I've been blogging for several months now, and it’s just occurred to me that I haven’t really written about a subject very near and dear to my heart. Something so important that it makes reasoning, let alone writing, possible for me. In fact, this substance is critical to many of the people I know getting much of their activities done on a daily basis. I’m not talking about food, water or oxygen, but something only slightly less imperative to life on this planet. Yes, I’m talking about the nectar of the gods, that marvelous life-giving substance, coffee.
No matter who you are, whether you like coffee or not, you have to admit that this is one seriously potent beverage. From my childhood until now, I have awakened to the smell of coffee brewing more days than not. One great thing about automatic coffee makers: if your alarm clock breaks, you still have the timer on your Mr. Coffee to fall back on. What wakes you up more effectively than that most delicious of aromas? That is an incredible smell, is it not? I bet I’m not the only one here who opens a new can of coffee by breaking the seal and then immediately sniffing the first whiff of those fresh beans. If you’re around when I do it, I’ll share. It’s better than passing a joint, in my opinion. Not that I’ve passed a lot of those. Sometimes I will walk into the kitchen just to open the can and take a hit off the coffee can. Does that mean I have a problem? If it does, I don’t care.
The history and origins of coffee are pretty interesting. This miracle bean was thought to have been discovered when a young goatherd in Yemen or Ethiopia noticed his goats eating the berries of a plant, then “dancing,” or gamboling playfully. When he tried a few berries for himself, he felt an amazing surge of energy. Of course, word quickly spread. I mean, think about a world without coffee (if you can), and then imagine its discovery in that world. Wanna bet how fast this stuff became popular? Anyway, the earliest reports of coffee being drunk are from Sufi monasteries in Yemen anywhere from the sixth to the mid-fifteenth century. Personally, I’m willing to bet that there’s a lost manuscript out there somewhere that mentions Noah having a cuppa while waiting on the animals to board the ark, but that’s just conjecture. There are dozens of varieties of coffee bean, and the plants are cultivated in over 70 countries. If you’d like to see Mike Rowe give a nice overview of how Kona coffee is grown, harvested and roasted, look here.
Some of my best memories are of being at my grandparents’ house and drinking coffee made for me by my grandma. She’d load it down with milk and sugar when I was very young, but by the time I was 10 or 11, I had started requesting it black. When I drink coffee, I want to taste coffee, by golly. But that’s not my point. All my life, coffee has been a building block for relationships. I’m willing to wager that when you’re first getting to know new friends, potential loves, or business prospects, you do it over coffee. Can you think of a substance that makes for such intimacy without robbing your memories of the good times had? Yeah, alcohol can’t do that.
Would you believe that a little over 50% of the US population drinks coffee daily, and the average consumption is about 3 cups? A statistic I found on one page said that daily, about 2 billion cups of coffee are drunk daily around the world. The average price of a 12 oz. brewed cup of coffee in a shop is around $1.40, but the cost of a cup that you brew yourself is about a nickel. Oh, here’s something else to think about: The term used in the southwestern Ethiopia region for the coffee berry and plant is bunn. If the word “bunn” looks familiar, take a peek at this. By the way, here’s an interesting tidbit that I came across while researching: the world’s most famous insurance company, Lloyd’s of London, started off as a coffee house.
Here are some more interesting factoids:
- James Mason invented the coffee percolator on December 26, 1865.
- On May 11, 1926, "Maxwell House Good to the last drop" was trademark registered.
- In 1822, the first espresso machine was made in France.
- In 1933, Dr. Ernest Illy invented the first automatic espresso machine.
- The modern-day espresso machine was created by Italian Achilles Gaggia in 1946.
- The first pump driven espresso machine was produced in 1960 by the Faema company.
So go on. Grab a nice, hot cup of joe. You never know, it might make your day!