I'm pretty sue I'm NOT talking about aloe vera.
Natalie Scott's <i>200 Years of New Orleans Cooking</i> has a recipe for Cafe Brulot that calls for 4 aloes:
8 lumps of sugar
6 parched whole coffee beans
It seems they should be some kind of spice/flavoring/I have no idea. I've googled to no avail. It might be possible she was talking about chunks or leaves of aloe vera, but that just doesn't seem likely to me.
Any thoughts on this obscure topic would be greatly appreciated!