Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Half-caf, non-fat latte with a whisper of cinnamon

To the Editor

offee, the Lacedaemonian Black Broth

Your correspondent "R. O." inquires what modern author suggests the probability of coffee being the black broth of the Lacedaemonians? The suggestion, I think, originated with George Sandys, the translator of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Sandys travelled in the Turkish empire in 1610. He first published his Notes in 1615. The following is from the 6th edit. 1652, p. 52:

"Although they be destitute of taverns, yet have they their coffa-houses, which something resemble them. Their sit they, chatting most of the day, and sip of a drink call coffa (of the berry that it is made of), in little China dishes, as hot as they can suffer it; black as soot, and tasting not much unlike it (why not that black broth which was in use among the Lacedaemonians?) which helpeth, as they say, digestion, and procureth alacrity," & c.

Burton also (Anatomy of Melancholy) describes it as "like that black drink which was in use among the Lacedaemonians, and perhaps the same."

E. B Price

-from Notes and Queries Vol. 1 (9) Dec. 29, 1849, p. 139.

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