There may come a time when you return some of the stuff you got for the holidays (or a birthday, etc.) but didn’t really want, and instead look to get something just for you — because you deserve it! How do you renew your interest and boost your energy levels in order to navigate the workaday gauntlet? We all know the answer to that, and it comes with a signature aroma as it relentlessly percolates into the fiber of our very being. Yes friends, the nation — and perhaps even the world — runs on this ubiquitous yet relatively underexplored item that we call coffee.
First, some numbers. Men and women consume coffee in equal amounts; the average American consumes about 1.5 cups of coffee a day; and among coffee drinkers the average climbs to over three cups a day. Despite this, the US doesn’t even make the top ten in terms of coffee drinking nations per capita, with Finland actually topping the list (if you guessed this, you may now drink!).
Coffee drinking originated in Yemen in the 15th century, if we go strictly by the evidence, although there are earlier estimates of consumption dating five centuries before to Ethiopia, among other precursor locales. The word “coffee” itself most likely entered the English language circa 1600, derived from the Dutch word koffie, the Ottoman Turkish kahve, and/or the Italian caffè. The familiar beans are actually seeds from the berries of the Coffea plant. One odd and problematic variant is kopi lumak, which is actually made from the seeds that pass through the digestive tract of the Asian palm civet (and yes, it is indeed harvested from their feces).
All of this highlights the centrality of coffee not only in cultural contexts, but as a commodity as well. Many people have their unique expressions to the effect of “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee” and other similar phrases. Coffee shops are among the most vibrant places for community members to meet and gather, as noted in the book The Great Good Place. And of course, coffee likewise has figured prominently in stage, screen, and especially song.
So the next time you reach for a cup of what Capt. Janeway of the starship Voyager called “the finest organic suspension ever devised,” consider some of the history and nuances of its appearance and meaning. And yes, if you need another way of expressing its relevance to you personally, consider drawing upon the caffeinated wisdom found on the mugs of those who share the journey of aromatic awakening!
PORCELAIN … DRIP