Marcus Rench of Cary, North Carolina, sent along the following quotations from H. E. Jacob's Coffee: The Epic of a Commodity. Note that all these quotations are about coffee, not today's expensive imitations - which will remain unmentioned - that allow people who dislike coffee to hang out at coffee houses, thinking they are part of the grand tradition.
Coffee has changed the surface of the globe! The muscular and cerebral stimulation and transformation produced in mankind by coffee have transfigured the visage of history.
. . . as soon as it has crossed the threshold it induces a remarkable condition which, in the true sense of the word, is an "ecstasy," a "being put out of place," a marvelous disturbance. Promptly it brings about dilatation of the blood-vessels. The drawbridge is lowered. The central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord, are invaded by its stimulant action; they are "occupied" by the intruder . . . . The great awakener, caffeine!
They found that the processes of acquiring knowledge were greatly facilitated by the drinking of coffee, but, on the other hand, that the reproduction of what had previously been learned was nowise furthered. (The reproduction is, rather, interfered with by a superfluity of new images and ideas.)
This brilliant, rebellious, anti-conservative influence has made coffee, throughout its history, a harbinger of storms.
Analytical thought, which, in contrast with synthetical thought, has been the main characteristic of civilization since the opening of the modern era, is mainly attributable to the generalizing influence of coffee upon thought itself.
A cup of coffee is a miracle. A miracle like a musical harmony, a wonderfully compounded assemblage of relationships.
Thus, built upon coffee, milk, crescents, and doughnuts, was established the first Viennese coffee-house—the mother of huge dynasties, offshoots, and crossings.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Friday, November 11, 2005 at 08:15 AM
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