Letter Re: Coffee in a Post-Collapse Society

Dear Mr. Rawles,  
I would like to add one more consideration to the post-collapse coffee junkie.  My fellow caffeine addicts may be under the misperception that their fix has to come from Java, Columbia or China.  Not strictly true.  Although it is not “coffee” per se, there is a native plant which can provide a caffeine jolt, hold off that dreaded withdrawal headache for you or be used to treat asthma attacks.  Ilex vomitoria var pendula, a.k.a. “Weeping Holly“, is the only native caffeine producing plant, and grows very well anywhere other hollies grow.  The preparation is a little different, in that young leaves and twigs can be dried then roasted to a golden brown and ground in a mortar to a powder.  To prepare what the Native Americans referred to as “the black drink” you put some powder in a vessel, add cold water to steep then add hot water before drinking.  The steep time and dilution need to be experimented with to your taste, but can be anywhere from a mild tea to a heart-pounding, nausea-inducing level of caffeination. 

Incidentally, although they are very pretty and wildlife loves them, the berries are mildly toxic (and the source of the very unattractive species name) and should be left alone. –  Chris in Virginia