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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coffee: The fuel of dissent

Most people today consider coffee a harmless beverage, but centuries ago it was the bane of political rulers. Adam Cole, author of NPR's The Salt, writes:
Wherever it spread, coffee was popular with the masses but challenged by the powerful.

"If you look at the rhetoric about drugs that we're dealing with now — like, say, crack — it's very similar to what was said about coffee," Stewart Allen, author of The Devil's Cup: Coffee, the Driving Force in History, tells The Salt. ...

... Monarchs and tyrants publicly argued that coffee was poison for the bodies and souls of their subjects, but Mark Pendergrast — author of Uncommon Grounds: The History Of Coffee And How It Transformed Our World — says their real concern was political.

"Coffee has a tendency to loosen people's imaginations ... and mouths," he tells The Salt.

And inventive, chatty citizens scare dictators.

According to one story, an Ottoman Grand Vizier secretly visited a coffeehouse in Istanbul.

"He observed that the people drinking alcohol would just get drunk and sing and be jolly, whereas the people drinking coffee remained sober and plotted against the government," says Allen.
I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who once said, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with coffee." Or something like that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, drinking coffee may make you even as dangerous as Johann Sebastian Bach, a frequenter of Zimmermann's Coffeehouse in 18th Century Leipzig. Check out his Coffee Cantata (BWV 211), written 1732-1734 - "If I am not allowed to drink my three cups of coffee daily, yea to my torment will I become like a withered goat roast."

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