International Coffee Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I couldn't, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriveled-up roast goat.
Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
and, if someone wants to pamper me,
ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!"
~ Aria's lament from the Coffee Cantata, Johann Sebastian Bach, 1735
Bach, a coffee enthusiast, composed his “Coffee Cantata,” a rare comic work, for a musical ensemble, which is set in a coffee house! The work pokes fun at both coffee drinkers and those suspicious of this new beverage from the New World. The plot centers around the delights of coffee in the life of a young woman, Aria, whose father is opposed to her having the caffeinated drink (which was assumed to be deleterious to the health of young ladies)! Eventually, daughter and father reconcile when he agrees to have a guaranteed three cups of coffee a day written into her marriage contract. Well, what more could anyone want? ☕
The Caffeine Reel
International Coffee Day celebrates coffee as a beverage, with events occurring across the world. Other countries which recognize a day of coffee generally do so near this date, mostly in September.
According to legend, probably apocryphal, an 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd discovered coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a coffee plant!
Of the two main species grown, arabica coffee (from C. arabica) is generally more highly regarded than robusta coffee (from C. canephora). Robusta tends to be bitter with less flavor but more body than arabica. Robusta strains also contain about 40–50% more caffeine than arabica. Consequently, this species is used as an inexpensive substitute for arabica in many commercial coffee blends.
Caffeine is considered one of the only designated drugs that is present naturally or added to widely consumed foods (quinine being another). In addition to coffee and other stimulant beverages, caffeine is now added to snack foods and candy, jelly beans and waffles, ice creams and yogurts. The amounts now added to other foods are quite significant with respect to an actual cup of coffee. Click the caffeine molecule below for a list.
A 2014 meta-analysis found that coffee consumption (4 cups per day) was inversely associated with all-cause mortality (a 16% lower risk), as well as cardiovascular disease mortality specifically (a 21% lower risk from drinking 3 cups per day). Additional meta-analysis studies corroborated these findings, showing that higher coffee consumption (2–4 cups per day) was associated with a reduced risk of death by all disease causes.
Therefore, whether for cause or correlation, enjoy your coffee today.
In Italy, where coffee strength and style variations are somewhat ritualized with the time of day, be sure to do your homework so as not to commit a coffee violation.
Here's a modern ordering list to get started:
un caffè classic - no frills, just a shot of espresso
doppio - a "double", with two shots
ristretto - a "short" one, a small shot of strong black coffee
corretto - a "corrected" coffee, with a shot of liquor (grappa, amaretto or sambuca)
lungo - a "long" coffee, slightly more watered down
americano - longer than a lungo, a coffee with extra hot water
macchiato - a "stained" coffee, with a drop of milk
schiumato - just like a macchiato, but only with milk foam
un cappuccino - a shot of coffee with steamed foamy and creamy milk, typically taken at breakfast and not often served in restaurants
un caffè latte - like a cappuccino but with more milk, weaker than a cappuccino
un latte macchiato - hot or cold milk, with a drop of coffee
un marocchino - a macchiato with cocoa and chocolate
un genovese - a miniature cappuccino, served in a small coffee cup
decaffeinato - decaffeinnated
For more on Italian coffee culture, click the coloured engraving by L. Marin (active 1776-1780).