Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Coffee Facts

A friend of mine noted today that I have very few posts about coffee, even though the blog is titled "All Purpose Grind." Of course, he is correct, but it was a rather hypocritical observation since he is not a coffee drinker (yes, I do have friends who shun the bean).

OK, I want to remedy this somewhat by posting this brief history of coffee from this really cool website:

The year 1689 saw the first café opening in Paris.There was a time in our history when you could be executed for harming a coffee plant. At the same time in another part of the world, you could be executed for having one! Ironically, Kenya imported its first successful plants from Brazil while the actual origin of coffee was only some hundreds of miles away in Ethiopia!

It’s a good thing coffee plants are self-propagating. The heritage of the vast number of coffee plants in the French Colonies, South and Central America and Mexico can be traced to ONE plant that was a treasured gift given to King Louis XIV in 1714! Coffee was denounced by many religious leaders as the drink of Satan. Coffee houses were known as “hotbeds of sedition”. In the 1700’s many coffee houses were ordered to close. For failing to comply, the punishment for first time offenders was public beating and humiliation. Second (and last) time offenders were sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the river. Think about that the next time you order a Latte!

In 1615 the Italian clergy beseeched Pope Clement VIII to ban the evil brew. The only problem was that the Pope already drank coffee “religiously” so he, in his wisdom, fooled Satan, and baptized the drink, claiming it to be a truly Christian beverage. Today, there must be 10,000 coffee shops in Venice alone! (In the year 1763, there were already over 200 coffee shops in Venice).

In the year 1773, tea was replaced by coffee as the national drink in the Americas when angry colonists were enraged by King George’s enormous tax on tea. This of course led to The Boston Tea Party where the new nation gained its strong allegiance to coffee.Much of the U.S. Declaration of Independence was forged in coffee houses on the Eastern seaboard. (Hmm, hotbeds of sedition…?) By 1843 there were more than 3000 coffeehouses in Paris. A Parisian coffeehouse was said to have been the root of the intellectualism that led to……. the French Revolution!

The world’s very first (I’m not sure how this was substantiated) coffee house was opened in 1475 called The Kiv Han. An interesting Turkish law decreed that it was quite acceptable for a woman to ask for a divorce if her husband failed to provide her with adequate coffee rations. Cappuccino derived its name due to its similarity in color to the robes of an order of Monks called the Capuchins. The original blend called "Maxwell House" got its name from The Maxwell House Hotel, where it was first served in Nashville Tennessee in 1886.(also where Teddie Roosevelt was heard to say "good to the last drop", creating the Maxwell House jingle!)

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