Bach’s Enchanting Symphony of Caffeine and Passion


Jul 24, 2023

Did you know JS Bach was a coffee fiend? He even wrote a caffeinated cantata…

Like Beethoven, JS Bach was seemingly addicted to coffee and is said to have consumed up to 30 cups a day.

He famously wrote Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211 (aka the Coffee Cantata) about a woman – aptly called ‘Aria’ – attempting to overcome her addiction to the beverage.

Her father attempts to ban the drink to stop her addiction; in a heartfelt plea that surely ranks among the most poetically striking and richly symbolic of all texts set to music, Aria sings, ‘Coffee, I have to have coffee, / and, if someone wants to pamper me, / ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!’.

She even declares that, without the drink, she ‘will turn into / a shrivelled-up roast goat.’

The plot ends happily in Bach’s Coffee Cantata, with the father agreeing that three cups of coffee daily can be included in her marriage contract.

Bach was a regular at Leipzig’s Zimmermann Coffee House and it’s likely that the cantata (more a mini comic opera) was premiered there.

Coffee wasn’t the only drink Bach enjoyed. During a trip to Halle in 1713, the composer’s beer bill amounted to eight gallons of alcohol!

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