Caffeine, coffee, tea and chocolate

Reading The World of Caffeine by Weinberg and Bealer, coffee seems to have mysteriously escaped notice until the 1500’s, despite a reference to it in A.D. 1000. Weirder still, it seems to have been unknown to the Arabs until after they heard of tea, which was grown far further away than coffee. Coffee was growing wild practically in their own back yard, it is said to have originated in Ethiopia. It got very popular in Europe in the seventeenth century, Bach wrote a “Coffee Cantata” in 1732.

Interesting fact #2, chocolate contains a stimulant theobromine, which augments the effect of caffeine, and has a similar pharmacological profile. The book mentions chocolate and cocoa being sold in the coffee houses next to tea and coffee, much like today’s Starbucks coffee shops. Starbucks’ website sells an electric tea kettle for $125, as if it were some newfangled contraption for elite tea drinkers, instead of a kitchen workhorse, advertising it as “Revolutionary water heating technology.”