Dear Betsy Bean,
My historical mysteries are set in seventeenth-century London, not too long after coffee was first introduced in England. At that time, coffee tended to be quite thick and dark (probably in the Turkish style), and was sometimes taken medicinally for stomach pains, not just as a stimulating drink. Since people would not have added milk, and sugar would have been a bit of a luxury, do you have any sense of what spices people might have used to make the coffee more palatable? Thank you!
Susanna Calkins, author of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate and From the Charred Remains (Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press). Release: April 22, 2014
Dear Ms. Calkins:
First let me say that I have read your first book and loved it! I can’t wait for the second one to be released. Various sources indicate that when coffee popularity grew in seventeenth-century England, it would have tasted very different to how it does today. The coffeehouses were rather intent on the socialization aspect and taste took second place. The thick liquid was consumed while discussing political events and other items of interest in the coffeehouses. My research reveals adjectives such as “mud, silt, dirt, tar,” and other unsavory words to describe the brew.A 1668 illustration showing a contemporary London coffee house Photo: Lordprice Collection / Alamy
Clearly they didn’t use our smooth, expertly blended Boneyard Coffee back then.
Later, in neighboring countries, it was served spiced with cinnamon, cloves and ginger, and sweetened with honey. Had I lived back then, I would have been praised with the introduction of Irish Cream into the coffee.
Thank you for your question – I’m looking forward to reading your next book!