Wednesday, December 22, 2010

History of Coffee (Hooray!)

Hey Guys, Coffee and alcohol… those seem to be the two things that will really help you get through the holidays with your family. Coffee to get you through last night’s hangover, the last minute present shopping where you run into that person you haven’t seen from high school in forever (and of course you’re not wearing makeup!), and the endless and endless amounts of grocery shopping. The alcohol is to get you through those family dinners that end up being full of more grilling than the CIA’s interrogation technique. Which leads us right back to coffee! That being said I recently read the Green Mantle by Michael Jordan (not the basketball player sportsfans...) and found out some amazing Factoids (Factoids!!!!) about the history of coffee and thought I would share.
  • Coffee is the second most widely marketed source of caffeine (behind tea). The average cup of coffee delivers between 65 and 115 milligrams of caffeine (tea is unlikely to contain more than 60 milligrams).
  • Historical records from as early as 900 BC show that the Arab nations were the first to drink a beverage made from the crushed beans soaked in boiling water (coffee is even mentioned in the Koran).
  • The best-known legend about how coffee was discovered is about is an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi. Kaldi (not having a ton of distractions as a goat herder) began to notice how lively and energetic his goats became after eating some reddish-colored berries. Kaldi was tempted to eat some of the berries himself and when he did he discovered that it was not only the goats which remained alert and active. So being a good servant of God Kaldi passed his newly found secret to the local monastery. The monks were naturally interested in any stimulants for staying awake during long periods of meditation and prayer, so they began to experiment for themselves. Even though they quickly learned that chewing the beans was definitely not the most enjoyable way of taking coffee it took several centuries for the advantage of roasting the beans to gain approval (probably somewhere around 1000 - 1200 AD).
  • Coffee cultivation began sometime during the 1600s in Yemen, and from the beginning the industry was carefully controlled throughout the Middle East (much in the way tea was in China or petroleum is these days). The coffee-growing countries placed a strict prohibition on the export of coffee plants or seeds that could be germinated, only allowing the sale of infertile sun-dried or roasted beans. The Arab monopoly remained strong until viable saplings were smuggled out of the Arab port of Mocha (the origin of the name Mocha coffee) to Amsterdam during the early part of the 17th century. These illegal plants were then shipped to the Dutch East Indies and the first coffee production outside the Arab world began on the island of Java and Amsterdam became the internationally recognized trading center for coffee.

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