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Coffee: A Poem by Guillaume Massieu, trans. John T Gilmore

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It is hard to imagine a time when coffee drinking was not part of every-day life and yet it was not until the end of the seventeenth century that it became widespread in Europe. The visit of the Turkish Ambassador to Louis XIV's court in 1669 helped to make coffee-drinking fashionable in France, so it is not surprising that it was a Frenchman who chose to extol its delights, not to mention its health-giving properties, in a long poem written in Latin, the popular language for verse throughout Europe until well into the eighteenth century. L'Abbé Guillaume Massieu, priest turned teacher, gives a witty yet instructive account of the origins of coffee, its real or alleged properties, and how to make the perfect cup, an account which loses none of its sparkle and humour in John T. Gilmore's masterly translation.

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