WWII – Coffee – On September 7, 1940, the Vichy France government announced that “all cups [of coffee] must now be made with half coffee beans & half filler (roast peas/nuts), and buying coffee after 3PM is banned”. Coffee was often replaced by toasted barley mixed with chicory. 
In the US, coffee was rationed for the civilian population beginning November 29, 1942. The rationing rules allotted one pound of coffee every five weeks, or about ten pounds a year, to everyone over 15 years old. The rationing was further restricted on February 3, 1943, allowing each person one pound every six weeks. This produced less than one cup per day!
As with the French restrictions, the use of filler was suggested to help stretch the coffee. Coffee substitutes such as chicory or Postum (wheat bran, wheat, molasses, and maltodextrin) were used or mixed with real coffee. There were also other methods suggested to help stretch out your coffee like double dripping. The rationing ended July 28, 1943, when coffee was the first item removed from the rationing list. [1,3,5]
Coffee was rationed due to two reasons. The first was to guarantee that it was fairly distributed across the civilian population. The second reason was to give priority to the military for the limited supply. German U-boat activity was taking a toll on the shipping. [2,3]
Certainly there were many hardships during WWII. As a drinker of at least two 16-ounce cups of coffee per day, the rationing folks faced would have been hard to adjust to. How would you do with this kind of a restriction today? There would be no ‘Grande’ cups from your local coffee shop.
- U.S. Coffee Rationing in World War II
- Coffee rationing begins
- Make It Do – Coffee Rationing in World War II
- German military administration in occupied France during World War II
- Coffee Rationing: Hints on how to make a good brew and stretch the available supply
If you are a student of the World War II era in history, you may find my pages “World War II Sources” (a collection of museums, websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds with information on the World War II era in history) and “World War II Timeline” of interest.