February 1, 2011 Nathan

Famous coffee drinkers from History: Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was an awesome guy. But did you know that Bach was a coffee snob. He wrote a cantata describing his love for the bean. The Coffee Cantata.

A CD cover for Bach's Coffee Cantata

Here’s a rough English translation of some of the lyrics:

Recitative Schlendrian
You wicked child, you disobedient girl, h! when will I get my way; give up coffee!

Father, don’t be so severe! f I can’t drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.

Aria Lieschen
Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses, mellower than muscatel wine. Coffee, coffee I must have, and if someone wishes to give me a treat, ah, then pour me out some coffee!

The piece was a moral treatise on the place of coffee in daily life. The protagonists were a father and a recalcitrant coffee addicted daughter who would not forgo her daily java. The father demanded she do so lest she forfeit the right to marry and she relents… seemingly. Although in a sub clause of sorts she indicates she’ll only marry a fellow coffee snob – sage advice indeed.

The uplifting final movement brings the father, daughter and narrator together to sing a song expounding on the benefits of coffee and proclaiming it “natural”.

Here are a couple of performances:

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About the Author

Nathan Nathan is a coffee lover, home roaster, amateur barista and coffee tinkerer. He's married, has two kids, one turtle, and for a day job works for Creek Road Presbyterian Church. He previously worked in PR. This blog is his attempt to make coffee tax deductible.