The discovery of sobriety
Coffee is the favourite drink of Germans. It is not beer, not wine, not milk nor coke - you won’t believe it, it is the brew from roasted coffee beans - that is Espresso, Cappuccino, “normal” coffee and the other many variants - that ranks tops in the popularity scale in Germany for food products in liquid form. The annual per capita consumption is more than 160 litres (that is about 7 kg or more than 1,200 cups!). After the US, Germany imports most coffee worldwide. - We are a nation of coffee drinkers!
But, it has not been like this ever since. It has taken quite some time until coffee replaced alcoholic drinks slowly but surely, which causes “a dull head” and makes “serious business impossible” (James Howell), and completed its triumphal procession into practically every office and every kitchen.
It began in the middle of the 17th century when the black bitter brew was chosen a fashionable luxury drink by the European aristocracy. Then it was discovered the “drink of sobriety” by the middle classes, and as the lower classes mostly had to make do with “mocca faux” developed into an everyday drink across all segments of society only after the second world war.
The triumphal march of ”Chaube”
Coffee, also referred to as “wine of the Islam”, originates from oriental regions; the region of Kaffa in Ethiopia is considered the home of the coffee bean. According to Islamic legend, Allah himself through archangel Gabriel healed the prophet Mohammed from his sleeping disease with coffee, which gave him new power. The bitter beverage, which since the 11th century was drunk on the Arabian peninsula and later throughout the whole Ottoman Empire, was referred to as “Chaona”. Parallel to the triumphant progress of the Islam and the pilgrims’ journeys, the coffee spread to Europe slowly but surely: In 1554, the first coffee house was opened in Constantinople. Then the “Turkish brew” got to Vienna, and had soon “conquered” the whole of Europe.
The distrust of the aut horities
Certainly, coffee was not without controversy in the Arab world of the time already due to its stimulating effect. The “Milk of the Thinker and Chess Players”, which sharpens the mind 5 and kindles the pleasure in disputing, could spread unrest, which the authorities feared - and imposed a ban on coffee. This idea fell on good soil in Europe as well, but coffee had to overcome many other obstacles as well. On the one hand, the health-promoting actions was seen, but on the other hand there was concern about the deleterious side-effects, such as renal dehydration, emaciation as well as erectile dysfunction. But, coffee as a pick-me-up accommodated the needs of the upcoming modern bourgeois society for efficiency - clear heads were needed, and soon enough there was no stopping anymore. Even Pope Clemente VII blocked the attempt of an ecclesiastical ban on coffee after having tasted the brew saying: “This Satan’s is so delicious that it would be a disgrace to leaving it to the infidels.”