Before we get too carried away by the fit-unprintable events in today's headlines, let's take a moment to enjoy the latest uplift from the world of coffee. Apparently, it can help you lose weight! But you've got to be careful. No more than three cups a day. And no java past 1:00 PM if you want to get the much-needed deep sleep that keeps you healthy, wealthy and wise. That's because caffeine stays with you for six hours. Yikes! Here's the skinny in a two-minute summary via Gayle King and pals on CBS This Morning.
We can't just let that kind of news sit there without celebrating--can we? So let's raise a cup in joyful gratitude with this fun version of Bach's Coffee Cantata, the gritty heat of Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, the cool piano of Ray Charles, and a Paris DJ set from Black Coffee himself. Because after all--whether you like it hot or cold, espresso, pressed or dripped--there's no time like the present to acknowledge the bean without which life would be as dull as a "shriveled-up roasted goat." (Watch Bach's hilarious cantata with English subtitles to catch the reference.)
Johnann Sebastian Bach
Coffee Cantata BWV 211
If you think coffee houses began with the Beat Generation of the 1950s, look further. Go back at least as far as the early 18th century and Cafe Zimmerman in Leipzig, a coffee house where Bach directed an ensemble called the Collegium Musicum, founded by Georg Philip Teleman in 1702. Although women were not permitted in coffee houses at the time, they were allowed to attend performances of the collegium. This is where Bach presented many of his secular cantatas. Given the "impudence" of the coffee-addicted daughter in his famous Coffee Cantata, we can only wonder how the women in the audience felt about her "rebellious" spirit. By the way, the official name of the cantata is Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering). Hard to do after a few cups, don't you think?
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa
Not by Bach alone does one enjoy the daily cup (or two or three). Sometimes you need a little extra--lagniappe, as they say in New Orleans--to get the caffeine perking to the calorie-burning level the scientists are talking about. This version of "Black Coffee" with Beth & Joe should do the trick.
Of course, if that's a bit much for mellower souls, there's always "The Bishop" with his soulful piano rendition of "Black Coffee," covered by so many jazz greats, including Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Pointer Sisters. Enjoy!
He's a South African DJ and record producer whose real name is Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo, but he's known throughout the world now as Black Coffee. His message in this great DJ set from Paris couldn't be more apropos. "Wake up"!
Finally, Here's My Personal Coffee Fave
Although I wasn't around for Ginsberg or Kerouac, I fell in love with coffee while living on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, just a few blocks from the North Beach coffee houses where icons of the Beat Generation worked out their poetry and prose, their karma and dharma, and apparently burned calories while drinking espresso brewed by Italian families who knew how to do it properly.
I'm not sure I qualify as an aficionado, but I do fall into the category of those for whom coffee brewing is a ritual. Recently, I discovered that Cafe Intelligentsia, one of my favorite coffee shops in Chicago, now has an online store. If you place an order before 3:00 PM, they roast the beans and ship them the very next day. Their website also has great tips on coffee preparation from water to beans. Worth a look if you're a coffee pilgrim--or just looking for a delicious new taste on the journey to fat-burning Valhalla. Here's my latest bag of beans from them. It's their Black Cat Espresso. If you know of other great coffee shops, online or off, be sure to let me know.
I like big books, and I cannot lie. My background includes talk radio, newspapers and TV news. I've hosted a morning-drive classical music program on the California coast and published nationally in Reader's Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, and Playboy. I've won awards for my journalism and my fiction. One of my essays even made it into an anthology for college English courses. For real? Yes, for real.
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