Kierkegaard drank coffee all wrong

Kierkegaard

Mason Currey wrote about artists’ coffee habits and obsessions yesterday in the latest of his “Daily Rituals” series on Slate.com. Here’s an excerpt:

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard “had his own quite peculiar way of having coffee,” according to the biographer Joakim Garff. “Delightedly he seized hold of the bag containing the sugar and poured sugar into the coffee cup until it was piled up above the rim. Next came the incredibly strong, black coffee, which slowly dissolved the white pyramid.” Then he gulped the whole thing down in one go.

I don’t think I could take that much sugar, but I guess it worked for Kierkegaard. Also in the same Slate post, check out Balzac’s effusive description of coffee in the artistic process:

Coffee glides into one’s stomach and sets all of one’s mental processes in motion. One’s ideas advance in column of route like battalions of the Grande Armée…. Were it not for coffee one could not write, which is to say one could not live. [Read more]

What’s the link between coffee and creativity? Lots of famous artists and leaders — including Beethoven, L. Frank Baum, Paul Erdös — loved their caffeine. Sure, it might be just a coincidence. But are you willing to take the chance?

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Happy 75th birthday, Nescafe instant coffee

File this under “fascinating things I never stopped to think about”: Who came up with the idea for instant coffee?

Nestle didn’t invent instant coffee — British and American inventors had that covered starting in the 18th century — but Nestle apparently made it better. They’re celebrating the 75th birthday of their instant coffee product, Nescafe, this month, and you can read its history in an article in The Guardian Nigeria:

Following the Wall Street Crash and the collapse of coffee prices, the bank had a lot of coffee sitting unsold in warehouses in Brazil.

Nestlé was asked whether these stocks could be turned into a ‘soluble coffee cube’ to be sold to consumers.

Nestle hired a chemist to figure out how to make an instant coffee powder that would maintain the coffee aroma — and it was first sold on April Fool’s Day 1938 in Switzerland. (Read the whole story here.)

Not long after that, instant coffee became a staple for soldiers in World War II, and the U.S. military bought one million pounds of Nescafe in a year.

Nescafe image by Mark Hillary, Flickr Creative Commons.