December 21, 2010

Coffee: It's Everywhere - Even in Middle Earth!

Coffee is a necessity.  The time of day doesn't matter.  It's the preferred hot, cozy caffeinated beverage choice of many (yeah, yeah tea. Earl Grey. hot I know).  So much so, that by one name or another, coffee permeates fantasy novels and series.

Vlad Taltos series - Steven Brust
"Kragar, shut up and let me drink my klava. Then you can be funny. If you try to be funny before I've had my klava, I will probably have to kill you, and then I'll be sad." - Dragon

In Dragaera, you have options.  You can get run of the mill coffee, but you can also follow Vlad's example and drink klava.  The delectable-sounding klava starts with coffee.  You put coffee through a filter of eggshells, woodchips, and vanilla beans.  Reheat to almost boiling and then pour through a cloth to remove oils.  It's supposed to be less bitter than coffee, but it sounds like an awful lot of work.  Not that we don't go to that kind of trouble in the real world.

Dragonriders of Pern - Anne McCaffrey
"Could I have some klah?  I know I'm not making much sense, and I'm not really awake yet.  But I'm not mad or still sick and this is rather complicated." - Dragonflight

McCaffrey's put a spin on coffee too.  Klah is made from bark instead of beans though.  The bark is infused with chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon.  It's served hot in steaming mugfuls, as beverages in fantasy novels usually are.  You can find a fan recipe for klah here.

Wheel of Time series - Robert Jordan
Since "K" apparently provides the right phonetic sound, you can get your caffeine fix in Randland under the name of kaf.  It's primarily a Seanchan drink.  The dark and bitter drink is brewed from beans, and it sounds very much like espresso.  It's served in small cups without handles.  It's not to everyone's taste though; the Westlanders find it way too strong and prefer tea.

Continuing with coffee equivalents starting with "K" from books I haven't read:
Chronicles of Warlands - Elizabeth Vaughan - kavage
Lightbringer series - Brent Weeks - kopi
Dragonlance - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman - kefre

And finally.

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
"Some called for ale, and some for porter, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes; so the hobbit was kept very busy for a while.  A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seedcakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of scones..."

And yes, I had to dig - but there is even coffee in Middle Earth.  It was the drink of choice for a dwarf.  Which is somehow fitting.


  1. ooooh, whilst i don't indulge in coffee, hot cocoa (a hot sweet beverage GOOD for cold days) is also a perfect companion to sci fi/fantasies. i thoroughly enjoyed dragonriders of pern and the wheel of time <3

    you may enjoy the works of the johnathan stroud (sp?) trilogy...i think it's called the bartimaeus trilogy. i found it in the young adult section but it was so thoroughly engaging and witty and heartbreaking, i must share it!!

    and who HASN'T read the hobbit!?


  2. Hm. I never paid attention to klah before (and really can't remember it being described properly), but the recipe linked, and others like this one (while tasty-sounding) seem to miss the author's intent as you list it. The one from The Dragon Lover's Guide To Pern is even farther afield, oddly.

    From what I can tell, Klah isn't creamy, which throws Wolf's main concept for a loop, along with a few others I found out there. The version includes nutmeg for some reason (again, tasty but an addition), but does keep the cinnamon to a reasonable level. But what they're all missing is an important part of the description even as they add things unlisted: it's primarily a bark, and the rest are flavorings. Sounds like yoco, to me. Mate would be a good and easier-to-find replacement for it, though a leaf not a bark; and like the other ingredients (excepting cinnamon), both yoco and mate are South American.

    I'm in grave danger of thinking far too much about this. I think I'll go get some coffee instead.

  3. Stroud, yes. And yes! Fun stuff, and with a great sense of wonder! Book #4 just came out...

  4. OOOH, a prequel!!! yaaay <3 soo gonna buy it

  5. Leia - Thank you for the book recommendation, I will definitely check it out. :D

    John - thanks for the examination. Thinking too much about coffee, fictional or otherwise, is never a bad thing.

  6. It's khav in the Kushiel's Dart series. And why do they all start with K, anyway? :)

  7. Coffee..

    Like Lorelei in 'Gilmore Girls', it's a NECESSITY for all things 'me'.


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