Tuesday, August 21, 2012
10 Things You Don't Know About Coffee
I love coffee!
Even before I was old enough to drink the brew, I enjoyed its alluring aroma. Coffee was also my favorite flavor of ice cream and still is. Fortunately, when I was about 10 years old we visited relatives and my Cousin Jerry who was a year younger than me was allowed to drink coffee so that pretty much made my case and the official drinking of the stuff was finally permitted although I had already sneaked sips on the sly for years. I can honestly say that coffee made me what I am...namely a writer because I highly doubt I could have written more than a dozen of the thousands of stories and articles I have produced without the aid of coffee. Therefore this "10 Things You Don't Know About Coffee" ironically could not have been written without drinking coffee. And since this is a hot afternoon, I have just switched from hot coffee to the iced variety. So allow me to take another sip of my favorite brew while you learn some amazing things about coffee.
1. Coffee was on the verge of being banned in Europe until it was baptized by the Pope.
After coffee was introduced into Europe in the 16th century from the Muslim world, its popularity worried religious authorities who considered banning it as a trap set by Satan to capture the souls of the populace. A cup of coffee was presented to Pope Clement VIII for his judgement. Attracted by its alluring aroma, the Pope took a sip and declared: "Why, this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it, and making it a truly Christian beverage."
2. The caffeine in coffee is a natural pesticide.
Although the level of caffeine in coffee is too low to harm humans, it is deadly to insects and acts to prevent coffee trees from destruction. So we can all thank insects for existing and forcing coffee trees to produce the form of pesticide that we all appreciate.
3. Napoleon Bonaparte blamed coffee for his downfall.
During the British blockade of Napoleon’s Empire, the Continental System was developed to enable Europe to become self-sufficient. Although sugar beets proved to be a good substitute for imported cane sugar, native chicory as a substitute for coffee was unpopular with the public. Because of the demand for coffee, that product was smuggled into Europe and was instrumental in undermining the Continental System. Napoleon during his St. Helena exile condemned the coffee drinkers whose cravings caused the smuggling of the illegal bean into his empire: “When I think that, for a cup of coffee with more or less sugar in it, they checked the hand that would set free the world.”
4. The English are known as tea drinkers but before that they were fanatic coffee consumers.
In the 17th century, long before the arrival of tea, the English were so enamored of coffee that by 1670 there was hardly a street in London without a coffee house. Because coffee, as contrasted with liquor, was looked upon as a great stimulant, coffee houses became a popular gathering spot for the intellectuals and literati of that era. Lloyd’s of London insurance even began as Lloyd’s coffee house which was a popular gathering spot for merchants interested in the shipping business. There was even one coffee house, Wills, that could be considered the world’s first comedy club since it attracted wits and satirists who entertained the other customers.
5. Coffee in Cuba is Chock Full o’ Peas.
Although Cuba before Castro was one of the world’s largest coffee producers and exporters, producing 60,000 tons per year, it has plunged since then to the point where they produced only a little over 7000 tons last year and had to import another 11,000 tons to meet domestic demand. However, even that is not enough and the coffee must be supplemented with roasted peas to produce their unique Chock Full o’ Peas brew. Oh, and the flavor is far from heavenly since the roasted peas impart a bitter taste.
6. On the small the island of Manhattan there have been up to 171 Starbucks stores.
In 2007 comedian Mark Malkoff not only visited all of the 171 Starbucks stores in Manhattan in one day but also made a purchase in each one. You can watch Malkoff perform this amazing feat in this VIDEO. Oh, and the other magic number besides 171 is 11 which is the number of bathroom breaks he had to take that day.
7, Frederick the Great of Prussia hated coffee because he thought it would make men effeminate and women sterile.
In addition to laying heavy taxes on coffee, Frederick the Great also urged that his subjects should switch to another drink: “It is disgusting to notice the increase in the quantity of coffee used by my subjects, and the amount of money that goes out of the country in consequence... My people must drink beer.”
8. Percolation of coffee is probably the worst way to brew it.
The water used to brew coffee becomes too hot since it must be brought to a boil. It also gets overextracted, and you end up with the bitterness and acidity. That explains why coffee began to lose its popularity in the early 1980s among young people. The resurgence of coffee’s popularity came when other methods of brewing became popular and allowed consumers to enjoy the flavor of both regular and gourmet coffee. And for those of you still nostalgic for percolated coffee you can watch this Maxwell House COMMERCIAL.
9. Johann Sebastian Bach produced the “Coffee Cantata.”
The story concerns the father Herr Schlendrian portrayed by a plodding lead-footed melody, and his daughter Lieschen, the coffee-lover. She is introduced by a lively and beguiling Aria. In an effort to rid his daughter of the evil drink, he progressively forbids her her luxuries. Lieschen refuses to give it up, saying that coffee is “more delicious than a thousand kisses, and sweeter than muscatel wine”. It is only when Schlendrian refuses to allow her to marry that she relents. But even then, as the father goes off to find a husband, Lieschen reveals that she will make it a part of the marriage contract that she be allowed her three cups a day.
10. After the Boston Tea Party, drinking coffee was considered such a patriotic act in America that the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia occurred outside the Merchant’s Coffee House.