These days, coffee holds little more controvery than taste and preferences. "How can you drink that stuff?" your little brother asks at Thanksgiving. And you give him a sly smile because you know his addiction is coming.
However, the gentle talk of taste and preference, coffee snobbery and coffee generosity is actually just a happy state of peace in the tale of coffee, a drink once banned and beloved and the subject of many controversial writings. The first writing on coffee was penned by Arabian Abd-al-Kâdir in 1587, and was, of course, in praise of the fantastical drink. The first sentence translates as this: "An argument in favor of the legitimate use of coffee" and the whole book was dedicated to this topic. Thus, coffee started off on a strong foot.
Next came the times of "coffee persecutions," as they are commonly known. Coffee began in a Muslim culture, and soon became the preferred drink of thinkers and philosophers. In fact, coffee and conversation went hand-in-hand so much that religious and political leaders soon linked coffee houses and their free-thinking frequenters to inciting political and religious unrest. Coffee was banned across the east and people broke into pro- and anti- coffee camps, as critics tried to apply the Quar'an's wine rules on the drink and others protested against. Out of this time of turmoil, which would eventually end through various leaders acceptance of coffee, much writing came in favor and critique of the drink, one of which was this poem, shown in part here:
In Praise of Coffee
Translation from the Arabic
O coffee! Doved and fragrant drink, thou drivest care away, The object thou of that man's wish who studies night and day. Thou soothest him, thou giv'st him health, and God doth favor those Who walk straight on in wisdom's way, nor seek their own repose. Fragrant as musk thy berry is, yet black as ink in sooth! And he who sips thy fragrant cup can only know the truth. Insensate they who, tasting not, yet vilify its use; For when they thirst and seek its help, God will the gift refuse. Oh, coffee is our wealth! for see, where'er on earth it grows, Men live whose aims are noble, true virtues who disclose.
Though coffee was safe in legality and spread across the world, people certaintly did not stop talking about it. Some of my favorite quotes on coffee througouut history are here:
"A cup of coffee - real coffee - home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all."
--Henry Ward Beecher, 'Eyes and Ears'
"Without my morning coffee I'm just like a dried up piece of roast goat."
--Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) The Coffee Cantata
"It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country as a consequence. Everybody is using coffee; this must be prevented. His Majesty was brought up on beer, and so were both his ancestors and officers. Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be relied upon to endure hardships in case of another war."
--Frederick the Great of Prussia (1777)
"Moderately drunk, coffee removes vapours from the brain, occasioned by fumes of wine, or other strong liquors; eases pains in the head, prevents sour belchings, and provokes appetite."
--England's Happiness Improved (1699)
"As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move...similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle."
--Honore de Balzac (1799-1859)
"The morning cup of Caf? Noir is an integral part of the life of a Creole household. The Creoles hold as a physiological fact that this custom contributes to longevity, and point, day after day, to examples of old men and women of fourscore, and over, who attest to the powerful aid they have received through life from a good, fragrant cup of coffee in the early morning."
--The Picayune Creole Cook Book (1901)
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water."
--The Women's Petition Against Coffee (1674)
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; if this is tea, please bring me some coffee."
Knowledge and quotes curtesy of: http://www.sweetmarias.com, http://www.cluesheet.com/All-About-Coffee-III.htm, http://www.web-books.com/Classics/ON/B0/B701/37MB701.html