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Neish, James 

On a new beverage substance, 
the kola nut, a product of 



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% grothitt jcrf Jamaica. 


JAMES NEISH, M.D., F.R.C.P.S., Can. 


glxs glooms of true %nstxt\xU, Mtptzmhsx 6, X887. 

Hon. W. MALABRE, in the Chair. 

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DeCORDOVA & CO., Printers, Publishrrs, Stationers, &c., 
148, Harbour Street, Kingston. 








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In this Lecture I propose to bring under your notice 
some account of the Kola-nut, the seed of a tree growing in 
this island. It will-be my^ aim to show that we have in this 
product a new resource *of great value and importance. I 
shall endeavour to point out the great intrinsic value of the 
kola-nut on account of its medicinal qualities, and more par- 
ticularly on account of its adaptability to take a place by the 
side of coffee and chocolate as a beverage-substance, par- 

_ taking as it does of the qualities of both these staple articles 

of our agriculture and commerce. I shall also notice the 

- horticultural capabilities of the kola as a hardy tree of easy 

\\ culture and as adapted to be grown extensively on large areas 
of unoccupied and otherwise unprofitable lands in Jamaica. 
Here, then, is a prospect full of interest and promise, which, 
if it can only be realised, will shed a ray of hope and be as a 
silver lining behind the cloud of agricultural depression that 
is still weighing so heavily on the sugar-planting and other 
rural interests in this island. It will be shown in the course 
of the remarks that this new beverage-substance may be pro- 
duced on lands that are now of but little profit for sugar. The 
addition to our agricultural resources of a cultivation which, 
in all probability, is destined to take rank with that of coffee, 
whilst not demanding so much labour in its picking and pre- 
paration as the coffee-berry does, and which promises to be 
easier than and quite as profitable as that of cacao, and yet 
capable of greater extension than chocolate, because the kola 
is a hardier plant and more adapted to a variety of soils and 
climate than is the very delicate theobroma or chocolate, such 
an addition to our resources, I may say, cannot be regarded 
as unimportant; and I am confident that you will lend Pie 
your attention even whilst I am occupied with some of the 

"C drier details of the subject. 

The earliest accounts of the kola tree are contained in 
the reports of African travellers. The nut is known to have 
been in use amongst the natives of Western Africa and the 
Soudan for various purposes from early times. In Western 
Africa it is used to render the half-putrid water of pools 
> agreeable to drink by infusing into it some powdered kola- 
nut, whereby it is cleared and rendered palatable and re- 
freshing. The medicinal uses of kola seed by the natives of 
-^Qca have not escaped the notice of travellers. It is said 


to be in use there, very much as it is among the Creoles of 
Jamaica, as a masticatory, being chewed for the sake of its 
sustaining and tonic power. In Western Africa it is said to 
have acquired a reputation for curing liver diseases, and a 

variety of disorders which may be classed as dyspeptic. 

The notices of this plant contained in accessible standard 
botanical works are all very short and insufficient. Thus 

Balfour, in his "Manual," a work specially prepared for 
medical practitioners, and which is usually full in all that re- 
lates to medicines, simply mentions it, saying, "The kola 
mentioned by African travellers as being used to sweeten 
water is the seed of Sterculia tomentosa or acuminata" 
Khind's History of the Vegetable Kingdom, which is a com- 
pendious work, and specially devoted to tropical fruits, does 
not even mention the kola. In this dilemma as to botanical 
authorities, I have gladly availed myself of the very kind 
proposal of Mr. Faw.cett, the Director of the Public Gardens, 
to prepare an abstract on the botanical characteristics of the 
Kola tree. I am greatly indebted to him for the following 
comprehensive notice:- 

" Botanical Notice of the Kola Nut. The genus 

Cola belongs to the order Sterculiace;e, which is very nearly 

allied to the Mallow family, (Malvaceaj), 

" Many of the properties of the two families are similar. 

The mucilage, so abundant in the okra, one of the mallow 

family, is found more or less throughout both families; in 
the Sterculia family the best example is the bastard cedar 

((Uiazuma tomentosa) from the pods of which the mucilage 

obtained by infusion was formerly used instead of gelatine 

or albumen in clarifying cane-juice. 

*' The oily seeds of cotton in the Mallow family and of 

chocolate in the Sterculia family may be cited as a general 

characteristic, though one of the advantages of the kola-nut 

is that it is not oily. 

" The seeds of a tree (Sterculia Carthaginensis), which 

grows well at Half-way Tree and Kingston, are eaten as nuts 

in Brazil and Panama. The seeds of an Indian species 

(Sterculia urens) are roasted and eaten, and also used to make 

a kind of coffee; from the bark a gum somewhat like traga- 

c an th is produced. 

" The name kola nut is applied apparently to seeds of 

several species belonging to the order, but those most j^nzed. 

in the African markets are the produce of Cola acuminata, 

11. Br., and its varieties. 

" The kola tree varies much in the form and size of 
its leaves and flowers, in the appearances of the pods and the 
colour of the seeds. But the strangest variation occurs in 
the number of the cotyledons. In the pea and bean, the 


seed splits up into two distinct, equal halves, which lie flat 
against one another; these are known in botanical language 
as cotyledons. In the seed of the chocolate, the cotyledons 
are not flat, but folded to some extent upon one another; 
they are, however, two in number. All flowering plants are 
divided into two classes according as they have one or two 
cotyledons, palms, grasses, lilies, and orchids having only one, 
almost all the rest bavino* two. Now it is stated on the an- 
thority of Barter, Avho made extensive collections of plants 
in Guinea, the native home of kola, that the number of coty- 
ledons varies from two to five, even in seeds taken from 
the same pod. In the few seeds which I have had the op- 
portunity of examining in Jamaica, I have never found 
more than two cotyledons, though they are sometimes much 
distorted and apt to become split up in drying. Barter also says 
that the seeds with two cotyledons are more highly prized 
than the others. 

" The pods of chocolate and kola differ in structure. 
In chocolate a single flower produces a single pod with five 
divisions; but in Kola the five divisions are always separate, 
so that each flower produces five pods, each with five to 
twelve seeds. A single flower may therefore yield as many 
as fifty seeds. 

" Kola is a native of Guinea, one of the hottest parts of 
Africa, and was probably introduced into the West Indies 
with the akee in slave-ships. It grows well at Bath, in the 
Wag-Water Valley, Portland, and probably would succeed 
wherever cacao grows, in a moderately rich, moist soil. It 
is propagated by seeds, and will begin to bear after four 
or five years. There are trees near the Botanic Garden, 
Castlfton, which were planted over fifty years ago, still in 
perfect health, and bearing fruit regularly. The trees should 
be planted about 20 feet apart, which would give 108 trees 
to the acre. The trees grow about 40 feet in height. Those 
near Castleton produce from 500 to 800 pods each croj , 
If each pod contains on a moderate calculation 4 seeds, and 
if we say 50 seeds to a quart, then a tree with GOO pods will 
give 50 quarts of nuts twice a year, or 100 quarts per tree 
per year. A quart of dry nuts will weigh a little over ljlb 
L25lbs a tree. A tree in full bearing, and under careful 
cultivation, would probably produce 150lbs of nuts a 
year." From an abstract prepared by W. Fawcett, Esquire, 
Director of the Public Gardens.* 

* The Lecturer is also indebted to the, kind interest taken by Mr. Fawcett 
in furnishing dried specimens of the leaves and flowers of Cola acuminata, 
together with a number of growing seedlings in bamboo pots, which graced 
the table. Specimens of kola-nuts from the Museum of the Institute, grown 
in different parts of the Island, and specimens of dried pods illustrating the 
period of maturity of the seeds, and other specimens to exhibit the cotyle- 
dons, etc. , collected by the Author, were also shown and demonstrated. 


So far T have met with no account of the introduction 
of kola into Jamaica; but it was probably introduced into 
this island during the era of the slave-trade; and it may not 
be too far-fetched a supposition to imagine that t he seeds 
may have b9en brought from Africa as the sole and valued 
treasure of a slave. At any rate there is some evidence to 
show that the old slaves, if not the introducers, were at least 
the conservators of the plant in this its new home, where it is 
now thoroughly naturalized. If we accept the view that it was 
introduced into this island at the same time as the akee, we 
have the authority of Bryan Edwards for fixing the date at 
1778, when Dr. Thomas Clarke, the first Island Botanist, ob- 
tained it on board a West African slave-ship. The akee was 
again introduced into Jamaica, from St. Helena, by the cele- 
brated Captain Bligh, in 1793, in the memorable voyage of 
the Providence, winch brought the bread-fruit to Jamaica. 
It is therefore probable that the kola tree has been natu- 
ralized in this island for upwards of a century. My first ac- 
quaintance with the kola was made soon after the time of 
my arrival, some eleven years ago, when it was pointed out 
to me as growing in that part of an abandoned sugar-estate 
known as the "negro-house-piece/' where I found it flourish- 
ing as a goodly solitary tree amid the cocoa-nut palms, the 
star-apple trees, and old tamarinds, which had been planted 
by the negroes in their yards, whilst their cottages and former 
dwellings had entirely disappeared. These old negro-house 
gardens are picturesque and interesting features of many a 
sugar estate; and they furnish good hunting grounds to the 
economic botanist, who is sure to find something of interest 
amidst the variety of vegetable growth to be found there. 
On the occupied estates such places now constitute the cocoa- 
nut walks, the tamarind avenues, and orange-groves, left as a 
legacy by the departed slaves. At that time, and in that 
particular part of the island, the " Byssi" tree, as it is called 
by the Creoles, was rather scarce and a rarity, but I subse- 
quently found it growing in other much similar places, and 
also planted in the house-grounds of the small settlers; but it 
was not then grown to the extent that it now is, for of late 
years there has been a considerable diffusion of the plant in 
various parts of the island. This increased diffusion is partly 
due to increased attention given to it, owing to publicity, and 
partly to an increased appreciation of its virtues by the 
country people, so that at length the fruit has come to make 
its appearance in the Kingston markets, and is bought and 
sold amongst tlie natives. It is used by them as a masticatory, 
and an infusion is made of the grated nut and used as a 
stomachic and carminative in colics, etc., taking the place of 
ginger-tea in domestic medicine. So far as I can gather. 

these are the only uses made of the kola-nut by the lower 
classes; but certain of the higher classes, living in country 
districts, have been made aware from wha 4 ] has passed in the 
newspapers of late of the value of kola prepared as a beverage, 
and have been in the habit of consuming it. 

It was about five years ago that the kola-nut began more 
particularly to attract attention, and notices of it began to 
appear in the journals. In the early part of 1882, Messrs. 
lieckel and Schlagdenhauffen, the latter formerly a Pro- 
fessor of Chemistry at Strasburgh, published a notice of Kola, 
which appeared in the ( 'omptes ttendua and other journals. 
'I he Lancet of April 8th, 1882, published a summary of the 
researches of these French chemists, which remains succinct 
and comprehensive to the present time. The litera'ure of the 
subject is so scanty, that it may be permissible to quote entire 
the short article which appeared in the leading English 
medical journal. It is as follows: 

"The Kola or Gourou Nut. These seeds, called also 
Ombeme nuts, are the produce of Stercuiia acuminata, 
belonging to the Natural Order Sterculiacese, and are known 
to us by the accounts of West African travellers, who state 
that when chewed or sucked, they possess the power of ren- 
dering the flavour of water, even if half-putrid, agreeable, and 
they were believed to contain caffeine. They have recently 
been made the subject of analysis by Messrs. Ed. lieckel and 
Fv. Schlagdenhauffen, who have found that they do actually 
contain more caffeine than the best samples of coffee that 
could be procured, and that this base is altogether free and 
uncombined not, therefore, as in the coffee-berry, united 
with an organic base; secondly, that they contain a very ap- 
preciable quantity of theobromine, which assists the action of 
caffeine and possesses similar properties to that base; thirdly, 
which is an important fact, that they contain a considerable 
quantity of glucose, of which cacao presents no trace; fourthly, 
that the quantity of starch present is three times greater than 
that contained in theobroma, which explains its nutritive 
value; fifthly, that there is but little fat, in which respect it 
differs notably from cacao; and, lastly, they contain a 
special form of tannin, which approximates caffeo-tannic acid 
in its composition, and red c dourin^ matter very similar to 
that named by Payen cacao-red. The physiological exami- 
nation of this substance has shown that its properties are 
essentially due to the caffeine and theobromine it contains. 
The seeds, it appears, have long been in use in Soudan and 
Western^Africa, for the relief or cure of diseases of the in- 
testine and liver, and especially in cases of atony of the di- 
gestive tract, and also as a masticatory and tonic, like the areca 
nuts, which are held in such high esteem by the natives of 


India. Medically they may come to occupy a prominent 
place by the side of coca and other anti-metabolic remedies, 
to which tlu-y would probably prove superior in consequence 
of the tannin they contain." LaHcety April 8, 1882, page 575. 

About that time, and on seeing the above, I wrote a com- 
munication to Mr. Morris, the Director of the Public Gardens, 
on the subject, pointing out the occurrence of the tree in Ja- 
maica, and how desirable it would be to extend its cultivation, 
the substance of which letter he embodied in a note contained 
in the Annual Report of the Public Gardens and Plantations 
for 1882. The notice is as follows: 

" Kola Nut. This tree, which has lately attracted con- 
siderable attention, is common in many parts of the island 
under the name of Byssi, and seeds can be obtained, in quan- 
tity, if required for commercial purposes. Dr. Neish, of Port 
Royal, to whom I am indebted for a note on this product, 
remarks, l What enhances the value of kola-nuts at the 
present time is the fact that citrate of caffeine, a medicine 
now much employed for the relief of sea-sickness, megrim, 
and other nervous complaints can be readily obtained from 
these nuts, for the reason that the nuts contain more caffeine 
than coffee-berries; and in the kola-nut the caffeine is in the 
free or uncombined state. These nuts are likelv to take their 
place in the market as furnishing a nutrient and stimulant 
beverage. Rich in the active principle of coffee, containing 
also a large proportion of theobromine, the active principle of 
cacao, these nuts, in addition, contain three times the per- 
centage of starch contained in chocolate; and, moreover, they 
also contain less fat, so that, in addition to stimulant and nu- 
tritive properties, there is the probability that a chocolate 
prepared from them will more readily agree with delicate 

"The suggestion made by Dr. Neish that a chocolate 
might be prepared from the kola-nut seems a very appro- 
priate one, for both the cacao and kola belong to the same 
natural order Sterculiacese, and the habits and characteristics 
of the two are very similar. They both affect low, warm 
situations, and in view of the probable demand for kola-nuts, 
attention might very well be given to their cultivation." 
From the Annual Report of the Public Gardens and Planta- 
tions for the year ending 30th September, 1882. By D. 
Morris, M.A., Director. 

This notice having been copied into the leading newspa 
pers of the island, gave an impetus to the dissemination of 
the kola tree; and two years later, namely, in 1884, Mr. 
Morris reported as follows: 

" Kola Nut. ( Cola acuminata.) This interesting plant 

is largely distributed in the island, and its cultivation is being 
extended in the hope that ultimately kola-nuts may become 
a recognized article of commerce. The tree is hardy and 
easily established, and there would be no difficulty in sup- 
plying large quantities of the nut every year. Locally the 
nuts are used as a stomachic and tonic. They are said to 
have effected very remarkable cures in dyspepsia and allied 
disorders, and are used for this purpose in the same manner 
as cacao or chocolate. It is prepared by grinding the dry 
cured nut into a powder and mixing with boiline water, sugar 
and milk. Some people use the kola-nut regularly at break- 
fast in this manner, and consider it superior to everything 
else of the kind. Seed nuts are to be obtained in the months 
of June to September, and if intended for shipment should 
be planted in soil. To cure the nuts for export they only 
require to be taken out of the pods and subjected to careful 
drying in the sun until quite firm and hard. The process, 
however, requires to be thoroughly done, owing to the thick- 
ness of the cotyledous, and to prevent mouldiness on the 
voyage." -From the Report of the Public Gardens and 
Plantations for the year ending 30th September, 1884. By 
1>. Morris, M.A., F.L.S., Director. 

Although the tree has become plentifully diffused 
throughout the island, there is not as yet any export trade in 
the product. It simply furnishes, as already stated, a petty 
trade in the markets, and that which does not enter the 
markets is consumed locally. There is, however, an imme- 
diate prospect of the Jamaica article entering into commerce, 
since a demand exists for kola-nuts both in France and 
England, and some London merchants, it has been recently 
mentioned, are taking steps to obtain a supply from Jamaica. 
It has been stated that at present one manufacturer alone re- 
ceives nearly the entire importation into England. Good 
sound kola-nuts are now worth in the English market as 
much as one shilling per pound. In 188G they were worth 
70s. to 90s, per cwt. 

To show that a demand exists for this article which is 
but ill-supplied, I may mention thit at the close of 1886 an 
attempt was made to impose upon the French market a spur- 
ious article. The commerce in the genuine kola-nut is at 
present limited to African sources, and it is not plentiful 
because it is not cultivated. To meet the demand, a singular 
and audacious attempt was made to foist upon the market an 
inferior but much more easily obtained substitute. Thisstuff 
fell into the hands of the same French chemists and physio- 
logists who were the first to analyse kola-nut, and upon 
wiiose analysis and statement of physiological properties, I 
based my letter to Mr. Morris, recommending it as a beverage 


material, the subject-matter of which Idler lias been already 
quoted. These chemists, Messrs. Heckel and Schlagdenhauffen, 
published their account of the fraud in a French medical 
journal, Nbuveaux Remedes, in March aud April last (18x7,) 
and in their description they consider the substitution lobe 
an intentional adulteration, due to the increasing demand for 
kola-nuts. Under the microscope the adulteration can be 
detected by the smaller size of the polygonal starch grains, 
which arc only half the size of those of the true kola-nut. In 
the entire state the kernel is easily distinguished by the fact 
that one of the cotyledons is hardly half the size of the other, 
fitting into the substance of the larger 'one. and that the shape 
of the seed is orbicular and flattened. Chemical analysis of 
the false kola-nut shows it to be destitute of that which gives 
the principal \\luc to the true product; that is to say, it con- 
tains not a trace of caffeine, and therefore it is utterly value- 
less to the chemical manufacturer. When I first read of the 
introduction of a substitute for the kola-nut, I felt not a little 
concern that it might injure the prospects of kola cultivation 
in Jamaica, which had been advocated by Mr. Morris and 
myself, but the denouement of the fraudulent attempt leaves 
kola in its unique position as the easiest and best source of 
caffeine. Thus, therefore, the medicinal value of the kola- 
nut is securely established against this rival. The tree 
bearing the false kola-nut is the Heritiera Uttoralis, belonging 
to the same family as the kola, and described as common on 
African river-banks, and in the East-Indian Islands and the 
Phillipines. Had it proved a useful substitute, it could have 
been abundantly supplied, and the new cultivation of our 
naturalized kola trees would have had to encounter compe- 
tition from the start. 

It will be seen from what has preceded that there is still 
an unsatisfied demand for the kola product, mostly for the 
purpose of manufacturing into the salts of caffeine employed 
in medicine. I shall hereafter have something to say about 
the valuable properties of these salts when discussing the 
therapeutical properties of the kola-nut; but at this stage I 
wish simply to remark that these preparations of caffeine are 
almost quite new, but that their use is extending among the 
medical profession, and that, from their special value in par- 
ticular cases, their use bids fair to become still more extended. 
Caffeine and citrate of caffeine were only included in the last 
edition of the British Pharmacopoeia, of September, 1885, as 
official drugs, consequently their authoritative recognition 
is quite recent, and as a medicine caffeine is simply at the 
beginning of its useful career. To satisfy the requirements 
of the manufacturing chemists, which are sure to increase, 
would of itself justify an extended cultivation of the kola, 


and would reward those who had the first enterprise in en- 
ergetically taking it up. 

But this is not all; the prospect justifying an extended 
cultivation is still wider. This lecture affords an opportunity 
to enlarge upon the suo-o-estion which I made in 1882, and 
enables me to assert the eminent fitness of the kola-nut to 
take its place along with coffee and chocolate as a die- 
tetic beverage material. For this purpose the kola-nut has 
distinctive qualities of its own. It may be said to blend the 
qualities of coffee and chocolate together, but this in a man- 
ner not to be effected by the mere mixing of the two sub- 
stances. It is not to be regarded as a rival to coffee, nor to 
chocolate, but as an additional and definite substance, form- 
ing a third material in the group from which to select 
a breakfast beverage. No doubt the introduction of the 
new material uponvhe world's market will take time. It must 
needs be so; but equally will time be required for the kola 
to reach its place as an article of staple cultivation. There is 
this to be said in this connexion, that the existing demand 
for the article for medicinal purposes will serve to repay those 
who first enter on the cultivation; and that, as kola coffee 
comes into use as a beverage, the requirements of commerce 
will have to be provided for by extended planting and culti- 

In referring to the subject of dietetic beverages general- 
ly, (which may now occupy our attention as introductory to 
the special subject), it may be remarked that, besides tea, 
coffee, and chocolate, some others have a limited or local 
use, namely, paullinia or guarana, Paraguay tea or mate, and 
kola-nut or byssi. The first named is used in Brazil, and 
has been introduced into Paris, but failed to find favour 
with the French on account of its bitterness and astringency; 
it is, however, still used by them as a medicine for the re- 
lief of migraine and neuralgia. The plant producing guarana 
is the Paullinia Sorbilis, closely allied to the supple-jack of 
of the Jamaican woods; the seed is the part used, which is 
made into a dried paste and sold as guarana. Paraguay tea 
is the leaf-product of the Ilex Paraguay ensis; it does not 
enter into European commerce, but large quantities are ex- 
ported from Paraguay for consumption in the adjoining 
countries of South America. The kola-nut is just beginning 
to be consumed in Jamaica, and its qualities are just coming 
into public notice in England. What is remarkable about the 
entire list is that they each contain as active principles a 
crystallisable alkaloid, caffeiue, chemically identical in tea, 
coffee, paullinia, Paraguay tea and kola-nut, and very 
closely allied in chocolate. The crystallisable alkaloid of tea 
used to be aud is still named t/ieine, but it is chemically iden- 


tical with caffeine, both having the same analytical formula, 
C 1 II'" N 1 O 8 and H < >. The formula for the active principle 
of chocolate shows it to be simpler in constitution; this is 
named theobromine, having the composition ( ' II s N 1 <) : 
To those who have some knowledge of organic chemistry the 
close relationship of caffeine to theobromine will be obvious, 
1'ur if one atom of hydrogen in theobromine be substituted 
by the compound radical methyl, the formula for which is 
CH 8 * caffeine is formed theoretically as a substitution com 
pound, and hence the chemical name for caffeine becomes 
" niethyl-theobromine." Caffeine is contained in the follow- 
ing proportions in the beverage substances named: in tea, 
about 2 per cent.; in coffee, 0.8 to 1.3 per cent.; in prepared 
guarana, 5 per cent.; in Paraguay tea, about 1.2 percent ; 
and in kola-nut, 2J> per cent., which last will be noticed as a 
very high percentage. 

The alkaloids from all these sources have two properties 
in common; they are stimulant and anti-metabolic; and thus 
it is that the substances which contain them, when blended 
with nutritious natter, are suitable for use as beverages in 
the dietary. The term " anti-metabolic" will require explana- 
tion. It is a word used to express the arrest of tissue-change 
in muscle and brain, and neve and other tissues, which or- 
dinarily goes on in our bodies in the course of our daily ex- 
ercise. An anti-metabolic substance, then, is one which 
checks exhaustion. 

Tea furnishes a good example of this combined action 
of stimulation with a check to the processes of wear and tear. 
The stimulant and cheering qualities of tea are too well 
known to require dwelling upon; its nutrient qualities, how- 
ever, are slight, but it will be interesting to know that, the 
younger the leaf is picked, the more stimulant and nutritious 
it is. This is a matter of quite recent discovery; and as tea 
as an article of cultivation has its claims for attention in 
Jamaica, where we have land and climate extending from tin; 
plains to the JJIue Mountains in every way suitable to it; 
and as tea cultivation in this Island is one of the possibilities 
of the near future, I present the fact to the public that in 
due time it may bear fruit. It has been ascertained that the 
young leaves of tea contain more of the active principle, 
theme, than old leaves, that the chief nutritious element is a 
mineral substance, phosphate of potassium, which is soluble 
in tea infusion, and which of itself possesses restorative 
qualities ; whilst as the leaves get older they contain more 
woody fibre and astringent matter, and the soluble phosphate 
of potassium undergoes a chemical change into phosphates of 
lime and magnesia, which are insoluble and inert. There 
can be no good tea unless it consists of the young leaf; and 



the earliest spring growth is that which makes the most 
valuable eommodit v. 

Coffee is a strong cerebral stimulant: it is also an anti- 
metabolic of great power. As a dietetic beverage, it" we 
omit the populous Chinese and restrict ourselves to European 
nations and their colonists, it is of more universal consumption 
among them than tea, though the consumption of tea by the 
English, the Americans, and British colonists results in a 
commerce which is truly immense Used a? a beverage, 
coffee is stimulant to the nervous and tonic to the muscular 
systems. It slowly strengthens the force of the circulation, 
and it is by this mode of effect that it acts as a tonic and 
diuretic. As a cerebral stimulant coffee beverage is resorted 
to by students and authors, by orators and statesmen, and 
by all who have to undergo intellectual labour, A cup of 
strong coffee stimulates the brain and rouses it from torpor; 
mental action is excited by the draught, and a How of ideas 
is promoted. If taken late at night, it is apt to produce 
sleeplessness by its exciting action on the brain; if, on the 
contrary, it be taken in the morning, its effects extend to the 
digestive system, and the powers of the stomach are assisted. 
For instance, an eminent authority on dietetics recommends 
that when the breakfast consists of a substantial meal, say 
of meat, or even of oatmeal porridge, coffee should form a 
part and be taken at the end of the meal, to prevent mental 
torpor from the effects of the food and to assist digestion. 
This recommendation could now with propriety be made to in- 
clude kola. 

The stimulant powers of coffee depend upon a volatile 
oil as well as on the caffeine which it contains. The volatile 
oil has been named " caffeone," and it is this which gives the 
peculiar and well-known delicious aroma which coffee possess- 
es. To produce the aromatic effect in the fullest, coffee-ber- 
ries should be selected freshly, but not too highly, roasted, 
and the coffee should be infused merely with boiling water, 
but should not be boiled. To prepare coffee for its sustaining 
properties, which it possesses in a remarkable degree, it be- 
comes an object to extract all the caffeine and all the soluble 
nutritious matter, and this is most effectually done by boil- 

Some years ago, a French authority, M. de Gasparin, 
communicated to the Academy of Sciences, in Paris, a paper 
on the value of coffee in the dietary, in which he illustrated 
the sustaining powers of boiled coffee by referring to the ex- 
traordinary feats of labour accomplished by the Belgian 
miners at Charleroi, on a diet which were it not for the coffee 
they consumed would be meagre. On (me occasion some 
French miners went to work in the mines in Belgium, but, 


according to M. de Gasparin, they could not keep u]> with the 
Belgian miners in their daily work, though they were much 
more fully fed, and they had to give up labour m the mines 
of Charleroi. The diet of the French workmen contained 
from live to six and a half ounces of nitrogen, while that of 
the miners of Charleroi contained less than half an ounce of 
nitrogen: these amounts of nitrogen are held to represent 
the amount of flesh-forming substances in the respective diets. 
But the Belgian miners consumed daily in divided portions, 
morning, noon, and night, two quarts of boiled coffee made 
from one ounce of ground coifee. After summing up the 
constituents of their slender diet, M, de Gasparin added 
" To coifee alone can we ascribe the power of satisfying: them- 
selves with a diet which children would not bear, and its 
action is not that of a nutritive substance, for the analysis 
shows that it does not compose more than a thirty-fifth of the 
nutritive properties of the food. Coffee, therefore, has other 
properties, which are very important. Does it aid the di- 
gestive functions? Does it produce a more complete assimi- 
lation? or does it, perhaps, retard the nutrition of the organs, 
which then do not require so great a consumption of mate- 
rials for repair or maintenance ? In this case coffee does not 
nourish, but prevents denutrition." 

The sustaining power of coffee thus attributed by the 
Count de Gasparin to the prevention of denutrition has been 
accepted by physiologists and authors on pharmacognosy, and. 
the term anti-metabolic has come into use to express this 
check to the processes of waste. It will have a bearing on 
the immediate subject if reference be made here to coca, 
which is the leaf of the JErythroxylon coca, used by the Pe- 
ruvian and Bolivian mountaineers as a masticatory for the 
purpose of sustaining them during the fatigue of mountain 
climbing. Very full accounts of this agent will be found in 
Mr. Markham's Travels in Peru in search of cinchona plants. 
It is most remarkable as a preventer of denutrition, and its 
alkaloid, cocaine, is now well known as a local anaesthetic 
and tonic. The kola-nut, it will be found, bears a strong 
analogy to coca. 

The knowledge which has been gained by long expe- 
rience of the uses and properties of coffee has a strong in- 
terest for us at the present moment, as shedding a light on 
the properties and. qualities of kola as a beverage; for, rea- 
soning by analogy from what is known of the constituents of 
the two substances, there can be little doubt that what is true 
of coffee will in the main be found to be true of kola, It 
will be profitable, therefore, to consider coffee somewhat fully. 

Very likely it may be said that one need not have 
travelled so far as Belgium or Paris for an illustration of the 



sustaining powers of coffee; and that here, in Jamaica, an 
illustration of a most cogent kind could be found in the habits 
of planters, overseers, and others, who do a surprising amount 
of physical exertion during the early hours of the morning 
and up to the middle of the forenoon, sustained solely by the 
invigorating effects of a cup of " morning coffee." "This 
Jamaican practice of drinking a cup of strong coffee early in the 
morning is a commendable one, though undoubtedly it would 
be better on physiological grounds to partake of a modicum 
of light nutritious food at the same time. It has been fully 
established that coffee exerts an influence antagonistic to 
malaria, and it is not to be doubted that morning coffee is 
useful in this respect, as warding off the attacks of paludal 
fevers. Trousseau, the great French authority on Thera- 
peutics, cites the evidence of one of his countrymen travelling 
in Greece, that the inhabitants of the Morea infallibly cut 
short their intermittent fevers with a mixture of coffee and 
lemon-juice thus suggesting in effect that citrate of caffeine 
might be used for the same purpose. It is desirable, I think, 
that planters, overseers, and others who are exposed to mala- 
rial influences, should give an equal trial to " morning kola" 
as a prophylactic against malaria, and to sustain them in their 
physical exertions. Caffeine is an an antiseptic like quinine. 
Another property of coffee, not generally known, is that 
it acts as a local anaesthetic. It is an obtunder of pain mani- 
fested in the sensory nerves, and it blunts the special sense 
of taste. From a few limited experiments with kola, I am 
inclined to the belief that it agrees with coffee in this respect. 
It is well enough known that if quinine be suspended in 
strong coffee it may be taken with only a slight perception 
of the taste; but it may not be so well known that such a 
nauseous substance as epsom salts, after being boiled in strong 
coffee, may be taken without inconvenience. There is some 
evidence to show that this property of obtundmg nervous 
perception at the periphery resides in the alkaloid caffeine. 
For example, Mr. Leeds, a dentist, of Xew York, has pub- 
lished a statement that he has used as a pain obtunder a solu- 
tion of twenty grains of caffeine in two ounces of a mixture 
of alcohol and watei, with better results when operating upon 
sensitive teeth than even with cocaine. This anaesthetic 
property of caffeine is likely to have extended uses. Besides 
cocaine there are very few drugs possessing such a power. 
Bromide of potassium is anaesthetic to the throat, cocaine 
suspends the action of sensory nerves, and caffeine dulls the 
sense of tastb. Another taste-destroyer has lately been an- 
nounced from India in the leaves of the Gymnema sylvestre, 
which, on being masticated, are alleged to destroy the sweet- 
ness of sugar, making it feel like sand in the mouth, and to 


deprive smokers from the enjoyment of a cigar; but the in- 
terest attached bo this novelty attests the rarity of such pro- 
pert Lea among drugs. 

Caffeine lias made its principal mark in modern medicine 
as a cardiac tonic and diuretic, applicable in advanced cases 
of dropsy depending on structural defects of the heart. 
Caffeine was discovered and isolated from coffee by Runzi as 
early as 1819, and was fully described by Pelletier, the dis- 
coverer of quinine, in 1821, and was studied by many others 
in the interval; but it was left to Professor Gubler, of Paris, 
and to Dr. Sansom, of London, and some other English phy- 
sicians to bring out, in our own day, its great value as a 
cardiac tonic. By strengthening the force of the heart, the 
general blood-pressure is increased, the kidneys are impelled 
into action, and the dropsies of advanced heart-disease 
disappear. The surprising effects following the judicious use _ t 
of caffeine, as published by leading physicians, would of 
themselves be a strong testimony to show how rapidly pro- 
gressive modern medicine has become. 

Citrate of caffeine was first principally used in a nervous 
disease known a? sick-headache, megrim or migraine. For 
slight attacks of this disorder coffee itself, and kola beve- 
rage also, as I am able to state, can be used with advantage. 
Before the introduction of caffeine, coffee was in vogue for 
this purpose, and is tints referred to by Trousseau: " Slight 
migraines almost always yield to it. Rationalist physicians 
would establish many and capital distinctions, but domestic 
empiricism does better than the severest science, and coffee 
is able to cure almost all headaches, at least such as are not 
tiie prelude to or the symptom of a fever, or an acute disease." 

Caffeine is known to exert a stimulating action upon the 
liver, and to promote the secretion of bile. This fact may be 
taken into account as explanatory of the reputation of kola- 
nut in Western Africa in the cure of liver diseases, while to 
its combined nervo-stimulant, anaesthetic and tonic effects may 
also be ascribed the success of kola in Africa when employed 
for the relief of dyspeptic and intestinal disorders. Sufficient 
proof has accumulated in Jamaica to establish the value of 
kola as an anti-dyspeptic. Between four and five years ago 
a gentleman was in correspondence with me on the subject of 
kola beverage, and he was induced to try it, not by my special 
recommendation, but by his own desire. I simply pointed 
out how it might be used. He afterwards reported himself 
as completely cured by the use of the byssi, Mr. Morris's 
testimony on this point, given as far back as 1884, is suMi- > 
ciently positive and convincing. Since the product lias come 
to be sold in the public markets, its use has become more 
general, and I have heard a good deal of approval of it. In 


another case, of which I had knowledge, it proved most 
efficacious in warding off and cutting short attacks of asthma. 
1 would not hesitate to recommend the kola beverage as 
being particularly suited to dyspeptics and to asthmatics. In 
asthma it may be given both in the pure nervous forms and 
in cardiac asthma, as an adjuvant to other medicinal treat- 
ment. As ordinary " biliousness" is but a form of stomach 
derangement, the use of kola beverage is likely to prove of 
service to those who are subject to this disorder, by pre- 
venting or diminishing the severity of the attacks. 

Kola beverage, or kola-coffee, may be prepared by 
selecting the perfectly sound dried nut and roasting it. It 
may be highly roasted without losing much caffeine, for re- 
cent experiments by Dr. Paul, of London, have shown that 
there is very little loss of caffeine in roasting coffee unless 
the process be carried to an extreme. Uniformity in the 

- size of the seed selected is an object in roasting kola-nut, 
just as it is in the case of roasting coffee-berries. Unlike 
coffee, kola -nut is destitute of a fine aroma, and the roasted 
and ground product is devoid of odour, unless it be a faint 
smell, which one of my friends has likened to the odour of 
spigelia, and another called it a "drug-like" odour; this how- 
ever, soon passes off, and the substance is left without smell. 
The ground kola-coffee must be used in smaller quantity 
than coffee, otherwise it proves too strong a cerebral stimu- 
lant. The recognised standard for the strength of coffee is 
that advocated by Dr. Parkes in his work on Hygiene; a 
cup of coffee being made from half an ounce of coffee in- 
fused with about three ounces of boiling water; this consti- 
tutes strong or black coffee, and may be diluted with an 
equal quantity of milk to constitute cafe-au-lait. Kola- 
coffee made about half or even one-third this strength is 
quite a sufficient stimulant as a morning beverage. Tastes, 
however, will always vary, and there is room for a choice of 
strength according to preference. Persons unaccustomed to 
it should always remember its high stimulant power on the 
brain, and that it is not always suitable to be taken late at 
night, particularly if it be made strong. My first indulgence 
in a cup of kola-coffee late in the evening cost me a night of 
wakefulness, and imparted an active and rapidly changing 
flow of ideas, with an inclination to walking about and a 
readiness for exertion rather than a disposition to repose. 
It quite exceeded my experiences of midnight coffee in 
student days. I had simply taken my kola too strong, too 

i much of it, and too late. 

Prepared in the way I have indicated, by infusion or by 
boiling, (for both these methods are applicable in the case of 
kola-coffee) the beverage has a rich, dark brown appear- 


Mice, and looks like chooolate, but tastes much more like 
coffee. It is not oily on the surface, and there is little 

or no sediment. Kola, indeed, excels both coffee and choco- 
late in solubility, for it yields up its properties to cold watery 
infusions, to hot infusions, and to decoctions. The starchy 
matters it contains impart smoothness and a slight thickness 
to the decoction, but starch is not taken up by the cold in- 
fusion. The decoction, or preparation by boiling, must be 
held to be the most nutritious form and also the most econo- 
mical. Milk and sugar are acceptable and even necessary 
additions, which of course add to its nutritive power. 

Made in this form, kola-coffee is quite as stimulant as 
coffee, and is more so if made of the same weight. For 
nutritiveness it may be compared to chocolate, which, how- 
ever, it much surpasses; but the absence of oily globules, 
which float on the surface of strong chocolate, makes the 
kola beverage more acceptable to fastidious stomachs. The 
starch, combined as it is with a little cocoa-butter or fat, and 
blended as it is with another form of starch that has been 
converted into the sugar of glucose, is certainly extremely 
bland and highly digestible; and the prospects are that 
this beverage, when made of limited strength, will be found 
suitable to the most delicate invalids. It is admirably ad- 
apted to the stage of gastric irritability in all fevers, to the 
irritable stomach in delirium tremens, and to the first efforts 
of the stomach on recovering from prolonged nausea. In 
nerve-exhaustion it promises to become one of the best restor- 
atives. In the brain-torpor consequent on narcotic poisoning, 
as by opium, a stimulant dose of kola decoction is likely to 
prove an effective antidote. 

7 he kola-nut is so very soluble that it may readily be 
prepared into medicated wines, medicinal tinctures, and 
fluid extracts, and also into chocolate, but the latter of 
course involves more trouble than preparing it as coffee. 
Prepared as a paste after the manner of chocolate, we have, 
however, a right to call it chocolate, for though it tastes of 
coffee, it nevertheless contains theobromine, starch, and a 
little cocoa-fat,which are the leading constituents of chocolate. 
The maker should introduce additional pure cocoa-butter, 
also aroraatics, such as nutmeg, mace, cassia, or cinnamon 
and cloves, to suit the tast \ It is to be expected that when 
the preparation of chocolate from kola becomes an object 
w T ith manufacturers, great improvements will ensue as a 
result of their skill and experience. Kola-nut is also likely to 
come into use amongst grocers as a means for fortifying 
weak or adulterated coffees. 

Mr. Thomas Christy, of London, recently exhibited at 
the Manchester Royal Jubilee Exhibition a chocolate-paste 



made from the kola-nut, concerning which a most favourable 
account has been given of its dietetic and medicinal properties. 
It is thus described in an English periodical: "Although 
the 'paste' resembles very much ordinary eocoa-paste, it is im- 
portant to remember that it is prepared from kola-nut with- 
out any foreign admixture, and contains at least two per cent, 
of caffeine. It is said to be five times stronger than cocoa, 
and has been used as a therapeutic agent by Dr. A. L. Gihon, 
Medical Director to the United States Navy, with verv ex- 
cellent results, the mode of administration being similar to 
that of chocolate, viz., by mixing 10 to 15 grains with sugar, 
dissolving in boiling water and flavouring with a little vanilla 
essence. It is said also to be of great service in counter- 
acting the ill-effects of ' drink,' devotees not being able to 
return to their favourite intoxicating beverage for some days 
without feeling nausea." 

Mr. Christy sells his "kola-chocolate" at the price of 
four shillings per pound, but as it is five times the strength 
of cocoa, the price as compared with cocoa or chocolate may 
be held to be ninepence. The strength and compactness of 
such a preparation would admirably fit it to form part of 
army and navy supplies. In a recent communication growing 
out of a controversy respecting Sir Augustus Adderley's 
paper on West Indian exhibits at the Colonial and Indian 
Exhibition, read at the Society of Arts, Mr. Christy points 
out that its regular use is insured, owing to the favourable 
results attending its employment in the hospitals, and states 
that the paste has been ordered in quantity for army food by 
three European governments. 

All this is confirmatory of the value of the kola-nut, and 
goes to show, what was stated at the outset, that there is an 
immediate and a prospective demand for the kola product of 
a most encouraging nature; and I may now turn your attention 
to the question of the extended cultivation of this highly 
useful tree. 

The Kola tree seems to thrive best in hot, low and moist 
situations, but may be grown nt all elevations not exceeding 
900 feet. It would appear to do well in a strong clayey soil. 
It is, however, a hardy tree, and adapts itself to a wide range 
both of soil and climate. It is capable of cultivation in all 
hot and seasonable districts of the island having a rainfall of 
about 80 inches; and wherever bananas are grown kolas may 
be reared. There are many thousands of acres in various 
parishes as yet unoccupied, save by "ruinate," which are 
capable of being put into permanent plantations of kola. On 
certain estates sugar-cane has had to give place to bananas as 
a more profitable crop, and under such circumstances the 
kola plant may be blended with the new cultivation to great 


and permanent profit, In a good soil and with sufficient 
moisture, the kola tree grows rapidly and stoutly; but five or 
six years are required for it lo come into bearing, and at ten 
years old it is giving a full crop, estimated at L20 pounds 
annually, such a tree giving a return at presenl prices of from 
l' l to 66 per annum. It may be started from seeds obtained 
fresh from the tree, and sown in nursery-beds or bamboo pots, 
the plants to be afterwards set out when they have attained 
one or two years' growth, or one- and two-year old plants may 
be obtained from the Public Gardens. The season for ob- 
taining fresh seeds, it will be remembered, expires with the 
month of September, so that planters desirous of establishing 
their own nurseries this season should piocure seeds without 
loss of time. As regards the habit of the tree, its coming into 
bearing, the yield of fruit, etc, I may say that my inquiries 
on these points when addressed to Creole peasants (who almost 
alone possess practical knowledge regarding the byssi) have 
so often been answered by comparing it to th^ orange tree 
that it may not be amiss to accept the orange tree a<* a standard 
of comparison. English writers, however, have likened the 
habit of the tree to that of the chestnut. Like the orange 
tree, it has a habit of continuous flowering when in a climate 
that is marked by frequent showers, thus prolonging the 
season of fruiting. In good soils the kola certainly is a 
fruitful bearer, almost comparable to the orange in this respect, 
while, from all that is known, it does not appear to be so ex- 
hausting to the soil as either the coffee shrub or the orange 
tree. A plantation of kola, therefore, must be held to be of 
very permanent durability and value. Whilst waiting for the 
kola tree to come into bearing, the planter will have to make 
a profit out of the ground by some subsidiary crop, the best 
being bananas, as these will also serve to shelter the young 
plants, besides being the most profitable of any catch-crop. 
Wherever bananas are now occupying the ground, prepara- 
tions can at once be made for a more permanent crop by 
planting kola seeds amongst them, for by the time the 
bananas have begun to fail by reason of the small and un- 
marketable size of the fruit, the young kola trees will be 
growing up, and oan be left to hold the ground permanently. 
In good rich soil the bananas might be planted ten, eleven, or 
twelve feet apart, with a kola at every second banana, in 
the direction of the lines; a plot of twenty feet square would 
then enclose nine bananas with four kola plants at the corn- 
ers, thus leaving them twenty to twenty four feet apart. In 
very sheltered situations a variation on this plan might be 
made by omitting the bananas in the centres of the squares, 
so as to give the trees more light and air. A gradual 
thinning out of the bananas would be made as the kolas ac- 




quired increased growth. After the bananas are dispensed 
with and the field is made clean, the best catch-crops will be 
leguminous plants, such as "quick-increase" peas, or the like, 
the seeds of which may be taken as profit while the stalks 
are used as a mulching to the kolas, or turned in green as a 
manure. Although the kola tree will no doubt bear a good 
deal of neglect, it will be sure to repay careful attention to 
cultivation by stirring and manuring the soil; the growth of 
catch-crops thus securing an important end. It will be pos- 
sible by cultivating bananas and intervening crops, to estab- 
lish a kola plantation almost free of cost, which when es- 
tablished could be maintained at very little expense, and 
would be sure to bring in very profitable returns. 

The kola harvest in Jamaica is from June to September, 
with occasional fruits at other seasons. As soon as the pods 
begin to open, the seeds are mature, and the fruit may then 
be picked. The seed is removed from the pods, and the 
soft yellow seed-coveriug or episperm is removed from the 
seed. There are two methods of drying in vogue that by 
drying in the shade, and that by drying in the sun. The 
former method is thought to give a finer appearance and a 
heavier yield; the latter is believed to be the better prepara- 
tion for export. The kola-nut is a seed of very complex 
composition; and one of its constituents, glucose, has a strong 
attraction for water, and soon gives rise to mouldiness when 
exposed to damp. In a hot, moist atmosphere, like the hold 
of a steamer, these nuts are prone to undergo fermentation; 
on this account they require to be thoroughly dried in the 
sun until they are perfectly cured. Being of comparatively 
large size, they require long drying, and to withstand a 
sea-voyage they require careful packing. The price to be 
realized depends greatly or entirely on soundness on arrival, 
and the greatest pains should be taken to secure this end. 
The nuts should be packed in barrels or tierces with the 
same care that is given to our high-mountain coffee. As the 
trade in this article opens up with the United States, as it 
is sure soon to do the planters and shippers in this island 
will gain by the shorter voyage to America, for the risk of 
shipments spoiling during transit will thereby be lessened. 
It is also a point worthy of consideration w r hether kola-coffee 
and kola-chocolate might not advantageously be prepared 
in the island for export. 

Gentlemen, in bringing these remarks to a close, I wish 
to present you with material for reflection as an outcome of 
the facts developed in the course of the lecture, that this 
island has among its possible and actual resources the pro- 
duction of the four leading beverage substances of commerce 
tea, coffee, chocolate and kola; and that such a combination 


of resources (with many others in addition) could <mly pos- 
sibly occur in a highly favoured tropical and mountainous 

island like our own Jamaica.