This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
The Coffee Berry, which we roast, and grind, for infusing as a stimulating, fragrant, refreshing drink, is got from the Coffea Arabica tree, which produces a fruit resembling a cherry, while the Coffee bean corresponds to the stone. This bean consists of two halves enclosed in a husk. Mocha Coffee, from Yemen, in Arabia, is reputed to be the best, being chiefly produced in Guatemala as both the "long berry" and the "short berry".
'Most "Mysore" Coffee comes from Java, and Ceylon. Brazil Coffee is used for mixing with other varieties. By roasting, the aromatic, highly fragrant oil "caffeol" is developed, to which the grateful odour of freshly-ground Coffee is due, and which is so powerful that a single drop of it will suffice to give fragrance to a whole room. One cause of the superiority of French Coffee, is its admixture with caramel specially prepared for the purpose; another cause being the use of less water in making the beverage.
When Coffee berries are roasted, some portion of the caffein is volatilized, there being a partial change of the sugar (from the berries) into caramel, with a general breaking-up of the aromatic volatile oil, and the albumin cells, causing extrication of gas, and steam, and the development of a very potential and volatile aromatic substance, methylamine.
"J'aime le cafe Chaud oomme l'enfer, Noir oomme le diable, . Et doux oomme un ange".
With some persons strong Coffee will provoke an itching state of the skin.
Caffein, the active nervine stimulant, and revivifier in Coffee, being practically synonymous with thein (that of tea), exercises its arousing effect more on the central nervous system, than on the heart, as tea does. It removes the sense of fatigue, but is apt to induce sleeplessness. Per contra, for the insomnia of an agitated mind, or body, with a perpetual forcing of ideas on the former, as likewise for alcoholic sleeplessness, a strong infusion of the Coffee berry whilst raw, and unroasted, will prove very helpful; it must be freshly made with Mocha berries, and taken in doses of one tablespoonful at a time every half-hour, until sleep is induced. By Caffein the respiratory movements are made deeper, and more frequent, whilst the heart is indirectly stimulated to beat more forcibly. All experiments go to prove that Coffee-drinking leads to waste of tissue; this berry (the same as tea) is not a muscle-making substance. Whilst the volatile oils of tea tend to dilate the superficial vessels of the skin, and to render it moist (cooling it by rapid evaporation in hot weather), Coffee has an opposite action. Tea-tasters are apt to become jumpy, starting on the slightest sudden noise, tremulous, liable to palpitation, sleeplessness, giddiness, and depression of spirits.
Nevertheless, "Tea," said De Quincey, "will always be the beverage of the intellectual." It was the wakeful, exciting effect of Coffee berries, as observed by the Prior of a convent on goats, which first suggested their use as likely to keep the monks from falling asleep at their devotions. This influence of strong Coffee in producing excessive nervous stimulation, is a point well deserving the consideration of total abstainers nowadays. After a while it tends to check the appetite, and to prevent sleep, thereby doing harm to persons liable to neuralgic affections, who need much, sleep. "They should shun Coffee as they would poison," says a leading medical authority. But the infusion does much less harm in very cold climates, also in very hot climates, than it works in England, or in the temperate parts of America. Persons exposed to severe cold, even in this country, are the better for taking Coffee in moderation, and it does not then over-stimulate them. "Cures have been wrought (Republic of Columbia) in the most severe cases of malarious fever, by using the husk of the Coffee bean, which will at times succeed where quinine fails. At first an infusion was made of the Coffee berry within the husk crushed together, and this was used with good results.
Afterwards the infusion was made from the Coffee husk alone, with which some hundreds of cases were treated, a cure resulting in every case" (Lancet, October, 1902).
Coffee can also be taken in other ways; and in none better than in the form of jelly. "A clear Coffee jelly after dinner is every whit as good as the hot infusion, whilst free from the drawbacks of the latter; moreover, the astringent principles of the Coffee are thus neutralized by the gelatin, which is at the same time an admirable proteid sparer".
Dr. Thudicum advises that it is preferable in making an infusion of Coffee to unite the processes of boiling, and infusing: "Place the amount of Coffee which it is intended to use (less about one-tenth of its bulk, which quantity is to be reserved) into the vessel in which the boiling is to be done, and pour over this the measured quantity of cold water; now heat it to boiling, and keep it thus for some minutes; then take the vessel off the fire, and add to the liquid the reserved tenth part of the Coffee, and stir well in, but without boiling the mixture again; let it stand for a few minutes, and then pour the Coffee on the filter (over a spirit lamp, if wishing it to be quite hot) - the liquid first, and the grounds last".
Cold Coffee infusion made overnight, though a comfortless drink at breakfast, will serve, if needed, as an energizing douche to sluggish intestines, and will stimulate an evacuation of the lower bowel promptly after the meal. Persons in Germany who drink strong, hot Coffee to excess suffer from migraine on waking in the morning, with loathing of food, intense headache, and continual sickness at the stomach. The desire is for darkness, whilst the hands and feet are cold; the pain seldom ceases until evening. For an attack of similar migraine arising from other causes, it will be found very useful to take hot, strong Coffee by the small teacupful every hour from the time of access until relief is obtained. A claim is advanced that the green, unroasted berries are helpful against disorders of the liver, and kidneys, - two parts of Mocha, and one part of Martinique, and Isle de Bourbon; put three drachms of these into a tumblerful of cold water overnight, and, after straining the infusion next morning, take it whilst fasting. For obtaining a cordial drink from roasted Coffee, it must be made hot, and strong; two ounces of the freshly-roasted and freshly-ground berry to a pint of boiling water is the smallest proportion which will give a good result.
Three parts of hot milk to one of black Coffee is about the proper proportion for Cafe au lait.