French World War One combination coffee grinder and mess kit

1853 French Coffee Roaster/Mess Kit, in parts
1853 French Coffee Roaster/Mess Kit

During the First World War, the French soldier was required to carry great deal of equipment inside or attached to his field pack. The type of gear carried by an average soldier today has changed from the equipment carried 90+ years ago. The weight on the other hand has remained about the same at roughly 75 pounds.

During the war years 1914-1918 there was an attempt to make equipment of dual purpose to save weight in the average combat field load. One of these early innovations by the French Army was a combined field mess kit and coffee grinder. These special mess kits were issued about one per company.

The model 1852 mess kit is made of tin-plated steel and is about 6″ in diameter and 3 3/4″ deep with a crank handle and lid. There is a set of grinding teeth inside the small pot container with built in coffee filter and a removeable bottom.

When not used for making the company’s coffee the top would be removed and the chow placed into the pot for the soldier’s meal. I imagine most of his meals tasted like coffee no matter what he was eating.

This mess kit is painted green which was the color used by the French colonial army.

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