That First Cup
My favorite morning beverage is a caffè latte with homemade almond milk. After I assemble my first cup, I travel out to our porch, take in the valley view, settle on the green love seat that was my mom and dad’s and take that first sip. Ah… yes. Then it’s on to writing in my journal and reading.
What caught my eye one morning this week was an entire magazine* devoted to coffee. Reading it changed my daily coffee into a little world history lesson. Here are just a few things I learned…
The coffee plant produces a stone fruit called a “cherry.” Coffee “beans” are actually the pits/seeds of the cherry. The cherries have to be picked at just the right time and harvested with precision and care.
Most coffee beans are grown in an area around the equator, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The best beans, to some coffee aficionados, are called Arabica and grow at the higher altitudes of 5,000 feet of altitude or more. The other well-known beans are called Robusta, which are a little more acidic and bitter.
Certain countries, and their coffees, are famous in coffee bean lore:
- Ethiopia, where many believe coffee originated around 850 when an Ethiopian goat-herder discovered the coffee cherry after one of his goats ate one and got “energized.”
- Yemen, where coffee was first cultivated and commercialized. The coffee nickname “Mocha” comes from Yemen’s port city of Mokha.
- Holland, with its outpost Indonesian plantations on the island of Java and thus the origin of yet another coffee nickname.
- Martinique, where in 1723 a French captain brought a coffee tree from Java that had been given to Louis XV by the Dutch and helped inaugurate hundreds of plantations in the Caribbean.
- Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, where supposedly the world’s first recorded coffee house opened in 1475, and Venice, Italy for the beginning of coffee house culture in Europe.
Today, coffee beans come from over 50 countries.
Hundreds of people are involved in the coffee supply chain, ranging from the pickers, sorters, cleaners, driers, “cuppers,” to the buyers and roasters. Finally, the beans or grounds make their way to us lucky imbibers.
Just think how much geography, history and humanity are in that first cup each morning. I sip and enjoy, and, like those goats of yore, wait for that jolt of energy. Ah, little coffee beans, thank you.
*Coffee:The Culture.The Business.Your Health. Special Edition. Time Books, Inc. 2018.