International Coffee Day is October 1. Coffee is a popular drink. It has rich, complex flavors that please the tongue.
Most of us use coffee to wake up or stay awake, but brewed correctly, it has both exciting and calming effects. The caffeine in coffee actually works by blocking the neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired.
It both perks you up and helps you focus. In fact, people with attention deficit disorder (ADD) use coffee to increase their focus, even in children.
Coffee is Originally African
Coffee is native to Ethiopia and Sudan in East Africa.
It was first brewed into the modern drink in Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula just across the Red Sea from Ethiopia. Sufi’s (the mystical branch of Islam) brewed coffee in the 15th century to stay awake for their religious ceremonies, so coffee was originally a Muslim drink.
The winds in the region blow back and forth seasonally between the Red Sea and India. This was an important route for Arab traders in silk and spices.
Venice, Italy was the main European port for trade with Asia. So coffee was introduced to Europe through Venice.
Arabica Coffee comes from the French Caribbean
The two most common types of coffee are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is considered to have a less bitter flavor.
Most of today’s Arabica coffee is descended from plants that a Frenchman grew on Martinique, a French island in the Caribbean.
In colonial times, the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) grew about half the world’s coffee. The brutal conditions of slavery there are said to have contributed to the Haitian Revolution. So in a way, coffee led to the founding of the first free nation in history created from a slave revolt.
Many Modern Coffee Producers are Latin Countries
Brazil leads the world in coffee exports with about one third of global production. Colombia is the third largest producer.
Argentina has a strong coffee culture. A lot of socializing and business is done over a cup of coffee in a coffee house. In Argentina you can order the type of coffee you want with hand signals.
In Colombia, we even give coffee to babies. We put it in their bottles. The nickname for Colombians is “Cafeteros” (Coffee makers). You can get great Colombian coffee at Juan Valdez in Midtown East.