History of Roasted Whole Soy Flour (Kinako), Soy Coffee, Coffee Alternatives, Problems with Coffee, and Soy Chocolate (1540-2021)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-50-2

Publication Date: 2021 Sept. 12

Number of References in Bibliography: 1807

Earliest Reference: 1540

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Three beans roasted:

Coffee beans, cocoa beans and soybeans. When they are roasted, their flavors become much more similar. After the Boston Tea Party, British colonists, accustomed to drinking tea, abandoned it as a protest in favor of coffee. Imported from distant lands, coffee is high in caffeine and historically high in price. So, starting in the 1800s, alternatives that were caffeine free and much lower in price started to be developed. Health reformers were quick to point out the many problems with drinking coffee; some developed commercial soy coffee as alternatives.

Names and popularity of roasted soy flour in East Asia:

In Japan, kinako (formerly called mame no ko) is widely used, although in small amounts, in a host of traditional Japanese confections – especially those relying on mochi (pounded rice cakes). It is called for in many Japanese cookbooks. In Indonesia, bubuk kedele (also called bubuk kedelai) is a minor food, often made at home. In China, doufu fen, is even less widely used than in Indonesia, and there it is also generally made at home – except in big cities. In Korea, where there is presently no standard system of Romanization / transliteration, roasted soy flour (and soy flour) can be written as k’onggaru (McCune-Reischauer system), konggaru, k’ongaru, k’ong karu. kong ka ru, k’onggomul and konggomul). K’ong means “bean” and gomul means “the flour of a grain.” Although all of these words literally mean “bean flour,” they usually refer to roasted soy flour, but they may also (confusingly) refer to unroasted soy flour. K’onggaru has a history dating back to at least 1827; today it is an important ingredient in misugaru, a traditional Korean summer drink.

Brief chronology of roasted whole soy flour (kinako), soy coffee, coffee alternatives, problems with coffee, and soy chocolate.

1540? – Mame no ko, the early Japanese word for roasted soy flour, first appears in the Nyōbō Shitsukegaki [Women’s Book of Manners] – according to the Nihon Kokugo Daijiten.

1542 Jan. 1Mame no ko appears again in the Tamon-in Nikki [Tamon-in Diary]

1587 June 19 – Kinako, the modern Japanese word for roasted whole soy flour, first appears in the Sotan Chakai Kondate Nikki [Master Sotan’s Tea Ceremony Cookery Menu Diary] – in the morning menu.

1690Daizu no ko, which probably refers to roasted whole soy flour, first appears in the Jinrin Kinmô Zui.

1690 – Matsuo Basho mentions mame no ko in a haiku poem.

1809 – The earliest known reference to problems caused by coffee consumption appears in a review of the book A View of the Nervous Temperament, by Thomas Trotter, M.D. He suggests that the nervous temperament may have been caused by consuming coffee or tea.

1838 – In The Young House-Keeper, William A. Alcott advocates a life of simplicity and temperance. One chapter, "How to begin reformation" (p. 389) states: "And as to drinks, in the case of those who, though they are willing to relinquish tea and coffee, are determined to drink something or other which is hot, we leave them chocolate, cocoa, (or shells,) corn coffee, bread coffee, wheat coffee, rye coffee, chestnut coffee, and a multitude of other drinks of the same general class. Multitudes, when they first began to abandon narcotic drink, have substituted, for a time, simple warm water, with milk and sugar in it;…”

1858 Jan. 9 – In an inquiry to Moore’s Rural New-Yorker, W.H.S. of Phoenix, New York, asks for “information respecting the Coffee plant, a few seeds of which I obtained from the East this spring, and planted in my garden. They grew exceedingly well, and promised a good yield. But owing to a heavy hail storm that occurred the 31st of July, it was badly injured.” Answer: This plant is actually the Japan Pea (an early name of the soybean). This is the earliest document seen that uses the word "coffee" in the name of the soybean or in connection with soybeans.

1867 – The word “kinako” is first used in English in A Japanese and English Dictionary, by James C. Hepburn. After the two Chinese characters (kanji) meaning “yellow flour” he writes: “A kind of food made of beans.” The context shows he does not realize kinako is made from soybeans.

1869Die Gartenbohnen. Ihre Verbreitung, Cultur und Benuetzung. Zweite vermehrte Ausgabe [Garden beans. Their distribution, culture, and utilization. 2nd expanded edition], by George Martens is published in German. This is the earliest document seen which states clearly that soybeans have been (or can be) used as a coffee substitute (als Kaffeesurrogat). It is also the earliest German-language document seen that mentions soy coffee.

1873Les plantes alimentaires [Edible plants. 2 vols.]. by Gustave Heuzé is published in French. It says that one of the many names of the soybean in French is Dolic à café (the coffee bean). This is the earliest French-language document seen that uses the term Dolic à café to refer to the soybean. This is also the earliest French-language document seen that refers to the soybean in connection with coffee.

1876 March 15 – The Health Food Company of New York City advertizes in the New York Medical Eclectic that it will soon be selling “Cereal Coffee, designed to supersede coffee and tea, for the use of those with whom these substances disagree, and who yet require a warm beverage. This Cereal Coffee contains all the nutritive matter of the grain,…”

1877 Jan. – Prof. Friedrich Haberlandt, the famous soybean researcher in Vienna, Austria, in an article about soybean cultivation in the Landwirthschaftlichen Versuchs-Stationen states (in German, p. 270-71): Soybeans roasted at 160°F taste delicious and surpass all other plants that have heretofore been used as coffee substitutes."

1877 – The father of A.A. Horvath markets the world’s earliest known commercial soy coffee in Russia (Horvath 1927).

1878 – In his classic German-language book Die Sojabohne, Friedrich Haberlandt of Vienna first mentions soy chocolate. He writes (p. 87-110): Soy coffee is already produced in South Tirol [Austria] and Istria [now a peninsula in Croatia and Slovenia]. Mr. Franz Mark of Budapest [Hungary] pointed out the possibility of using soybeans as a chocolate substitute, for which it would undoubtedly serve better than the peanut, which, in Marseilles [port in southern France], is mixed with sugar to make an inexpensive chocolate substitute.

1885 Feb. – In a letter to the editor of Good Health (Battle Creek, Michigan), L.B.P. asks how to make “caramel coffee.” Answer: “This preparation, sometimes known as cereal coffee, is made by roasting in the oven a mixture of molasses and [wheat] bran, or coarse middlings” [of wheat].

1888 April 27 – A classified ad in the Brisbane Courier (Queensland, Australia) states: "Drink Caramel-Cereal! Elegant, fragrant, harmless, and perfect substitute for coffee. Sanitarium Health Food and Supply Agency,…” This is the earliest known use of the term “Caramel-Cereal” to refer to a coffee substitute.

1892 Oct. – An unnumbered page at the end of Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 18 bears the large, bold title "Caution to farmers." It states: "Farmers are advised to beware of a man in Missouri who is attempting to sell seeds of what he calls the 'Domestic Coffee Berry,' at the fabulous price of twenty-five cents per hundred seeds, in 'small quantities,' and at 'wholesale rates of $3.50 per pound.' He claims that 'parched and ground' it is almost equal to 'store coffee.' It is, in truth, a fair substitute for coffee, but the plant is nothing more than the Soja Bean or Japan Pea, which was distributed throughout the South twenty years ago and is now abundant and can be had for two or three dollars a bushel.” Note: In Nov. 1892 the plant is first called “Cole’s Domestic Coffee Berry.”

1892 – The term “coffee substitute” is first used in English in an article titled “Foods and food adulterants” by H.W. Wiley. Adulterants (such as chicory, dandelion roots, grains and beans) were widely used in coffee in the 1800s and early 1900s.

1894 May – The term “soy coffee” is first used in English in an article titled “A substitute for coffee” by Charles S. Plumb of Lafayette, Indiana.

1897 – Father Sebastian Kneipp of Bavaria, the pioneer of hydrotherapy in Europe, in his book Care of Children in Sickness and Health, writes (p. 165): "Malt coffee is an excellent nourishment for little children. I am convinced that children who, for a whole year, have consumed milk with malt coffee as their only food must prosper splendidly."

1910 – Frank N. Meyer (in the Republic of Georgia), in a letter to David Fairchild of the USDA, reports (p. 949-50) that he discovered a commercial “soy coffee” made by a firm called “Argot” at the Sta. Quirili on the railroad from Batoum [probably Batumi, formerly Batum, a city and seaport on the Black Sea] to Tiflis [Tbilisi or T'bilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia]. This is one of the the world’s earliest known commercial soy coffees.

In 1912 Li Yu-ying of Usine de la Caseo-Sojaine at Valles, Colombes (near Asnieres, Seine), northwest of Paris, France, is making and selling roasted soy flour, soy chocolate (Chocolat de Soja), and soy coffee (Le soja comme café).

1912 March 3 – The term “powder” is first used instead of “flour” to refer to roasted whole soy flour – by Nestor Bergey in a British patent.

1918 March – In the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin No 182, Arao Itano, a Japanese researcher living in Amherst, Mass., gives the first recipe for making roasted soybean coffee at home. He grinds the roasted soybeans in a coffee mill.

1918 April 17 – Two entries in the USDA Bureau of Plant Industry, Inventory No. 42 (40019. No. 14 and 40120, No. 15) state that light green soybeans and green soybeans are used to make kinako (roasted whole soy flour).

1921 – T.H. Van Gundy of La Sierra Industries, Arlington, California, introduces La Sierra Smoein (Bacon Flavored Smoked Soy Powder Seasoning), made from roasted soy flour) – as a commercial product.

1923 – The term “soybean coffee” is first used in English by Piper and Morse in their classic The Soybean. It is the title of a section.

1927 Jan. – A.A. Horvath gives an interesting early history of “soybean coffee” in an article titled “The soybean as human food.” He writes (p. 30-31): "During the period of the Civil War in America, the soybean was extensively used in the southern states as a coffee substitute. For a considerable time seedmen sold the Ito San variety under the name of Coffee Berry and Coffee Bean (Piper & Morse [1923]). Soybean coffee has been used in Western Europe, in Switzerland, and in the Alpine Provinces of former Austria since the introduction of the soybean to Europe. Horvath [probably the writer’s father], 50 years ago [i.e., about 1877] was the first to prepare soybean coffee for the market in South Russia. In 1913 Marschner (Bohemia) put on the market a soybean 'coffee without caffein' [caffeine] under the trade mark 'Santosa.' In Germany, Fischer and Follmann (Dresden) also manufactured soybean coffee for the market... In China an 'artificial bean coffee' is prepared by the Kai Cheng Bean Products Company, Peking. (Note: Li Yu-ying is connected with this company).

Note 2. So far as we know, no one has been able to document the claim that the soybean was widely used during the Civil War in American as a coffee substitute.

1928 Aug. – The term “roasted soybean flour” is first used in English in a letter from W.J. Morse in Tokyo, Japan, to be read before the 1929 convention of the American Soybean Association at Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

1929-1930 – P.H. Dorsett and W.J. Morse, in the log of their expedition to East Asia, provide detailed information, with photographs, about kinako and kinako products in Japan.

1930 – P.H. Dorsett and W.J. Morse, in the log of their expedition, provide detailed information about roasted soybeans and commercial soy coffee in Manchuria.

1930 – P.H. Dorsett and W.J. Morse, in the log of their expedition, provide the first detailed information, with photographs and product names, of roasted soybean flour and its products in China.

1929 – T.H. Van Gundy of La Sierra Industries, Arlington, California, introduces La Sierra Mamenoka (Roasted Soy Flour) – as a commercial product. Note that the word "Mamenoka" bears a close resemblance to "Mamenoko," the early Japanese word for "roasted soy flour."

In November of the same year, La Sierra Soy-Co (Soy Coffee) [Coarse, or Fine Grind] is launched.

1931 – In Vegetables of the Dutch East Indies, J.J. Ochse notes – concerning the soybean: "The seeds can also be roasted and afterwards pounded. The boobook, boobook delé or boobookan (Jav.) is eaten in the shape of powder, usually with the addition of lombok and other ingredients." This is the earliest English-language document seen that mentions Indonesian roasted soy flour. Today this roasted soy flour is usually called bubuk kedele or bubuk kedelai.

1934 April – Loma Linda Food Co. of Loma Linda, California, launches Loma Linda Breakfast Cup – a coffee substitute. By 1944 the main ingredient was roasted soybeans.

1936 – Madison Foods of Madison, Tennessee (at a Seventh-day Adventist school) introduces Soy-Koff (Alkaline Coffee Substitute. Renamed Zoy-Koff in about 1939) in Regular, or Fine Grinds.

1964 – Kinako (Roasted Soy Flour) is made at the Kanai Nissei Shokai (Later called Kanai Tofu Factory) in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is the first kinako made in the United States.

1965 – In his unpublished book Soybean Utilization in Japan, William Brandemuhl has an excellent section on “Kinako” (p. 360-66) in which he describes (with photos) how it is made commercially and gives the earliest known market statistics and trends for roasted whole soy flour in any geographical region of the world.

A separate and independent description and market analysis is given by Tokuji Watanabe in 1969. He says about 12,000 metric tons of soybeans are used per year in making kinako in Japan.

1971 Nov. – Eden Foods of Ann Arbor, Michigan launches Kokoh, a macrobiotic grain coffee that includes roasted soy flour.

1976 – In An Inventory of Information on the Utilization of Unprocessed and Simply Processed Soybeans as Human Food (197 pages), H.L. Wang et al. state in their section on “parched or roasted soybeans” in Korea: "Soybeans are first roasted and then ground to a flour. The flour is extensively used as an ingredient in various food preparations." This is the earliest document seen that mentions roasted whole soy flour in Korea – however no Korean name for this flour is given).

1977 Sept. – As coffee prices skyrocket, Shirbroun’s Best Brew: 100% natural Soybean Brew (a coffee alternative) developed by Darrell Shirbroun of Iowa, is launched.

1978 Sept. – Arrowhead Mills of Hereford, Texas, launches “Soy Flour, Roasted” in 30 lb bulk bags.

1982 May – The term “roasted whole soy flour” is first used in English by Shurtleff & Aoyagi in an unpublished book chapter titled “History of roasted soy flour, soy coffee, and soy chocolate.” That chapter is now on their website www.soyinfocenter.com.

1983 Sept. 11 – H.L. Wang (in a letter to Wm. Shurtleff at Soyfoods Center) says that in China, roasted whole soy flour is called huang dou fen.

Dr. Wang ate this product during her college years in China in Szechwan and Jiangsu provinces during the 1930s. It is generally made at home.

1987 – Cabino: The Coffee Alternative, is launched by Cabino Inc. of Sherman Oaks, California. It is made from 100% roasted soybeans.

1991 May – Incognito: The Coffee Alternative (Original, or Mocha Traces) is launched by Incognito of Santa Monica, California. It is made from 100% roasted soybeans.

1995 – The term “roasted whole soybean flour” is first used in English by Lester A. Wilson of Iowa State University.

1998 – Soyfee's Choice: Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Mocha, Almond-Amaretto, Original, Dark Roast, Breakfast Blend (half real coffee + half roasted soy) is introduced by Soy Coffee Roasters of New York City.

1999 April – Well-Bean Coffee (Blend of Equal Parts Roasted Soybeans {Soy Coffee} and Real Coffee) in Regular: Swiss Chocolate, Hazelnut, or Traditional; or Decaf: Swiss Chocolate, Hazelnut, or Traditional – is launched by Well-Bean Coffee Co. Inc. of Rochester, New York.

2001 Nov. – Rocamojo: Roasted Soy Coffee (Regular, or Rocamojo Blend – Soy & Coffee) is introduced by Rocamojo LLC of Studio City, California.

2002 March – Café de Soya is launched by Jamasuto Inc. of Sherman Oaks, California.

2005 March – JavaSoy (Original and Decaf: Breakfast Blend, French Vanilla, Vanilla Hazelnut, Caramel Cream) is introduced by Adler Foods, Sharpsville, Indiana.

Click here to download the full text to open and read book History of Roasted Whole Soy Flour (Kinako), Soy Coffee, Coffee Alternatives, Problems with Coffee, and Soy Chocolate (1540-2021)