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Camp Coffee has a smooth flavour of chicory and coffee but with a very sweet, predominantly chicory aftertaste.
Camp Coffee is concentrated coffee-flavoured syrup, consisting of water, sugar, 4% caffeine-free coffee essence, and 26% chicory essence. It 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. It is still a popular ingredient for home bakers making coffee-flavoured cake and coffee-flavoured butter cream.
It was first produced in 1876 by Paterson & Sons Ltd., in a plant on Charlotte Street, Glasgow. Almost one hundred years later, in 1974, businessman Dennis Jenks merged his business with Paterson to form Paterson Jenks plc. In 1984, Paterson Jenks plc was bought by McCormick & Company. McCormick UK Ltd. assimilated Paterson Jenks plc into the Schwartz brand.
Legend has it that Camp Coffee was originally developed as a means of brewing coffee quickly for military purposes. The label is classical in tone, drawing on the romance of Empire. It includes a drawing of a Gordon Highlander (allegedly Major General Sir Hector MacDonald) and a Sikh soldier sitting together outside a tent, from which flies a flag bearing the drink's slogan, "Ready Aye Ready".
In late 1975, Camp Coffee became a popular alternative to instant coffee in the UK, after the price of coffee doubled due to shortages caused by heavy frosts in Brazil.