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Is Coffee The Drink That Will Conquer The World?

Coffee’s venerable history is, of course, shrouded in the mists of time. According to a well loved myth, there once was a shepherd who realized that, if he ate the berry of a certain plant, he could stay awake and protect his sheep better. Another legend says that coffee’s discovery started with monks who learned that a certain berry would help them stay awake to pray.

And then there is the myth of an Arab, lost in the desert, who was able to survive by boiling berries from a plant. The town nearby was named Mocha.

The first coffee plants were only grown in Ethiopia, from where it was brought to the Arab lands, where it flourished. From Arabia, coffee was brought to Turkey, where the native Turks preferred to drink their coffee sweetened with cinnamon and cloves.

If was only a matter of time before traders brought coffee to Europe. Despite the claim of Christians that coffee was the beverage of the devil, even Pope Vincent III became a coffee advocate. By the 18th century, not only was coffee all the rage in Europe, with coffee houses springing up all over the place, but coffee was also transported to America. During the early days of the American Revolution, in protest of the heavy taxes imposed on tea by the British, coffee was proclaimed to be the official beverage of the American colonies.

From Maxwell House being “excellent to the last drop” to Chock Full of Nuts being the “Heavenly Coffee”, Americans have long become accustomed to coffee as being a part of every day living. And then Starbucks started up in Seattle. Suddenly, the beatnik coffee houses of the ’50s and ’60s transmogrified into well loved culture of the ’90s and into the 21st century.

Today, Starbucks is even expanding into markets where tea, not coffee is not only the primary beverage, but where tea is practically synonymous with the culture itself. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “all the tea in China,” you’ll realize the enormous impact on the Chinese way of life if coffee were to become as well loved in the world’s most populous nation as it has in the western world.

Recently, when Starbucks opened up a coffee shop in Beijing’s culturally-sensitive Forbidden City, the Chinese state television broadcaster referred to the go as “an insult to Chinese civilization.”

China is not the only target for the expansion of the huge coffee chain. Starbucks reportedly is also hoping to open up coffee shops in India, Russia, Brazil and Egypt in 2007. Brazil, of course, is already a nation of coffee drinkers. But with India, Russia and Egypt now in the tea category, it will be very fascinating to watch and see whether lattes and cappuccinos will catch on in Delhi, Moscow and Cairo.

Robert Scheer is a freelance writer and contributor to the facts-asap.com/gourmet-coffee/ Gourmet
Coffee Trends blog

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