I was reading an article last week that told of how coffee was the most recongnized scent in the world. Not roses or lemons or lavender. Coffee. That intoxicating essence of roasted beans pressed or percolated into a favourite mug that fits your hands perfectly.
I was a late-bloomer when it came to drinking coffee, but I've always loved the aroma of it brewing. I even did time as a barista for a year to help out a friend who owned a coffee shop. I learned how a perfect espresso should look and smell, even though I didn't drink it myself.
Years later, I'm a coffee addict, trying to cut down to one cup a day. The caffeine has become a bit hard to handle for me. I'm working on blending in herbal fillers to my daily grind to soften the buzz without giving up on the taste. Some of my favourite additions are roasted chicory root, roasted dandelion root, and cacao nibs. Grind it all up with your beans and you've got a killer blend that won't have you levitating by mid-morning. I'll do anything to not give up on coffee completely.
the cup of coffee
your sleepy lips
and bitter morning
~ Sade Andria Zabala
Coffee is much more than a delicious wake up call. It has a varied history of culinary and magical use, as well as its own little superstitions. Coffee grounds can be read as tea leaves are, should you want to negotiate a rather grainy cup, or you could simply read the cup as it is poured. It has been said that if you find the bubbles in your cup (assuming your coffee is taken black and poured in a manner to induce bubbles) moving away from you, then difficulty may be heading your way. If the bubbles appear to be moving toward you, then good fortune is sure to appear. Or, you may simply wish to scry into your cup. It seems as though hovering over a steaming mug is a fairly common activity.
Should you want a little more oomph out of your cup, you might want to take it into a bath with you. Starr Casas of Old Style Conjure has a cleansing bath recipe that she regularly recommends. You simply add one cup of strong, black coffee, a handful of salt (approx 4 tablespoons) and a tablespoon (or a capful) of lemon juice or ammonia to your bathwater. Should you wish to use this as a more traditional spiritual bath, Starr advises taking the bath as the hands of your clock are moving downward, and reading Isaiah 41.
In Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, Cathering Yronwode mentions that coffee bean husks can be used in uncrossing baths as well. If you do roast your own beans and have an abundance of hulls and chaff (and aren't saving them all for baths,) they make a divine-smelling mulch for the garden.
Coffee fans love to boast about the health benefits of the bean. Full of antioxidants, coffee has lately been touted as a great protector from nasties such as liver cancer, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease. Research is, as ever, on-going, but there's another department in which coffee testing is showing glowing results - skincare.
Caffeine is a stimulant that increases blood flow, and it has been found to work topically. Tannins found in coffee tighten and tone the skin. That's great news when you want to pass on the exorbitantly priced scrubs at the beauty counter and instead create your own with ingredients you can find in your cupboard. Coffee can be used all over the body (be gentle on your face,) as well as in a hair mask or rinse if you are a brunette.
For a super-simple coffee scrub, use a cup of fresh ground coffee and add grapeseed oil (or olive or sweet almond) very slowly. Blend the scrub until you have a crumbly mix (too much oil will be hard to remove from your body and will cause a very slippery shower!) You can also add sugar if you like, or substitute your favourite body wash for the oil. Scrub away once or twice a week - you'll have baby soft skin for barely the price of a latte.
Whether you are drinking it, bathing in it, or divining your future with it, coffee is one divine ingredient in our mundane and magical cupboards that is not likely to be ignored any time soon.
Coffee folklore, baths and more can be found:
Picture via Creative Commons