1921 Beliefs About the Benefits of Coffee

coffee in cupI’ve seen several hundred-year-old articles which state that coffee is bad for your health, so I was surprised to see information in a 1921 cookbook about the benefits of coffee. Here is what it said:

The stimulating property of coffee is due to the alkaloid caffeine, together with an essential oil. Like tea, it contains an astringent. Coffee is more stimulating than tea, although, weight for weight, tea contains about twice as much theine as coffee contains caffeine. The smaller proportion of tea used accounts for the difference. A cup of coffee with breakfast, and a cup of tea with supper, serve as a mild stimulant for an adult, and forms a valuable food adjunct, but should never be found in the dietary of a child or dyspeptic.

Coffee taken in moderation quickens action of the heart, acts directly upon the nervous system, and assists gastric digestion. Fatigue of body and mind are much lessened by moderate use of coffee; severe exposure to cold can be better endured by the coffee drinker.

In times of war coffee has proved more valuable than alcoholic stimulants to keep up the enduring power of soldiers. Coffee acts as an antidote for opium and alcoholic poisoning. Tea and coffee are much more readily adsorbed when taken on an empty stomach; therefore this should be avoided except when used for medicinal purposes. Coffee must be taken in moderation; its excessive use means palpitation of the heart, tremor, insomnia, and nervous prostration.

The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921)


10 thoughts on “1921 Beliefs About the Benefits of Coffee

  1. So… the cookbook authors might not approve my habit of coffee first, breakfast later! And I laughed at ‘nervous prostration.’ I’m not quite sure what that is, but I remember the phrase being used by adults during my childhood.

  2. I am a lifelong overdoser of coffee and can admit to being coffeed out, on occasion . Because it is diuretic, I must take issue with the notion it is efficient as an antidote for alcohol or opium, which many hopefuls still look to today. Now for my next sip ….

  3. Interesting. My doctor is a strong advocate of coffee in moderation, and actually advised coffee for my mother in her elder years when she was feeling bit depressed. It did improve her mood! She did caution that too much can cause heart palpitations.

  4. I’ve never been able to stomach the taste though the smell is enticing… My mother regretfully had to give up caffeine when she was diagnosed with A-fib. It was a very difficult transition for her after 7 decades of coffee consumption….

  5. I love the picture. I especially love how it is next to the comics! That’s just how I enjoy my coffee on a Sunday morning if I’m not writing my own post.

  6. I love the picture. I especially love how it is next to the comics. The is just how I enjoy my coffee on a Sunday morning if I am not writing in my own blog.

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