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COFFEE or chicorythat is the question.
Whether it is better for mankind to suffer the
stings and subtleties of outrageous frauds, or,
by opposing, end them? May we have coffee
for our money, or chicory for our fancy; or
must we, when we want the one and do not
want the other, have them mixed together

Coffee, whether considered historically,
politico-economically, botanically, or pharmaceutically,
is, in truth, a great subject; and we
approach it under the powerful influence and
exciting aroma of a cup of the finest mocha,
made to a marvel.

The traveller in certain favoured regions of
the world, where the soil is rich, and a fine
genial heat broods on it, comes to plantations
of evergreen trees from eight to twelve feet
high. Long slender branches stretch
downwards, as if the tree were going to crown you
with its bay-like leaves. Suddenly, in summer,
the green sea foams into the beauty of white
blossoms. Berries, which deepen into dark
red, succeed; the population come out and
shake them down in showers, and gather them
into bags. A period of drying and husk-
breaking succeeds. Ships bear cargoes of the
seeds across every seaand the reader of
these lines enjoys an infusion of them under
the name of Coffee. But, unfortunately, he
enjoys them in a sadly altered condition; the
pungent fragrance of the natal hour has gone;
the glory of the East is dimmed. Like the
Londoner's own dear Thames, our coffee
grows less pure the nearer it approaches to
our doors; it is compounded with chicory,
with beans, and with other disagreeable
sophistications. The student who has heard
that it is anti-soporific, misses the magic
quality; the father of a family finds it
impotent against an accidental case of narcotic
poison: thick, black, mawkish and sluggish
is the morning draught of the mechanic.
Scientifically, it is called Coffea Arabica,
and has been found to contain a substance
(also found in tea) called caffeine, or theine,
and which is supposed by Liebig to have
an important action on the system.
Commercially, it is of the highest importance.
For the year 1845, the whole exportation
from its various places of production was
estimated at five hundred and seventeen
million, four hundred and forty thousand pounds,
of which one-sixteenth (thirty million pounds)
was consumed in England. Fiscally, its
revenue averages from six hundred thousand
pounds to seven hundred thousand pounds.
Socially, it is of universal use in all classes,
and a very important part of the sustenance
of the labouring ones: morally, its importance
is gradually enhanced by the progress
of the Temperance movement.

Coffee is properly a native of Arabia, but
had been long used in Persia before the
Arabians made a beverage of ithow long
cannot be said with precision. Everything
has its tradition. Nothing, according to the
ancients, was ever discovered or invented
or perfected by patient investigation, by slow
study, or by scientific research. Whatever
was worth knowing, or worth having, was
found out by some marvellous accident; and
coffee would never have scented our breakfast
tables or cheered without inebriating
our inner selves, had it not been, they said,
for a certain Arabian shepherd. This swain,
one fine summer's morningsomewhere about
the time when Jupiter Tonans was a respectable
grazier, on earth, and Ceres no more
than a pretty gleanerwas tending his sheep
in a bosky plain, when he perceived that
they gave unmistakeable signs of hilarity,
which approached to the jollity produced by
wine; yet not a grape was to be seen in the
neighbourhood. He presently perceived that
they ate greedily of certain grey berries: he
plucked some, ate them, and found them
pleasingly exhilarating. Some enthusiasts
(as Moseley tells us in his well-known Treatise)
"suppose coffee to have been the
Nepenthe, which Helen received from an Egyptian
lady, and is celebrated by Homer as "a
soother of the mind"!  Everybody must use
his own judgment about believing these stories.
Tradition makes "the violet of a legend
blow," even among coffee-mills and canisters.
True or false, however, neither the Arabian
shepherd nor the Egyptian lady, deserve more
than half the honour of the discovery. The
other half, incontestably, belongs to him who
invented the art of roasting coffee: for without
the carbonisation, its peculiar fragrance,
and the nutritious oil which characterises
the best, would never have been developed.

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