|"Coffee," Oregon Statesman. 20 September 1859. collection of the Rosenbach. AN .O663|
It is well known that coffee is strongly promotive of watchfulness and enables us to resist for a long time the approaches of sleep. Students, whose lucubrations occupy a considerable portion of the night, find a great increase of the vigilance and vigor of their faculties, derived from the use of both coffee and tea.
So, in other words, students pulling all-nighters in the 1850s drank a lot of coffee. Sound familiar? One of the noted drawbacks to coffee and tea use might also be familiar to modern readers
the long habit of drinking these articles renders us so dependent on them for the power of keeping the mind awake that a change of them to any other form of diet creates in most persons, at least for a time, a drowsiness and dullness of intellect.
The article also notes that excessive coffee intake, especially without food, can lead to "tremors, headache, vertigo, and some more serious disorders." Despite these drawbacks, coffee, then as now, was clearly very popular. In fact, there was a great story on "War and Peace and Coffee" earlier this week on NPR, in which Smithsonian curator John Grinspan noted that in Civil War soldier journals, "The word coffee was more present in these diaries than the words "war," "bullet," "cannon," "slavery," "mother" or even "Lincoln."" He even describes rifles with coffee grinders built into the stock. I don't think I've ever seen one of those, so if anyone knows of a collection that has one please let me know!
That's it for this historical coffee break--now back to work!