Culture: Coffee column - The perky history of coffee. . .
Legend has it that coffee was first discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed how energised his flock became when they ate coffee cherries. These cherries were passed on to the local monastery who developed a simple drink that’s medicinal properties ensured they remain alert for evening worship.
Fast forward a few centuries and coffee is a morning staple for people across the world and is one of the most traded commodities, second only to oil.
Our customers, whether making their own at home or visiting our cafés and concessions across the country, rely on us to kick-start their morning and give them the fuel they need to tackle the day. Coffee’s impact on alertness has long been documented in terms of the benefits of reducing drowsiness, improving athletic performance, concentration and even making people feel more sociable. Certainly, modern coffee drinkers widely recognise not only the energising properties but also the associated health benefits of their morning brew.
But coffee has not always enjoyed such a positive reputation or worldwide adoration. There have been several documented attempts throughout history, from governments to religious leaders, seeking to ban the intake of coffee in any form. In Constantinople at one time the punishment for being found in possession of coffee was to be sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the nearest river or lake.
By the 17th century coffee had made its way into Europe but was not met with universal approval; becoming known as a ‘bitter invention of Satan’ by some who called for it to be banned. Despite the controversy; early coffee hero Pope Clement VIII tasted the beverage for himself and delivered his approval, declaring coffee ‘delicious’ and giving his official blessing. Thus, paving the way for coffee houses to spread across Europe.
Luckily for us caffeine addicts, the last attempt to ban coffee was quashed in 1777; leaving us free to enjoy a brew without restriction. The only controversy which remains now is what time of day to switch to decaf!
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