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The Coffee Cantata

Coffee arrived to Europe at about the same time J.S.Bach was born and became quickly very popular. However, there was opposition declaring coffee to be the “bitter invention of Satan.” Local clergymen in Venice condemned the drink and Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene when the controversy became too much. Before making a decision however, he decided to taste the beverage for himself. He liked it so much, that he gave it Papal approval.

The Coffee Cantata is a small, comic, secular cantata, composed sometime in the early 1730’s . It is actually a funny piece, in which Bach makes fun at both coffee drinkers and their critics.

The story focuses on a young woman named Lieschen whose father, Herr Schlendrian, tries to deter her from drinking coffee. She refuses to give it up, saying that “if I couldn’t, three times a day, be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee, in my anguish I will turn into a shrivelled-up roast goat”. It is only when he refuses to allow her to marry that she relents. But even then, as the father goes off to find a husband, Lieschen reveals, that she will make it a part of the marriage contract that she be allowed to her three cups a day.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee and a little chocolate cake.

Ei! wie schmeckt der Coffee süße,
Lieblicher als tausend Küsse,
Milder als Muskatenwein.
Coffee, Coffee muss ich haben,
Und wenn jemand mich will laben,
Ach, so schenkt mir Coffee ein!

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
and, if someone wants to pamper me,
ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!


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