Preparations: Fluid Extract of Green Coffee - Fluid Extract of Roasted Coffee - Syrup of Coffee
Related entries: Thea.—Tea - Theobroma.—Cacao - Guarana (U. S. P.)—Guarana - Ilex paraguayensis, Yerba maté - Kola.—Kola
- Caffeina (U. S. P.)—Caffeine - Caffeina Citrata (U. S. P.)—Citrated Caffeine - Caffeina Citrata Effervescens (U. S. P.)—Effervescent Citrated Caffeine
The seeds of Coffea arabica, Linné.
COMMON NAME: Coffee.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Köhler's Medicinal-Pflanzen, Plate 106. Bentley and Trimen, Med. Plants, 144.
Botanical Source.—(See Cultivation and Collection).
History and Description.—The coffee plant is a native of Arabia Felix and Ethiopia, and is extensively cultivated in Asia and America between the north and south latitudes of 56°. The plant is propagated from the seeds, which sprout in 3 or 4 weeks, and sufficiently advanced in the course of 12 months for transposition. The fruit appears in about 3 years, and the ripening of the seeds may be known by the dark-red color of the berries, when they must be gathered, else they will fall spontaneously. The fleshy part is removed from the seeds by certain apparatus, and their thin covering is detached after drying. There are many varieties of coffee, the characters of which depend upon the soil, the locality and the method of cultivation. The origin of its employment is still surrounded with many obscurities. The Mocha coffee is esteemed the best, and the Java next; but the coffee consumed in this country is chiefly furnished from Brazil, Demarara, Jamaica, and other West India islands. Good coffee should be firm and solid, and heavier than water, in which it immediately sinks; a blackish-colored coffee, not compact, and floating on water, is an inferior article. Mocha coffee comes from Arabia, in small, yellowish, and almost round grains, and emits an agreeable odor when properly roasted. Zanzibar is frequently sold under the name of Mocha; its bean is rather small, its color the same, a little paler, of a light-yellow, slightly greenish; the grains are irregular, round, like those of Mocha, sometimes compressed like those of the Bourbon coffee; the odor and taste after torrefaction are like those of good Mocha. Martinique, a very good kind of coffee, presenting large, elongated grains, of a persistent greenish color, and covered with a silvery pellicle, which separates upon roasting; the longitudinal furrow is quite marked and very open. The coffee is rich in active principles, and has an agreeable odor on roasting. Hayti and Porto Rico are in more irregular grains of a clearer green color, rarely provided with a pellicle. Taste and odor less agreeable than the preceding. Bourbon, or Coffee of the Reunion, is somewhat like the Mocha, but it is larger, not so round, equally yellowish, but less perfect in the agreeableness of its odor upon roasting. The inferior kinds of coffee improve by keeping, and if kept for several years before roasting, they yield a much more fragrant and agreeable infusion than when roasted shortly after they have been gathered. Coffee has a feeble, characteristic odor, and a rough, sweetish, peculiar taste.
A distinct species of coffee shrub is cultivated in Liberia. It is the Coffea liberica, Hiern. It has been introduced into the isles of the Indian Ocean, and is said to be less prone to plant disease than the common coffee shrub.
Ɣ According to Dr. Stenhouse, the dried leaves of coffee, roasted, form a very agreeable infusion, and which may be used as a substitute for tea and coffee. They contain a much larger amount of caffeine than the coffee-bean, with caffeic acid, and the thought was at one time entertained that they would be extensively used in the same manner as tea. According to James Motley, Esq., the natives of Sumatra cultivate the coffee plant extensively, but use only the leaves, entirely neglecting the berries. They are fastened upon strips of bamboo, held over a clear blazing fire, until they acquire a rich, brownish-green color, and become perfectly crisp and brittle, then powdered and infused in boiling water, forming a dark-brown liquid of the odor of tea, but the flavor of a mixture of tea and coffee. This is much used by them as a beverage.
Roasted coffee is a powerful deodorizer, destroying the effluvia from decomposed animal and vegetable matter.
Cultivation and Collection.—The following excellent paper., by Mr. C. G. Lloyd, is here inserted in full by permission of the author, showing the modes of raising and gathering coffee in the West Indies, as described by the author in 1892:
THE CULTIVATION OF COFFEE IN JAMAICA.—"The island of Jamaica exports each year between 800,000 and 900,000 pounds of coffee, valued last year at $1,360,000, and the product was last year 15.7 per cent of the total exports from the island. In former years the great bulk of the coffee went to England; thus only 10 years ago, England got 73 per cent, while the United States only received 13 per cent; but beginning with 1884, the States have taken a large proportion of the product, and last year received 45 per cent, the year before 57 per cent. I am very sorry to have to report, however, that the United States only gets the poorer grades, the English paying a better price for the choice grades. The best coffee of the island is raised on the Blue Mountains, in the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Thomas, the eastern end of the island, which coffee almost entirely goes to England. I am informed by the planters of Manchester parish, who sort their coffee, that their best grades, also, go to England.
"Jamaica (and also Hayti) coffee is of an average good quality, a little stronger than Java or Mocha, but not so strong and rank as the Rio. I presume every one who knows nothing of the subject, has an idea how coffee grows, even if it is erroneous. We naturally imagine that it grows on trees like cherries, and I had expected to see a coffee plantation look like a cherry orchard. (My impressions had been formed from the picture, plate 10, of the recent French work "Plantes Medicinales" of Dujardin-Beaumetz and Egasse. This plate is so grossly inaccurate, not only in regard to the character and apparent size of the coffee tree, but also to the size, shape, color, and cluster of the berries, that it is a discredit to that otherwise very excellent work. A good illustration of a coffee branch is plate 106 of the German work lately completed, Köhler's Medicinal-Pflanzen Atlas). When I left Kingston by rail for the interior of the island, a couple of weeks before Christmas, having been told that the coffee berries were then ripe, I kept a sharp lookout for the coffee trees, but saw nothing that I could take for them. On arriving at the station, I walked along the single road or street of the little village of negro huts, and chancing to stop by the side of a copse of tangled bushes, which I took for a wild growth, I noticed a few coffee berries on the ground under the bushes, and, on investigating, found that these bushes were coffee shrubs. I tried to think of what they reminded me at home, and nothing conveys to my mind a closer comparison than a tangled undergrowth of Wahoo shrubs.
"The bulk of the coffee of Jamaica is raised by small growers—negroes, who own from 1/2 to 5 acres of ground, and who plant the shrub around the place without any order or system whatever, and apparently give the shrub no attention, excepting to break off occasionally the tops when they get too high, or to cut off a few dead branches. In the statistics of the island, where the estates are specified which raise 50 acres or more of coffee, only 30 estates are named, comprising about 3,000 acres, while the acreage of small holders, less than 50 acres, is nearly 18,000. These small growers, of course, for the most part have no machinery for preparing or sorting the coffee. Almost every negro hut in the coffee districts has in the yard what they call a "barbicue." It is a flat drying surface, built where the sun will strike it, and reminds one of a square tray on a large scale, built of brick with raised edges and cemented smooth. The usual size is from 12 to 20 feet square. The negroes gather the coffee berries when they get ripe, a few each week, somewhat like we would pick gooseberries, one at a time. They put the berries into a wooden mortar and beat them, which separates the outer skins, which are washed away in buckets of water. The seeds are then put on the "barbicue" to dry. Without a close examination at this stage the product resembles large grains of coffee mixed with the imperfectly separated outer skin but on closer observation we notice that each grain of coffee is enclosed in a thick, tough, cartilaginous skin. When the coffee has been dried on the "barbicue" this skin becomes brittle, and the negroes again beat it in the mortar to hull it out of this skin. Then the seeds are picked over by hand, the better part of them being sold to the little stores throughout the country, which we notice with the sign out, "Licensed to deal in agricultural products," and which pay Her Majesty's government 2 pounds each per year for the privilege. These small storekeepers send it to Kingston, from whence it is shipped abroad. Coffee merchants in Kingston and some of the merchants in the smaller towns, sort the coffee into grades according to size and weight of the berry. Most of the sorting is done by hand, though some have sizing machines, as described further on.
"On coffee plantations the same process is gone through, but on a larger scale, more systematic, and with the aid of machinery. The coffee shrub thrives best on new land, hence the portion of the plantation devoted to coffee growth is virgin soil cleared of its forest for this purpose.
"Around Mandeville, in Manchester parish, the land is now almost all pasturage, and I am told that the whole of it was originally cleared off for the growth of coffee many years ago in slave times, and having raised its crops of coffee and exhausted the ground for this purpose, it was sown in Guinea grass and used for grazing. To establish a coffee plantation the land is cleared of its trees, burnt over, and cleaned up. Then it is laid out by pegs into squares of 6 feet, and young coffee sprouts about a foot high are planted near each peg. These sprouts are generally obtained from beneath old shrubs, and are adventitious growths from seed dropped from the shrub, though sometimes nurseries are established for raising the young sprouts from planted seed. In these tropical regions, weeds and vines and wild growths of all kinds spring up very quickly, and with these the planter is constantly at war. Four times a year, at least, the fields should be gone over with a hoe and the weeds cut down. In 3 or 4 years the young coffee plants begin to bear, and the shrubs continue giving crops for about 30 years. The shrub, if left to grow, would reach the height of 12 to 15 feet, but on a plantation they are topped when about 4 feet high, and kept to about this height by breaking off the tops and such suckers as appear. The branches are slender, and when the shrubs are not crowded, spread nearly horizontal. The leaves are evergreen (as, indeed, are most of the shrubs and trees in the tropics), of a firm texture, smooth and shiny above. They are opposite, oval, entire, and borne on short petioles about 1/2 an inch long. They are 3 to 5 inches long, 2 to 3 inches wide, and are terminated by acuminate points.
"The flowers are white, borne in clusters of 3 to 6 in the axes of the leaves, and are exceedingly fragrant. The petals are 5, slender, spreading. The shrubs begin to blossom in February and continue in flower up to May; the fullest bloom is in March and April. Coffee does not blossom as our fruit trees, all at once, and go out of bloom in a week or two, but continues to bloom for about 4 months, and the crop in consequence ripens through the same length of time, and the planters are thus enabled to gather and care for it to better advantage than if it all ripened at once. The coffee season lasts from September to December, September and October being the principal months. The coffee berries are borne on short stalks in clusters of 3 to 6 in the axis of the leaves. When ripe they are about the size of cherries, but are oval (not globular), and slightly compressed on the side. Each berry consists of 2 seeds (familiar to us as the green coffee of commerce), each seed enclosed in a thick, tough white skin, called the parchment skin, placed in the berry with 3 flat surfaces together, and surrounded with a small quantity of sweetened pulp, the whole enclosed in a thick skin like a Malaga grape. he color of the skin, when ripe, is red, not a bright red, like a cherry, but a pale, dull red.
"The berries are picked by negro and coolie women, who go over the coffee shrubs, picking the ripe berries into baskets, and are paid by measure. The price varies according to abundance of the berries, but is regulated so that a woman makes about 9 pence (18 cents) a day. Rats are very fond of the sweetish pulp that surrounds the coffee grains, and they climb the shrubs and gnaw off a great many berries. Birds are also said to pick them, and lizards—which are very numerous in Jamaica—are also charged with despoiling the fruit. This "rat" coffee is picked from the ground by the women, and comprises about 1/4 of the crop. It furnishes a larger proportion of heavy grains than the berries gathered from the shrubs, as the rats are credited with selecting the largest and best berries, and it is kept separate in all subsequent operations. As the bulk of this coffee is supposed to be gnawed off by the rats, all coffee picked from the ground is called "rat coffee." It costs about double to gather it as when picked from the shrubs.
"The women bring the berries to the works, where they are measured and paid for by the "Busher," as the overseer of a coffee plantation is called. To prepare the coffee for market the berries are first run through a machine called the "pulper," which tears off the outer skins and pulp. A "pulper" is simply a large cylindrical wheel about 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet long, covered with corrugated iron, like a nutmeg grater, and arranged so that it revolves so close to another corrugated iron surface that the berries can not go through entire, but are caught by the rough surfaces and torn to pieces, the skins and pulp being carried through, the seed dropping beneath into a tank of water. The water serves to wash the grains, and also to separate the light from the heavy coffee; the former floating, are skimmed off; the latter sinking, are taken from the tank after the water is drawn away. Heavy coffee is much the better grade, and it is kept separate from the light in all subsequent operations. At this stage the coffee seeds are still enclosed in the "parchment skins," which are tough and can not be separated from the seeds when green; hence the next process is to thoroughly dry the seed in order to make the "parchment skins" brittle so they can be hulled off. For this purpose the seeds are spread on "barbicues" similar to those previously described, only, of course, on a larger scale. The "barbicues" of an ordinary sized plantation cover about an acre of ground, and are usually built on sloping ground and terraced. When it threatens a shower, and every evening to protect it from the rain and dews (which are heavy in the tropics), the coffee is raked into a pile in the center of each barbicue and covered with a wooden covershaped hopper. From 10 days to 2 weeks' exposure to the sun on the "barbicue" will dry the seeds so that they can be hulled. The "huller" is a large wooden wheel arranged to revolve like the wheel we see in brick-yards, but running in a circular narrow trough. The coffee is placed in this trough, and the wheel constantly running over it breaks off the brittle "parchment skins," being heavy enough for this purpose, but not so heavy as to crush the seeds. The coffee seeds are separated from the broken "parchment skins," called trash at this stage, by being run through a" fanner," similar to the fans of our threshing machines, which blows off the trash. There still remain closely adhering to many grains of coffee thin light gray skins called "silver skins," which would hardly be noticed by the ordinary observer. To remove these skins and brighten the grains of coffee, it is further dried in the warehouse for 2 or 3 weeks, and again put through the "huller" and "fanner." The next step is to separate the "pea-berry coffee." A small percentage of the coffee berries, instead of containing the normal 2 seeds, have by abortion only a single seed. The grains of these single-seeded berries, instead of having a flat face, are rounded, and are called "pea berries." These "pea berries" are heavy and of the best quality, and bring a better price than the best grade of flat-faced grains. To separate them the coffee is run into a cloth belt slowly revolving at a slight inclined plane, the flat-faced grains being carried over the top, the rounded "pea berries" rolling off the bottom.
"The coffee is next graded according to the size of the grains by being run through a "sizer." This is a cylindrical screen, consisting of 4 sections of different sized meshes, the smallest holes near the top. The screen revolves at an incline, and the different-sized grains drop through the various sections according to size into bins beneath, the largest grained and best grade being carried through the cylinder. Finally the coffee is given to women who spread it on a table and pick out all the deformed or broken grains, which are called the "tringe." The best grades of coffee are put in tierces holding about 800 pounds, and mostly shipped to England. The poorer grades and "tringe" are put into barrels or bags for this country. I have given a description of the machinery which I saw in operation on the plantations. There are improved machines, I am told, but they are said to furnish no better results than the old ones. In concluding this article, I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness for information and other courtesies to John H. Nosworthy, the "Busher" of Somerset Plantation."
Chemical Composition.—König (Die menschl. Nahr. und Genussmittel, 3d ed., 1893), enumerates the following constituents of raw coffee beans, with percentage added: Water, 11.23; nitrogenous matter, 12.07; caffeine, 1.21; fat, 12.27; sugar, 8.55; nitrogen, free extractive matter, 33.79; woody fiber, 18.17; ash, 3.92. Earlier analyses, e. g., that of Payen, have also demonstrated the presence of 0.003 per cent of essential oil. The amount of caffeine (C8H10N4O2+H2O), which is the most important constituent of the coffee bean (see Caffeina), seems to vary in the different specimens examined, from 0.23 to 2 per cent, and more, according to older analyses. More recently, however, Paul and Cownley have observed a marked uniformity in the amount of caffeine in 4 specimens analyzed, varying only from 1.10 to 1.28 per cent (Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1887). Coffee is also stated to contain a small portion of citric acid. Another important constituent is caffeo-tannic acid (C15H18O8) (which is probably the same as Payen's chlorogenic acid). Hlasiwetz has shown this compound to be a glucosid, capable of being decomposed by prolonged boiling with caustic potash in excess, and afterward treating the solution with sulphuric acid, the process yielding caffeic acid (C9H8O4), and grape sugar. To caffeo-tannic acid Hlasiwetz assigns the formula C14H8O7. Caffeic acid (Hlasiwetz), forms pale-yellow crystals, yielding, as a rule, salts of the same color. When submitted to a roasting temperature the characteristic aroma of roasted coffee is evolved. Caffeo-tannic acid is an amorphous body, somewhat gum-like, soluble in water, and both this compound and caffeic acid yield protocatechuic acid (C7H6O4), when melted with caustic potash. It yields a green color with ferric chloride, but is not precipitated by gelatin.
The caffeic acid isolated by Stenhouse from coffee leaves, in 1854, is probably identical with the kinic acid obtained later by Zwenger and Siebert (in 1861), from Java coffee. The latter, by oxidation with sulphuric acid and dioxide of manganese, yielded kinone (quinone). The viridenic acid of Rochleder (1848), is thought to be a mixture of several acids.
By roasting, coffee acquires new properties; it expands considerably, becomes lighter by 16 or 18 per cent, has a peculiar, agreeable odor imparted to it, and a bitterish, aromatic taste, owing to the products of the torrefaction, viz., a brown, aromatic oil, and a brown, bitter principle; the caffeine volatilizes to a slight extent. Paul and Cownley have shown that the amount of caffeine in roasted coffee is fairly constant, about 1.3 per cent. Palmitic, acetic, and carbonic acids are found among the products when coffee is roasted in a closed vessel. Methylamine, pyrrol, acetone, and hydroquinone, are also produced, as well as caffeol. The flavor of coffee depends upon its minute quantity of aromatic, volatile oil, caffeol (C8H10O2), and if the roasting process is carried too far, this is dissipated, and the coffee then becomes bitter, without the aroma. The reactions of caffeol point to its being identical with saligenin methyl-ether. The roasting of coffee should be effected by a gentle heat, carefully watching the process, not driving it too rapidly; the coffee must be removed as soon as it becomes of a russet tint, friable, and emitting an agreeable aroma. Different qualities of coffee should never be roasted together, but each one separately, as one may require such a length of time for proper torrefaction as would either destroy the desired properties of the other, or, fail to develop them. To make a superior infusion, the grains should be roasted only as required for use, be at once ground, or pounded, then have boiling water poured upon the powder, in a proper vessel, the whole set over a fire and allowed to remain until the liquid begins to boil. Let it stand a couple of minutes after removal from the fire, and it is ready for use. Or, it may be made by percolation with boiling water. The soluble materials of coffee furnish the aromatic and bitter principles, for when coffee, not roasted, is exhausted by water and then roasted, it fails to impart these principles to boiling water. Roasted coffee should be of a chocolate color, should be used soon after roasting, and should be ground only as wanted, as otherwise it loses nearly all of its flavor and activity.
Adulterations.—Roasted corn, peas, beans, oats, rye, or potatoes, when added to coffee, may be known by the deep-blue, blackish-blue, or purplish-red color, which a solution of iodine imparts to the infusion; pure and roasted coffee in infusion is rendered of a deeper reddish-brown tint by the iodine (see Chicory). A few drops of tincture of chloride of iron, added to an infusion of coffee berries, gives a sap-green color and are recommended as a test for the genuineness of essence of coffee. Whole coffee is most generally adulterated by mixing it with the inferior grades of berries variously pigmented with coloring agents. Coffee made of clays and other like substances may be detected by the absence of pieces of the tegumentary structures, and by having no deep furrow on the face of the berry. Ground coffee has been adulterated with ground roasted dandelion root, besides the amylaceous bodies above mentioned. The husks of coffee-seed, which contain a considerable amount of the active constituent, have been sold as sultan or sacca coffee. The flavor of coffee is materially improved when it contains the seed pericarps. They should be distinguished from the fruit pericarp, which contains no caffeine.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—An infusion of roasted coffee is an agreeable stimulant, anti-soporific, and anti-emetic. It produces a mild, stimulating influence upon the organs of digestion, facilitating digestion, augmenting the biliary flow, and increasing peristalsis, thus favoring a free action from the bowels. It slightly accelerates the circulation; taken too freely, it impairs the nervous and digestive systems. The nervous symptoms are usually irritability, dejected spirits, weakness, trembling, watchfulness, mental confusion, headache, dizziness, and ringing noises in the ears; the gastric effects are flatulence, acidity, pyrosis, and bitter and sourish eructations, as well as disorders of the bowels. On the other hand, if one is accustomed to moderate amounts of the beverage, which aids digestion, headache will result if the coffee be withdrawn. Black coffee removes that drowsiness which is a apt to follow a heavy dinner. A cup of strong coffee will cause a degree of wakefulness for several hours, and will frequently overcome the soporific or intoxicating effects of opium, morphine, or alcohol. In delirium tremens strong black coffee acts as a good and valuable hyposthenisant. In poisoning from opium it should always be given.
Prof. Lehman considers coffee to increase the activity of the vascular and nervous systems, while at the same time it retards the metamorphosis of plastic constituents; and which effects are owing chiefly to its empyreumatic, volatile oil. C. Voit, from more recent experiments, instituted by himself upon a dog, is led to infer that coffee rather increases the metamorphosis of nitrogenous tissue, and the excretion of urea, and attributes its principal effects to its action on the nervous system, and not to its influence on the tissue changes. The question as to whether coffee and its alkaloid hastens or retards tissue metamorphosis, is still a mooted one, but the preponderance of evidence is in favor of declaring it a restrainer of tissue changes, acting thereby as a conservator of force.
With regard to the influence of coffee upon the circulation, there is a discordance among authors, probably depending upon the quantity used, and the conditions under which it has been administered. In moderate quantity it increases the pulsations from 5 to 10 beats or more. M. Jomand, who experimented carefully upon himself, found it, in an elevated dose, to diminish the pulsations from 84 to 75. It moderates digestion, removing the sense of fullness and heaviness after meals; diminishes the sense of hunger, and powerfully aids in supporting abstinence. It lessens the amount of urea and phosphoric acid in the urine, as well as diminishes the quantity of carbonic acid gas, evacuated in the 24 hours, and has the power of retarding the disintegration of the constituents of the animal frame. It is an active diuretic, especially when its action is seconded by a white wine rich in carbonate of potassium. With some it regulates the bowels. It renders motility and exercise more energetic, and diminishes the sensation of fatigue. It produces wakefulness without being followed by fatigue, and influences the brain so that one acquires an unexpected facility for intellectual labor, conversation, etc. But when coffee is used in excess, or when only its bitter and other principles are employed, too long boiling having driven off its aroma, it proves decidedly injurious.
Some individuals, from the excessive amounts of coffee ingested, suffer from what may be aptly termed chronic coffee poisoning. The chief symptoms are a pallid or dusky skin with emaciation, dull, expressionless features, sometimes swollen, and again looking prematurely old. Dilated pupils and a glassy stare are observed, and both the tongue and lips tremble in talking. Sleeplessness or disturbed sleep supervenes, the appetite is poor, digestion is feeble, with diarrhoea or constipation; gastralgia and other neuralgic pains are felt in various parts of the body, and dizziness and headache, with occasional spasms or convulsions, are not uncommon results. It is not unlikely that many cases of pruritis ani et vulvae are due to even moderate coffee drinking, and when the amount consumed is very large, these symptoms are more pronounced. To complete the picture, intractable leucorrhoeal discharges debilitate the woman, while sexual vigor is impaired or impotence induced in the male.
Coffee, when burned in the rooms where noxious odors are present is well known as an efficient deodorizer, and is said to exert a feeble influence over pathogenic bacteria. When partially carbonized it may be used like charcoal, as a dressing for gangrenous and other foul ulcers. Internally, coffee has proved temporarily useful in light nervous headaches, especially migraine, and in asthma, hysteria, obstinate chronic diarrhoea, and calculous nephritis. It is contraindicated in all inflammatory affections of a high grade. Dr. A. Brown, of Cincinnati, found a strong decoction of the pulverized, unroasted coffee a superior remedy in some forms of chlorosis or amenorrhoea. When fullness in the head and pain in the back were present, he gave a gentle purgative, then used the warm foot-bath, and administered the decoction in wineglassful doses every half-hour or hour. Taken in early morning, coffee is a valuable adjunct in the treatment of constipation; on the other hand, in excess it may induce that condition. Either constipation or diarrhoea are corrected by it when these troubles depend upon gastro-intestinal atony. Indigestion, when dependent upon gastric atony, or when associated with exhaustion or debility, is benefited by pure black coffee in moderate amounts. It has long enjoyed a reputation of retarding tissue waste and conserving the vital forces, and when administered in this manner in acute fevers of a typhoid character, and in convalescence from acute disorders, the effects are salutary. In these conditions it is preferable to alcohol, for it is not followed by depression like the latter agent. The well known power of coffee to sober drunken individuals is often taken advantage of by inebriates, and in small and repeated doses it stimulates the stomach and nervous system, and retards tissue change, thus assisting in the treatment of delirium tremens, in which it also tends to overcome the anemic condition of the brain. Coffee, in strong infusion, without cream or sugar, is one of the first agents to be thought of in opium narcosis, though atropine should also be cautiously used, and electricity, and particularly flaggellation, resorted to; here the coffee should be given in small and frequently repeated amounts, and not in large quantities at a single dose. Both coffee and caffeine are efficient in strychnine poisoning. It is a valuable agent in congestive headache, but is asserted to aggravate where the patient is pale and the pain is simply neuralgic in character.
Coffee has also been used with much success in whooping-cough, hiccough, and in spasmodic asthma, in the form of syrup, made with the extract of coffee prepared without heat, or a strong infusion by percolation, given in small and repeated doses. Salter expresses his belief that two-thirds of the cases of asthma in which coffee is employed, are relieved by it. Dr. W. Hamilton considered the free use of strong coffee almost a specific for gout, rheumatism, and gravel. Its efficiency in the majority of cases of rheumatism, however, may be questioned. Bouchardat considered it useful in malarial districts, and stated that without it, the European colonists would have been unable to dwell in several parts of Algiers.
It has been observed by Dr. Mosely, in his Treatise on Coffee, that "the great use of coffee in France is supposed to have abated the prevalence of the gravel. In the French colonies, where coffee is more used than in the English, as well as in Turkey, where it is the principal beverage, not only the gravel, but the gout, those tormentors of so many of the human race, are scarcely known. Du Four relates, as an extraordinary instance of the effects of coffee in gout, the case of Mr. Deverau. He says this gentleman was attacked with the gout at 25 years of age, and had it severely until he was upward of 50, with chalk-stones in the joints of his hands and feet; but for 4 years preceding the account of his case being given to Du Four to lay before the public, he had been recommended the use of coffee, which he had adopted, and had no return of the gout afterward." But its efficacy is not confined to the cure or mitigation of these maladies. Sir John Floyer, who had suffered under asthma for more than 60 years, without finding any relief from any of the numerous remedies he tried, was at length cured, when above 80 years of age, by the free use of coffee.
Through their diuretic qualities both coffee and its alkaloid have attained some distinction as remedies for dropsies of cardiac origin. It is adapted to cases of heart debility, rather than to obstructive valvular lesions, and, according to Brakenridge, it acts upon (stimulates) the renal epithelium. The whole circulatory and muscular system is aroused by them, because the nervous power to cause them to act is augmented, and they become, therefore, of more value than digitalis, which only affects the involuntary muscular fibers, inducing tonic contractions. Caffeine possesses this power to a greater degree than coffee. It should be borne in mind, however, that both coffee and tea will accomplish therapeutical results, which their alkaloid is unable to fulfil (compare Thea: Caffeina).
S. Martin observes that the decoction of green coffee (unroasted), when it possesses all its caffeine, forms a liquid possessing stupefying properties; while roasted coffee furnishes an excitant fluid. Strong coffee has been used successfully to control metrorrhagia and post partum hemorrhage.
Specific Indications and Uses.—Spasmodic asthmatic seizures; opium narcosis; renal torpor; cardiac insufficiency; unpleasant sense of fullness in the head and drowsiness after meals; migraine, with cerebral hyperemia; constipation, from gastric atony, when not due to excessive use of coffee.