Saturday, 1 August 2020

BETTER LATTE THAN NEVER!

Generally Indians love drinking tea.That's one of the few things we could teach the British during the colonial days apart from liking a curry!! There are quite a lot of coffee lovers as well in India especially in south.I am one of those coffeephiles- liking the best coffee but not a coffeeholic. From the  days I remember, coffee in the morning time while tea in the afternoon  had been the practice in my home.My mother had specific brand too - 'Lalitha coffee' which I recap now -  freshly ground Robusta coffee from Coorg hills!These days too when I have a cup of coffee-Arabica than Robusta- along with breakfast each morning at nine, I enjoy it more as it pumps up my cortisol levels when it is needed.And in this matter I don't restrict to Indian brands only.

Recently I had a chance to enjoy  weasel coffee from Vietnam which is similar to Kopi Luwak of Indonesia.Both Cevet coffees.Cevets are fed with selective berries of coffee,the berries are allowed to be fermented along with gastric juices of intestines of the animals.The defecated fecal is collected,cleaned and processed to make it as most expensive coffee in the world! 

Along with the above occasion and a fact that one of my niece has started working in an Australian domestic airport as a Barista also encouraged me to understand more about the world of Coffee.After crude oil, the second most commodity which is traded in international market is coffee!!Apart from cevets I understand that elephants are also used for natural fermentation of coffee berries to make them most expensive coffee!It is called Black Ivory coffee originated in Thailand though I haven't tasted it yet.Many may not be aware that coffee was the driving force to invent the first webcam of the modern world in 1991!


It was coffee which inspired few for inventing the first webcam...
The computer lab of University of Cambridge was named Trojan room in 1991.It had 15 or more researchers then but only one coffee making machine, which was placed at the end of the corridor outside the Trojan room.Many times the researchers- mostly coffee lovers- used to get annoyed to see the empty pot of the coffee machine after walking to the point where it was placed.

Few of the bright lads there wanted to avoid such scenario .A camera was set up focusing the pot and transmitting the live picture to the desktop computers of all in the Trojan room showing the level of coffee!And interestingly it was pre internet days.This was how the first webcam was invented which was connected to world wide web once it was available. The coffee machine was a German one -Kupps which I understand is displayed now in the German Museum of Technology,Berlin!

Kopi Luwak..world's most expensive coffee..
Kopi is Indonesian word for coffee and Luwak for cevet cat which is not a cat but resembles more of a mongoose.Weasel coffee in Vietnam and Coffee Alamid in Philippines are similar products of those countries.

Selective cherries are made to be eaten by cevets. The cherries are thus fermented-passing through enzymes- while passing through the intestines of the cevets!The defecated fecal matter along with the fermented cherries are collected, cleaned and further processed.


Indonesia is one of the best suited places for growing coffee climatically and geographically since the seeds were introduced there by the Dutch colonists in the 19th century.But it was the natives who noticed that the coffee beans eaten and came out of luwaks made the taste even better.Vietnam and certain areas of Philippines also had similar stories.Now an original cup of Luwak coffee costs around$ 35-100 a cup, depending on where you are!


From Ethiopia to Yemen and rest of the world..
Nobody knows for sure how coffee was introduced to the world.It is believed that  Ethiopia is the place of origin where the local shepherds noticed that their goats got excited after eating beans of certain plants! From Ethiopia the beans were introduced in Yemen in 15th century  where it clicked.Coffee traveled all over Arab land which is even now named as 'Qahwah'.Qahwah became 'Kahve' in Turkish and  to 'Koffie' in Dutch, 'Caffe' in Itay and finally 'Coffee' in English.It was in South  that coffee was introduced in 1670 in India from Yemen.We call coffee as 'Kapi' to this day.

It is equally interesting to know that coffee was banned at least three times in the world but thankfully those bans were lifted soon after.Around 1511,coffee was banned in Saudi Arabia since some of the Muslim leaders thought it had unusual stimulating effects.But for Pope Clement VII in the 16th century,coffee would have been banned among Catholics.Some of them thought coffee is 'devil's beverage' and took up the matter with Pope who didn't accept the claim.King Charles II banned coffee shops in 1675 since he thought people gathered there to conspire against him!

It is strange but true that French philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau were ardent coffee lovers while the great Beethoven used to have always coffee with exactly 60 beans!!In 1735 the great musician J S Bach had made a song dedicated to coffee titled 'Coffee Cantata'!

Coffee is traded more than gold!
'Coffee..Better latte than never' is a proverb anonymously related to coffee.I have borrowed it because of the humor sense in it and credit goes to who ever had coined it.

ICO- International Coffee Organisation having 51 members as of now is head quartered in London.Set up in 1963 ICO administers International Coffee Agreement  negotiated under United Nations among the member countries.

As a commodity, coffee is traded globally to the tune of more than $ 100 billion a year next to crude oil,above natural gas and even gold!Like many commodities in such cases, though coffee is grown mostly in poor and developing countries, its pricing and futures are decided in the stock exchange floors and board rooms of the wealthiest nations!It remains a fact that while we enjoy the drink world wide, those coffee farmers mostly remain more or less poor!!

While Brazil,Columbia and Vietnam remain the first three major coffee exporting countries, Europe, US and Japan consumes 65% of world's  coffee!!Finland and Sweden tops as countries in consumption of coffee!

When you visit a Starbucks or Lavazza coffee house or watch a barista doing his or her expertise next time anywhere or when you have a cup of coffee at the leisure of your home, remember that coffee is more than a drink, a culture!

 Photos :courtesy google