#40 - Coffee Fans


What is it about that bitter (or sometimes sweet) morning delight that makes people such a fan? This week, we’re talking about fans of coffee, and if there is more to it than its magical (and addictive) effects. What is it that has folks questing for the perfect brew?

Next week, we seal the rift in wibbly-wobbly-summer-timey-wimey as we put on some classic rock (and our deerstalker hat) as we interrupt our world travelling with time travelling as we talk about fans of that fascinating meta-fandom: SuperWhoLock!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

There are historical accounts and there are accounts of legend of how coffee was discovered (and in a loose way, the fandom).

One legend tells the story of a 9th-century Ethiopian goatherd, Kaldi, who discovered coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating beans from a coffee plant. That story did not appear in writing until 1671 and is likely apocryphal.

Another legend tells of a Sheikh Omar (known for his ability to cure the sick through prayer) who was exiled to a cave, and found the berries from a shrubbery and tried a variety of ways to prepare them. Starving, he found that boiling them worked best and he was ‘revitalized’, and stories of this ‘miracle drug’ caught on (and when he returned he was made a saint).

The first historical record of the plant comes from accounts of 15th century Yemen, where the seeds were roasted and brewed in a way similar to how we prepare coffee today. It was then used by Sufi circles to stay awake for religious rituals. By the 16th century it had reached the rest of the middle east, Persia, Turkey, and north Africa. Later, coffee was introduced to England, France (1657), and Austria and Poland in 1683 after the Battle of Vienna when coffee was captured from supplies of the defeated Turks.

In 1683, a Franciscan friar named Marciano d’Aviano stopped a Turkish invasion of Austria, and along the way, some claim invented cappuccino. The retreating Turks left behind bags of coffee beans, historians say, which the Viennese found so bitter that they added milk and sugar, creating a frothy, sweet beverage. Legend says the word “cappuccino” comes from d’Aviano’s Capuchin order, so named for their brown robes.
I Need Coffee - The Truth About How Major Religions View Coffee

Interestingly enough, Coffee was not popular when introduced into North America (alcohol was more popular) but started to gain popularity after the war of 1812 when Britain cut off access to tea (which was also in the decline in England, and was harder to make than coffee).

…And then there’s a lot more history!

It is the second most traded commodity, after oil.

Size of Fandom:
Probably in the millions. Looking further down the fandom funnel, there are over 160 000 people subscribed to the coffee subreddit.

Global Interest:
Coffee is popular, and continues to grow popularity over time; interest in the search term has increased sine the Summer of 2011 to today by about 50%. It is most popular in areas such as Australia, South Africa, the United States, Canada, the UK, Kenya, India, and large parts of Europe and Asia. Worth noting is that search traffic for Coffee is higher than tea although both have been increasing in popularity.

Related fandoms:

There are over 30000 fanfics containing the word ‘coffee’, some of which are in reference to ‘Coffee Shop Alternate Universe (AU)’, a situation in fanfic where one of the characters is the barista and the other is a popular customer (though it’s not hard to extend the idea). As it turns out, there are a lot of different AUs in fanfic, but that’s not coffee related.

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

Who was it that first called it Turkish Coffee? Were they Turkish or greek (as the two are made the same way)?

There is a ceremony / celebration of Turkish culture that involves coffee.

What are coffee-fan fan activites? …In Turkey?

Didn’t find a ton of things, but I did find a bunch of weird coffees:
- Kopi Luwak / civet coffee: made from the feces of a coffee bean munching cat
- Vanilla Flavoured Monkey Spit: Monkeys would raid farms in Taiwan, but apparently the monkey-sucked beans had a distinct vanilla flavour…
- Indian Monsoon Malabar: Coffee beans that have been left out during the monsoon (this used to happen via wetting and drying on ships, but stopped when steam ships cut shipping times)
- Jacu Bird Coffee: A plump flying Amazonian turkey… that eats beans. Less bitterness with less manure flavour.


The Verdict

Z is in.

G is in… insofar as drinking coffee.

T is out.

This week’s spotlight

Suspended Coffees
Tying into last week’s episode a bit, the suspended coffees movement is an effort “to bring communities together in hope, to inspire and empower people to change lives, and to restore faith in humanity”. It was started after the founder, John M. Sweeney heard of a tradition in working class cafes in Naples where someone who had good luck would order a cafe sospeso (a pending coffee; paid in advance). In just its first year, the movement has had over 1400 cafes join and over a quarter of a million Facebook followers!

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Figure Skating!

How influential was Yuri on Ice in driving interest in Figure Skating?

Due its nature and country of origin, figure skating and ballet have very close origins.

Being large countries that endure a lot of cold weather, much like hockey, there is a fierce rivalry between Russia and Canada in figure skating.

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What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.


We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.



Music / Sound

  • All music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!


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