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On the Alchemy of Coffee


In 1669, Henning Brand, a German apothecary and alchemist, stumbled upon the element phosphorous while in search of the philosopher’s stone — the mythical elixir meant to turn base metals into gold, and also, by the way, grant immortality.

While Brand’s foray into actual science was accidental, it was a sign of things to come. As the Enlightenment gradually separated alchemy from chemistry, astrology from astronomy, and generally, medieval witchery from scientific reason, the notion of a magical or medicinal potion capable of prolonging life would become, well, something more apt for a marketing campaign or, at the least, the plot of a Harry Potter book.

And yet the epic quest for the elixir of life has fascinated generations, weaving its way from the early Greek philosophers all the way to our doorstep here in Princeton.

In the 8th century, Jabir ibn Hayyan, the father of chemistry (who may or may not have been a single Arabic scholar), was the first to posit that every metal was a combination of earth, wind, fire and water, so transmuting it was simply a matter of rearranging the base elements. All that was needed to perform this operation was an al-iksir (Arabic), or elixir, a powder that came from the philosophers' stone.

The quest for that magic powder became known as the Magnum Opus (the great work), and we can definitely relate to that. Having spent years searching for beans with mystical powers, we like to think, with the benefit of hindsight, that the magic powder really just comes from a good coffee grinder.

Which is why we named our house blend, made intentionally for drip brewing, in honor of the alchemists who first sought to combine magic and medicine. We can’t promise the Alchemy Blend will make you live longer, but rejuvenating? For sure — once you’ve had it, you won’t think about coffee the same way again.

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