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!
‘Die Katze lässt das Mausen nicht’, 10th movement of Bach’s Coffee Cantata