Ah, yes, coffee, that marvelous drink so many of us have in our hands at some point in the day. It is such a pervasive part of our lives and our society that we not only drink it, we also cook with it. The book “Coffee Cookery” by Helmut Ripperger has a wide variety of food and drink made with coffee: Mocha pudding, mocha cupcakes and coffee cream pie. The following recipe is for hot coffee rum. Now doesn’t that sound lovely for a snowy night in front of the fire?
Have you ever wondered, even for a moment, how coffee and even coffee houses came to be so important? The Indiana State Library has a number of materials on the history of coffee, how and where it’s grown, as well as its influence on society.
One such book is “All About Coffee” by William H. Ukers, an in-depth work on the historical, technical, scientific, commercial, social and artistic aspects of coffee. The book contains numerous illustrations of historical London coffee houses as well as the following “Picture Coffee Map of the World.”
A current book in our browsing collection is “Coffee: A Comprehensive Guide to the Bean, the Beverage, and the Industry” edited by Robert W. Thurston, Jonathan Morris and Shawn Steiman. It contains articles submitted by researchers on areas not only including the history of coffee, but also special chapters on producer country and consumer country profiles, the quality of coffee and coffee and health.
The idea that coffee is beneficial to your health isn’t new. The following image is of the first coffee broadside of 1674 speaking about how coffee was not only a “sober and wholesome drink,” but also was great at “preventing and curing most diseases.” There is a passage in the material that mentions another book entitled “Advice Against the Plague” by Gideon Harvey that recommended coffee as a way of warding of the contagion. There is also the story about a man named Pepys, who after being warned that his health was in danger if he continued drinking alcoholic drinks to excess, started frequenting coffee houses as a way to socialize without spirits, even though he wasn’t particularly fond of coffee as a drink.
Just as with taverns and tea houses one of the most important aspects of coffee houses is and always was the opportunity to socialize. There were coffee houses that were infamous for being places where gambling was abundant, while others were places that business men would meet to read and discuss the news from that day’s papers, to simply discuss business or to grumble against their current government. In 1675, this last aspect brought about a royal “Proclamation for the Suppression of Coffee Houses” because of “the defamation of his majesties government” being spread by coffee house customers. Most, if not all, of these social activities can be found in today’s coffee houses making them a vibrant part of modern society and why coffee, no matter where it is served, is such a big part of people getting together.
To find out more about the history of coffee and coffee houses come to the state library. We’ll be happy to pull a few books for you.
This blog post by Daina Bohr, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Collections at (317) 232-3678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.