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Coffee Types, Facts and History

Wake up and Smell the Coffee

For more than a thousand years we have been perfecting the coffee drinking and making art. It’s the first thing that comes out when you want to ask someone out, the first thing you think about in the morning and the most enjoyable beverage on the list. The legend of Kaldi, who was the goatherd that discovered the effects of coffee beans is old as the beverage itself. He took his goats every day on the grazing land and one day they stumble upon the coffee bush and ate the red beans. The story says they became very vigorous and didn’t want to sleep all night, so he grabbed a few beans and decided to try them himself. One version of the legend says he danced with his goats all night, and in the morning he showed them at the local monastery. They made a drink that kept them awake longer during their evening prayers and the word started to spread around. Another story about this aromatizing drink says that the saint Omar first discovered the end product we know today as coffee. He was exiled to a desert cave from Mocha and he was starving for days. There were coffee trees in abundance but their taste was bitter, so he tried to roast them. Once they turned brown he realized he can’t chew them, so he tried boiling them. And that’s how the first coffee was made.

Short History of Coffee

You can believe in one or the other story about the first coffee beverage, either way the coffee brewing and cultivating originates from Arabia. The stories suggest that either the goatherd Kaldi or the faith healer Omar discovered this energizing drink in the beginning of the dark ages and we already know that Arabs used coffee beans in their merchandising trades in the 15th century. It was cultivated in today’s territories in and around Yemen and by the end of the 16th century it was served as a hot beverage in coffeehouses in Syria, Persia, Egypt and Turkey. In the Near East, the name for coffee was qahveh khaneh, or kahve in Turkish, which is probably where the name in English comes from. Some sources state that the former Kingdom of Kaffa or today’s Ethiopia gave the name of this drink, where it’s called bunna. This hot beverage became popular immediately and not only did people were drinking it at home, but it was the social excuse to engage in many social happenings. People played chess and watched performers while listening to music and called these coffeehouses the “School for the wise”. Arabian coffee breeders were able to guard their beverage for more than two centuries, but at the end of the 17th century the drink became popular in the European continent too.

People who traveled to the Near East only told stories about the hot dark drink until someone decided to bring roasted coffee beans back from his expedition. In Europe too, the local priesthood got their hands on the discovery first and they condemn it, calling it the bitter taste of Satan. Their decision was not final of course, and when the Holy Father tasted it he gave it a Papal approval. At the time, one cup of coffee would cost you only a penny, because tea was still the favorite beverage among the European lords and ladies. After King George imposed high taxes on tea, the colonist revolt known as the Boston Tea Party will change the history of coffee drinking forever. By the end of the 17th century over 2000 coffee shops were opened only in London, with the famous Lloyd's of London among them. The rest of the story of how coffee got to all parts of the world is obvious. Europeans were taking coffee with them in every place they occupied, usually enslaving people to grow the beans. They ruined vast forests and jungles in Brazil to plant coffee, and then move on once the soil was depleted. On the brighter side, every coffee shop opened was a place where artists, writers, performers and philosophers gathered to share ideas, thoughts and their work. Even the American Revolution and the French Revolution were planned in a coffee house. Coffee was banned many times by many monarchs, but the king of England was known to ban coffeehouses because he thought they are the places where people plotted against him.

Facts about Coffee You Didn’t Know About

You may think that certain types of coffee Arabica are the most expensive roasted beans, but the priciest coffee beans come from the belly of the Asian Palm Civet. This wild animal feeds on coffee beans for their fleshy pulp, but its digestive tract leaves the beans intact. The fermentation process that happens in the stomach improves the quality of the beans and what comes out are the pricy coffee beans that are sold for 700 dollars for one kg. The coffee industry says this coffee tastes bad and the international organization TRAFFIC, criticizes the farming methods that include force feeding, small cages, isolation and poor diet. Those who tried it say its taste is exquisite and worth for the money. For purchasing references, the name of the coffee is kopi luwak, the genuine type can rarely be found but imitations are sold over the Internet. Generally, the coffee as a commodity is the second most retailed product, after oil. The lethal dose for grownups is 100 cups of coffee, but for good health more than three cups per day are not recommended or wise. The world record in drinking coffee is 87 cups during a 7 hour period. Voltaire was known to drink around 50 cups a day and President Teddy Roosevelt drank a gallon every day. The consumption of coffee throughout the world was and still is a matter of choice. Other than black and white, try thinking big.

There are tribes in Africa that use coffee beans mixed with fat for making energy bombs. Scientists think, coffee can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels in the future. If you ever visit a Turkish or Greek home, the host will welcome you with a cup of coffee and if you get offered another one, their customs say it’s time to leave. In Japan there is a spa where you can take a bath in coffee, to add beauty to your skin and recuperate from fatigue. If you want to order a latte in Italy, make sure you order “coffee latte”, otherwise you will be served a glass of milk, which in Italy is called latte. The reason why coffee makes you jumpy is because it increases the adrenaline levels. In your brain, when you drink coffee, the adenosine receptors, which are responsible for the energy transfer, are blocked by the caffeine. The brain sees this as an emergency, so it tells the adrenal glands to start producing more adrenaline in order to boost your energy.

Types and Species of Coffee

Someone once said that even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all and that BC should stand for Before Coffee. We would agree with both statements, although there are some types of coffees that are conclusively better than others. Especially if you are a true coffee addict, you know that the stuff Starbucks sell is usually garbage. You might also know that it takes 25 to 30 seconds for the perfect espresso to be extracted from the coffee maker and it has to be 25 to 30ml with 5mm of dark red crème on the top. American soldiers invented the Americano coffee by adding hot water into their cups, because they couldn’t stand its strong taste and aroma. A long black coffee is made of two shots espresso and it’s served in a cappuccino cup. Espresso in Italian means something forced out. The word cappuccino comes from the Italian language, and it translates into a robe or a hood. The coffee is named that way because it resembles the color of the Italian monks’ robes, which was light brown. It’s still the name for a specific brown color however.

There are many fancy types of coffee you can make at home. Affogato is a type of coffee beverage made by drowning a dessert, usually full fat ice cream in espresso. Caffee Bonbon is called Kopi Susu Panas in Malaysia and Gafeh Rorn in Thailand, but the making process is the same. If you want to make a coffee party and serve this drink, you will need condensed milk and shots of espresso. To achieve the Wow effect you should use glasses instead of coffee cups. You have to pour the coffee first and the milk last, to make sure there are two different colored layers. Sometimes, if you have a quality coffee maker, there may be three layers, one of the milk, the second from the coffee and the third from the espresso foam. There are more than 80 different coffee beverages but feel free to invent your own in your free time.

Most coffee bags on the market are made from mixing Robusta and Arabica coffee beans. They are the most commercialized coffee plants, together with the Liberica variety. Arabica is a plant native to Ethiopia. The coffee beans these types of trees produce have concentrated flavor and special weather conditions are essential for their cultivation. On the other hand, the Robusta variety is resistant to diseases and bad weather conditions. These coffee beans are mostly used in instant coffees or famous coffee blends and you can rarely and questionably find them in gourmet shops. Other hybrid coffee species were invented in the last century, but most of the production is focused on cultivating already established beans. Brazil, Vietnam and Columbia are the world leaders in cultivating these trees, and India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Honduras and Peru fall behind on the list of coffee producers. Hawaii is the only country in America that cultivates this product so far.

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