22 December 2012

Coffee and the Industrial Revolution

Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Coffee’s growing popularity complemented and sustained the Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain during the 1700s and spread to other parts of Europe and North America in the early 1800s. The development of the factory system transformed lives, attitudes, and eating habits. Most people previously had worked at home or in rural craft workshops. They had not divided their time so strictly between work and leisure, and they were largely their own masters. People typically ate five times a day, beginning with soup for breakfast.

With the advent of textile and iron mills, there was less time to run a household and cook meals. European lace makers in the early nineteenth century lived almost exclusively on coffee and bread. Because coffee was stimulating and warm it provided an illusion of nutrition. The drink of the aristocracy had become the necessary drug of the masses, and morning coffee replaced beer soup for breakfast.

The Coffee Trader by David Liss, 2003, Excerpts

“Beer and wine may make a man sleepy, but coffee will make him awake and clearheaded. Beer and wine may make a man amorous, but coffee will make him lose interest in the flesh. The man who drinks coffee cares only for his business.” She paused for another sip. “Coffee is the drink of commerce.”

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