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Coffee as Philosophy?

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  • Coffee as Philosophy?

    It’s like I’m drinking the dying embers of a log-fire – smoky and tinged with the tang of creosote. As I concentrate harder, I notice its smooth, viscous texture that seems to mask a sharper undertone – like a blade cloaked in velvet.

    I’ve never paid so much attention to a cup of coffee in my life. I’m not sure I’ve grasped its secrets just yet. But if I do, I’m told it might just offer me a glimpse of some of the big questions in life.

    My guide on this journey is David Berman at Trinity College Dublin – a philosopher who has spent many hours studying the intricacies of the mind’s inner working and the senses. Now he’s turned his attention to his favourite drink, and the profound answers that might be lurking at the bottom of our coffee cup. The result will be a new book, The Philosophy of Coffee-tasting.
    ...Berman explains how his research has informed his understanding of the drink. All varieties of coffee will share a common note that comes from just one oil – caffeol. “It makes up a small portion of the bean – just 0.5%,” he tells me – yet without it, the drink would not be recognisable as coffee. In contrast, he says, there is no single “essence of tea”; tea is made from a wide variety of compounds, but no single one is essential.

    Tea-ism versus coffee-ism

    Berman proposes that coffee and tea therefore illustrate two different philosophical outlooks. Tea is about the way many different flavour components complement each other, he says – recalling the Eastern concept that all beings are interconnected. Coffee, by contrast, is defined by that single key ingredient caffeol, which stands apart from the other flavours – perhaps an apt metaphor for a Western tendency to draw boundaries between the body and spirit, say. I have a feeling he might not persuade everyone.

    Coffee's single ingredient, however, can be deceiving. Taking a sip, I feel as though the distinctive caffeol flavour is firing up my tongue – yet this is an illusion. To explain why, Berman tells me to hold my nose as I take another sip. All I am left with is a faint ghost of the original flavour. “That’s one of the surprises in it,” he says. “You think you are tasting coffee – but if you engage in introspection, you realise it’s actually a smell that is misperceived as a taste.”
    Full article here.


    Java "Cuppa what?!" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  • #2
    I don't think coffeol exists, at least not as a single compound. Seems likely this is a term for a mixture of aroma chemicals extracted from coffee, which kind of weakens the point being made in the article regarding coffee vs tea

    And, of course, nothing can ever top Kramer's idea on Seinfeld for a coffee table book about coffee tables, where the book itself comes with folding legs and coasters built in so it converts to a coffee table. Genius

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    • #3
      Originally posted by trickydicky2 View Post
      I don't think coffeol exists, at least not as a single compound. Seems likely this is a term for a mixture of aroma chemicals extracted from coffee, which kind of weakens the point being made in the article regarding coffee vs tea
      Coffeol is also known as Cafestol (Primary name apparently.) and Cafesterol: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cafestol (Andere Namen = Other Names)


      Java "English please!" phile
      Toys! I must have new toys!!!

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      • #4
        Given that filter coffee is virtually free of cafestol, his "without it, the drink would not be recognisable as coffee" argument kinda falls apart!

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