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3094.  Wed Dec 10, 2003 8:29 pm Reply with quote

Since we don't seem to be on C for Coffee yet, and I wanted to share this one.

I read on the Pepys Diary weblog today about Sam visiting a coffee house in Cornhill on December 10th 1660, and was moved to look it up to see if this was the very first London coffee house, opened in 1752 (a lot more were opened after the Restoration in May 1660).

This led me to this rather nice little nuggetoid about coffee:

it had a rather shaky start. Catholic priests and monks, horrified at how popular the drink was becoming, wanted it banned as a heretical Muslim drink. Much to their surprise Pope Clement VIII decided to taste some coffee and promptly declared that "...this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall therefore cheat Satan by baptizing it...".

I have checked this online, and other websites assure me that Clement issued an edict in 1592 (or 1600 depending which site you read, but Clement VIII was Pope from 1592 to 1605 so either is possible) formally recognising coffee as a 'Christian' drink.

Other nice nuggetoids suggest that Turkish law made it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he failed to provide her with her daily quota of coffee, and that the Lloyds of London insurance company started in the back room of a coffee house.

3096.  Wed Dec 10, 2003 8:36 pm Reply with quote

People looking at the current Lloyds building have said how fitting it is that Lloyds started in a coffee house and ended up in a percolator.

There's also something in Pepys about tea; from memory

"I did drink a cup of tee, a China drink, of which I had never drunk before."

so it was evidently a great and exciting time for beverages.

3099.  Wed Dec 10, 2003 9:27 pm Reply with quote

That's a good memory you've got there Flash - it was Tuesday 25 September 1660 - see the full entry on

There's a nice little quote about coffee in Pope's Rape of the Lock (Pope is one of my favourite poets):

Coffee (which makes the politician wise,
And see thro' all things with his half-shut eyes)
Sent up in vapours to the Baron's brain
New stratagems, the radiant Lock to gain.

3175.  Thu Dec 11, 2003 8:38 pm Reply with quote

The first London coffee house was the Sign of Pasquee Rosa, founded by a man from Smyrna named - er - Pasquee Rosa. Pasqua Rosee’s coffee house (with his own face as the sign outside it) was south of Cornhill, and off St Michael’s Lane in St Michael’s Alley, near to St Michael’s churchyard:

It had previously been a wine house and now has become a wine house again (it’s called the “Jamaica Wine House” and of course you can still drink coffee; please notice the blue plaque by the door outside giving the place’s history), but I guarantee that unless you’re a lab rat you won’t find it without a map (it’s in one of those parts of the city with the medieval street plan that is like a maze):

(The above information courtesy of myself and another poster on the Pepys Diary weblog)

Sophie J
3210.  Fri Dec 12, 2003 10:01 am Reply with quote

Coffe facts:

Goats discovered coffee.
According to myth, in 850 AD Kaldi, an Abyssinian (Ethiopian) goatherd, noticed that his goats became frisky after chewing on some red berries. Kaldi tasted the berries himself and then took them to a nearby monastery where the monks realised that by boiling the berries and drinking the liquid, they could stay awake during evening prayers. Inside the berries were seeds – coffee beans.
s: Speciality Coffee Association of America

Another myth attributes coffee’s discovery to Omar, a Muslim mystic. Exiled by his enemies to the wilderness, Omar survived by making a broth from coffee tree berries, which revitalised him and sustained him for a long time.
s: Speciality Coffee Association of America

The word comes from the Turkish kahveh, the name of the infusion or beverage; it is said by Arab lexicographers to have originally meant ‘wine’, and to be a derivative of qahiya ‘to have no appetite’.
s: Speciality Coffee Association of America

3269.  Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:10 am Reply with quote

Throughout the 18th century, government officials in Europe were often concerned about the seemingly addictive aspects of tea and coffee consumption. King Gustav III of Sweden (1746-1792), in an attempt to prove that coffee was a poison, ordered a convicted murderer to drink coffee every day until he died. In an attempt to bring some science into his tests, he ordered another murderer to drink tea daily, and he appointed two Swedish doctors to oversee the experiment. Things proceeded unexpectedly, however: the two murderers thrived in prison, the tea drinker passing on eventually at the ripe-old age of 83 and the coffee drinker succumbing a bit later. Well before the demise of either felon, the two doctors went to their graves and King Gustav himself was murdered.

3271.  Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:27 am Reply with quote

That has a Monty Pythonesque Spanish Inquisition air about it - 'Strap her in... the comfy chair!'

3300.  Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:06 pm Reply with quote

Yes, that's fabulous. It would be very satisfactory if he'd had a similar theory about smoking and the guy who was made to smoke cigars all day tottered on to his hundredth birthday and Gustav had to send him a telegram.

3314.  Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:09 am Reply with quote

Chocolate contains caffeine, doesn't it?

Matthew Norman, Diary, The Guardian, 4 March 1997:

FURTHER evidence of the frailty that afflicts the Monarchy: Centenarian Maud Neal of Harrow has attempted to reject her telegram from the Queen in favour of a pound of chocolates. Told by staff at her nursing home that they would be contacting Buckingham Palace, Mrs Neal said that, although she had nothing personal against Her Majesty, she had little use for a piece of paper and would prefer the confectionary, raising her fists and threatening to "duff up" the offending member of staff should the telegram arrive.

Last edited by ryewacket on Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:36 am; edited 1 time in total

3317.  Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:32 am Reply with quote

Johann Sebestian Bach was inspired by the coffee craze that swept the town of Leipzig in the early 1700s. Almost everything Bach wrote was for a practical purpose. Employed by the church, his main job was to write a sacred Cantata for the Lutheran service every Sunday. But he also wrote much secular music, which was performed outside church.

In 1729, Bach had assumed the directorship of Leipzig’s Collegium Musicum, (founded by Telemann in 1702). The Collegium was a group of student musicians who met each Friday evening at Zimmermann's Coffee-House to give concerts. It was for this group of musicians that Bach wrote his Coffee Cantata.

The story concerns the father Herr Schlendrian (“Mr Routine”) and his daughter Lieschen, the coffee-lover.

In an effort to rid his daughter (soprano) of the evil drink, her father (bass) forbids her her luxuries. Lieschen refuses to recant, saying that coffee is “more delicious than a thousand kisses, and sweeter than muscatel wine”.

It is only when Schlendrian refuses to allow her to marry that she relents. But as the father goes off to find her a husband, Lieschen reveals that she will make it a part of the marriage contract that she be allowed her three cups a day.

Lyrical highlights include:


Recitative - Schlendrian
You wicked child, you disobedient girl! when will I get my way; give up coffee!

Father, don't be so severe! If I can't drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat. [...]


Now I've got the little minx! I won't get you a whalebone skirt in the latest fashion.

I can easily live with that.

You're not to stand at the window and watch people pass by!

That as well, only I beg of you, leave me my coffee!

Furthermore, you shan't be getting any silver or gold ribbon for your bonnet from me!

Yes, yes! only leave me to my pleasure!

You disobedient Lieschen you, so you go along with it all!

Aria - Schlendrian
Hard-hearted girls are not so easily won over. Yet if one finds their weak spot, ah! then one comes away successful.[...]

A cat won't stop from catching mice, and maidens remain faithful to their coffee. The mother holds her coffee dear, the grandmother drank it also, who can thus rebuke the daughters!

3328.  Tue Dec 16, 2003 10:15 am Reply with quote

The I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat line slays me...

3838.  Sat Jan 03, 2004 8:38 pm Reply with quote

Interesting article about coffee houses in The Economist claims they were the internet of their day as a medium for spreading gossip.

4827.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:21 am Reply with quote,3604,260089,00.html

Fancy a cuppa? Don't get these guys to give you verbal instructions:

An official six-page guide on how to make the perfect cup of tea yesterday won the British Standards Institute an international award for long windedness.

[...]The institute's Washington representative was symbolically pelted with dry tea bags as he accepted the award at a ceremony in Massachusettes. In London, the institute reacted with good grace. "We are delighted to have been recognised for what is the very important task of setting out the standards required to produce a proper cup of tea," said a spokesman, Steve Tyler.

"We do not take these matters lightly. A group of experts was convened to decide on the procedures necessary to make the perfect brew, and explaining the results to the world is a task that needs to be done in the fullest detail."

Well, that's the US view of Britain set back another 50 years ...

Accompanying scale drawings show how "a small hole to allow air to enter [the teapot] when the liquor is being poured" is required, before adding: "Tests for sensory perceptions are not to be rushed."

How right you are, sir, how right. Only in Britain, eh?

And just in case anyone is now panicking over their tea-making procedure ...

BS 6008: the abridged version

Use 2g of tea - plus or minus 2% - for every 100ml of water.

Tea flavour and appearance will be affected by the hardness of the water used.

Fill the pot to within 4-6mm of the brim with freshly boiling water.

After the lid has been placed on top, leave the pot to brew for precisely six minutes.

Add milk at a ratio of 1.75ml of milk for every 100ml of tea.

Lift the pot with the lid in place, then "pour tea through the infused leaves into the cup".

Pour in tea on top of milk to prevent scalding the milk. If you pour your milk in last, the best results are with a liquor temperature of 65-80C.

Oddly enough, the report contains (if memory serves) the same number of words as Tetley used to claim their teabags had ("5,000 perforations let the flavour flood out") ...

4832.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:11 am Reply with quote

But the Yanks need to know this Garrick - they make the most Godawful tea over here. If you ask for a cup of tea, they bring you a cup of warmish water with a teabag sitting in the saucer waiting to be dunked. And it's almost impossible to buy decent tea over here (having said which, I do the teabag thing rather than the teapot thing anyway, so I'm obviously beyond all hope of redemption). The best I can come across is PGTips, which ironically is in the 'Irish Foods' section of my supermarket. Tetley's soi-disant 'British Blend' is fairly foul, but still better than Liptons, which is better in turn than most other stuff. I don't know what happens to Twinings when it crosses the Atlantic, but it's not as good as Twinings in the UK, which is a pretty decent cup as a rule.

4860.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:06 pm Reply with quote

Remind me never to emigrate to our Transatlantic colonial outposts ...



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