Did you know that coffee was recommended as protection against the bubonic plague in the seventeenth century? Or that tea was believed to make men `unfit to do their business' and blamed for women becoming unattractive? On the other hand, a cup of chocolate was supposed to have exactly the opposite effect on the drinker's sex life and physical appearance.
These three beverages arrived in England in the 1650s from faraway, exotic places: tea from China, coffee from the Middle East and chocolate from Mesoamerica. Physicians, diarists and politicians were quick to comment on their supposed benefits and alleged harmfulness, using newspapers, pamphlets and handbills both to promote and denounce their sudden popularity. Others seized the opportunity to serve the growing appetite for these newly discovered drinks by setting up coffee houses or encouraging one-upmanship in increasingly elaborate tea-drinking rituals.
How did the rowdy and often comical initial reception of these drinks form the roots of today's enduring caffeine culture? From the tale of the goatherd whose animals became frisky on coffee berries to a duchess with a goblet of poisoned chocolate, this book, illustrated with eighteenth-century satirical cartoons and early advertisements, tells the extraordinary story of our favourite hot drinks.