Monday, March 19, 2007

Coffee: A Historic Beverage And A Great Holiday Gift

Ah, coffee... a fantastic dark beverage that wakes us up inthe morning. For some of us, it keeps us up during the day,or for late night study sessions. We drink it out of habit,we drink it from addiction, we drink it for flavor; whateverthe reason, it is surely a popular beverage. So where didthis famed drink come from?Coffee, for Americans, is three hundred years old. In theEast it was widespread at every level of society, since theearlier era. The most notable dates point to around800b.c. However, Homer, and according to Arabian tales speakof a mysterious bitter black beverage with powers ofstimulation that could have been this drink.About the year 1000, coffee was being used for medicinalpurposes. In 1400 a Yemeni goat herder observed his flockeating reddish berries, then becoming excited and restless.After relating his observations to a monk, they boiledthe berries and made a beverage that could dispersesleep and weariness. No matter how it actually wascreated, the fact remains that the coffee plantstarted in Africa, in an Ethiopian region known as Kaffa.From there it spread to Egypt, Yemen, and Arabia, where itbecame a part of daily life.In the late 1500s coffee was a commodity, being sold inEurope. However, due to an increasing demand for the newbeverage, and high taxes on shipping, there wasexperimentation with growing the crops in various othercountries. Much later, around 1727 coffee growing started inNorthern Brazil. By the 20th century, various forms ofcoffee were developed for the public.Decaffeinated coffee was first founded in 1903 when Ludwig Roselius, a German coffee importer, gave a batch ofdamaged coffee beans to researchers. They developed theprocess of taking the caffeine out of the beans withoutlosing any flavor. This was marketed in the 1920s.Instant coffee was first mass produced from the invention ofGeorge Constant Washington, an English chemist living inGuatemala. While waiting for his wife one day to join himoutside for coffee, he observed on the spout of the silvercoffee urn, a fine powder, which looked to be thecondensation of the coffee vapors. This excited him andled to his founding of soluble coffee.In 1906 he started experiments and put his invention, Red ECoffee, in the markets in 1909. Nestle', in 1938, trying toaid Brazil with their coffee surpluses created freeze-driedcoffee. Nescafe was started and first introduced intoSwitzerland. Instant coffee became a fad after 1956 whencommercial television was the new craze.And now in the US alone, 400 billion cups of coffee a yearare consumed. Coffee is one of the world's largestcommodities, second only to oil. From a remote area inAfrica, to millions of shelves and homes worldwide, coffeehas became a fixture everywhere.

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