coffee culture: Coffee is believed to have been consumed first in Ethiopia. Coffee is native to the eastern Ethiopian highlands. Here, according to legend, an observant shepherd named Kaldi realized that sheep eating the berries of a particular shrub – a coffee plant – were more playful and energetic than others. Kaldi followed suit and experienced a newfound euphoria. Coffee as a hot drink evolved over centuries from unknown origins.
Residents of Finland drink the most coffee. While the U.S. is the biggest importer of coffee beans, the Finnish, and Scandinavians as a whole, drink the most coffee per capita, more than doubling the rate of consumption in the U.S. The U.S. also trails Germany, France, Italy, and Canada. On average, American coffee drinkers consume around 11 pounds per year, while the Finns drink over 24 pounds.
indulging: While espresso looks rich and tastes strong, a 3-ounce espresso contains only about 80 mg. caffeine, as opposed to the 200 mg. found in an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee. Ounce for ounce, espresso has more caffeine but it is served in smaller amounts than regularly brewed coffee. And espresso can pack a powerful punch, as our bodies assimilate caffeine more quickly in concentrated doses.
Flavored lattes originated in Portland. Espresso aficionado Brandy Brandenburger conceived of the flavored latte when he saw Torani syrups at a San Francisco café. Though the syrups were designed to be mixed with club soda, Brandenburger bought a few bottles and began experimenting back home in Portland. He added syrup to steamed milk, mixed in espresso, and the flavored latte was born.
bean basics: Coffee beans are seeds. Beans are harvested from ripe coffee berries, also referred to as cherries because of their ruby color and shape. Each berry holds two light green seeds inside. After the berries are picked, the seeds are extracted, dried and then roasted.
Coffee trees yield 2 pounds of coffee per year. A prolific Arabica tree will produce a maximum of 2 pounds of roasted coffee in a year. Typically, a tree is picked 3 to 4 times during harvest to glean all the ripe berries.
French Press is the beloved brewing method because it preserves the oils in the coffee. Also called press pot and plunger pot, this technique is adored by many connoisseurs for the dense flavor and silky texture it produces. A metal mesh, sieve separates grounds from the brewed coffee while retaining sediment, oils, and tiny gelatinous particles called colloids.