10 Breakfasts Enjoyed by History’s Most Productive People

If you start your morning with a hearty breakfast, you’re in good company. Many of the greatest politicians, artists, and scientists from history were fueled by the most important meal of the day. And as you can see from the list below, their tastes were far from boring.

1. Victor Hugo // Raw Eggs and Cold Coffee

Victor Hugo
Henry Guttmann Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

During his years living in exile on the island of Guernsey, Victor Hugo found inspiration for some of his most influential novels, including Les Misérables. The French author adopted a consistent writing routine while residing on the island. After waking up at sunrise, Hugo would slurp down a breakfast of two raw eggs and a cold cup of coffee before getting to work.

2. Mahatma Gandhi // Porridge, Cocoa, and Goat's Milk

Mahatma Gandhi
Fox Photos/Getty Images

While Gandhi is most famous for fasting for long amounts of time, when he was living in London—several years before he began fasting—the civil rights leader started his day with a well-balanced meal. According to his journals he enjoyed a simple breakfast of porridge, goat's milk, and cocoa.

3. Albert Einstein // Fried Eggs, Honey, and Mushrooms

Albert Einstein
Keystone/Getty Images

One of the most brilliant minds in history was fueled by a steady diet of eggs. In the book Einstein at Home, the physicist’s live-in housekeeper Herta Waldow recalled that "Herr Professor always ate fried eggs, at least two," almost every morning. At breakfast Einstein also enjoyed mushrooms ("He would probably have eaten mushrooms three times a day," according to Waldow) and honey. The latter was delivered to him by the pailful.

4. Walt Whitman // Oysters and Red Meat

Walt Whitman
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Walt Whitman was notorious for indulging in a meat-heavy diet throughout his lifetime. Even first thing in the morning, the American poet was known to enjoy a protein-rich meal of oysters and red meat. This was prior to the Paleo diet, when Whitman's belief that rare beef was a health food capable of curing pimples was far from mainstream. His dietary habits were a point of concern for his writer friend John Burroughs, and in 1885 he wrote Whitman, saying:

“I am almost certain you eat too heartily and make too much blood and fat. […] If not the engine makes too much steam, things become clogged and congested and the whole economy of the system deranged.”

Burroughs recommended he limit his meat intake to a little bit once a day and replace his fatty breakfast with cereals and fruit. According to the biography Walt Whitman: Song of Himself, the writer largely shrugged off his friend's advice.

5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart // Half a Capon

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Barbara Kraft, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also had no trouble packing protein into his diet. Some of his favorite foods to eat included sturgeon, pork cutlets, and a Flemish beer-and-beef stew. The composer's carnivorous tendencies carried over into breakfast: In one letter to his wife, he wrote about having "just enjoying thoroughly my half of a capon which friend Primus has brought back with him" after waking up from a restful night’s sleep. Capons are hard to come by nowadays, but the large, neutered roosters were once considered a luxurious delicacy.

6. Winston Churchill // Eggs, Meat, Grapefruit, and Toast

Winston Churchill
Fox Photos/Getty Images

British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill understood the importance of a filling breakfast. He requested his morning meal to be served to him on two trays: one with toast, jam, butter, coffee, milk, a poached egg, and cold chicken (or other meats), and another with grapefruit, a sugar bowl, a glass of orange squash, and a whiskey soda. He punctuated the feast with a morning cigar.

7. Jane Austen // Pound Cake and Tea

Jane Austen
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Jane Austen began breakfast at a relatively later time than many of her creative counterparts, waiting until around 10 a.m. to eat. The writer’s breakfast of choice was a moist, dense pound cake served with tea.

8. Claude Monet // Omelette aux Fines Herbes

Claude Monet
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Claude Monet’s appreciation for the finer things was evident in his diet. The painter grew his own produce, planned menus with the seasons, and kept food journals documenting his culinary habits. Before diving into his daily painting, Monet would sit down for an early breakfast of sausage, toast, jam, an herb omelet, and tea.

9. Queen Elizabeth I // Pottage, Ale, and Bread

Queen Elizabeth I
National Portrait Gallery, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain in the United States

Queen Elizabeth I started her days with a meal worthy of her royal title. For breakfast, the monarch ate fine bread, ale, and a pottage (or stew) made from meat like beef or mutton cooked with grains. The dish was usually flavored with succory, an herb that tastes like dandelions.

10. Thomas Edison // Apple Dumplings

Thomas Edison
Central Press/Getty Images

Thomas Edison discovered his favorite breakfast food shortly after moving to New York. Broke and hungry, the 22-year-old wandered into a restaurant downtown looking to exchange a packet of tea for a hot apple dumpling and a cup of coffee. The humble meal was so satisfying to him at the time that it became his lifelong favorite dish.

Ninja’s Hot & Cold Brewed System Is the Only Coffee Maker You’ll Ever Need

Amazon
Amazon

Update: The glass-carafe version of the Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System is currently on sale for $99 (a 50 percent discount) on Amazon and Walmart. That's the cheapest price we've ever seen, so grab it while you can. The thermal-carafe version is on sale on Amazon for $168, a 27 percent discount.

For people who just want a cup of joe to help them get out the door in the morning, the French presses, Chemexes, Aeropresses, Moka pots, and other specialized devices that coffee aficionados swear by probably seem more overwhelming than appealing. Ditto the fancy cappuccino machines at local cafes. That’s where Ninja’s new Hot & Cold Brewed System comes in: It was created to give coffee addicts a myriad of options with minimal fuss, not to mention minimal equipment. And it makes tea, too!

“Coffeehouses are known for having an endless selection, but current at-home brewers haven't given users the vast variety of choice we thought possible, and certainly not all in one product," Mark Rosenzweig, CEO of SharkNinja, said in a press release. "The Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System changes the category entirely. This innovative system is more than just a machine you use in the morning; it's your all-day brewing partner.”

The Hot & Cold Brewed System comes with two baskets: one for coffee and one for tea. It knows what you're making to make based on the basket you insert, and the available options for that basket will light up. The machine allows the user to make six different sizes of coffee or tea, from a single cup all the way up to a full 50-ounce (10-cup) carafe.

And of course, as the name suggests, the system can make both hot and iced beverages. For coffee, it has five brew options: classic, rich, over ice, cold brew, and specialty (a concentrated brew for milky drinks like cappuccinos). If you’re making tea, you can choose between hot and cold brews optimized for herbal, black, oolong, white, or green tea.

When you select an over ice or cold brew, the machine automatically doubles the strength of your beverage so it doesn't get overly diluted by the ice cubes in the carafe. Even better, the Ninja can make cold brew in just 10 to 15 minutes, whereas other systems and methods typically take hours. (Hot coffee is brewed at 205°F, while the cold brew is made at 101°F.) And the system has a hot and cold frother that folds into the side so you can make barista-level lattes, too.

These bells and whistles sound impressive on paper, but how do they perform in real life? Ninja sent me Hot & Cold Brewed System to test for myself.

Ease of Use

Though it might look like something developed by NASA, the Hot & Cold Brewed System is designed to easily work with the twist of a dial and the push of a button, and it delivers. From loading in the correct amount of grounds with the system’s “smart scoop” to picking what type of brew you’d like, it’s simple enough to use even while bleary-eyed in the morning. It’s also easy to schedule a delayed brew so you can do the rest of your morning routine while your coffee brews. (Here’s the only drawback I can think of about this machine: When it starts brewing, it’s kind of noisy—loud enough to make my cats jump. It’s not a dealbreaker, but if you live in a small apartment and plan to brew coffee so that it’s ready right when you wake up, it might be something to consider.)

The system even tells you when it needs to be descaled. The “clean” button will light up, at which point you simply fill the water reservoir with descaling solution and water and press the clean button. A countdown lets you know how much longer the clean cycle will last.

Taste and Flavor

I swapped out an old, cheap coffee maker for the Hot & Cold Brewed System, and the difference was immediately noticeable. Whether hot or cold, the coffee made by the H&CBS was a better, smoother cup of joe. That’s due to what Ninja has dubbed Thermal Flavor Extraction automated brewing technology, which, according to a press release, “knows the precise temperatures, correct bloom times, and proper levels of saturation for every possible beverage combination to ensure a great taste every time.”

Whatever tech they use, it works. The coffee I make in this machine is consistently tasty. The rich brew setting works exactly as advertised, too, providing a richer, bolder flavor than the classic brew.

Features and Accessories

One of the best things about the H&CBS is the fact that it cuts down on waste significantly. Unlike other machines, it doesn't require any plastic pods or paper filters. Instead, it comes with two permanent filters, one for coffee and one for tea.

And the cold brew function is a game changer if you prefer iced coffee to hot. Not only does it brew quickly, but it eliminates the messy cleanup that comes with making cold brew yourself.

Typically priced at $230 for the thermal carafe version (or $200 for the glass carafe), the Hot & Cold Brewed System is significantly more expensive than a simpler drip coffee machine. But if you’re a cold brew addict looking to treat yourself, it’s worth it. Consider springing for the slightly more expensive thermal carafe model, which will keep your java hot or cold for hours. (I’ve left ice in it overnight and found cubes the next morning.)

You can get the Hot & Cold Brewed System on Amazon, Walmart, Macy's, or directly on Ninja’s website starting at $160.

Fuel Your Cold Brew Obsession With This Elegant, Efficient Coffee Maker

Brrrewer
Brrrewer

The sun is scorching, the days are endless, and the gentle clinking of ice cubes in a glass of cold brew coffee sounds like chimes at the gates of heaven itself.

A beverage so divine deserves to be created by a machine to match, right? Meet Brrrewer, a coffee maker that will provide you with the smoothest, sweetest, richest cold brew coffee you’ve ever had—and it’ll do it in just four hours.

Brrrewer uses the cold drip method to brew coffee in which coffee grounds are suspended between two microfilter membranes. Water is poured over the top membrane, then slowly filters through the coffee grounds and drips out from the bottom membrane. The top membrane ensures that the water is evenly distributed among the coffee grounds, and the bottom membrane allows only the water-turned-coffee to fall into the carafe below, without any of the gritty residue. (That gritty residue is often a result of the full immersion method, which is popular among those with French presses; basically, you just steep your coffee grounds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours, strain out the grounds, and drink.)

The carafe is encased in a second layer of glass, providing thermal insulation and keeping your coffee cold for longer than a regular glass bottle or pitcher. And you can cross “coffee filters” off your shopping list—the microfilter membranes do that job already.

The Italy-based team at Essense designed Brrrewer with elegance and minimalism in mind, so it won’t throw off the aesthetic groove of your kitchen. In fact, it might enhance it. Also, it’s manufactured from a combination of borosilicate glass and BPA-free Tritan plastic; in other words, it’s extra-sturdy and environmentally friendly.

Mixologist Francesco Corona, five-time Italian “Coffee in Good Spirits” champion and world championship finalist, worked with Essense to develop special cocktail recipes for Brrrewer, which you can find in the paperback book, available on its own for $17 or with Brrrewer (the book and coffee maker combo is $78). Order Brrrewer by itself for $67 here, or see other purchase options from Kickstarter.

If four hours is more than you’re willing to wait for cold brew, check out Ninja’s Hot & Cold Brewed System, which can make it in about 15 minutes.

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