Few things I enjoy more in the morning like a hot cup of coffee. I, like many people, rely on it to jolt me into existence and prepare me mentally for the daily grind that is life. Never do I question what exactly is in my coffee, nor where it comes from. I guess I just imagine the beans’ origins as being somewhere deep in a South American jungle. I trust the process (blindly) and assume that there generally isn’t any nasties in my coffee.
In the early 18th century however, you would be right to look at what is in your coffee a little more closely. Coffee beans, still relatively new to the old world, were not cheap. So to maximise profits some economic minded people decided to replace some coffee beans with sheep shit (sorry couldn’t pass up the opportunity on some good ol fashioned alliteration). The problem got so bad, that the British Government could no longer rely on morality and the natural law that they decided they needed explicit laws to prevent dealers putting ‘unwholesome’ material in coffee. This came to be known as the Adulteration of Coffee Act 1718. It would remain an act of parliament til the 1950s. Most of those who were peddling this crappy coffee would cease almost immediately as with a fine of up to 20 pounds in the 18th Century, it could become some quite expensive shit…..