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  • Globally, over two billion cups of coffee are consumed every day.

  • In Britain alone, we need around 95 million cups to keep us going from dawn 'til dusk.

  • But 450 years ago, Western Europe had barely even heard of it.

  • Coffee's roots lie in Ethiopia, where the wild plant grew.

  • People slowly started to realise that the dried fruit, when roasted and ground, could be used to produce a beverage which was curiously addictive, and gave its drinker a bit of a buzz.

  • Coffee is, let's face it, an acquired taste.

  • Early Western drinkers were fascinated by it, recognising its potential as a drink which was ideal for business.

  • Wine and beer were great, but they weren't always conducive to delicate negotiations which required a clear head.

  • When Westerners brought the drink back to Britain, reactions were polarized, including one description of it as:

  • "Pluto's diet-drink, that witches tipple out of dead men's skulls."

  • The first coffee house in the U.K. opened in Oxford in 1651, followed by London, and they quickly became sort of proto-clubs.

  • There were coffee houses for all sorts, from bankers to merchants, literati to men about town, and they were often heavily politicized.

  • Charles II tried to ban them for encouraging sedition.

  • Many subscribed to journals and newspapers for their clientele and, since a dish of coffee cost only a penny, they became known as the "penny universities."

  • They were, however, only for men, and coffee quickly became seen as a masculine drink.

  • Even today, men drink more coffee than women.

  • It wasn't uncontroversial, however.

  • Like anything new, and foreign, there were those who feared it, and one blistering attack in 1674 claimed it caused impotence.

  • Excessive use of that newfangled, abominable, heathenish liquor called coffee, which... drying up the radical moisture, has so eunucht our husbandsthat theyas unfruitful as those deserts where that unhappy berry is said to be brought.”

  • Others claimed it had exactly the opposite effect, answering that it: "Makes the erection more vigorous, the ejaculation more full, and adds a spiritualescency to the sperm."

  • The taste still put many people off, but the British habit of drinking it with milk and sugar, like their tea, helped.

  • By the 18th Century it was established as a part of British life, emerging out of coffee houses and into its place as an after-dinner drink.

  • In the 19th Century coffee was still pretty bad, until the Italian invention of the espresso machine which forced pressurised water through a small amount of ground beans—a huge step forward from simply steeping coffee and filtering it, and then keeping it warm for hours until needed.

  • Italian coffee culture, with its futuristic and gleaming coffee machines and aura of effortless cool, spread across the Western world.

  • Their rules, well... ruled, including tenets such as never drink a cappuccino after lunch.

  • The last 20 years have seen the rise of new types of coffee: long, flavoured American drinks, along with the Antipodean flat whites.

  • We've also adopted a new way of drinking it.

  • Wandering down the street coffee cup in hand is such a ubiquitous sight now that it's hard to remember this is a recent fad.

  • It's a fundamental part of hipster identity, along with beards and vintage cardis [cardigans], knowing your cold brew from your nitro is vital.

  • Society and coffee have moved on a lot in 450 years.

  • But some things haven't changed.

  • So, here's to coffee, with a side of sedition, sociability and amazing cool.

  • Thanks for watching.

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  • See you again soon!

Globally, over two billion cups of coffee are consumed every day.

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B1 UK drink western sperm penny claimed britain

Sperm, skulls and scandal... the hidden history of coffee | Episode 2 | BBC Ideas

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    Seraya posted on 2020/04/29
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