One doesn't drink coffee in the morning because one is thirsty, or because it provides nutritional value, or because one enjoys it, or because one is hooked. Rather it is a chance to revel in life--to enjoy its dark and bitter waters, the acidic aftertaste. Then, and only then, you know that your day couldn't possibly be that bad and you gain in the strength to go on.... One more step.... One more day of tedium.

And it helps to focus for some reason. I find I think twice as fast and twice as focused after a good meal and a couple of cups of coffee. If you skip the meal, then you just get a super caffeine high which lasts some 15 minutes and then you burn out. But whatever.

So there is a balance involved in drinking coffee. A balance of solid and liquid. Of drink and eat. Like the natural flows of the universe.

There is a certain macho factor too. Like when I'm working, I don't want a mamby-pamby cup of Starbucks or Green Mountain coffee! I want a cup of coffee made from dirt. I want to put my spoon in my coffee and have full confidence that it will stand up in the coffee and not touch any of the sides. The coffee should be either scalding hot, or arctic cold. It should be black as night, bitter, and heavily acidic. You should be able to use the same cup of coffee that you would normally drink in the morning to take the rust off your car.

To brew a proper cup of coffee, make sure your equipment is extremely clean. This is vital, to avoid bitterness. The water should be heated to 95-98 degrees centigrade. Lower temperatures will result in flavorless coffee, and higher will increase the acidity and bitterness. If you are really a connosieur, you should either roast your own, or buy freshly roasted and grind it just before brewing. Interestingly, the quality of the bean itself is a distinctly subordinate concern to the factors mentioned above. Lastly, use filtered water. Don't screw up a good cup with bad tap water.

Most people don't really appreciate a good cup, though. I must confess, I am much more discerning with tea than I am with coffee.


Addendum November 15, 2005. I have now developed something of a coffee fixation. I got a Turkish mill to grind the coffee and an inexpensive pump espresso machine. I'm getting an inexpensive cast iron pot to do my own roasting. My wife is going to hate me. If I weren't a family man, I'd probably plunk a grand or two into a good burr grinder and an imported, levered espresso machine which has better temperature control than the one I have. That may be in my future, at least the machine. I think the grinder I have will be sufficient for one person. I finally have something which can legitimately be called a hobby, I guess.
(1998)
Coffee, have I ever told you just how much I love you? I may have murmured in the heat of the moment how grateful I was that you alone were there for me, but I've never specifically set time aside for just the two of us, just to let you know just how special you are.

Coffee, you excite me. When I'm at my lowest, the thought of holding a steaming cup of you is the only thing keeping me from falling asleep standing up. Even when I can't stand the burned, stale mess the Sugar Shack makes of you, just sitting in there, your aroma wafts over the counter, putting a spring in my step and some small measure of alertness in my apathetic gaze. The smell of coffee and donuts sticks in the seams of my hooded sweatshirt, reminding me even now of your everlasting presence.

When I finally find a half-decent mug of you in my hands, you wash everything bad out of my mind. The world is wonderful for a few minutes. There's only you and me. I take that first sip, scalding my tongue, suddenly remembering I don't even LIKE coffee, but just as quickly I forget again as warmth and caffeine and that sweet sugar rush spreads all the way to my fingertips. Ah, sweet coffee-induced bliss. There's nothing like that injection of pure caffeine and sugar, nothing in all the world. It's the best legal high there is.

And in the hottest days of summer, you're there again - confections of crushed ice and cream and sugar syrup and flavoring and that small but utterly crucial shot of very strong coffee dance in my dreams. On those rare but lovely occasions I actually find one in front of me, that decadent, sticky coolness coats my throat, refreshing as nothing else in the world could ever be.

Ah, coffee, you miraculous beverage, existing only as the least-diluted carrier form of caffeine known to man. I am forever indebted to the sheer nervous energy you've brought to my life, to the masses of calories I've burned just from my hands twitching. You brighten my days, lengthen my nights, and make my life just that much more energetic. I love you.
A little known fact about coffee is that dark roasts contains less caffeine than the same beans roasted lightly. This is something to consider for espresso which normally uses a heavily roasted bean to achieve that punch you want after a demitasse of the thick stuff. On the other hand espresso is sufficiently concentrated to make up for any degradation in the caffeine content due to roasting...

While working in a university astronomy department, I ran into a pair of graduate students who were heavily into experimentation with coffee as a drug to aid them staying awake for long nights. They found this lightly roasted african coffee that just gave me the shakes, and I was no lightweight in the caffeine department at that time. Ten minutes after imbibing, I had to use one hand to steady the other while typing away on my terminal. They had also presented the brew to a relative coffee virgin, one of their professors. It was a lecture to remember.

For the real coffee experience you have to go to the Bedouin, the desert nomads who live in Egypt, the Negev and Jordan.

Traditionally coffee was very expensive as it had to be carried by camel from Africa.

The process starts with fresh beans being roasted over an open fire on a long metal rod called a 'mihmas'. They are then left to cool in a wooden scoop called a 'mibradi'. Once the beans are cooled they are then crushed in a tall wooden pestle and mortar, a mihbash. The tribesman crushing the beans will do so to a rhythmic pattern to inform his neighbours that they have a guest and to invite them to his tent. The coffee grounds are then set to boil in a pot, a dallah, over an open flame, with cardamon being added as it boils. When it is ready it is poured in to a fresh pot and served in small cups.

A guest will be offered three rounds of coffee, each one with its own symbolism and meaning. The first cup is called finjan al dayf - the guest cup. It is served to welcome the guest to their tent and as a sign of trust, the theory being that you aren't going to fight someone that you've just had coffee with. Then will be served the second cup, finjan al sayf - the sword cup. This cup is a toast to the honor and courage of the men present. It also marks the resolution of a pending conflict. The third cup, finjan al kayf - the pleasure cup, is served purely for the enjoyment of drinking fine coffee. Each round of coffee is spaced out between conversation, stories and, on special occasions, poetry and music.

Because of the importance of the coffee drinking ritual it can also be used to insult your guest or you host. If the host wished to insult a guest, or to show that he had been wronged, then he will pour a cup and then tip it on to the ground infront of his guest. If the host had served a cup of coffee as a toast to one of his guests and the guest were to spill the cup out instead of drinking it then it would indicate that there was trouble between him and the host.

The Bedouin also say that coffee should be:

Dark as Night
Strong as Man
and Bitter as Married Life

Coffee with cardamom is also one of lifes pleasures. It's best servered in small espresso cups or small glasses. It should be thick and slighly sweet, it should also leave you very pleasantly wired for hours to come.

'Coffee' is a broad term, that means both the beans of the Coffea plant, and the drink that is made of them.

The genus Coffea is a member of the Rubiaceae, family which includes more than 500 genera and 6,000 species of tropical trees and shrubs. Species of Coffea can range from small shrubs to tall trees, and the leaves can range in color from purple to yellow.There are some 25 major species of Coffea, but the beans that are used to make the drink mostly come from Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora (var. robusta). Arabica coffee accounts for about 70% of the world's coffee production.

A smidgen of history

Coffee was introduced to Europe in the 17th century. It came from Arabia, via Turkey. The Arabs are considered to have been the world's first coffee drinkers: in Arabic countries the drinking of coffee was already a daily ritual in the 15th century. When European explorers reached Arabia in the 15th and 16th century, they soon discovered the coffee houses, where a drink was served that was both invigorating and tasty. In 1615 the first ship carrying coffee sailed from Turkey to Europe. The first European coffee house was opened in 1645 in Venice.

Growing coffee

Coffee is grown in most countries around the equator, where there is a tropical or subtropical climate. Coffee trees need an even temperature (between 20 and 25 degrees C) and grow up to heights of 2000 metres. Generally, the higher the tree grows, the better the coffee. Coffee trees grow during the wet season, and rest during the dry season.

From coffee plant to ground coffee

Mature coffee trees bear fruit in clusters along the branches of the trees, typically once a year. The fruit, that is referred to as 'berry' or 'cherry' turns red when it is ready to be harvested, and contains two flat seeds. These are the coffee beans. Coffee is harvested by hand, by strip picking or selective picking. Strip picking means the entire crop is picked at one pass. This means that berries of different ripeness are all picked at the same time. Selective picking means that several passes are made among the coffee trees, in which only the fully ripe berries are taken. This takes more time and is thus more expensive, and is only used for arabica beans, which are considered the best beans.

After picking, the beans are processed. There are two methods of processing (preparing the bean for roasting). The dry method means that the cherries are spread out on a concrete, brick or matting surface to dry. They are raked at regular intervals to prevent fermentation. If rain falls or the temperature drops, the beans have to be covered for protection. When the cherries are dry enough, they are stored in silos where their moisture content drops even further.
In the wet method a pulping machine is used to separate the bean from the skin and pulp of the cherry. The skin and pulp are washed away with water and the lighter, immature beans are separated from the heavier mature beans. The beans are then stored in fermentation tanks to remove the slimy layer that still covers the beans. The beans are then dried and kept until export.
Both the beans processed with the dry method and those processed with the wet method are hulled after drying, to remove the dried outer coverings of the original cherries (dry method) or to remove the parchment layer left on the beans (wet method).

The green beans are graded, sorted and exported. Then comes the roasting, a heat treatment which transforms the green beans into aromatic brown nuggets that are sold whole or ground. At an air temperature of about 180 degrees Celsius (550 degrees Fahrenheit), the sugars in the beans caramelize and the beans slowly turn dark brown. This process, that is called pyrolysis is the most important part of the processing of the beans, as this is the moment that determines the final taste and quality of the coffee. The darker the beans are roasted, the stonger the taste of the coffee. When the beans are done, they are cooled abruptly with air and water to stop the pyrolysis process. The roasting of the beans is performed in the consumer countries rather than the production countries (and preferrably as close in time as possible to consumption), because roasted beans lose their flavour rather quickly.

Decaffeinated coffee

Some people prefer their coffee without the staying awake effects of caffeine. For these people there is decaffeinated coffee. Decaffeinating coffee is done by removing the caffeine from the coffee beans before roasting. This can be accomplshed in several ways. One way is by soaking the green beans in water. The caffeine dissolves in the water and is then pumped through a bed of active carbon. Afterwards the beans are dried, cooled, and roasted in the usual way.
Another way of decafeinating is by using DCM (dichloremethane). The beans are soaked in this extraction medium and the caffeine dissolves in it. The beans are then steamed to remove the DCM, dried and roasted. After decaffeinating, the caffeine content of the beans has dropped from 1 - 2.5% to 0.1%.

Preparing coffee

There are many different ways of making the drink called coffee, but they all involve grinding the roasted coffee beans and then bringing the ground coffee into contact with hot water. The most basic way of making coffee is boiling water with ground coffee, then pouring into cups... but this way means there will be lots of ground stuff in your drink.
More sophisticated methods use filters to separate the dregs from the drink. The most complicated way must be with the espresso machine, that with a pressure of 9 bar forces the water through finely gound coffee, the most entertaining way the glass percolator...

I'm finding some truth in my coffee cup. It's half full of mud-colored liquid and it's been full for the last few hours. I'm at the point where I need more coffee to stay awake, but I'm not sure if staying awake is what I need right now. I think I've been in this diner for three days. It's pretty good coffee, even if I can't drink any more right now. I wonder if the flavor is the same even though it's gotten cold. If you let coffee stand for a while it's just not the same . . . You either have to warm it up again or add more coffee. Adding sugar or cream doesn't do anything for the temperature. You could drink it cold but you probably wouldn't enjoy it. Maybe I put too much cream in . . . Maybe that's what made it get cold. But then again, it would have gotten cold eventually anyway. I wonder if I'll finish this cup or if I'll just leave it here. I'm sure no one else will drink it if I leave it. It's full of my cream, my sugar, and my germs. I stir the coffee in my head. It's still pretty cold.

I think about the beans used in that coffee . . . Those beans grew under a sun that's familiar, but they grew inside of an Earth I'll never know. I want to know what they know. The coffee beans I drank three hours ago. But not now. I added my cream and sugar to other cups in the same glass. Three days ago. But for some reason I'm stuck on this half cup of mud-colored liquid. I have to drink it, or add more, or leave it there, paid for but unconsumed. I'd like to drink it just to say I finished the cup, but the coffee isn't enjoyable to me right now. Exposure to the air has taken all its heat to the point where I can no longer appreciate its flavor . . . That or my tastes have changed. Maybe if I drink that coffee I'll be sick. Maybe I'll throw it all up in the bathroom. I should just wait until I want to drink it. But by then it might have aged too much.

The cream I put in there is from cows from my land. The sugar was harvested in my country's fields. But these coffee beans . . . they're something else.

Maybe I should drink the stuff and be done with it. I've been in this diner for three days. Is there any truth in this coffee at all? If there is, it's gotta be in this half cup of mud-colored liquid. I taste it and it freezes on my tongue. I choke it down but there's no way the rest of that will make it. The waiter gestures at me with his pot of black coffee. His face inquires without his voice.

Gratefully, I extend my cup.

Coffee is proof of the existence of God.

That's right! Coffee, that beverage that gets us going in the morning and keeps us awake at night, is proof of the existence of God. In order to understand why this is so, we need to consider how the coffee beverage was developed. It must have been something like this:

A person is walking through the jungle one day and sees some berries on a tree. The berries look like they might be good to eat so the person picks a few berries from the tree, pops them into their mouth and starts chewing. Moments later, they spit the mushed up pulp and beans out onto the ground along with the rest of their lunch.

Being determined, the person picks a small sack of berries and takes them back to the village. The other villagers are in awe at this discovery and quickly jump in to help extract the hard bean kernel from the surrounding berry pulp. Once they've got all the kernels extracted, our intrepid trend setter pops a few of them into their mouth and starts chewing. Moments later, the beans and a broken tooth are on the ground and cries of anguish fill the air.

A few days later, our hero realizes that one who gives up is a wimp (or something like that) so they grab a few of the now dried beans and pop them into their mouth. Seconds later, another broken tooth and the beans fly through the air and the other villagers learn some new words.

Not one to give up easily, our trailblazer takes the remaining beans and uses the village's mortar and pestle (all jungle villages have these although most villagers are careful to not let any visiting anthropologists see them) to grind them into a fine powder. Being the inquisitive sort (you knew that already), the bean grinder (i.e. the human) then licks the powder that is still sticking to the pestle (or is it the mortar, I'm not really sure but you probably aren't either so it doesn't really matter now does it?). Moments later, and I do mean moments later, they spit the powder onto the ground and make strange faces.

Not prepared to be defeated so easily, our dear ancestor takes some of the powder and tries to mix it into a bowl of water. Nothing much happens so they drain off the water and take a small taste of the wet powder. See last sentence of previous paragraph.

Realizing that hot water might work better, they boil some water (see "fire, invention of" for more information) and then take some of the powder and mix it into the water. After stirring things for a while, they drain off the liquid and try the powder again. Ditto.

Knowing that it is always darkest before the dawn, our budding genius takes some more of the powder and stirs it into yet another bowl of boiling water. This time, they carefully drain the liquid off into another bowl and discard the powder. They proceed to take a sip of the liquid and, as you know, the rest is history!

Hmmmm. There's a problem with that explanation isn't there? There is simply no way that anyone could have the combination of stamina, perseverance, intelligence and sheer stupidity to go through that sequence of trials! Therefore, the coffee beverage wasn't invented by humans.

Since the beverage does exist and humans didn't invent it then it must have been a gift from a higher power - i.e. there is a higher power!

Therefore, there is a God and he really loves us because he gave us the knowledge to brew coffee!


Source

I read this somewhere once. I suppose that that makes this a "cut and paste" writeup although, it is actually more of an "ingest data into brain, mix slowly for a few years with other data, spray resulting mixture at a keyboard" writeup. Hopefully, that makes it all ok . . .

Counterpoint(?)

A different source (the May 5th, 2005 edition of The Coffee News - a free publication found in many local restaurants in Sherwood Park, Alberta (www.yourcoffeenews.com)) claims that coffee was "discovered" in Ethiopia in 850AD. By the 13th century it was in Arabia and 200 years later it was in Turkey and eventually arrived in Europe. It was apparently first used as a food, then as a wine, then as medicine all before it became a beverage (some might even argue that it has now become a drug).
A cup of coffee, and sex please ?

Imagine saying this when ordering something to drink in a café or coffee shop. When associated with sex perhaps the drink that come to mind would be something alcoholic in nature. However, it couldn’t be more wrong as it turned out the world would choose coffee. This reminds me about an ad series by Absolut Vodka with a copy by William Shakespeare which says drinks “provokes the desire but takes away the performance". Curiously it makes me wonder how a male populated vodka drinkers in certain parts of the world are rated on their bedroom routine?

Getting back to the coffee issue, there have been scientific evidence relating caffeine to be not only act a stimulant that increases blood pressure but also to improve sexual functionalities of both men and women. It was recorded that after coffee was introduced in Europe there were more madames in the brothel houses of Europe that have a patented coffee making apparatus than men. This is simply a wonderful example of economic forms between the oldest profession in the world and a brand positioning that says coffee rules the bedroom.

It was also told that there was a petition by women in England in the 16th century against this liquor substance called coffee because it made the men think better. Now this for me is a little bit confusing. Was it bad that coffee makes men think better or was it just unthinkable that men were better in bed? Is this the same as saying that men think better with their penises? If truth were to be told, I have been accused of not using my brain and thinking rather from between the leg but trust me this definitely was not seen as being equal to brilliantly charming or clever.

Whatever the effects are of caffeine on the body metabolism, coffee has the heritage and history that relates to the mind and spirit. As well as to improve the process of oneness in physical intimacy for pleasures of the flesh, coffee was also known to help clear the path to enlightenment during spiritual process to achieve oneness with the divine.

Coffee or Qahwa as it was known during the Ottoman Empire and throughout the Arabic Peninsula was widely used in Sufism as a stimulant to leap from the earthly body in flight to becoming one with the grand universe.

In general terms Qahwa means wine but somehow the meaning was changed as the intake of any alcoholic substances was prohibited in Islam. Being denied the substance that was most common in other religions and cultures in order to reach nirvana, coffee then was discovered as the substance that helps clarity of the mind to reach the blessed state with God. Judging from this fact then maybe those women back in England did have a point that this Qahwa or the Wine of Islam do really make men think better.

Interesting as it is about the history and heritage of coffee I do wonder now if the term “let’s go have coffee” should have a sexual implication attached to it?

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For those who would be inclined to freeze your coffee, bear in mind that by freezing your coffee beans, you remove 15% of the caffeine. Maybe that doesn't seem like much, but keep a few details in mind.

* The average cup of joe contains 100 mg of caffeine; this removes 15mg.

* If you drink drain cleaner strength coffee such as that served at Starbuck's, you're getting about 500 mg of caffeine per cup. That knocks out just around 75 mg of caffeine from your prized blood transfusion.

The moral of the story then is simple. If you like caffeine, don't freeze your beans.

“O Coffee! Thou dost dispel all care, thou are the object of desire to the scholar. This is the beverage of the friends of God.”

-“In Praise of Coffee,” Arabic poem (1511)

Popular legend holds that the young Ethopian herder, Kaldi, serendipitously discovered coffee after noticing the energizing effect the wild berries had on his goats. However, as early as 575AD the nomadic Galla tribe of north Africa was known to have crushed the raw, protein rich berries into animal fat for long sustaining energy during times travel and war.

During the 6th century Ethiopia invaded neighboring Yemen and established coffee plantations during their 50 year rein. The Arab nation developed a taste for the black brew and by the 16th century had cornered the domestic coffee market. Yemeni coffee producers protected their caffeine monopoly by boiling or roasting beans ready for export to ensure their infertility.

In the early 1600s live coffee beans were finally smuggled from Yemen into both Europe and India. Coffee began its centuries long creep around the world. Today coffee is grown in almost eighty countries and is second only to petroleum in international trade value.

Cof"fee (?; 115), n. [Turk. qahveh, Ar. qahuah wine, coffee, a decoction of berries. Cf. Caf'e.]

1.

The "beans" or "berries" (pyrenes) obtained from the drupes of a small evergreen tree of the genus Coffea, growing in Abyssinia, Arabia, Persia, and other warm regions of Asia and Africa, and also in tropical America.

2.

The coffee tree.

There are several species of the coffee tree, as, Coffea Arabica, C. occidentalis, and C. Liberica. The white, fragrant flowers grow in clusters at the root of the leaves, and the fruit is a red or purple cherrylike drupe, with sweet pulp, usually containing two pyrenes, commercially called "beans" or "berries".

3.

The beverage made from the roasted and ground berry.

They have in Turkey a drink called coffee . . . This drink comforteth the brain and heart, and helpeth digestion. Bacon.

The use of coffee is said to have been introduced into England about 1650, when coffeehouses were opened in Oxford and London.

Coffee bug Zool., a species of scale insect (Lecanium coffaea), often very injurious to the coffee tree. -- Coffee rat Zool. See Musang.

 

© Webster 1913.

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