Wait. Hold that thought. Before we can have fun, the first thing we have to do is wake up. Yeah, I was NEVER a morning person.
People who are cheery before ten a.m. get on my nerves faster than a speeding bullet. Out of desperation, coffee and I became BFFs. Employers tended to frown upon wasting the hours from eight to ten in the morning in a lethargic haze while staring vacantly into space. They expected me to work from the moment I sat at my desk.
One thing my book character and I have in common is coffee. It is a food group, a nutritional requirement, life sustaining and a miracle, all poured steamily into my very own mug the size of a bucket.
The coffee plant originated from a plateau in Ethiopia. The region is known as Kaffa. It's not clear if coffee took its name from the region, or vice versa.
The first person known to write about coffee was a Persian physician and philosopher named Rhazes or Razi (850 to 922 AD), who characterized it as a medicine. Other early writings establish Yemen, just across the Red Sea from Ethiopia, as home to the first coffee plantations starting in the early 15th century.
Coffee's true worldwide journey came with the Turkish conquests of the Arabian Peninsula during the early 16th century. It was the Ottoman Empire that brought coffee to entirely new places. The first documented coffee house opened in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1554, but there may well have been others earlier in Cairo, Damascus, Mecca, and Medina.
The early 17th century saw Muslim coffee's introduction to Christian Europe, and coffee's diffusion throughout Europe went at breakneck pace. Venice's first coffee house ("bottega del caffe`") opened in 1645, England's in 1650, France's in 1672, and on to the New World, a Boston outpost in 1676. Today's rapid proliferation of coffee houses: nothing new, save perhaps for the free Wi-Fi.
The Dutch created the first successful coffee plantation away from the Middle East on their colony of Java in early 18th century Indonesia. Coffee production was fast established on Sumatra and Ceylon. France received some plants as gifts in 1720, promptly transporting them to its colonies in Central America. Coffee plantations spread throughout Central and South America. Central America's first coffee harvest occurred in 1726. Today, Brazil reigns as the world's biggest producer, claiming no fewer than 10 billion (billion, with a "b") coffee plants. (Read more here.)
Almost all coffee drinks served by your friendly neighborhood barista start with Espresso, which is a concentrated, often thick coffee beverage with a layer of crema--the trademark thick, tan foam that floats on the top of a shot of espresso. The ingredients are exclusively coffee and water, created with a machine that forces hot water through a basket of tightly packed, finely-ground coffee for a limited amount of time at very high pressure. "Espresso" is also the blanket term for the process that creates this beverage. Espresso is not a type of coffee bean.
Amazingly, there are unlimited options when it comes to consuming caffeine. Aside from drinking Espresso “as is,” it can be made into:
Cappuccino – made with one part espresso, one part steamed milk, one part frothed milk. Sweet, milky, and luxurious.
Latte – made with one part espresso and 3 parts steamed milk. Can include a dollop of foam on top and a sprinkling of spice.
Macchiato – a shot of espresso with a dollop of foamed milk on top.
Café au Lait – coffee mixed with a hefty amount of steamed milk.
Americano – espresso with hot water added.
Mocha – a latte with chocolate powder or chocolate syrup added. May include whipped cream on top.
I have put a lot of thought into inventing a method of delivering coffee straight to the bloodstream via IV. But I gave up. It tastes too good to bypass the taste buds.
And here’s a clever idea: Coffee Cocktails. Some of these chilled martinis look too good to be true:
Espresso Martini - a mix of vodka, coffee liquor and espresso
Raspberry Mochatini - vodka, espresso, dark cacao liqueur, raspberry liqueur
Lazarus - vodka, cognac, kahlua, espresso
Irish espresso-tini - vanilla vodka, cream liqueur, espresso
Negrita - pisco brandy, coconut liqueur, espresso
To Think! Barista Bartenders! Now THERE’S a Book Boyfriend I need to Find Fast, Jump in a Jiffy, Marry this Minute.
Okay, maybe I’ve had too much coffee today.