The “Coffee Cantata”, also known as Cantata BWV 211, was written by Bach in the mid 1700’s, a time when coffee houses had just become popular in Europe. Described as a satirical mini-opera, it’s about a daughter who manages to arrange a pre-nuptial agreement that would make Starbuck’s proud. It begins with the following introduction “Be quiet, stop chattering and listen to what will happen now”. We can image that Bach’s audience must have been on a caffeine high and he wanted their attention for the drama that was about to unfold. And a drama it was; a cautionary tale about a wicked, disobedient daughter who had fallen under the spell of coffee.
She sings “How sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses. Coffee, coffee I must have”. Admonitions from her father and threats to not let her go out walking or buy fashions and ribbons of silver and gold do little to dissuade her from “the pleasures of coffee”. At last, the desperate father proposes a marriage contract to entice his daughter to give up coffee for a “proper lover”. The daughter agrees but secretly lets it be known that no suitor is to come to her house unless “He promises me, and it is also written into the marriage contract, that I will be permitted to make myself coffee whenever I want”.