“Not now, I need coffee first.” According to the National Coffee Association, 56% of Americans depend on a morning “Joe” to get them through the day. Drinkers spend $17.9 billion, meaning the average coffee drinker forks-out $1,092 for coffee each year.
What’s special about the bean? You might be surprised to know that coffee really isn’t a bean at all. Coffee is a berry; specifically, it is the seed inside a red or purple fruit, which grows on tree shrubs. The coffee cherries contain two stones with their flat sides together. It takes 2,000-2,500 cherries to produce a single pound of coffee. It is the most heavily traded product in the world, with the exception of oil. Coffee is grown in more than 50 countries worldwide. While not grown in the continental United States, coffee is roasted here.
Coffeehouses. One of the most popular beverages in the world, coffee has been consumed for over 1,000 years. The first commercial coffee house opened in Damascus, Syria in 1530. Legend says London coffeehouses created the concept of the “tip.” For faster service, patrons were encouraged to insert cash into boxes labeled “To Insure Promptness.” Although the origins of the word “tip” can be traced to the 1500’s, coffeehouses may have put them into general practice.
Customs. Husbands in Turkey once took a marriage vow to always provide their wives with coffee. Failure to do so was grounds for divorce! In Greece, it is customary to serve coffee to the eldest person at the table first. While Americans may look for cream and sugar, Ethiopians add a pinch of salt. Peppercorns are popular with Moroccans, but Mexicans prefer cinnamon. In the Middle East you’ll find coffee with cardamom, but in Austria it would contain whipped cream. The Swiss mix with hot chocolate, but the Belgians add pure chocolate. It is the Egyptians however, that like the brew in its natural black, strong, and pure state.
However you enjoy your Joe, you share it with a long history of coffee drinkers.