It is said that behind every genius there is probably a supportive companion and certainly a fair amount of coffee. Coffee has been roasted and turned into the beverage we know and love today since the 13th century. Prior to this, it was consumed in various other forms, including as an energy bar. But it is the rich, golden elixir we so love today that has inspired poets, philosophers, generals, kings and statesmen the most. Make a fresh cup and enjoy this brief encounter with five notorious coffee lovers.
VOLTAIRE (1694 – 1778)
Historian, philosopher and writer Voltaire is said to have preferred coffee infused with chocolate and to have consumed as many as 50 cups a day. This prompted his personal physician to plead with him, to reduce his coffee intake for fear it would certainly kill him. However, Voltaire proved him wrong and lived to the very ripe age, for his time) of 84. He did not drink just any coffee either. His servants received generous bonuses for acquiring his favorite beans. He believed coffee inspired his thoughts and writings.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706 – 1790)
One of our illustrious founding fathers was also a coffee enthusiast. So much so, in fact, that he had his mail forwarded directly to his favorite coffee-house, where he spent numerous hours in conversation with his peers and the business elite of his time. Franklin so loved coffee that he never embarked on a sea voyage without his own supply of coffee. He also said, “Among the numerous luxuries of the table…coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable.” Interestingly, politician, postmaster, inventor, author, activist, statesman and diplomat Ben Franklin was born on Milk Street, Boston.
LOUIS XV (1710 – 1774)
Also known as Louis the Beloved, Louis XV was king of France from 1715 until his death in 1774. He lived at the Palais de Versailles, Paris, where he grew his own coffee in greenhouses. Not only this, but he harvested, roasted and ground the beans himself, and served his own coffee when entertaining guests. It was not uncommon for guests to bring their host coffee saplings or seed from the various coffee growing regions of the world.
SØREN KIERKEGAARD (1813 – 1855)
Danish poet, theologian and philosopher Kierkegaard, who famously wrote, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” also famously drank his coffee extra strong and extra, extra, extra sweet, which probably propelled him forward into the day indeed. His caffeine habit was so remarkable that biographers deem it worthy of mention. He’ pour enough sugar into his cup to form a high pyramid he would then douse with strong coffee. Once the sugar had finally dissolved, he’d drink it at once. He his said to have owned a collection of at least 50 different cups.
MARCEL PROUST (1871 – 1922)
French essayist, critic, and novelist best known for his masterpiece, “À la recherche du temps perdu” (In search of lost time), had an altogether more reserved approach to coffee consumption. However, it is clear from his strict regimen that he, to revered the brew. His housekeeper and servant was rather puzzled by her master’s habit of consuming exactly two bowls of café au lait along with two croissants every single day upon waking. She wondered how one might live on such a restricted diet. Note that Proust also had another peculiar habit and that is that he apparently rose out of bed not in early morning, but in late afternoon.
We wondered how to conclude this article when it suddenly occurred to us that it offers true inspiration for a personal coffee ritual. Imagine, if you will, spending a day drinking your coffee a la Louis XV or Benjamin Franklin. Or perhaps this is inspiration for a coffee tasting masquerade party. What say you?