Fangirl Fridays – Coffee!


“Coffee makes me invincible.
But when the cup is empty, I return to mere mortal.”

— Terri Guillemets


I still have this old coffee pot!

I love coffee! There is nothing better than that heavenly, rich smell in the morning (and noon and evening). I love my coffee strong and black. The best for me is double espresso, and the second is macchiato, double, too.

Making coffee at home was an important ceremony even when I was a child. I loved to stand close to the coffee grinder, while my father would pour a small number of coffee beans into the machine and start it. The noise was annoying but the smell was heavenly, the whole house smelled of coffee.

A few years later came the ceremony of brewing coffee in a coffee percolator pot on the stove. I loved waiting for the bubbles to pop up from the glass top of the pot. Hot and delicious, black-brown liquid with a pinch of milk to enrich the flavor. This is one of my cherished childhood memories.

Coffee doesn’t sound like anything to get excited about. It sounds boring, I know.
Coffee is a brewed beverage prepared from the roasted seeds of several species of an evergreen shrub of the genus coffea. The two most common sources of coffee beans are the highly regarded Coffea arabica, and the “robusta” form of the hardier Coffea canephora.Wikipedia
But close your eyes and imagine the smell, the taste. Those make me smile, sit back, and enjoy the moment.

Join me after the jump for a few more things about coffee that make me smile!





There are so many ways to prepare coffee. I’ll just name a few: cappuccino, Americano, Turkish coffee, espresso, latte, mocha, macchiato, Irish coffee, iced coffee, Affogato, and so many more. You can find a list here.

I know there is also instant coffee. Ahem. In my book, this is not considered to be coffee, just some kind powder that colors your hot water brown.

Did you know that instant coffee was invented by George Washington? Not the first President of the United States, but a Belgian man who lived in Guatemala in 1906.

As a tribute to my coffee love and addiction, here are some tales and facts about coffee.

We might have to thank goats for it

The historical information about coffee is vague; there are a few legends going around. The most popular is a story of an 8th-century Ethiopian goat herder who watched his goats eating the berries of a shrub. He noticed that his goats became somewhat overly enthusiastic afterwards, so he tried the berries himself and then spread the news. Nearby monks tasted some, and the legend goes on to say that those monks received divine inspiration afterward, and I am really not surprised. Don’t you feel that way after a good cup of coffee?

The second popular story is about Sheik Omar. According to ancient chronicles, Sheik Omar was known for his ability to cure the sick through prayer. He was once exiled from a place in Yemen, called Mocha. He was sent to a desert and lived in a cave. Life was hard there and he was starving. While looking for food, he chewed berries from a shrub. The berries were very bitter, so he tried roasting them, but then they became hard, so he tried boiling them to soften them. This resulted in a fragrant brown liquid. Upon drinking the liquid Omar was enlivened and sustained for days. When his story reached Mocha, Omar was asked to return and was made a saint.

From Ethiopia, knowledge of coffee beans spread to Yemen and Egypt, and by the 16th century was known around the Arab world.

In 1583, a German physician gave this description of coffee after returning from a 10-year trip to the Near East:
A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu.”
Reise in die Morgenländer (in German), Leonhard Rauwolf
From the Middle East, coffee traveled to Venice, Italy, and from there was introduced around Europe. The British East India Company, introduced coffee in England. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is still in existence today. Coffee was introduced to France in 1657, and to Austria and Poland after the 1683 Battle of Vienna, when coffee was captured from the defeated Turks.


Coffee reached North America during the Colonial period. At first it had no success; alcohol was much more popular. The demand for coffee increased during the Revolutionary War, when many Americans decided to avoid drinking tea as a protest against the British. Also, there was reduced tea availability and high tea tax after the Boston Tea Party.

I feel this is enough about history, let’s move on to some facts. I’ll try to make it short and get to the fun facts quickly.

First the basic facts

The two most economically important varieties of coffee plant are the Arabica and the Robusta; 75–80% of the coffee produced worldwide is Arabica and 20% is Robusta. Arabica coffee beans are widely considered to have the best flavor profiles, while the Robusta tends to be bitter and have less flavor but better body than Arabica. Within Arabica, however, there are many different varietals, each of which produce beans with distinct flavors and characteristics.

At the top of the list of countries producing coffee stands Brazil, followed by Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, and Ethiopia.

And now the fun facts

Coffee houses went on to become popular in London. By the mid-1660s, there were 82 coffee houses in London alone. These houses became the meeting places for influential men like Isaac Newton, Robert Hooke, Samuel Johnson, and Alexander Pope. King Charles II attempted to ban coffee drinking in 1675, believing people met there to conspire against him. The citizens of London were very unhappy with this decision, and Charles abandoned the idea.

In 1674, a group of London women formed a group called WPAC (Women’s Petition against Coffee). They didn’t like the amount of time their husbands spent in coffee houses rather than being home where they belonged.
“Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water.”
— The Women’s Petition against Coffee

During the American Civil War, soldiers were craving coffee but there was nothing around. They tried roasting sweet potatoes and corn to make a beverage similar to coffee. It obviously didn’t become a popular choice. See how much people love coffee?

The Japanese believe that bathing in coffee grounds fermented with pineapple pulp will reduce wrinkles and beautify the skin.

Researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno, have discovered that coffee can be turned into an alternative fuel: biodiesel. You can have your coffee and drink it too! No need to use the fresh stuff—use the old grounds for fuel.

Caffeine is probably the most widely used drug in the world. It affects the central nervous system and is considered a stimulant. (Well, of course. Which is why I drink it to wake up in the morning....) But coffee can kill you if you drink too much. The lethal dose of coffee for an adult is about 80–100 cups of coffee in a short period of time. So be careful about your daily intake if you think you might exceed that!


Coffee and songs

There are probably many songs that pay tribute to coffee. I know only a few:
  • The Coffee Song was written by Bob Hilliard and Dick Miles and recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1946. You might know it as They’ve Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil. The Coffee Song was also recorded by Sam Cooke, Rosemary Clooney, and even the Muppets did their own version.
  • One More Cup of Coffee by Bob Marley:
    One cup of coffee, then I’ll go/ Though I just dropped by to let you know/ That I’m leaving you tomorrow/ I’ll cause you no more sorrow/ One cup of coffee, then I’ll go.”
  • Black Coffee by Ella Fitzgerald:
    Black coffee
    Love’s a hand me down brew
    I’ll never know a Sunday
    In this weekday room.”
  • A Cup of Coffee by Johnny Cash:
    “Just dropped in to have a cup of coffee, friend.”
  • One More Cup of Coffee by Bob Dylan:
    “One more cup of coffee for the road,
    One more cup of coffee ’fore I go
    To the valley below.”
  • 40 Cups of Coffee by Tennessee Earnest Ford:
    “Pace the floor, stop and stare/ I drink a cup of coffee and start pulling out my hair/ I’m drinking forty cups of coffee/ Forty cups of coffee/ Forty cups of coffee, waiting for you to come home.”
  • You’re So Vain by Carly Simon:
    “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
    Clouds in my coffee.”

Have you heard about the most expensive coffee in the world?

Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, is the world’s most expensive and low-production coffee. It is made from the beans of coffee berries that have been eaten by the Asian Palm Civet, then passed through its digestive tract. In its stomach, proteolytic enzymes seep into the beans, making shorter peptides and more free amino acids. Passing through a civet’s intestines, the beans are then defecated, keeping their shape... so, practically speaking, fans of this coffee are drinking a beverage made from this animal’s poop. After gathering, thorough washing, sun drying, light roasting, and brewing, these beans are the most expensive coffee in the world. Kopi Luwak is produced mainly on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Sulawesi, in the Indonesian Archipelago, and also in the Philippines and east Timor. The Kopi Luwak is typically sold by weight in Japan and the United States, and served by the cup in Southeast Asian coffee houses. Sources vary widely in estimating an annual worldwide production.

Wondering about the price?

A mere
0.225lbs (100gr) = 69$.


Do you remember the movie The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson? Here is their dialog about the coffee (or watch it here):

[Carter hands Edward an article about Kopi Luwak, Edward’s favorite coffee]
Carter Chambers: Read it.

Edward Cole: [reading] Kopi Luwak is the world’s most expensive coffee. Though for some, it falls under the category of “too good to be true.” In the Sumatran village, where the beans are grown, lives a breed of wild tree cat. These cats eat the beans, digest them and then... defecate. [pauses]
Edward Cole: The villagers then collect and process the stools. It is the combination of the beans and the gastric juices of the tree cat that give Kopi Luwak...
[Carter starts laughing]
Edward Cole: ...its unique flavor... and aroma. [Stops reading] You’re shitting me!
Carter Chambers: [laughing] Cats beat me to it!
[Carter and Edward both laugh hysterically]

Coffee and books

We are a book club, after all! I guess you know coffee plays a part in many books. For some, like the Charley Davidson series, it is practically one of the characters! Here are some coffee-related quotes from books we love:

“Want coffee?” I asked, as I headed that way.
“It’s three thirty in the morning.”
“Okay. Want coffee?”

Third Grave Dead Ahead, Darynda Jones
“I strode toward Mr. Coffee with lust in my eyes. We’d had a thing for quite some time now, Mr. Coffee and I...”
Third Grave Dead Ahead, Darynda Jones
“I’d never met coffee that wasn’t wonderful. It was just a matter of how wonderful it was.”
The Killing Dance, Laurell K. Hamilton
“What do you want?”
“Just coffee. Black—like my soul.”

City of Bones, Cassandra Clare
Black as night, sweet as sin.”
Anasi Boys, Neil Gaiman
         “Mercy,” he mumbled. “What the hell did you do to my French Roast?”
Moon Called, Patricia Briggs
“I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now.”
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
“No matter what historians claimed. BC really stood for “Before Coffee.”
Master of the Mountain, Cherise Sinclair
“You wanna—I dunno—get coffee or something sometime?”
Justin smiled “Not coffee. But yes.”
“Not coffee it is, then.”
“Yes, Not Coffee.”

How They Met, and Other Stories, David Levithan
“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
— T.S. Eliot
There are tons of quotes about coffee—I could probably write an entire post made only from coffee quotes. But here is the last one for today, again, from Darynda Jones’s hilarious Charley Davidson series:

Darynda Jones France

Let’s go have a cup of frothy, steaming coffee, my saucy readers! Where do you stand regarding coffee love? Did you know that water is the only beverage more popular than coffee?

Comments

  1. I don't drink coffee Merit but this was such a fun post.. and informative! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really?!? I tried and tried to like it when I was younger, but I just couldn't stand it. Then when I was approaching 40 my husband-to-be introduced me to flavored coffee creamers... Now I drink a lot of coffee, but always with milk and sweetener.

      When she visited me, Merit had to go to Starbucks to find strong enough coffee. What we brewed at my house was way too watered down for her tastes! Next time, I will plan ahead for that. :-)

      Delete
    2. HA! Yes, coffee isn't my cup of tea :D I've occasionally had coffee but I guess I'm just not grown up enough to appreciate it... yet anyway.

      Haha, lucky for Merit that Starbucks was able to get save her day :)

      Delete

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