Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Three Coffees, Hold the Goat

Image: Dustin Ranem, New City Times
Most coffee fiends (and mavens) with an internet connection have seen some version of the quote above, perhaps noting the irony of the pejorative reference to the sacred animal associated with coffee's origin myth -- Kaldi's goats.

I have always read this as a quote -- perhaps apocryphal -- in the voice of the great composer himself. I can imagine him requiring quite a bit of coffee in order to focus on his great works. I learned only today that the original quote refers to bowls, not cups, of coffee -- and more importantly that it is in the voice of a fictional character, a young woman named Lieschen.

She is part of a coffee cantata (or small opera) that Johann Sebastian Bach wrote for friends at Café Zimmerman -- one of at least eight Leipzig coffee shops that were important to the composer.

The full libretto of Cantata BMV 221 is available in English, and various recordings are available on YouTube. My favorite is this version, which is staged in a cafe full of exquisite old coffee equipment!



The Bach Coffee Opera listicle describes the context in which Bach developed this work, and delves into the role of gender in the work itself and in broader coffee culture of the time.


Lagniappe

The joy of being known as a Coffee Maven is that people share all manner of coffee-related insights, stories, recommendations, samples, and humor with me. Thus I was pleased to have recently received this excerpt:

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