The "simple innocent" drink is also useful for preventing gout, dropsy, miscarriage ...
In 1650, St. Michael's Alley, London's first coffee shop, placed an ad in a newspaper. That ad -- archived in the British Museum, and Internet-ed by the Vintage Ads LiveJournal -- extolled the many Vertues of the newly discovered beverage. Which "groweth upon little Trees, only in the Deserts of Arabia," and which is -- despite and ostensibly because of its Vertues -- "a simple innocent thing."
What's amazing about the ad -- besides, obviously, its crazy claim that coffee can prevent Mif-carryings in Child-bearing Women -- is how flagrantly its copyrighters flung the Vertues they extol. Per these 17th-century Mad Men, coffee could be used to aid and/or prevent: indigestion, headaches, lethargy, drowsiness, arthritis, sore eyes, cough, consumption, "spleen," dropsy, gout, scurvy, and -- my personal favorite -- hypochondria. And they back up their claims by pointing out that Turkish people, those noted coffee imbibers, don't have scurvy, but do have nice skin. QED!
What's amazing as well, for better or for worse, is how familiar the ad feels. Sure, today we regulate our marketing claims; Starbucks wouldn't get very far were it to announce the miscarriage-prevention properties of the half-caf soy latte. But we're also, still, entirely familiar with ads that ramble on about the health benefits of particular products with a hilarious if occasionally dangerous disregard for reality -- particularly on the modern-day pamphlet that is the Internet. (With Product X, you'll be slimmer/bulkier/hairier/smoother/perkier/calmer ... in just one week!). The main difference is that the caveat of 1650 -- Made and Sold in St. Michaels Alley in Cornhill, by Pasqua Rosse, at the Signe of his own Head -- has been replaced by a caveat that is all too recognizable in its modernity: This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.