I have told you about the alternative uses of coffee in the 17th century and Pope Clement VIII’s love for the drink, five gems discovered while leafing through books in the MUMAC Library; now I am not going to leave it at that, but rather offer another five facts about the coffee world that you may not know.
- In 1647, “The Women’s Petition Against Coffee” pamphlet was published in London, in which women announced that they were fed up of being neglected by their husbands, who were always going out to drink coffee. Men responded publicly with their own pamphlet. Ultimately, the coffee fashion only lasted half a century because people preferred tea, but the name Coffee House remained in place to signal places where it could be consumed. Certain spots where intellectuals held discussions were referred to as “penny universities” because it cost a penny to enter and listen to the lectures, while drinking tea or coffee.
- The first person to hold forth on how coffee is made was Domenico Magri, who, in 1655, described how to make it: after careful roasting, it is crushed in a mortar and turned into powder.
- In 1668, coffee replaced beer as the most popular breakfast drink in New York. Yes, you read that right – beer at breakfast!
- “Il Caffè” was a “task undertaken by a small group of friends motivated by the pleasure of writing, their love of praise and the ambition (which they are not ashamed to admit) to promote and increasingly encourage Italians to embrace the spirit of reading, respect of the sciences and fine arts, and, more importantly, love of virtues, honesty and fulfilment of one’s duties.” This invitation was made to readers in June 1764 by a large group of writers, jurists and economists who waged a lively battle against the prejudices and institutions of the past in a magazine called Il Caffè. 74 issues were published, released every 10 days. The name of the magazine came from a coffee shop opened in Milan by a Greek and the articles were almost always signed with initials, which concealed the great Italian thinkers of the time.
- Coffee filters were invented in 1908 by Melitta Liebscher, a coffee-loving housewife who was fed up with the routine of cleaning the coffee maker. So, one day she tore off a piece of cotton paper from her son’s notebook to line a small pan on which she had made some little holes. She then placed the pan on a ceramic cup, put a spoonful of ground beans on the paper and sprinkled them with boiling water. The hot drink filtered through the paper directly into the cup and the used filter ended up directly in the garbage, removing the need to deal with the confusion of granules. Today, Melitta is a company that makes coffee filters.
These are just ten curiosities: all the others can be discovered thanks to the collection of over 1300 books in the MUMAC Library, a treasure chest waiting to be explored.
Lucia Del Pasqua, Content creator and storyteller.
Freelancer journalist, writer and copywriter. She has worked for several Condè Nast online publications, for Class Life TV, MTV, and for the W U free press as editor and director of Geox magazine, which is distributed in all stores worldwide. The author of a novel published by Baldini & Castoldi, she creates content for websites, develops digital creative projects for companies’ social media channels and for her own, including her blog, thefashionpolitan.com.