Pop Culture

Bach wrote a whole song about a woman obsessed with coffee. It's delightfully relatable.

Bach's "Coffee Cantata" lyrics are a hilarious argument between a highly caffeinated young woman and her father trying to get her to quit her coffee habit.

Johann Sebastian Bach and a young woman drinking coffee
Public Domain (left) Photo by Hunter Newton on Unsplash (right)

Bach's 300-year-old Coffee Cantata feels surprisingly modern.

When you think of Johann Sebastian Bach, you might picture a bewigged man in tailcoats composing classical symphonies and concertos frequently associated with high-falutin' society. At the very least, you probably don't picture a comedian.

But "the father of classical music" had a silly side, and it came out in full force in his nearly 300-year-old "Coffee Cantata" (aka "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht," or "Keep quiet, don’t chatter."). In the "Coffee Cantata," the voices we hear are a narrator who opens and closes the scene, a father (Herr Schlendrian) who has an issue with coffee-drinking women and Liesgen, his highly caffeinated daughter who is willing to give up anything for a cup o' Joe.

For context, coffee was extremely popular in 18th-century Europe, with some people sanctimoniously thinking it was a bad habit that needed to be broken (hence the dispute between this father and his coffee-obsessed daughter). But anyone who loves coffee will appreciate Liesgen's dedication to—and subversive deception to get—her three cups of java a day.

Witness and enjoy how the lyrics of Bach's "Coffee Cantata" translate to English:


Keep quiet, don’t chatter
and hear what’s going on now:
Here comes Herr Schlendrian
with his daughter Liesgen.
He’s growling like a honey-bear -
hear for yourselves what she has done to him.

Herr Schlendrian:

Don’t we have with our children
a hundred thousand muddles!
What always every day I
say to my daughter Liesgen
goes in one ear and out the other.

You bad child, you wild girl!
Oh! If only I could have my way:
Get rid of coffee!


Father, don’t be so hard!
If three times a day I can’t
drink my little cup of coffee,
then I would become so upset
that I would be like a dried up piece of roast goat.

Ah! how sweet coffee tastes!
Lovelier than a thousand kisses,
smoother than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I must have coffee,
and if anyone wants to give me a treat,
ah!, just give me some coffee!

Herr Schlendrian:

If you don’t give up coffee,
you won’t be going to any wedding
and you won’t go out walking either.


Alright then!
Just leave me my coffee!

Herr Schlendrian:

(I’ll get the little minx now!)
I shan’t get you the latest fashion in just your size.


I can easily do without that.

Herr Schlendrian:

You’re not to stand at the window
and you won’t see anyone going by!


I don’t mind that either; but please, I beg you,
just let me keep my coffee!

Herr Schlendrian:

What’s more you won’t get from me
a silver or gold ribbon
to put on your bonnet!


That’s fine! Just leave me my pleasure!

Herr Schlendrian:

You’re impossible Liesgen, you are,
you would give up everything I say?

(Girls with obstinate minds
are not easily won over.
But if you hit the right spot,
oh then you’re in luck.)

Now follow what your father says!


In everything else, but not coffee.

Herr Schlendrian:

Well then! You must get used to the idea
that you won’t have a husband either.


Oh yes! Father, a husband!

Herr Schlendrian:

I swear, that won’t happen.


Until I can give up coffee?
Right! Coffee, remain forever untouched.
Father, listen, I won’t drink any at all.

Herr Schlendrian:

Then you’ll have a husband!


This very day,
dear father, do it now!
Ah, a husband!
That’s just right for me!
If only it could happen at once,
so that at last instead of coffee
before I go to bed
I could get a lusty lover!


Now old Schlendrian goes off and looks out
for his daughter Liesgen
to see if he can get her a husband soon.

But Liesgen lets it be secretly known:
'No suitor of mine should come to the house
unless he himself has promised
and it is written also in the marriage contract
that I shall be permitted
to make coffee whenever I want.'

The cat does not leave the mouse,
young ladies remain coffee addicts.
The mother loves her cup of coffee,
the grandmother drank it also.
Who can blame the daughters!

First of all, how fabulous is this? I think we coffee-loving women have a new theme song. Might even be worth learning some German so we can sing it in unison. Also, we need t-shirts that say, "In everything else, but not coffee." Let's make it happen. Send one to Grandma.

If you want to see how the "Coffee Cantata" sounds, here's a charming performance of it by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Choir:

Bach as comic relief. Who knew?

The gaze of the approving Boomer.

Over the past few years, Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) have been getting a lot of grief from the generations that came after them, Gen X (1965 to 1980), Millenials (1981 to 1996), and now, Gen Z (1997 to 2012). Their grievances include environmental destruction, wealth hoarding, political polarization, and being judgemental when they don’t understand how hard it is for younger people to make it in America these days.

Every Baby Boomer is different, so it's wrong to paint them all with a broad brush. But it’s undeniable that each generation shares common values, and some are bound to come into conflict.

However, life in 2023 isn’t without its annoyances. Many that came about after the technological revolution put a phone in everyone’s hands and brought a whole new host of problems. Add the younger generations' hands-on approach to child rearing and penchant for outrage, and a lot of moden life has become insufferanble.

Keep ReadingShow less

Klein Kwagga understood the assignment at his sister's concert.

Some kids are too shy to ever want to get on a stage, some will spend most of a performance staring awkwardly at their shoes, and some kids love the opportunity to show off what they've practiced in front of an audience.

And then there are the kids were simply born for the spotlight. You know them when you see them.

When Dirkco Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen hopped on stage with all of the other brothers and sisters of the dance students at René’s Art of Dance in South Africa, no one expected a viral sensation. According to Capetown Etc, it was the school's year-end concert, and siblings were invited to come up and dance to Bernice West’s Lyfie—a popular song in Afrikaans. And Dirkco, who goes by Klein Kwagga, took the assignment and ran with it.

Keep ReadingShow less

After over a thousand years of peaceful relations, European semi-superpowers Sweden and Switzerland may finally address a lingering issue between the two nations. But the problem isn’t either country’s fault. The point is that the rest of the world can’t tell them apart. They simply don’t know their kroppkakor (Swedish potato dumpling) from their birchermüesli (a Swiss breakfast dish).

This confusion on the European continent has played out in countless ways.

Swedish people who move to the United States often complain of being introduced as Swiss. The New York Stock Exchange has fallen victim to the confusion, and a French hockey team once greeted their Swiss opponents, SC Bern, by playing the Swedish National Anthem and raising the Swedish flag.

Skämtar du med mig? (“Are you kidding me?” in Swedish)

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

People share the most practical ways to support new parents

There's a lot of preparation that goes into having a child well before they're even born. First there are the physical changes your body makes to clear up some space for a tiny human roughly the size of a watermelon. Then there's preparing the nursery, buying lots of extremely small clothes, diapers and an expected understanding that while sleep may be your friend, you won't be getting any of it for about a year.

Lots of people give plenty of advice to help you cope in the early days but after the baby arrives, the focus shifts to solely the baby. It's obviously not a deliberate shift. Babies are just more shiny and new that the parents. But not everyone forgets about the parents once baby makes their grand entrance–some go out of their way to make sure the parents feel supported.

Upworthy asked its audience, "what was the best non-baby related gift you received as a new parent," and the answers were a masterclass on how to care for new parents.

Keep ReadingShow less

A mom seeks doctor's help for postpartum depression and instead gets a visit from the cops

Too many women lose out on much needed support because of unwarranted stigma.


Postpartum depression is very common, and treatable.

Jessica Porten recently visited her doctor four months after giving birth to her daughter, Kira. She wasn't feeling quite like herself.

She had been dealing with overwhelming sadness and fits of anger, which she knew was likely stemming from a case of postpartum depression.

In a Facebook post, Porten recounts the story of that appointment.

Keep ReadingShow less

Formerly enslaved man's response to his 'master' wanting him back is a literary masterpiece

"I would rather stay here and starve — and die, if it come to that — than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters."

A photo of Jordan Anderson.

In 1825, at the approximate age of 8, Jordan Anderson (sometimes spelled "Jordon") was sold into slavery and would live as a servant of the Anderson family for 39 years. In 1864, the Union Army camped out on the Anderson plantation and he and his wife, Amanda, were liberated. The couple eventually made it safely to Dayton, Ohio, where, in July 1865, Jordan received a letter from his former owner, Colonel P.H. Anderson. The letter kindly asked Jordan to return to work on the plantation because it had fallen into disarray during the war.

On Aug. 7, 1865, Jordan dictated his response through his new boss, Valentine Winters, and it was published in the Cincinnati Commercial. The letter, entitled "Letter from a Freedman to His Old Master," was not only hilarious, but it showed compassion, defiance, and dignity. That year, the letter would be republished in theNew York Daily Tribune and Lydia Marie Child's "The Freedman's Book."

The letter mentions a "Miss Mary" (Col. Anderson's Wife), "Martha" (Col. Anderson's daughter), Henry (most likely Col. Anderson's son), and George Carter (a local carpenter).

Dayton, Ohio,
August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P.H. Anderson, Big Spring, Tennessee

Keep ReadingShow less