Coffee Beans 101 - The Quintessential Class You Missed in Undergrad

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A cuppa joe.

A spot of dirt.

A brew.

Some jitter juice.

Java.

The morning jolt.

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Whatever it is you call it.. It’s coffee.

 

It’s the nutty, full-bodied aroma of late nights studying. Early-morning rises. Brunch with friends. Being hungover. Being productive. When it’s hot. When it’s cold. Heading to work. Heading to class. Visiting family.  

It’s the all-encompassing beverage that manages to find its way into nearly all aspects of one’s life. Especially if you’re a die hard fan, like me! I actually approached this blog post seriously believing that coffee was the world’s most consumed beverage (besides water). I thought I had read that somewhere at some point. Good thing I fact-checked myself because according to this reputable National Geographic article-- and many other sources like it-- tea takes top prize, ringing in at 6 billion cups per day worldwide.     


But anyways, back to coffee. Coffee is a global past time. It’s a full-blown obsession, especially in the world’s most coffee-snob-esque cities-- Sydney, Seattle, London, New York, Melbourne, Rome, and even Toronto.. I’m looking at you!


While the modern world’s take on coffee is highly impressive, I thought we would take a step (literally) back, and look at some of the history surrounding this mythical bean.


The earliest evidence of coffee arises in 15th Century Yemen. Coffee beans were exported from Ethiopia to Yemen, where they began cultivating the bean and drinking some form of it for it’s aid to concentration and spiritual intoxication while religiously chanting. Eventually, the traditional drink made it way north towards Mecca and Medina, and continuously upwards towards northern Africa. During this time it was exported through the Yemeni port of Mocha, hence…

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Coffee houses became popular in Cairo (Egypt), Syria, and Istanbul. It 1511 however, it’s stimulating effects caused it to be forbidden by the theological court in Mecca.. PROHIBITION!?


Coffee was first introduced to Europe in the 16th century. Like most incredible things in ancient Europe, it was made possible through slaves. Turkish Muslim slaves had become imprisoned in Malta during a siege in 1565. The Turks, although slaves, became famous in Malta for their ‘powder resembling snuff tobacco, with water and sugar’.. And their traditional concoction made its way into Maltese high society.


Finally, coffee makes its way into what we now know as Italy through trade between the Republic of Venice and the Muslims in North Africa. The first coffee house in Europe opened in Venice in 1645-- now picture that for an Instagram post.  

 

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Eventually, it swept the globe. Becoming very popular in Austria (now famous for its Viennese coffee), France, Germany, and Eastern Europe.

In modern times-- during the 19th and early 20th centuries-- Brazil was the largest producer of coffee and essentially ran the entire market. Fair trade policies have recently shifted that reality, allowing other nations like Columbia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Indonesia, and Vietnam into the mix!

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