Complaints against coffee!

We just replaced our limping, fully automatic espresso machine with a manual one. For several years, our coffee ritual has been something straight out of a lab-rat experiment. Line up, press a button, hear the coffee beans grinding, start salivating, feel caffeine headache dissipate, coffee delivered in cup: rinse, repeat.

Now: it's a full out Starbuck's show our house. Too much work, I say! And so much worry about whether the coffee is "tamped" as the appropriate PSI (pounds per square inch, for the uninitiated). I've also gotten some grief about not expelling the "puck" (the gooey grounds) when I'm done.

This all makes me wonder if there was life before coffee. When? How? Coffee first arrived to Europe in the late seventeenth century. It was a curious luxury, available only to the wealthiest. Writers such as Nicolas Blegny offer up entire treatises about its medical uses. Coffee was recommended for coughs and diarrhea. It was also considered an aphrodiasiac and a treatment for SDT's (now that's a curious mix). Le bon usage du thé du caffé et du chocolat: pour la preservation & pour la guerison des maladies. Lyon & se vend à Paris: Jacques Collombat, 1687.

Maidens may have complained about it--but I won't. Even if I do have to work so hard to get a good cup of brew
chez nous!

Stumble Upon Toolbar


  1. This maiden couldn't live without it.

    I have to admit we ditched our multi-step system a while ago. We get the pre-ground beans and let it drip. I was tired of cleaning that milk steamer.

  2. This maiden couldn't live without it, either. And--after several machines and many flavors and grinds, I find I prefer "plain 'ole" Folger's made in a simple drip machine. However, I recently acquired a Senseo coffee maker and have had a lot of fun with the pods. The flavor is very different from the drip, but very rich and enjoyable. It's ready really fast, too! That is very important when a coffee fix is necessary.

  3. Coffee is our morning ritual too. Our kitchen is too small for a fancy espresso machine so we use a stove top cafetiera -- like they do in Italy.

    Works like a charm and stands up to almost anything, except maybe my husband's tendency to melt the handle.

  4. aphrodisiac eh? It's astounding that 'headache' wasn't among the aliments banished. I suppose my biggest question is, did those early java-drinkers form an addiction to it as well?


Let us know what you're thinking!

To keep up with what others are saying about this post too, just click "subscribe [to these comments] by email" below.

And, as always, we love reader email:
editor [at]