Happy International Coffee Day!

A cup of coffee on a saucer with a teaspoon

Daniel Go, 2014

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” – T.S. Eliot,
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock


Today is International Coffee Day, and I’d like to take a moment to share some of my favorite factoids about coffee. This tasty brew has existed in many forms across the world. Appearing as early as 1000 C.E., coffee became popular in Yemen (some stories say Ethiopia) and was traded by Muslim traders throughout India and the Ottoman Empire. The roasted beans became a highly-imported item in the 1700s and reached the Western world through French and Spanish colonies in the West Indies.

A lithograph of an Egyptian coffeehouse

The coffee shop, Cairo / David Roberts, R.A.

A stimulant for our conversations as well as our brains, the coffeehouses which originated in the Ottoman empire found new ground in England during the period of the Enlightenment. These coffeehouses became popular locations for in-depth philosophical discussions, so we have coffee to thank for that, too!

Coffee–like most things–is best taken in moderation. While some people report experiencing a strong reaction to a single cup of coffee, others can drink several cups a day without having any side effect. For those of us who drink coffee in excess, withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, increased risk of panic attacks, and hallucinations of coworkers as Starbucks baristas. The best way to treat this is to slow down the coffee intake and drink more water, which we all know is a smart thing to do anyway. Recent studies at Harokopio University in Greece have hinted that coffee can lower inflammation and risk of diabetes, but it is still not as effective as exercise… boo.

So come join us for a cup of coffee at the MEC library! If you can beat us to the coffee, that is 😉

Animated stereograph gif of five women in Jerusalem drinking coffee c.1900

Afternoon Coffee, from the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection @ Library of Congress

Works Referenced:

  • Reich, A. (2010). coffee & tea history in a cup. Herbarist, (76), 8-15.
  • Reuters. World News Digest. Infobase Learning, n.d. Web. 2 Sept. 2015.
  • The Enlightenment. (2005). In E. I. Bleiberg, J. A. Evans, K. M. Figg, P. M. Soergel, & J. B. Friedman (Eds.), Arts and Humanities Through the Eras (Vol. 5, pp. 304-306). Detroit: Gale.

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