Five things to know about coffee
It is probably the most loved beverage of all and it graces the breakfast tables of households all over the globe. And just like all consumables which can be found anywhere in the world, how you enjoy it depends on where you come from. Ever since the first of their kind was opened five centuries ago, small shops catering to the urban populace with varied versions of this tasty delight are now a key part of large cosmopolitan centers all over the world.
And that’s far from being all there is to it either. More than a mere beverage it has also become a main ingredient in cakes, cookies, sweets and even liqueurs, thanks to its unique flavor.
You must have guessed by now that the beverage in question is none other than coffee, that fragrant, tasty pick me up responsible for revitalizing the urban populace in major cities all over the world.
But how much do you really know about the only beverage which is tea’s closest rival and which has even managed to outstrip it in some places?
You are about to find out just how much and by the time you have reached the end of the article you will feel like a connoisseur thanks to the pointers we have provided for you.
For some reason, the word coffee seems to conjure up images of Brazil, Colombia and Java in our minds. It’s no surprise that some of us actually believe that coffee was discovered on one of those places. An error which is actually forgivable given that each of those countries are among the world’s top five producers.
However it is rather another country, it self also belonging to this category which has the distinction of introducing coffee to the world. Ethiopia.
It is a charming story which takes us all the way back to the 9th century CE to a young goatherd who observed that his herd became extremely energetic after ingesting the berries of a particular tree. Deciding to help himself to a handful, he soon found that he too shared the same energy boost which his goats had enjoyed.
Being of a generous disposition, he shared his findings with a local monk who decided to brew a beverage with his gift. And the first cup of coffee was created. From there, the popularity of the new beverage spread to Yemen, the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire and throughout Europe and from there to the rest of the world. And the rest as they say is history
A question of geography
You’ve heard of the Corn, Frost and Rice Belt regions in America used to describe States with an abundance of the crops or weather conditions that give them their name. But there is another belt, which covers a region which is far more extensive than these and plays a far greater role in gastronomy and economy on an international scale: the Coffee or the Bean Belt.
Every cup of coffee you have ever enjoyed comes from this geographical area. And with good reason too. It is simply the only place where it can grow. An imaginary strip of land delimited by the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer respectively, it grew with the spread of coffee throughout the world. And now it stretches across over 70 countries from Ethiopia where it all began all the way to Timor at the furthest end of Asia.
Each country which is part of this strip comes with loads of sunshine and rainfall and temperatures ranging between 15 to 30 degrees Celsius, conditions in which the two main varieties of coffee thrive wonderfully.
However growing climate change concerns mean an increased threat of pests (which are now showing up at altitudes previously considered unsuitable for them, as well as a drastic shrinkage in the availability of suitable land for coffee cultivation also.
An unlikely beauty product
Our taste buds are far from the only part of us that love coffee. In fact our skin and hair love it just as much and with good reason.
It is just as effective as sugar or sand which are two other exfoliating agents which are just as cheap and equally accessible. However when used in the form of coffee grounds, it is far milder on your skin and will leave it feeling soft and supple. What’s more, in addition to also being great for getting rid of any swellings, it is suitable for taking care of cellulite temporarily thanks to its diuretic properties, which will shrink the cells of the affected parts of the skin by dehydrating them.
And while living in an urban center is great, you do have to consider the effects of exposure of your skin to free radicals and smog which exist in higher concentrations in the atmosphere of major cities. Thanks to coffee however you can actually combat the detrimental effects on your skin. That is because it is an excellent source of antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are capable of revitalizing your skin and keep it young and fresh. Did we also mention the fact that coffee is an excellent choice for adding a hint of natural shine to your hair?
Since there aren’t that many beverages which taste amazing and are great for your body we think that makes coffee even more amazing.
A cultural revolution
Cafes today couldn’t be more different from their earlier Western European version. These outlets frequented by coffee lovers in the hopes of getting a quick boost of caffeine or simply taking advantage of the Wi-Fi available are often tiny and impersonal.
However cafes in the 17th and 18th centuries or coffee houses in France and Britain as they were known at the time were completely different.
It all started with the first coffee house in London, opened by Pascal Rosée in 1652. Multiplying rapidly in the capital within a century, they soon began to cater to specific professions where members could debate with each other.
The French too soon followed suit with the creation of the Café Procope in Paris. Attracting such luminaries such as Voltaire, Diderot the author of the encyclopedia, Benjamin Franklin and Rousseau it played a key part in the role of coffee houses in Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries.
Today, the Café Procope which ushered in an era of learning and knowledge can still be visited at its original site and even has its own website
A superfood of sorts
In addition to being delicious and smelling great and coming in as many forms as possible for your enjoyment, coffee is also meant to be great for your brain. And even though scientists don’t seem to be completely certain of how it works, they have admitted that it does prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
It also keeps you alert by preventing the release of chemicals which make you feel sleepy and the absorption of those which put you in a great mood. That’s why drinking coffee is sufficient to keep the blues away.
But like everything else it is best enjoyed in moderation since overindulging in it may do more harm than good.
Ancient Ethiopian origins, its very own unique climate spanning continents, cellulite busting properties, an intellectual revolution and the ability to protect your brain and make you feel good.
Who could have guessed coffee was that full of so many surprises? Could it actually be a superfood? No one knows for certain. But what is sure is that this little bean which is the most traded commodity after oil which fuels urban populations the world over belongs in a class that is all its own.
And whether you are a fan of the espresso, latte, Frappuccino or any other tasty variety we hope you will be able to enjoy it with a new found appreciation of just how amazing it is.