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274 MICHIGAN QUARTERLY REVIEW All of you, then, you illustrious Human Candles-you who consume your own brilliant selves with the heat and light of your minds-approach and listen to the Gospel of the Watch, of Wakefulness, of Intellectual Travail! 1. Coffee completely pulverized in the Turkish manner has a much richer flavor than coffee ground in a coffee mill. In many of the mechanical aspects of pleasure, Orientals are far superior to Europeans. Their particular genius-to observe as carefully as do those toads who spend entire years squatting on their haunches, holding their unblinking eyes open like two suns-has revealed to them what our science has only recently been able to show us through analysis. The principal toxin in coffee is tannin, an evil substance which chemists have not yet studied sufficiently. When the stomach membranes have been 'tanned,' or when the action of the tannin particular to coffee has numbed them by overuse, the membranes become incapable of contracting properly. This becomes the source of the serious disorders affecting the coffee connoisseur. There is a man in London, for example, whose immoderate use of coffee has left him with a stomach twisted in knots. An engraver in Paris I know personally needed five years to recover from the physical state his love of coffee had put him in. Finally, an artist, Chenavard, was burned to death by coffee: all because he went to caf6s excessively, as workers go to cabarets, on the flimsiest excuse. Connoisseurs pursue coffee drinking the way they pursue all their passions; they proceed by increments, and, like Nicolet, move from strong to stronger stuff, until consumption becomes abuse. Yet when you pulverize rather than grind coffee, you crush it into a unique form of molecule which retains the harmful tannin and releases only the aroma. That is why Italians, Venetians, Greeks, and Turks can drink coffee incessantly without harm, a coffee the French contemptuously call cafiot. Voltaire drank just such coffee. Remember, then. Coffee is composed of two elements: one, the extractable matter, which hot water or cold water dissolves quickly and which conducts the aroma; the other element, the tannin, is less dissolvable in water, and emerges from the surrounding plant tissue only slowly and with more effort. From which follows this axiom: To brew coffee by contact with boiling water, especially for a long time, is heresy; to brew coffee with water that has already passed through coffee grounds is to subject the stomach and other internal organs to tannin. 2. Using as a benchmark coffee brewed in the immortal coffeepot of my secretary, Auguste de Belloy (the cousin of a Cardinal, and, like him,
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