Thursday, July 24, 2014

Must reading: "How Christianity Shapes Louisville's Coffee Culture," by Gabe Bullard.

Ever wonder why "Louisville's coffee scene has an undeniable undercurrent of Christianity that isn’t the case nationally"?

Gabe Bullard explains, in depth. While reading, I was reminded of various other implications of coffee, and Wolfgang Schivelbusch's thoughts on the matter in his book, Tastes of Paradise, as summarized in this e-notes excerpt.

Called “the Great Soberer,” coffee became a symbol of the emerging bourgeoisie, who were delighted by its stimulating effects. Conservatives blamed it for the deterioration of society and said it was dangerous.

Coffee came to Europe from the Arab world, and initially was known as the "wine of Islam." The simple observation that a caffeinated beverage differs from an alcoholic one suffices to explain how coffee became an instrument to advance tee-totalling, as opposed to intoxication -- not necessarily from religious motivations, but because sober workers would produce greater profits than drunk workers.

Obviously, these are not Bullard's considerations. Rather, he contributes substance to clarify innuendo, and as a coffee drinker and frequent patron of the Quills branch in New Albany, I appreciate the effort. I'm a pagan, fanatical, unbelieving atheistic threat to the established order ... and I've always felt welcome at Quills. This is as it should be.

How Christianity Shapes Louisville's Coffee Culture, by Gabe Bullard (WFPL)

... It’s unlikely the third wave of coffee would have skipped Louisville. Had Sunergos and Quills not brought it here, someone would have. Just like with Heine Brothers. Had Mays not brought better coffee to Louisville in 1994, Starbucks would have in 1999. But the market is driven by those who act first and act well. In the case of Louisville, with third wave coffee, it was devout Christians, driven by an interest in coffee and mandated by their faith to work as hard as possible.

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