The strange origin story of coffee

  • A strange tale about coffee… did goats really discover this classic drink?
  • The pros and cons of this contentious beverage
  • The power of mushroom coffee

It was a moonlit night in Yemeni, many centuries ago…

An old goat herder was in a field, watching his flock.

But he was perturbed…

The goats were jumping around in a most unusual frenzy and would not settle or sleep.

What on earth was wrong with them?

The next day, the herder asked an official from the local mosque for some help to find out what was making his goats so crazy.

The official noted that the goats had foraged on “shrubs and berries that had always been considered among the wild and useless productions of the earth”.

The goat herder was intrigued.

So he took some of the berries home, steeped them in a cup of hot water and drank the concoction.

Soon, he was dancing around his home, just like one of his frisky goats!

The man thought that this would be an excellent energy drink for the local Dervishes, who needed to stay awake long hours for prayer.

He took them the beverage and they gave it a try.

They loved it, and soon the news of this powerful drink spread across the Middle East.

And so coffee was introduced to the world!

This was a tale told by Benjamin Moseley, an eighteenth-century physician in his Treatise Concerning the Properties and Effects of Coffee (1792).

Moseley admitted that the story was “ludicrous”. But as a doctor, he was fascinated by coffee and swore by it as a medicine for combatting lethargy and improving digestion, as well as its ability to help with hangovers.

In his book he also mentioned lesser-known benefits, such as using coffee as a cure for bloody flux and dysentery, and to soothe fatigue.

He was so much a fan that he decried those who warned against coffee’s dangers as being WRONG, just like those who spoke nonsense about the harms of tobacco and mercury.

(That opinion didn’t age well, did it?!)

That said, Moseley did offer a caution to pregnant women and those with serious illnesses.

However, his only negative account of coffee came from a person he met in Leyden, who reported having nosebleeds after drinking coffee for several days in a row!

Not that Moseley needed to convince anyone to drink the stuff…

When the first edition of his treatise appeared in the 1780s, Europeans had been hooked on coffee for more than a century, guzzling it in bustling urban coffee shops.

Today, there seems to be just as many people extolling the virtues of the black stuff…

More good coffee news

Earlier this month, Italian researchers found that people who drink one cup of coffee per day have lower blood pressure and healthier hearts.

The said that these positive effects were ‘very clear’.

Another Italian study in 2021, concluded that “Espresso Can Help Fend Off Death” (as reported in Daily Coffee News).

And a 2018 study involving nearly half a million people over ten years found that regular coffee consumption reduced all-cause mortality compared to non-coffee drinkers.

As I mentioned in a recent Good Life Letter, a study on animals published this year suggests that the combination of coffee and milk might have an anti-inflammatory effect.

It’s all down to the combination of proteins in milk with some antioxidants in coffee known as polyphenols. When they’re put together, they can double the anti-inflammatory properties of your immune cells.

Other established benefits of coffee include:

  • increased alertness and focus
  • improved digestion
  • higher levels of feel-good hormones for improved mood

Additionally, coffee may help lower the risk of some diseases, such as type-2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver cancer.

Of course, moderation is key here…

A cup or two a day is fine but knocking back lots of strong coffee all day is clearly not good for you.

It can cause anxiety, jitters, and sleep problems, and lead to increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Furthermore, consuming too much caffeine can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue.

And as Benjamin Moseley pointed out as far back as 1792, pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake, as it can affect foetal growth and development.

However, if you like coffee, fancy giving it a bit of an extra kick but without adding to the caffeine load?

The power of mushroom coffee

Mushroom coffee is a type of coffee that has been combined with various types of medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, chaga, or lion’s mane.

As you know from my Good Life Letters earlier this month, these medicinal mushrooms have a range of health benefits, including boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, and improving your mental clarity and focus.

This is because they contain high amounts of antioxidants known as ergothioneine and glutathione. These protect your cells from damage associated with cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Some proponents of mushroom coffee claim that it provides a more sustained energy boost compared to regular coffee, without the jitters or crashes!

This is something I’ve not tried yet, but I’ll get the Good Life Letter research team onto it and see if we can track down a really good example from a trustworthy manufacturer.

But in the meantime, if you want to test out the power of mushrooms, you can try our multi-mushroom complex here.