Camp Coffee is a Scottish food product, which began production in 1876 by Paterson & Sons Ltd. in a plant on Charlotte Street, Glasgow. Almost one hundred years later in 1974 businessman Daniel Jenks merged his business with Paterson to form Paterson Jenks plc. In 1984, Paterson Jenks plc was bought by McCormick & Company. Thereafter, McCormick UK Ltd assimilated Paterson Jenks plc into Schwartz; McCormick claims not to be the manufacturer on their main site, and the product can't be found on the Schwartz site either.
Camp Coffee is a glutinous brown substance which consists of water, sugar, 4% caffeine-free coffee essence, and 26% chicory essence. This is generally used as a substitute for coffee, by mixing with warm milk in much the same way as cocoa or added to cold milk and ice to make an iced coffee, but it is commonly found on baking aisles in supermarkets as it is also used as an ingredient in coffee cake and other confectionery.
The label is rather old-fashioned in tone, consisting of a drawing of a Gordon Highlander soldier (allegedly Major General Sir Hector MacDonald) and a Sikh soldier sitting down together outside a tent, from which flies a flag carrying the drink's slogan, "Ready Aye Ready". This slogan uses the Scots word "aye" in its meaning of "always" (as opposed to "yes"), to indicate that the drink was "Ready Always Ready" to be made. Originally the picture depicted the Sikh as carrying a tray of coffee—an intermediate version, with the Sikh standing but the tray missing was also used (see the fan site link below for this version of the label)—it is widely believed that this was changed to avoid the imperialist connotations of the Sikh as a servant, although the company does not confirm or deny this. The original drawing was by William Victor Wrigglesworth.
Legend has it that it was originally developed as a method of brewing coffee quickly for military purposes.
Today Camp is a British icon of nostalgia, as many remember it from their childhoods. It is also popular with home bakers as the flavouring element for coffee-flavoured cake and coffee-flavoured butter cream.
- Robert Pool (24 February 2013). "Original 'Camp Coffee' label". BBC News. Retrieved 24 February 2013.—Link to original label
- McCormick Flavour Solutions Camp Coffee Page
- History of McCormick UK Ltd
- Description of Robert Paterson's tomb with references to Camp Coffee
- Camp fan site