Plant Spotlight: Coffee
We love it… we despise it… We drink it on the daily, sometimes multiple times a day. We spend time learning how to properly prepare and brew it. We have stores that are dedicated to its preparation and consumption. We gift it and smell it and savor it. We turn it into an art form – from its growing to harvesting to preparing. We turn to it as a substitute for harmful substances we are trying to avoid. But we also despise it and blame it for our ills and avoid it like the powerful plant it is. We shun its stimulating effects and constantly fight to maintain our control over it. Coffee! Such a strong plant that has a hold over us. Have we ‘discovered’ and tamed this wild plant. Or has it cast a spell on us right under our noses?
Folklore and History
How was coffee first discovered? Who knows.. No seriously, no one really knows. There are plenty of myths and legends as to its discovery and ascension into our beloved cup of fuel most consume on the daily. One such legend is a goat farmer came across coffee after some of his herd consumed the berries and stayed up all night. This led him to boiling the plant and viola! The first cup of Joe was born. Truth? Possibly. In herbal medicine what we do know is many of our plant medicines have been discovered by watching the animals and what they flock toward when ailing. Animals have an innate sense to know which plants can heal and which to avoid. When we are connected to nature and pay close attention, we start to discover these sacred animal plants and in turn find uses for them in our lives. So it’s not so far-fetched to belive that coffee was ‘discovered’ by a goat. Although, I’d imagine if the story is true, those goats didn’t just accidently stumble across this plant and in their curiosity decide to take a nibble. I imagine the coffee plant would have been something they inherently use as their own form of medicine and finally man was paying attention at the right time and learned from his animal friend. But that’s just my interpretation.
What we are certain of is that coffee cultivation began around the 15th century in the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee houses were also prevalent where people could sit together, share information, entertainment and each other’s company. SO much more than a stimulant, for centuries coffee has actually been bringing people together.
On the other side of the story are the many attempts at banning coffee over the centuries. Kings, aristocrats, and clergymen all attempted to ban this eye opening substance claiming everything from Satan’s work to coffee houses being used to plan revolts and stimulate radical thinking. But pulling back the curtains a little further, these attempts at banning this substance may have more to do with the industries it was impacting (namely beer in some countries) than the effects of the substance itself. Coffee consumption was known to replace alcohol consumption in many places and we just can’t have that….
Historically coffee was used for those going into battle as much as it was used by Holy people in an attempt to stimulate their connection with the Divine. Coffee has held a powerful place in the spiritual centers of the world.
As we can all imagine, the first medicinal uses of coffee were for its stimulating effects to treat depression, insomnia and sleepiness as well as weight loss and help with weight gain and to stimulate or calm the libido.
Spiritually, coffee baths and coffee incense were used to drive away negative spirits.
Why, a stimulate – of course. It’s funny how prevalent coffee is in our culture but it is never thought of as a medicine. Medicine is anything that is used to treat or change something in one’s self. Coffee is used (and abused albeit I must say) as a stimulate to help people get up and get going through their day.
It’s also herbal medicine which is another thought that passes by people since most don’t think of coffee as an herb. It comes from a plant and has a noticeable effect on people and is one of the most popular herbs in the world.
On a deeper level coffee can be used so much more than a stimulate to fight off the waking hour sleepiness. It moves blood and is a diuretic as well as a laxative (which is the perfect source of medicine when your constipated)! It also helps regulate blood sugar and opens up the bronchial airways.
Even with all of this, in this county you’re hard fetched to find an herbalist recommending coffee as medicine. Mainly due to the overuse of self-dosing on this delicious plant. More often you find the recommendation is to stop drinking coffee sothe nervous system can calm down because it is so stimulating.
How We Use Coffee
We use a local coffee roasters beans (Well’s Coffee) in our Morning Wood Bitters. This barrel aged coffee bitters provides just right amount of coffee flavor to any cocktail without having to dilute the cocktail. Caffeine is very water soluble and we use a low ABV alcohol to extract the flavors and caffeine from the beans. So yeah, our Morning Wood is very stimulating. ;)