Given that over the last twenty years I’ve spent much of my free time writing in random coffee shops, I thought today I’d say something about The Vertue of the Coffee Drinke, as described by Anonymous in 1652. Coffee had just become popular in England--and its pretty clear why.
To benefit fully from coffee, Anonymous tells us how much to drink ("half a pint"), when to drink it ("fasting an hour before, and not Eating an hour after"), and temperature ("to be taken as hot as possibly can be endured," but not so much as to "fetch the Skin off the Mouth, or raise any Blisters.")
(I wish I'd learned this last when I first started drinking coffee; I'm fairly certain I don't have front taste buds anymore).
Coffee, Anonymous assures us, is good for digestion (being "of great use to be taken about three or four of the Clock in the afternoon, as well as in the morning), will improve our sight ("being very good against sore eyes") and will give us a nice happy buzz ( it will "very much quicken the Spirits, and make the heart lightsome.") This last point might have something to do with how well coffee "suppresseth fumes exceedingly," but I could be wrong.
And WAIT! There's more!!!
Coffee will prevail against "the Headache," diminish the "deflusion of Rhemes," (whatever that is), and will even prevent consumption and the cough of the lungs. Coffee will prevent dropsy, gout, the scurvy, any running humors, "hypocondriak windes," and, if you were worried, yes, it will even rid you of the "king's evil."
You can have your flu shots, your hospitals, your vitamins, and your vaccinations... But I'm sticking with Anonymous and my daily cup of coffee. I'm sure I'll be fine. What do you think?
12/13/2011 05:41:07 am
A coffee a day keeps the scurvy away. Given that you've never had scurvy, the adage must be true.
12/13/2011 08:04:21 am
Read a few analyses stating that the switch from alcohol to coffee fueled the Renaissance. Therefore, I am a Renaissance Man.
12/16/2011 01:33:17 am
Susie, I recently heard about your success as an author! Congratulations! AT any rate, related to this post (which I saw on Matt's FB wall), the recent food issue of the New Yorker has a very interesting article about coffee growing. I used to think "cupping" was a medieval technique used for releasing toxins .... I was wrong! Also, when I was a kid, we learned (in school) a song about coffee that is incredibly racist. I can't believe they taught us that. I can still picture the teacher, Herr Reiss, writing the words on the board. Lots of old ideas about coffee -- yours here are far more charming than that drat old song.
12/16/2011 02:41:16 am
Addendum: I got to thinking and it turns out that German schoolchildren are STILL being taught that reprehensible song:
Hi Cory, Thanks for your kind words and for commenting! What did the New Yorker article say?
12/17/2011 04:51:39 am
The NYer article focused on an Ecuadoran coffee grower -- a woman -- unique in her field: she's a expert coffee taster (has the international certification, the name of which I've forgotten), was an early adopter in terms of organic and single-source coffee, and she grew up mostly in Miami. She sounds like a force of nature! The article is "locked" on the NYer site right now, but I can email you a copy from our library subscription database to your email address. Anyway, "cupping" is what the tasting of coffee by these experts (and by roasters and growers) is called....it's all very ritualistic. And yeah, "eenie, meenie" is pretty awful!
12/17/2011 04:56:20 am
Ugh ... not Ecuador! El Salvador! I have the worst memory. think I need a cuppa.
9/16/2013 11:31:32 am
You are talking my language Mizz Susanna. Check out my newsletters for lots of cool information on the wonders of coffee. Oh how I love that brew! And by the way - neat blog - must go peruse now.
9/17/2013 12:12:04 am
Coffee is my absolute cure for everything. Loved your blog today.
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Historian. Mystery writer. Researcher. Teacher. Occasional blogger.