Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Coffee ~ Part II

"Coffee - the favorite drink of the civilized world." ~ Thomas Jefferson

This is just a little follow-up to another 'blog-entry that I had written specifically about Coffee earlier on (see initial 'blog-entry from March 25th, 2010).

There are a few different stories on the possible history of how Coffee was first discovered and used. There is the story of a 9th-Century Ethiopian goat-herder who noticed how his goats were energetically capering about after eating the bright red "cherries" of a Coffee bush. There is another story involving a 10th-Century Yemenite Sufi Muslim mystic, Abul Hasan ash-Shadhili; the legend goes, that while traveling in Ethiopia, he observed birds flitting about with unusual vitality, and, upon trying the same red fruit that the birds had been eating, he had the same experience of flitting about with unusual vitality (or maybe that was really a hemp plant the birds were eating from). The earliest credible evidence of Coffee drinking appears in the middle of the Fifteenth Century in the Sufi Muslim monasteries of Yemen[1]. Whatever the case may be, you can take your pick; I kinda like the story of the hyper-caffeinated "jumping goats", myself.

The first reference to Coffee in the English language is in the form "chaoua", dated to 1598. In English and other European languages, "Coffee" descends from the Italiano word "caffè". In turn, "caffè" derives from "kahve", the Ottoman Turkish word for Coffee, which is itself derived from the Arabic "قهوة" (pronounced/transliterated as "qahwah", or close enough for Government work). The word for "Coffee" is pretty universal in many other languages (as opposed to being universal in just English), just like the words for "tea" and "Beer" (see respective 'blog-entries from June 18th, 2012 and October 11th, 2012):

koffie ~ Afrikaans/Dutch;
kafe ~ Albanian/Haitian Creole;
qəhvə ~ Azerbaijani;
kafea ~ Basque;
кава ~ Belarusian (pronounced/transliterated: kava);
কফি ~ Bengali (pronounced/transliterated: kaphi);
kafa ~ Bosnian;
кафе ~ Bulgarian/Macedonian (pronounced/transliterated: kafe);
cafè ~ Catalan; kape ~ Cebuano/Filipino (Tagalog);
咖啡 ~ Chinese (pronounced/transliterated: kafei);
kava ~ Croatian/Lithuanian/Slovenian;
káva ~ Czech/Slovak;
kaffe ~ Danish/Norwegian/Swedish (and, of course, everyone knows that Coffee goes great with a Danish);
kafo ~ Esperanto;
kohv ~ Estonian;
kahvi ~ Finnish;
café ~ French/Galician/Portuguese/Spanish;
ყავა ~ Georgian (pronounced/transliterated: qava);
Kaffee ~ German;
καφές ~ Greek (pronounced/transliterated: kafés);
કૉફી ~ Gujarati (pronounced/transliterated: kophi);
kofi ~ Hausa/Yoruba;
קפה ~ Hebrew (pronounced/transliterated: kah-fey);
कॉफ़ी ~ Hindi (pronounced/transliterated: kofi);
kas fes ~ Hmong;
kávé ~ Hungarian;
kaffi ~ Icelandic;
kọfị ~ Igbo;
kopi ~ Indonesian/Malay;
caife ~ Irish;
コーヒー ~ Japanese (pronounced/transliterated: kohi);
ಕಾಫಿ ~ Kannada (pronounced/transliterated: kaphi);
កាហ្វេ ~ Khmer (pronounced/transliterated: kahve);
커피 ~ Korean (pronounced/transliterated: keopi);
ກາເຟ ~ Lao (pronounced/transliterated: kafe);
coffee ~ Latin (See? I remember some Latin from the three years I took);
kafija ~ Latvian;
kafè ~ Maltese;
kawhe ~ Maori;
कॉफी ~ Marathi (pronounced/transliterated: kophi);
кофе ~ Mongolian/Russian (pronounced/transliterated: kofe);
कफी ~ Nepali (pronounced/transliterated: kaphi);
قهوه ~ Persian (pronounced/transliterated: just like it looks);
kawa ~ Polish (pronounced kava);
ਵਿੱਚ ਕਾਫੀ ~ Punjabi (pronounced/transliterated: vica kaphi);
cafea ~ Romanian;
кафа ~ Serbian (pronounced/transliterated: kafa);
qaxwaha ~ Somali;
kahawa ~ Swahili;
காபி ~ Tamil (pronounced/transliterated: kapi);
కాఫీ ~ Telugu (pronounced/transliterated: kaphi);
กาแฟ ~ Thai (pronounced/transliterated: kafæ);
кави ~ Ukrainian (pronounced/transliterated: kavy);
کافی ~ Urdu (Google Translate doesn't show the pronunciation or transliteration of this word; let's just assume it is something close to "Coffee");
cà phê ~ Vietnamese;
coffi ~ Welsh;
קאַווע ~ Yiddish (pronounced/transliterated: Q'aww');
ikhofi ~ Zulu… 

So, that is "Coffee from A(frikaans) to Z(ulu)".

There are three major species of the Coffea plant: Coffea arabica, Coffea canephora (also called Coffea robusta), and Coffea liberica. Arabica is said to produce better tasting Coffee than the other major commercially grown Coffee species; and it accounts for 75-80% of the World's Coffee production. Robusta is higher in caffeine content (2.7% compared to 1.5% in Arabica); and accounts for about 20 percent of the Coffee in the World. Liberica tastes more like Robusta than it does Arabica; it is named for Coffee that is found in Liberia. The Coffee that is served in most of the better coffeehouses is generally Arabica. Robusta is the Coffee that is usually the mass-produced, lower grade blends found in cans on most grocery store shelves; however, good quality Robusta beans are the basis for traditional Italian Espresso blends. 

"Coffee is a $60 Billion industry…" or so it is as stated by Todd Carmichael at the beginning of his TeeVee show, Dangerous Grounds (which airs Tuesday nights at 9:00pm on the Travel Channel). In America alone, we spend $40 Billion a year on our liquid black gold habit (and 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink Coffee every day)[2]. There is even a designated National Coffee Day (in America) on September 29th.

There are probably only two blends of Coffee in the world that I won't ever bother to drink. One is Black Ivory Coffee from Thailand (priced as much as $1,100 per kilogram, wholesale ~ that equates to about $500 per pound) and the other is Kopi Luwak (priced between $100-600 per pound). And it is not the exorbitant costs of the Coffees that will keep me from drinking these (but there is that, too); it is the process used to produce these particular beans. The Black Ivory Coffee beans are fed to elephants and then collected after they have passed through the pachyderms' digestive system; and Kopi Luwak[3] is similarly produced, but with the aid of Asian Palm Civets.

Sorry, if I really want to overpay for Coffee that tastes like sh*t, I will just go to St*rbucks…

1. The port city of Mocha (or Mokha), Yemen (in Arabic المخا‎, transliterated as al-Mukhā; not to be confused in any way with the NBC Today weatherman, Al Roker ~ which is very ironic, as the word "rokah" in Amharic actually means "Coffee"*) is famous for being the major marketplace for Coffee from the 15th Century until the 17th Century. The city now lends its name to a variety of Coffee beans (which is derived from Arabica). Nowadays, the term "Mocha Coffee" can refer either to the "Coffee-with-chocolate" drinks or simply to Coffee brewed with Mocha beans.

Similarly, the term "Mocha-Java" comes from blending two different varieties of Coffee beans: the above mentioned Mocha Coffee beans and Java Coffee beans (an Arabica bean, again). Of course, the term "Java Coffee" comes from a very popular 1930's Hollywoodland coffeeshop called "Java Joe's"; apparently the owner, Joseph, was originally from Jakarta.** Particularly also of interest, this was the local coffeeshop where a very young Norma Jean Mortenson ~ later to become famous as Marilyn Monroe ~ was discovered while sipping on a cuppa "Mocha-Java" at the counter. What was the name of the guy that discovered her? One Max House, of course.***

You can consider those as stupid, useless cunning linguist pointers of the day… or not.

*(What have I told you about believing everything you read on the Intro-Net… or anything that I ever write here?)

**(See above caveat.)

***(Really?! If you actually fell for any of that, you must be Chock full o' Nuts.)

2. Statistics provided by Harvard School of Public Health:

As sourced from National Coffee Association USA (NCA):

3. Additional stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day:

"Kopi Luwak" basically translates from Indonesian as "(Mongoose) Civet Coffee". 

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