|WWII on the Home Front: Rationing|
Brazil and other Latin American countries were producing bumper crops of coffee beans even during WWII so production was not the issue. The countries responsible were either American allies or neutral. The problem was the demands on the military on shipping. All available ships were being diverted to the war effort. In addition, German U-boats were patrolling the shipping lanes and sinking merchant ships. The coffee supply in the US was dwindling. To ensure men in uniform received enough, civilians had to make do with less.
Sales of coffee were halted to prevent hoarding. As a result, each citizen was assigned ration cards, which insured the equivalence of all concerned. Sugar rationing had already been put into effect the preceding May (War Ration Book One) so the concept was nothing new to citizens. Ration stamps were modified to adjust their value and stamps #19 - 28 were each designated for one pound of coffee during a specified five-week period. When the period expired, so did the stamp. Coffee stamps could only be redeemed for family members over the age of fifteen.
One pound of coffee every five weeks = Less than one cup per day
For those who just could NOT make it on less than a cup depended heavily upon family and friends who were non-coffee drinkers. To help spread the amount a little further, the coffee was not brewed as strong (lesser measured amount of coffee), coffee grounds were 'reused' and substitutes such as chicory or Postem were brewed.
Another 'coffee' victim was the familiar coffee can. In the '40s, there was also a shortage of tin so the coffee manufacturers packaged it in glass jars. Aluminum was in much demand by the military. There are some great collectibles from this era since the coffee 'jars' were of unusual, interesting shapes and sizes. The jars did have metal lids with many manufacturers advertising support of the military with slogans such as "Food Fights for Freedom".