A Brief History of Coffee

 Topic: A Brief History of Coffee

Today we are talking about one of the plants that is significant to the Path: Coffee. Both starter fluid and break fluid, depending on what time it is, coffee is enjoyed by seventy-four percent of Americans every single day.

Coffee beans are not actually beans at all, but the seed of a berry that originally grew wild in Eastern Africa. According to an Ethiopian legend, coffee berries were originally discovered centuries ago by a goatherd named Kaldi. He observed that his goats became frisky and energetic and did not want to sleep after eating the berries from a certain shrub. (This, by the way, is why I think that The Dancing Goat would make an awesome name for a coffee shop.) Kaldi took the berries to the local monastery, where the monks roasted the seeds and brewed up the recipe for coffee that has remained unchanged to this day. Coffee has spread across the globe in the years since, and can be found in some form in nearly every country in the world, from dark Turkish coffee to Ethiopian espresso to the many varieties of latte you can find in coffee shops all over the US.

Many important modern institutions got their start thanks to coffee. The insurance company Lloyd’s of London originated as a coffee shop called Lloyd’s Coffee. The First Continental Congress of America held meetings in the Merchant Coffee House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Thomas Jefferson called coffee “the favorite drink of the civilized world.” It has even been suggested that the Boston Tea Party was planned in the basement of the Boston coffeehouse and tavern the Green Dragon.

Coffee is also partly responsible for modern philosophy. Coffeehouses in 17th-century Britain were known as “penny universities” because you could pay a penny for a cup of coffee and get a free lecture on any number of topics from a resident scholar or philosopher holding forth in the corner. Because it is a stimulant rather than a depressant like alcohol, coffee wakes up your mind and opens you up to the vibrations of the Universe in a way that no other beverage can. Many great thinkers, including Benjamin Franklin and the philosopher Voltaire, were also dedicated coffee drinkers.

If done right, coffee will not even ruin your diet. Since it is basically just a tincture in water, even if you brew it strong enough to destroy planets, black coffee contains no calories, so it is perfect for a quick burst of energy without ingesting a bunch of sugar. Diabetics can consume it without concern. Fun fact, though: The lighter the roast, the more caffeine, so a shot of espresso actually contains less caffeine than a cup of drip coffee brewed from a light roast.

And we owe it all to some dancing goats.

If you drink coffee, did this give you a greater appreciation for your favorite morning beverage?


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