A Deadly Passion for Coffee: How Did this Addictive Drink Fuel the History of the World?

Napoleon’s Addiction to Coffee

Napoleon Bonaparte had many unusual habits. The ruler of France couldn’t live without politics, war, beautiful women, or coffee. This aromatic drink was his last meal. One of the most famous stories related to Napoleon’s weakness for coffee is linked to his last days. According to the website St Helena Coffee:
”A few days before the end, Marechal Bertrand recorded that Napoleon kept begging for coffee and that his new ‘doctor’, Antommarchi (he was, in fact, a dissecting room assistant), allowed him a few spoonful’s. Then, as the Emperor declined further, Bertrand writes:
That morning, he had asked twenty times if he could be allowed some coffee. ‘No, Sire’, ‘Might the doctors allow me just a spoonful?’ ‘No, Sire, not at the moment, your stomach is too irritated, you would vomit a little earlier, perhaps.’ He had already vomited perhaps nine times during the day. What a great change had overtaken him! Tears came to my eyes, seeing this formidable man, who had commanded with such authority, in a manner so absolute, beg for a spoonful of coffee, seek permission, obedient as a child, asking again and again for permission and not obtaining it, without ever losing his temper. At other times during his illness, he would have thrown his doctors out, flouted their advice and done as he wanted. Now he was as docile as a child. So, here is the great Napoleon: pitiful, humble.”

Napoleon on His Death Bed, by Horace Vernet, 1826.

Napoleon died without the power he loved so much, however, during the last painful days of his life, the bitterness of loss was sweetened by the luxurious flavor of his favorite drink. However, his weakness for coffee also connected him to the monarchy that he had hated so much. King Louis XV, who ruled until 1774, adored the smell and taste of coffee so much that he created a coffee bean plantation in Versailles Palace near Paris.

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