Coffee and Time


This article from my Grandfather Biggs touches on coffee and the way in which our perspective on a food or drink can sway how we think. When we open our mind and heart to learn, we can gain knowledge about not just a food item, but on every aspect of life. Enjoy my grandfather’s words on coffee.

“Is a good cup of coffee ‘as American as apple pie’?


Well, apple pie is pretty American, all right, but coffee kind of belongs to the world, even though we Americans drink more of it than anybody else.

In fact, I learned that coffee is the one thing you can order in almost any restaurant on earth without knowing the language. The French, Portuguese, and Spanish call it cafe. The Italians call it caffee. In Germany, it’s kaffee. In Russia it’s kophe. And to the Chinese it’s kia-fey.

But perhaps the most remarkable thing about coffee is that it ever survived its early persecution. First [Muslims] called it ‘Satan’s brew’ and banned its sale or use because they said it made people sing, dance, and play games.

Later, King Charles the Second opposed its use in England . . . probably because it just wasn’t his cup of tea.

And in Germany, King Fredrick the Great actually issued a manifesto in which he said that ‘many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer, and the King does not believe that coffee-drinking soldiers can be depended upon.’

Anyhow, anything that smells and tastes as good as coffee just had to win out, and today anybody who called coffee ‘Satan’s brew’ would be laughed out of town and here in Paducah coffee is getting better all the time . . . as you’ll see if you sample the fine blends we have at Biggs. I promise, you’ll find no grounds for complaint!”

James Biggs

The Paducah Sun (previously Sun Democrat)

October 23, 1972

I am confident my grandfather would have loved to see the advancements in both coffee shops and local coffee roasting in Paducah. I can imagine him meeting with all our local roasters to order their coffee beans to sell at Biggs Supermarket. He was so proud of people who worked for something they were passionate about and would have wanted to help support them in his store.

From a health standpoint, the research on coffee varies. Too much caffeine from excessive cups of coffee as well as the addition of sugar (from syrups) and fat (from dairy) can mitigate the benefits. Yet 1-3 cups of coffee a day have been shown to improve health overall. It has antioxidants and fiber, improves liver enzyme function, as well as offers some protective benefits against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

I am mindful of the health benefits of drinking coffee in moderation, but one of the most beautiful is the relationships that are built around drinking a cup of coffee together. Gathering in coffee shops, fast-food restaurants, or in our own homes to drink coffee as we discuss the cares and concerns of the day, laugh and dream together and truly see each other fosters a deep perspective on what really matters in life. People are what really matter.

My daughter, Rebecca, and I went on a trip to Austria several years ago after her college graduation. The country is full of beauty, and we have many great pictures and memories of that trip together. Yet my favorite memory was sitting at the many outdoor coffee shops where we were served coffee on an individual tray alongside a small glass of water. The concept was twofold: First, coffee can dehydrate us, so drinking water with it was being mindful of health. Secondly, a more important emphasis was on a phrase common to the locals, “we’ve got time.” This was their mantra when it came to sitting down and enjoying coffee and conversation. They understood the importance of stopping in the midst of a busy life to sip coffee and water and connect with people.

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