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CŒUR D’ALÊNE—COFFEE

months of confinement in five prisons, he was condemned to do public penance for his fault, to pay the king a sum equal to about £1,000,000 of modern money, and to remain a prisoner till full satisfaction had been obtained; his sentence also embraced confiscation of all his property, and exile during royal pleasure. On the 5th of June 1453 the sentence took effect; at Poitiers the shameful form of making honourable amends was gone through; and for nearly three years nothing is known of him. It is probable that he remained in prison; it is certain that his vast possessions were distributed among the intimates of Charles.

In 1455 Jacques Cœur, wherever confined, contrived to escape into Provence. He was pursued; but a party, headed by Jean de Village and two of his old factors, carried him off to Tarascon, whence, by way of Marseilles, Nice and Pisa, he managed to reach Rome. He was honourably and joyfully received by Nicholas V., who was fitting out an expedition against the Turks. On the death of Nicholas, Calixtus III. continued his work, and named his guest captain of a fleet of sixteen galleys sent to the relief of Rhodes. Cœur set out on this expedition, but was taken ill at Chios, and died there on the 25th of November 1456. After his death Charles VII. showed himself well disposed to the family, and allowed Jacques Cœur’s sons to come into possession of whatever was left of their father’s wealth.

See the admirable monograph of Pierre Clément, Jacques Cœur et Charles VII (1858, 2nd ed. 1874); A. Valet de Viriville, Charles Sept et son époque (3 vols., 1862–1865); and Louisa Costello, Jacques Cœur, the French Argonaut (London, 1847).


CŒUR D’ALÊNE (“awl-heart,” the French translation of the native name skitswish), a tribe of North American Indians of Salishan stock. The name is said to have been originally that of a chief noted for his cruelty. The tribe has given its name to a lake, river and range of mountains in Idaho, where on a reservation the survivors, some 400, are settled.


COFFEE (Fr: café, Ger. Kaffee). This important and valuable article of food is the produce chiefly of Coffea arabica, a Rubiaceous plant indigenous to Abyssinia, which, however, as cultivated originally, spread outwards from the southern parts of Arabia. The name is probably derived from the Arabic K’hāwah, although by some it has been traced to Kaffa, a province in Abyssinia, in which the tree grows wild.

EB1911 Coffee Fig. 1.—Branch of Coffea arabica.jpg
Fig. 1.—Branch of Coffea arabica.

The genus Coffea, to which the common coffee tree belongs, contains about 25 species in the tropics of the Old World, mainly African. Besides being found wild in Abyssinia, the common coffee plant appears to be widely disseminated in Africa, occurring wild in the Mozambique district, on the shores of the Victoria Nyanza, and in Angola on the west coast. The coffee leaf disease in Ceylon brought into prominence Liberian coffee (C. liberica), a native of the west coast of Africa, now extensively grown in several parts of the world. Other species of economic importance are Sierra Leone coffee (C. stenophylla) and Congo coffee (C. robusta), both of which have been introduced into and are cultivated on a small scale in various parts of the tropics. C. excelsa is another species of considerable promise.

The common Arabian coffee shrub is an evergreen plant, which under natural conditions grows to a height of from 18 to 20 ft., with oblong-ovate, acuminate, smooth and shining leaves, measuring about 6 in. in length by 2½ wide. Its flowers, which are produced in dense clusters in the axils of the leaves, have a five-toothed calyx, a tubular five-parted corolla, five stamens and a single bifid style. The flowers are pure white in colour, with a rich fragrant odour, and the plants in blossom have a lovely and attractive appearance, but the bloom is very evanescent. The fruit is a fleshy berry, having the appearance and size of a small cherry, and as it ripens it assumes a dark red colour. Each fruit contains two seeds embedded in a yellowish pulp, and the seeds are enclosed in a thin membranous endocarp (the “parchment”). Between each seed and the parchment is a delicate covering called the “silver skin.” The seeds which constitute the raw coffee “beans” of commerce are plano-convex in form, the flat surfaces which are laid against each other within the berry having a longitudinal furrow or groove. When only one seed is developed in a fruit it is not flattened on one side, but circular in cross section. Such seeds form “pea-berry” coffee.

The seeds are of a soft, semi-translucent, bluish or greenish colour, hard and tough in texture. The regions best adapted for the cultivation of coffee are well-watered mountain slopes at an elevation ranging from 1000 to 4000 ft. above sea-level, within the tropics, and possessing a mean annual temperature of about 65° to 70° F.

The Liberian coffee plant (C. liberica) has larger leaves, flowers and fruits, and is of a more robust and hardy constitution, than Arabian coffee. The seeds yield a highly aromatic and well-flavoured coffee (but by no means equal to Arabian), and the plant is very prolific and yields heavy crops. Liberian coffee grows, moreover, at low altitudes, and flourishes in many situations unsuitable to the Arabian coffee. It grows wild in great abundance along the whole of the Guinea coast.

History.—The early history of coffee as an economic product is involved in considerable obscurity, the absence of fact being compensated for by a profusion of conjectural statements and mythical stories. The use of coffee (C. arabica) in Abyssinia was recorded in the 15th century, and was then stated to have been practised from time immemorial. Neighbouring countries, however, appear to have been quite ignorant of its value. Various legendary accounts are given of the discovery of the beneficial properties of the plant, one ascribing it to a flock of sheep accidentally browsing on the wild shrubs, with the result that they became elated and sleepless at night! Its physiological action in dissipating drowsiness and preventing sleep was taken advantage of in connexion with the prolonged religious service of the Mahommedans, and its use as a devotional antisoporific stirred up fierce opposition on the part of the strictly orthodox and conservative section of the priests. Coffee by them was held to be an intoxicating beverage, and therefore prohibited by the Koran, and severe penalties were threatened to those addicted to its use. Notwithstanding threats of divine retribution and other devices, the coffee-drinking habit spread rapidly among the Arabian Mahommedans, and the growth of coffee and its use as a national beverage became as inseparably connected with Arabia as tea is with China.

Towards the close of the 16th century the use of coffee was recorded by a European resident in Egypt, and about this epoch it came into general use in the near East. The appreciation of coffee as a beverage in Europe dates from the 17th century. “Coffee-houses” were soon instituted, the first being opened in Constantinople and Venice. In London coffee-houses date from 1652, when one was opened in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill. They soon became popular, and the role played by them in the social life of the 17th and 18th centuries is well known. Germany, France, Sweden and other countries adopted them at about the same time as Great Britain. In Europe, as in Arabia, coffee at first made its way into favour in the face of various adverse and even prohibitive restrictions. Thus at one time in Germany it was necessary to obtain a licence to roast coffee. In England Charles II. endeavoured to suppress coffee-houses on the ground that they were centres of political agitation, his royal proclamation stating that they were the resort of disaffected persons “who devised and spread abroad divers false, malicious and