Did you know that before coffee became one of our favorite morning drinks of choice, people drank beer and wine for breakfast?
In many places drinking water was so full of harmful bacteria that to ensure their health they turned to beer and wine. Interesting fact, whether accidental or not, Monks had apparently become aware of food preservation by slow fermentation and the beneficial impact it had on people's health, so wine and beer were the healthier option to undrinkable water!. Consumption of beer and wine were a flourishing industry. (I have my own personal story with having to choose beer over water while traveling through Eastern Europe at the age of 17, but because this post is about coffee I won't share the story right here, if you want to know more, write, "I want to hear beer story" in the comments).
The expansion of coffee into the world brought such conflictive issues that coffee was banned from consumption at different times in history. Some people reacted to this new beverage with such great suspicion and fear that they called it the “bitter invention of Satan.” or "the devil's beverage". The local clergy condemned coffee when it came to Venice in 1615. The controversy was so great that Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. He decided to taste the beverage for himself before making a decision, "this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the unbelievers have exclusive use of it" and he gave it papal approval.
Despite all hullabaloo, coffee houses were quickly becoming centers of social activity and communication in the major cities throughout Europe. Suddenly, something called “penny universities” sprang up into the scene in England, for just the price of a penny one could purchase a cup of coffee and engage in stimulating conversation. Could this be the birth of the colloquial saying "a penny for your thoughts"?.
The regular engaging in this enriching conversational environment led some leaders to feel threatened and radical measurements were taken. During 1511, coffee was banned by Muslim leaders in Mecca who thought that it had concerning effects, as it was believed to stimulate hanging out which could increase the possibility of radical thinking. The governor thought it might unite his opposition. In 1675, King Charles II banned coffee shops because he believed that people who were conspiring against him were meeting at coffee houses. The ban was lifted soon after. In 1623, the Ottoman Sultan, Murad IV, forbade coffee and set up a system of penalties. The punishment for a first offense was a beating, but anyone caught with coffee a second time was sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the waters of the Bosporus Strait. In 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia issued a manifesto claiming beer’s superiority over coffee. He argued that coffee interfered with the country’s beer consumption. In the hopes to bring everyone back to their senses, a royal statement was proclaimed, “His Majesty was brought up on beer,” explaining why he thought breakfast beer drinking was a good idea.
In spite of all efforts to eradicate coffee, it began to replace the common breakfast drink beverages of the time. Those who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and energized, and not surprisingly, the quality of their work was greatly improved.
But where does coffee really come from?, Where is its true origin?.
Ethiopia is the motherland of Coffee. It has been growing in Ethiopia for thousands of years in the forests of South Western highlands where coffee was first discovered. The legend says that the goat herder Kaldi, who lived in the 9th century, noticed how his goats became exceptionally lively, that they would not want to sleep at night after eating the bright red berries from a shiny dark-leaved shrub nearby, so Kaldi tried a few berries himself and soon felt very stimulated. It is said that he reported his findings to a nearby monastery who also put the berries to taste and soon enough the news of this energetic berries reached the Arabian peninsula, and slowly began a journey which would bring these plants and seeds across the globe.
Ethiopian cultural ceremonies and rituals would use the fruits as a stimulant and a special solid food. The ripe berries were squashed, combined with animal fats and shaped in to balls, which could be carried and eaten during long journeys. Ethiopian people are relational, polite, very honoring of family values and follow communal life. They keep the ceremonial reverence to coffee drinking time as an entire neighborhood event. Women will take the beans and begin roasting them, letting all her neighbors know that she is up for visiting and engaging in conversation. Everyone is welcome. It is a manual process and takes a little bit of time allowing people to gather. Coffee can be seasoned with spices and is served black. Another peculiar ingredient to this event is popcorn, which is freshly popped and enjoyed with the coffee and the chatting amongst other tasty snacks.
By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia and by the 16th century it was known in Persia, Egypt, Syria, and Turkey. Coffee houses continued to popped up and people frequented them for all kinds of social activity. They would engage in conversation, listened to music, watched performers, played chess and kept updated on the latest news. Coffee houses quickly became such an important center for the exchange of information that they were often referred to as “Schools of the Wise.” With thousands of pilgrims visiting the holy city of Mecca every year from all over the world, knowledge of this “wine of Arabia” began to spread.
European travelers to the Near East brought back stories of an unusual dark black beverage. By the 17th century, coffee had made its way to Europe and was becoming popular across the continent. By the mid 17th century, there were over 300 coffee houses in London, many of which attracted like minded patrons, including merchants, shippers, brokers and artists. As demand for the beverage continued to spread, there was fierce competition to cultivate coffee outside of Arabia.
The Dutch looking to also invest into coffee finally got seedlings in the latter half of the 17th century. Their first attempts to plant them in India failed, but they were successful with their efforts in the island of Java, what is now Indonesia. The plants thrived and soon the Dutch had a productive and growing trade in coffee from the Pacific.
In 1714, the Mayor of Amsterdam presented a gift of a young coffee plant to King Louis XIV of France. The King ordered it to be planted in the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris. In 1723, a young naval officer, Gabriel de Clieu obtained a seedling from the King's plant. Despite a challenging voyage complete with horrendous weather, a saboteur who tried to destroy the seedling, and a pirate attack, he managed to transport it safely to Martinique. Once planted, the seedling thrived, and it’s credited with the spread of over 18 million coffee trees on the island in the following 50 years. Even more incredible is that this seedling was the parent of all coffee trees throughout the Caribbean, South and Central America.
By the end of the 18th century, coffee had become one of the world's most profitable export crops. After crude oil, coffee is the most sought commodity in the world today.
Don't we like our coffee??!!. There simply is so much still to be said about coffee, did you know that most people do not use a fancy coffee machine to make their coffee every morning?. While recently visiting a small eco hotel, I had to improvise my super early morning coffee cup and because I am used to making coffee in different ways, I was able to find a quick solution. That inspired me to research about coffee and viola, here is this post!. I am attaching my short video for your enjoyment of my quick improvisation to make myself a coffee with what I found in the room. For the record and fairness, the hotel had an amazing restaurant with a fancy coffee machine, it was just not opened yet!.
Another way I get the last bit of use out of my coffee beans is by using the grained coffee as a facial scrub, well, I use it as a body scrub too. After you are done making your coffee, wait until the grained coffee is no longer hot and mix as much as you want with some coconut oil, Use it in face or body or both.