The history of the hot stuff

Did you know the Brits drank coffee before tea? That not enough grounds were grounds for divorce? Or that goats discovered it?
05 February 2016

Interview with 

Graihagh Jackson, Naked Scientist


The stimulant is never far from the headlines but there doesn't seem to be a goatconsistent consensus about as to whether it's good or bad for our health, especially when you delve into the headlines, as Graihagh Jackson explained to Chris Smith...

Graihagh -  I was looking through some for the newspaper archives and I can see why there's so much confusion about it. I'm going to read you a select few of my favourites:

So in the 1500s when coffee was around in Turkey, the headline reads "not enough grounds were grounds for divorce."  Coffee was so important that women could divorce their husbands because they didn't have enough coffee

Chris - So coffee deprivation would be grounds for divorce?

Graihagh - Yes.  So coffee was a good thing back then... 1600s - it becomes a bad thing.  It can cure alcoholism actually but it causes impotence.  There's a great quote from a group of women who started a petition saying "We find of late a very sensible decay of that true old english vigour.  Never did men wear greater breeches or carry less in them"...

Chris - And that's when they had or hadn't had their morning coffee?

Graihagh -   That's when they had had their morning coffee.

1700s - you start getting coffee being good for you.  It makes you work longer.

1800s - coffee makes you go blind.

1900s - caffeine is in the news and it's all bad again.

There were some studies done in the 1980s with patients having more risk of heart attacks.

And in the 2000s - it's back and forth all over the place but the stuff I've been reading tends to suggest it's actually a bit of a health food.

So, now I know that, I'm not surprised people have no idea whether it's good or bad for us because after all this, I haven't the foggiest


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