Do you enjoy drinking a good cup of coffee? Have you ever wondered where coffee first came from? Ever wondered about the history of coffee? I love coffee and I have always enjoyed drinking a fresh cup of coffee, but I guess I’ve always taken it for granted. Coffee is an amazing elixir.
The Human race has an addiction to dripping, dark liquids. Two liquids, in particular, are the most traded commodities in the world. The first one is oil and countries have waged wage over it for years. The other commodity is a widely consumed drink known as coffee and it has had a very interesting and controversial history.
The History of Coffee
In ancient times, people who were caught drinking coffee were punished by death. In fact, coffee has had five (5) attempts to have it banned throughout history. The first attempt came in 1511 when the Governor of Mecca tried to have coffee banned. The Governor thought that coffee could stimulate radical thinking in his people and he also thought that it might unite his opponents and overthrow the government.
The second attempt came in the 16th century when Catholic priests tried to have it banned because they thought it was a drink concocted by Satan and thought that people who drank it were possessed by Satan. Another attempt to have it banned was in a region of Sweden. The Swedes believed in capital punishment and preferred punishing their murderers by slow and agonizing deaths. Their capital punishment involved giving them cups of this supposedly ‘Satanic’ drink until they basically drowned and kicked the bucket.
Finally, in 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia tried to have it banned as well. Coffee was so popular in Prussia, that it exceeded beer consumption in his country. So Frederick the Great issued a statement claiming beer’s superiority over coffee.
Coffee has had to deal with a lot of attempted bans and prohibition, and yet it has survived over the centuries.
The Legends Of Coffee
According to legends, coffee all started with dancing goats. According to a story in the 9th century, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi observed his goats being unusually energized after they had consumed the bright red berries from a nearby bush. Being curious, Kaldi tried some of these berries and experienced a “high” and being energized himself. Kaldi was so excited that he brought some of these berries to a monk residing in the nearby monastery. But the Monk, who saw Kaldi and his reaction to eating these berries, disapproved of its use and threw them into the fire. After the coffee beans were thrown in the fire, they began to roast and they released an alluring scent, causing the other monks to come and investigate. The monks picked up the roasted beans from the fire, grounded them, and then dissolved the beans into the water. Thus, the world’s first cup of coffee was born as we know it.
Another story attributes the discovery of coffee to a man from Mocha, Yemen, named Sheikh Omar. Sheikh was known for his ability to cure the sick through prayer. Omar was once exiled to the desert and while wandering through the desert he found some berries. Being hungry and starving, Omar initially chewed on some of these berries but found them to be bitter. He roasted the seeds (beans) to improve their flavor but found them to be hard. After many attempts to make them edible, he finally tried boiling them to soften the hard beans and this resulted in what we now know as coffee. Omar found that he could sustain himself for days on drinking this miracle drink.
Even though Kaldi, the monks, and Sheikh Omar are credited with brewing the first coffee drink, the Ethiopians introduced the coffee plant to the Arab World. The current methods of brewing coffee evolved from the Arabs who first roasted the beans and then brewed coffee.
Coffee was treated as a National secret and the Arabs guarded this secret closely. All exported coffee beans were either roasted or sterilized. Baba Budan, a Sufi saint, was revered by both the Hindus and Muslims in India, and he was the one who smuggled the first coffee beans to India by strapping the beans to his chest. The smuggled beans were then planted in Mysore. Soon after the first coffee beans were smuggled outside of Arabia; coffee spread to Europe, Indonesia, and the Americas.
Coffee is now a labor-intensive cash crop and now has become a very important source of income for many countries with over 10 Croce groups of people depending on it for their livelihoods. Now, there are several species of Coffee plants grown throughout the world and among those; Arabia and Robusta are the most common. Since Arabia coffee beans tend to have more flavor, it is the most widely cultivated. Meanwhile, Robusta has a more bitter taste because it has 50% higher caffeine present in it. Robusta is also less expensive when compared to Arabia beans. Because of this, it is often used as a substitute for Arabia in coffee blends as well as in Espresso coffee.
The increasing consumption of coffee has also resulted in the demand for cafes and espresso bars which serve coffee and tea beverages as well as hot snacks. Contrary to popular belief, Espresso is not a flavor of coffee. It is a coffee preparation method which was devised by the Italians. This method mainly focuses on the concentration and intensity of the coffee preparation method. For this method, finely ground coffee is packed into a filter. Highly pressurized water is then forced through this filter and is then extracted in small amounts. The resulting coffee would have a higher concentration of caffeine and is darker. The Espresso, when served solo, is referred to as a shot and are served in small cups. Based on the amount of espresso in a serving, they are referred to as Ristretto (3/4th of an ounce), Single Shot, Lungo (1.5-ounce shot) and Double Shot.
Different Types of Espresso.
• Espresso Macchiato: This brand of espresso is basically espresso with an added layer of Milk foam on top of it.
• Espresso Con Panna: This brand of espresso has espresso and whipped cream on top of it.
• Cafe Breve: This brand of espresso has espresso and light cream on top of it.
• Cappuccino: This brand of espresso has espresso and steamed milk on top of it. This espresso is so named because its color resembles that of a Capuchin monk’s cloak.
• Cafe Latte: This is one of the most popular espressos in the US because of its sweet flavor. This espresso is made by adding 6-8 ounces of milk to a double shot espresso. This is followed by a foam topping.
• Cafe Americano: this is a diluted version of espresso and it is similar to normal coffee. To make Cafe Americano one simply needs to add 6-8 ounces of water to an espresso shot. This espresso owes its origin to the American soldiers who preferred their espresso diluted with water in order to reduce the strong flavor; and hence the name Americano. The term “cup of joe” also owes its origin to the American GIs.
The Benefits of Coffee
Coffee presents many health benefits that cannot be ignored. It is an antioxidant which helps promote health and slows down the aging process. It helps in the prevention of some more common diseases that assault you as you age.
Coffee has caffeine, one of the stronger stimulants there is. It aids in increasing energy levels and in, increasing and enhancing brain activity.
Coffee helps to burn fat. It can increase your metabolic rate by as much as 11%, helping you burn fat faster. It also boosts physical performance because it increases the adrenaline levels in your body.
Studies indicate that coffee has certain nutrients that help the body stay healthy. It contains niacin, magnesium, manganese, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. It is said to help in the prevention of medical conditions the likes of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, liver difficulties, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Coffee helps by improving a person’s mood and it tends to make you feel better about life in general. It is said to help individuals fight depression.
An increasing number of people are discovering that coffee is good for health and overall well-being.
Interesting Facts About Coffee
Second only to crude oil, coffee is the commodity that the world seeks most. More than 25 million people across the world rely on farming coffee as their means for securing the necessities of life. Coffee is produced by developing countries but people from developed nations are its heaviest consumers.
Today, more than 500 billion cups of this brew are taken every day. In the United States alone, people rely on coffee for their “caffeine fix,” with more than fifty percent of people above 18 years of age taking it on a daily basis. It is not surprising to find out that in the food industry, the coffee cart business is considered one of the fastest-growing and most profitable niches in the entire world.
From being considered Satanic, to being a carefully guarded national secret, and a widely consumed everyday beverage, this drink has seen it all. So the next time you feel like visiting a cafe for a “cup of joe,” do remember to the exuberance of those Ethiopian goats.
This wonder drink can do it all. So a case can rightly be made to call coffee the new elixir of life.