Frederick the Great and the Coffee-houses

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Why was coffee banned by Frederick the Great? Why should such a civilised man have written a proclamation in 1781 that coffee should only be sold to the nobility? Basically, it was because he felt that the "common people" should not indulge in luxuries. And coffee was decidedly a luxury for him. He was raised on beer-gruel himself, and though he started a coffee-house in the middle of the 18th Century, he found that smuggling was rife and that money was going out of the country. he thus banned coffee for commoners--though by the end of the century, Germany had its share of coffee-houses, leading the way to Kaffeeklatsches.

As for Frederick himself, he had a habit which can only be looked upon as... well, strange. When he was in the front lines with his troops, he would boil up his own coffee--not with water, but with champagne!

Perhaps musket powder and blood added that special regal taste, or perhaps such a brew is fit exclusively for crowned heads. But when this writer tried to brew coffee with champagne, the result was hardly imperial. For a more appealing recipe, see The world of coffee "Cafe du Roi".

pp. 31 The Complete Book of Coffee by Harry Rolnick (1982)

Cafe du Roi (Serves 4)

4 measures Melitta Coffee
1/2 1 Champagne (sec or demi-sec)
2 sticks cinnamon

Warm 4 glasses and add 1/2 stick cinnamon to each. prepare the coffee in the Melitta manual coffee-maker, using Champagne instead of water. Fill the glasses and let stand for 5-8 minutes before serving.

pp. 166 The Complete Book of Coffee by Harry Rolnick (1982)

Image retrieved from Wikipedia on October 30, 2014.

Frederick the Great