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‘Toast the Roast’— Some History of Coffee #1
(a series about roasting your own coffee) #1 of 4
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This begins today with some— History of Coffee.
Perhaps you have long wondered why the Mona Lisa was smiling in her portrait, by Leonardo da Vinci? Well wonder no more, just look at the animated picture of her here. She was smiling because of, the lovely aroma of a fresh cup, of fresh brewed, fresh ground and fresh roasted coffee! 🙂
Not believing that? It doesn’t put the tiddly in your winks? Actually, coffee was probably neither familiar to da Vinci or Mona in their day, but the animated image makes me smile anyway! 🙂
Equally as important and perhaps more factual is, the story of the dancing goats?
Anyway, the story goes like this. There was a young Ethiopian goat-herder, named Kaldi. He had fat and lazy goats. One day, he noticed them dancing and prancing, lively and animated. He went to discover why this odd thing occurred. He saw his goats nibbling on the bright red berries and leaves of a certain plant and noticed the energizing effects it had on them. So. Kaldi tried it too. And he was pretty exhilarated as well and danced with his goats. Later, he brought some of these berries to a monk in a nearby monastery. But the monk disapproved of their use and threw them into the fire. Soon, a wonderful aroma filled the air. Other monks came to investigate. The roasted beans were quickly removed from the fire’s embers, ground up, and dissolved in hot water. This became the world’s first cup of coffee?
True or not, from Ethiopia, drinking coffee appears to have spread to Yemen. From these two locations, coffee beans and plants spread to mostly the Islamic world.
“The word “coffee” entered the English language in 1582 via the Dutch word koffie borrowed from the Ottoman Turkish kahve, in turn borrowed from the Arabic qahwah.”
“The Arabic word qahwah (pronounced, kah+wah), originally referred to a type of wine. It is supposed to have derived from the verb qahā (“to lack hunger”), in reference to the drink’s reputation as an appetite suppressant. The word qahwah is sometimes alternatively traced to the Arabic quwwa (“power, energy”), or to Kaffa, a medieval kingdom in Ethiopia whence the plant was exported to Arabia. The name qahwah is not used for the berry or plant (the products of the region), which are known in Arabic as bunn.
excepted and edited from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_coffee
Hmm, I wonder if the Bunn company that was founded in 1957 by George R. Bunn Jr., who invented the flat-bottom fluted coffee filter and the pour-over-drip-coffee brewer, ever knew his name Bunn, is the Arabic word for coffee berry or plant?
“In Somali and Oromo as būn. Semitic languages had the root qhh, “dark color”, which became a natural designation for the beverage. The feminine form qahwah (also meaning “dark in color, dull(ing), dry, sour”), was likely chosen to parallel the feminine khamr (“wine”), and originally meant “the dark one”.
excepted and edited from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_coffee
Coffee was considered a replacement, for wine that was prohibited in Islam. Later, coffee became associated with the birth of Mohammed. Coffee was known for its appetite suppressant effects and would aid Muslims in fasting by day and staying awake during the night, especially during Ramadan.
Coffea arabica (/əˈræbɪkə/), also known as the Arabian coffee, “coffee shrub of Arabia”, “mountain coffee”, or “arabica coffee”, is a species of Coffea. It is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated, and is the dominant cultivar, representing some 60% of global production. Coffee produced from the less acidic, more bitter, often cheaper and more highly caffeinated robusta bean (C. canephora), makes up the remaining 40%. Many blends contain both, to accomplish a signature blend, but no doubt to also, cut costs.
At first, Europe rejected coffee and believed it to be made by the devil and called this evil beverage, “Satan’s drink.”
Sometime in the 16th century, it made its way to the Vatican, in Rome, Italy. There, it was introduced to Pope Clement VIII. Against the will of many of his advisers, they wanted the Pope to ban this evil drink. But the Pope refused to do so, before trying it himself. He was brought a steaming mug of coffee, Java, or Joe and he took a taste. He was immediately enjoyed. Legend has it that he declared,
“This devil’s drink is delicious. We should cheat the devil by baptizing it.”
Popular tradition holds that the pope then “baptized” coffee beans in order to cleanse them from the devil’s influence. Historians are uncertain whether this was merely a metaphor or the Pope performed some actual ritual on the beans? But one thing is clear, once Roman Catholics knew they were allowed to drink coffee, it spread through Europe like wildfire.
Coffee was also brought in to England through the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is still in existence today.
In Germany, coffeehouses were first established in North Sea ports, including Bremen (1673) and Hamburg (1677). Initially, this new beverage was written in the English form coffee, but during the 1700’s, the Germans gradually adopted the French word café, then slowly changed the spelling to Kaffee.
Hmmm, unless you are French, speak French or understand French, who knew that little favorite spot on the corner of our lives called and named cafe, is the French word café, meaning coffee? I didn’t until recently. And unless you are German, speak German or understand German, you may not have known the word Kaffee?
Composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who was cantor of St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, in 1723–50, conducted a musical ensemble at Café Zimmermann in that Saxon city. Sometime in 1732–35 he composed the secular “Coffee Cantata” Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (BWV 211), in which a young woman, Lieschen, pleads with her disapproving father, to accept her devotion to drinking coffee, then a newfangled fashion. The libretto includes such lines as:
“(Oh! How sweet coffee does taste,
Better than a thousand kisses,
Milder than muscat wine.
Coffee, coffee, I’ve got to have it,
And if someone wants to perk me up, *
Oh, just give me a cup of coffee!)”
Exceprt from: ‘Coffee Cantata’, by Johann Sebastian Bach
WOW, even the religious composer Bach, did secular stuff and even about coffee! Who knew? Not me until recently.
Eventually, coffee spread to the colonies in the Americas.
If all the previous events had occurred earlier, maybe there would have been instead of tea, ‘The Boston Coffee Party’, in 1773. In protest of “taxation without representation”, some 300 plus chests of tea belonging to the British East India Trading Company, were thrown overboard in the Boston Harbor. Facts are, many from this time forward, rejected tea and coffee became their choice during which our fledgling little O’ republic was being born. Who knows, maybe even Thomas Jefferson drank it while writing his first drafts of his most famous of all his written works? Perhaps the signers of our Declaration of Independence, had coffee before or after they signed it? It is possible.
But Jefferson did drink coffee, a lot of it, especially after he retired and invented a silver coffee pourer, still used in some manner today, in serving fresh brewed coffee. He drank it a lot and served it often.
“Coffee, the favorite drink of the civilized world.”
Thomas Jefferson 1824
During the times of the American Civil War or the War Between the States, military personnel were each given around 34 pounds of coffee, by their government. It was required and part of every northern soldier’s allotment or provisions. There was to be no midnight march, without the soldiers first being allowed to drink coffee. In fact, marches were generally unheard of, without first, having coffee. The South had a similar custom, for their soldiers, but they had a serious problem. The Northern naval ships frequently blocked their waterways and the import of coffee was often prevented. This lead to the South having to rely on, “necessity, the mother of all invention.” They would stretch what coffee they had by adding other grains like chicory. With no coffee at all, they often had to roast dried beets or other things, for their dark beverage.
But there is another thing the north and the south had in common besides coffee. No matter what they had to go through by day, they each would return to their camps by night, to drink and roast coffee for the following day.
“Little campfires, rapidly increasing to hundreds in number, would shoot up along the hills and plains and, as if by magic, acres of territory would be luminous with them. Soon they would be surrounded by the soldiers, who made it an almost invariable rule to cook their coffee first, after which a large number, tired out with the toils of the day, would make their supper of hardtack and coffee, and roll up in their blankets for the night. If a march was ordered at midnight…it must be preceded by a pot of coffee…It was coffee at meals and between meals; and men going on guard or coming off guard drank it all hours of the night.”
John Billings, 1887, writing of the Civil War in Hardtack and Coffee
The odds are greatly in our favor that we are descendants of these. Our ancestors from the North or the South, roasted their own coffee. Why not us? And it really does not get any simpler, than a campfire, a skillet, a stick or a spoon, and some green coffee beans. Show them Snoopy!
Sampling fresh roasted, fresh ground and fresh roasted coffee is referred to as ‘cupping’. This cup of coffee history is, but a sample, there is so much more. But whether its history is roasted in fiction, and ground into fact, it is brewed into our consciousness and our culture! ‘Toast the Roast’!
Next Time: ‘Toast the Roast’— Coffee Talk with Dahni