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So here we are again. It’s lovely isn’t it? Today I wanted to talk to you about one of my personal favorites, coffee! Seriously. I’m sitting right next to a cup right now as is write this sitting I one of the many Roasterie shops around the KC area. I figured, why not, eh? It summer, not too many of you guys are working on big assignments or cramming for midterms/finals, and I’m guessing a good portion of you are probably consuming this to get through the mornings at your job (be it summer, your first real job, or the job you’ve head for.ev.er.). Am I right? I kind of figured it would be a decent gamble.

So, coffee. The bitter bean we turn into some crazy caffeinated bean juice. We drink it hot and cold, with gratuitous “additions” or black as night. But what do you really know about this tasty beverage?

Coffee has been consumed, supposedly, since the 9th century. It first started out in Ethiopia in the province of Kaffa. Over time it migrated through the Arab areas, taking the people by storm. By the 15th century it was being cultivated and the first coffee shops begin appearing all over Mecca. Much like our coffee shops today, they were dens of socializing, game playing, thinking/philosophizing, and (of course) politics. It was this political bent that caused the shops to be frequently banned, but they would crop up again and again eventually leading to a tax to minimize the disturbances. Much to no ones surprise the Arab countries did not want to share their wonderful drink/bean/plant with the world, and imposed a ban on transport of fertile beans. This was short lived…circumvented in 1616 by the Dutch. The Dutch brought coffee to the Netherlands and begin growing it in greenhouses; they also had some plans growing in India and Java (in moder day Indonesia). The wonderful beverage was quite popular in Europe and generally sold by lemonade vendors until the first coffee shop pooped up in Venice in1683… Cafe Florian, which is still in operation today. Coffee was not too far behind the first American settlers…the first literary mention of the drink was in 1668! Coffee shops soon followed in all the major cities including NYC, Philly, and Boston. In the United States, as with other counties, the coffee shops became hubs for planning and getting together. The Boston Tea Party was planned in one, and the New York Stock Exchange and the Bank of New York were started in a coffee shop! The bitter bean continued to grow in popularity. In 1720 one plant took an eventful boat ride with French Naval Officier Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu. One rough voyage later they arrived at Martinique where the surprisingly still living coffee plant was interred…and grew….and grew…and grew! By 1770 it is recorded that there were between 18 and 19 million coffee plants on the island. And thus was born the newest cash crop! Martinique did not have the only soil that loved coffee, shortly after the Dutch brought coffee to its settlement of Surinam it flourished. Since then, coffee has become one of the most profitable crops of South and Central America. The British, not to be outdone by their conquering rivals, introduced coffee to its colony in Jamaica in 1730. Coffee grown in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains is still, to this day, the most famous and expensive coffee. Kona coffee of Hawaii is also climbing the charts…but North American growers are definitely not to quite the level of our South and Central American counterparts, or the Asian or African counterparts for that matter.

Curious about how it goes from tree to cup? Well…

Step 1) plant coffee plant in fertile soil. It likes warm, moist climates. Wait.

Step 2) harvest coffee “cherries”‘ the coffee fruit.

Step 3) “process”…removed the fruity flesh from around the bean

Step 4) dry….forever.

Step 5) roast. The beans are roasted at temps around 392 degrees F (200 C) to a desired hue. The flavor of your coffee depends on the roast…darker is usually more bitter.

Step 6) grind to pulp and brew with water.

Step 7) consume at last

Fun coffee facts:

  • There are multiple species of coffee plant. The most popular is arabica.
  • In 2003 it was the 6th largest legal export in value.
  • From 1998 – 2006 approximately 6.7 million tons of coffee were produced annually. The number has since risen.
  • Average U.S. consumption is 3.1 cups a day.
  • Demand for coffee in Europe was so strong by the 19th century, that in times of limited real coffee beans, substitutions were made using chicory root, acorns, and/or figs. Ew.

How caffeinated do you want to be?

Caffeine amt. based on 7 oz serving or 1 shot of espresso

  • Drip coffee: 115-175 mg
  • Espresso: 100 mg
  • Brewed coffee: 80-135 mg
  • Instant: 65-100 mg
  • Decaf, brewed: 3-4 mg
  • Decaf, instant: 2-3 mg

Best coffee tips:

  • Make sure your pot is clean (stale coffee scum=nasty flavor)
  • Use clean filtered water
  • Use fresh and quality coffee beans. Even better: grind your coffee just before brewing.

Want to learn more? Just want to be amused by coffee? Check these out:


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