Java. Joe. Espresso. Brewed. Latte. Cappuccino. Mocha. Drip. French press. Melitta. Black. Breve. Cream. Sugar. Light & Sweet. No matter how you serve it, coffee is definitely something I could NOT dream of living without. With reckless abandon, I ignore any medical advice telling me to cut back. I tried that once, with disastrous results (in a night Emily and a poor waitress will never forget!).
But this is not that story. This is simply a coffee story. And it’s for Becca because she shares my love and devotion to the amazing little coffee bean in all its glory. And it’s her birthday, so this one’s for you: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BECCA!! 🙂
I’m sure you all know that coffee originated in Africa. Ethiopia to be exact, in the 7th century, where legend has it a lonely goatherd (bonus points if you’re singing The Sound of Music right now!) named Kaldi noticed that when his goats ate berries off a particular tree, they became high-spririted and energetic. I would like to interject here that I’m not sure how he could tell the difference. My dealings with goats have always been high-spirited and energetic. But apparently his goats were even more lively than normal (eeeeek!). Being curious (and having not read my Vegemite post about potentials of poisoning) Kaldi decided to try some of the berries himself and lo & behold! that genius of a man realized he was on to something special. He shared his findings with the local monastery, who began making a drink with the berries. Slowly the magical effects of these berries began to spread–first throughout the Arabian peninsula and then branching out to the rest of the world.
When one googles “first coffeehouse in the world” a quick search shows that the first coffee house appeared in Damascus in 1530 and then Cairo, moving eastward until they arrived Constantinople (and no, you can’t go back!) in the late 1500s and BOOM! Turkey took it to a whole new level. Ironically, when I was visiting Turkey I was unaware of the role it played in coffee history. I just knew that I loved Turkish coffee.
All throughout this trip, poor April was subjected to watching me drink this sludge-looking stuff from cafe to cafe, and in my humble opinion, no meal we had was complete without it! Yes, that’s a tiny cup of coffee–but trust me when I say it packs a punch! The coffee is ground so fine it feels like silt. It is placed in the cup and then hot sugar water is added. The concoction is NOT stirred, but rather the coffee is allowed to sit for a few minutes, giving the coffee time to settle at the bottom of the cup. And yes, it is traditionally served sweet. At first I would ask for it unsweetened, but everyone seemed offended and taken aback that anyone would ever drink it unsweet. Finally, I caved. After all, when in
Rome Istanbul, Bodrum, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Gallipoli, Troy….
Coffee has certainly had a very tumultuous history. And why shouldn’t it? After all, I think it to be the nectar of the Gods. History is full of coffee zealots, who share this sentiment and were willing to risk life and limb to spread the coffee love! And I, for one, am a very grateful girl!! Furthermore, I am not alone: an estimated 400 billion cups of coffee are served a day AND it’s the second most traded commodity [CoffeeMarvel]. If you’re interested in reading more about the history of coffee, check out this fascinating book (at least, fascinating to me and my love of coffee) called Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast, who very appropriately penned the following:
Coffee provided an intellectual stimulant, a pleasant way to feel increased energy without any apparent ill effects. Coffeehouses allowed people to get together for conversation, entertainment and business, inspiring agreements, poetry, and irreverence in equal measure. So important did the brew become in Turkey that a lack of sufficient coffee provided grounds for a woman to seek divorce.
Two things: I’m quite sure that pun was intended…grounds for divorce…hahahaha! AND I knew I like the Turks for a reason!