkaffee widely known as “Muckefuck” (from french “Mocca faux” = false coffee) which was made from roasted chicory roots, malt, barley, rye, acorn and many other things which were available. Of course this Ersatzkaffee did not contain any caffeine.

Some popular brands were Linde’s Kaffee-Ersatz-Mischung, Kathreiner Malzkaffee, Koff and Effka.


After I gave up coffee, I took to drinking Postum™, once a ubiquitous feature of Greyound Bus waystations all over the country, to be found in little packets right next to the Sanka™ instant coffee, but over time its popularity faded and it was discontinued in 2007. Fortunately for me, Eliza’s Quest foods acquired the trademark and Postum™ is now once again in stores and can be had online.


The product was responsible for multiple foilings of “Mr. Coffee Nerves:”


After a two-year stay in Austria, I came home converted to Caro™, which tastes a lot closer to coffee:

Caro Landkaffee

Fortunately for me, Caro™ is marketed in the USA as Pero™.


These products are based on malted barley, chicory, and rye, and although an inveterate coffee drinker would probably think they taste like panther piss, after a while they grow on you if you can’t have the real thing.

A lot better than pencil shavings, at any road.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

2 responses to “Ersatzkaffee

  1. You have clarified something for me. My grandfather (a WWI vet) was a Postum drinker, and my uncle (a WWII vet) used to call it “mucky mud” — at least in front of us kids — until he slipped once and called it mucky something-else. 😉

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