Coffee History – A Rich Tradition For More Than 1,000 Years of Coffee Produced and Enjoyed Worldwide

The history of coffee has a rich and fascinating tradition, resulting in gourmet coffee available to you in your kitchen or at your favorite coffee house.

Coffee dates back to the 9th century. Today, a good cup of coffee ties our world together in ways that are truly amazing through the years.

The Origin of Coffee

No one knows how coffee was discovered. One popular legend says coffee was discovered by an Arabian shepherd named Kaldi who found his goats prancing around a shrub bearing bright red fruit. He tasted the fruit and experienced the same energy.

Kaldi shared his discovery with the local monks, and they used the fruit to stay awake during long hours of prayer. The “mysterious red fruit” spread to monasteries all over the world, starting the relationship between the church and coffee that has lasted for centuries.

Coffee is mentioned in writings as early as the 10th century, and historians since then have followed coffee’s history and use throughout the world.

In 1471, not long before Columbus left to discover America, the first coffee house opened in Constantinople. The merchant trade of Venice brought coffee to Italy, where the first European coffee shop opened in 1645. Coffee houses spread throughout Europe and England and later to America. By 1675, there were over 3,000 coffee houses in England, demonstrating coffee’s tremendous appeal so many years ago.

As coffee production started around the world in different tropical regions, the growing conditions produced new and distinctive flavors. Various cultures invented new ways of enjoying coffee, and starting new traditions.

Coffee Making Through the Years

How we roast, grind and brew coffee has changed tremendously over the years. At first, coffee was boiled after being crushed by a mortar and pestle, as it still done with Turkish coffee.

Drip brewing started around 1800 in France, about the same time as percolators were invented also. Vacuum coffee makers were invented in 1840 to brew coffee that was clear and without sediment. By the end of the 19th century, espresso machines were developed for brewing coffee through the pressure method. Paper filters were invented by Melitta Benz in 1908. She and her husband patented them and started the Melitta family coffee business, which their grandchildren continue to this day.

Drip coffee makers for home use in the United States became popular after the Mr. Coffee coffee maker was introduced in 1972. Prior to that time, most coffee at home was made with a percolator, either electric or on the stove top.

The rise of the corner gourmet coffee house in America is an even more recent event. Founded in 1971, Starbucks popularized dark, gourmet coffee and expanded on a massive scale in the 1990’s. Now there are 16,000 stores worldwide, including 11,000 in the United States and 1,000 in Canada. This rise in gourmet coffee houses has brought a new coffee lifestyle to American society, greatly increasing expectations for coffee quality.

Growing Coffee Around the World

From coffee’s start in the Arabian peninsula, coffee has become one of the largest commercial crops grown around the world.  Coffees are grown in tropical and subtropical areas, including some of the most impoverished areas of the world. The traditional coffee production areas in are in South America (with Brazil and Columbia as the two largest coffee producers in the world), Africa (primarily East Africa) and Indonesia. Other areas grow coffees that have become prized, including Jamaica, Hawaii, Australia, India, and Costa Rica, winning the hearts of coffee aficionados worldwide.

Gourmet Coffee Today

In general, the coffee beans from from Central and South America are known for their mild yet potent flavor. East African and Arabian coffee beans are known for their intense flavor and bright acidity.  Indonesian coffee beans produce smooth, rich and low acid flavors.

Coffee has brought amazing changes to our society and our world in the past 1,100 years. Coffee continues to span the globe, connecting us with people far away. The coffee in your cup came from beans grown in an exotic location far away and transported around the world to you.

What will be next for coffee? Who knows, so enjoy your cup of gourmet coffee and the rich tradition that goes with it!

The Names of Different Coffee Drinks

Coffee drinks have many different names that come from many sources. Coffee houses have 64 drink selections they agree have the same basic recipe. Some of these drinks have different names or have a number of variations. A good barista is one who knows how to make them all.

Affogato is Italian for drowned. This can be a drink or served as a dessert a drink or dessert with espresso that may also incorporate caramel sauce or chocolate sauce.

The Baltimore is an equal mix of decaffeinated and caffeinated brewed coffee while the Black Eye is dripped coffee with a double shot of espresso creating a strong taste.

The Black Tie is a traditional Thai Iced Tea, which is a spicy and sweet mixture of chilled black tea, orange blossom water, star anise, crushed tamarind, sugar and condensed milk or cream, with a double shot of espresso.

The Breven is made with steamed half and half cream while the Caffè Americano or simply Americano is prepared by adding hot water to espresso, giving a similar strength, but different flavor from regular drip coffee. The strength of an Americano varies with the number of shots of espresso added. Variations include the Long Black, Lungo and Red eye.

The European Café au Lait is a continental tradition known by different names, but is the most popular drink in European coffee houses. It is made using strong or bold coffee as well as espresso that is mixed with scalded milk in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Cafe Bombon was made popular in Valencia, Spain and modified to suit European tastes and many parts of Asia such as Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The basic European recipe uses espresso served with sweetened condensed milk in a 1 to 1 ratio. The Asian version uses coffee and sweetened condensed milk at the same ratio. For visual effect, a glass is used, to create two separate bands of contrasting color.

In America, the Caffe Latte is a portion of espresso and steamed milk, generally in a 2 to 1 ratio of milk to espresso, with a little foam on top. This beverage was popularized by large coffee chains such as Starbucks.

The Cafe Medici starts with a double shot of espresso extracted using a double filter basket in a portafilter that is poured over chocolate syrup and orange or lemon peel, which is usually topped with whipped cream. This drink originated at Seattle’s historic Last Exit on Brooklyn coffeehouse.

A Cafe Melange is a black coffee mixed or covered with whipped cream. This drink is most popular in Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

A Cafe Miel has a shot of espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, and honey. Miel is honey in Spanish.

Coffee milk is similar to chocolate milk; but coffee syrup is used instead. It is the official state drink of Rhode Island in the United States.

A Cafe mocha or Mocha is a variant of a caffe latte, but a portion of chocolate is added, typically in the form of chocolate syrup. When bought from a vending system, instant chocolate powder is used. Mochas can contain dark or milk chocolate.

Moccaccino is a term used in some regions of Europe and the Middle East to describe caffe latte with cocoa or chocolate. In the U.S., it usually refers to a cappuccino made with chocolate.

Cafe Zorro is a double espresso added to hot water in a 1 to 1 ratio.

Ca phe sua da is a unique Vietnamese coffee recipe that means iced milk coffee. Mix black coffee with about a quarter to a half as much sweetened condensed milk, pour over ice. Phe sua nong means hot milk coffee, which excludes ice. In Spain, a similar drink is called Cafe del Tiempo, hot, or Cafe con Hielo, ice.

Cappuccino is a coffee-based drink prepared with espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam. It is served in a porcelain cup, which has far better heat retention. The foam on top of the cappuccino acts as an insulator to help retain the heat, allowing it to stay hotter longer.

The Caramel Machiatto or C-Mac is a vanilla latte with foam and gooey caramel drizzled on top, while Chai Latte notes that the steamed milk of a normal cafè latte is being flavored with a spiced tea concentrate.

A Chocolate Dalmatian is a white chocolate mocha topped with java chip and chocolate chip while Cinnamon Spice Mocha is mixed cinnamon syrup, topped with foam and cinnamon powder.

A Cortado, Pingo or Garoto is an espresso with a small amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. The ratio of milk or steamed milk to coffee is between 1 to 1 to 1 to 2. Milk is added after the espresso is made.

Decaf is a beverage made with decaffeinated beans while a Dirty Chai is Chai tea made with a single shot of espresso.

An Eggnog Latte is a seasonal blend of steamed 2% milk and eggnog, espresso and a pinch of nutmeg. In Germany, the Eiskaffee, ice cream cof

The Consequences of Food

Nourishment is key to good health. Unfortunately, many of us only think we are eating healthily. Consider milk, for instance. Humans are the only beings who drink milk after being weaned from our mother and even drink milk from another species. The pasteurization process destroys the vitamins and nutrients in the original product, so we then add artificial vitamins. We call this “fortified”.

There are a number of concerns with processed foods. In order to provide the consumer with a long shelf life, chemicals are added to the foods. Chemical additives are also added for color, consistency, taste and more. The problem is, the effects of most of these additives are yet unknown. Some of the synthetic chemicals used in processed foods are known to have carcinogenic properties. Processed meats such as hot dogs and bologna are particularly dangerous. Continue reading

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Which Ingredients Make Good Pet Foods?

When you are considering which pet food to choose for your pet the most important consideration should always be the ingredients. The quality of the ingredients are what truly set premium foods apart from the poorer grades of foods.

When you look at a pet food label the ingredients are required to be listed in order of weight or predominance in the food. However, this can be slightly misleading. This is weight prior to processing. This means that if whole chicken is used in the food it may be listed first in the ingredient list, which sounds very appealing to the customer. Whole chicken contains a great deal of moisture. By the time the chicken is processed it weighs much less. For this reason, some people prefer to see things like chicken meal, or lamb meal in the first few spots in the ingredient list since these ingredients have already had the moisture removed from them prior to weighing for use in making the pet food.

According to the respected Whole Dog Journal, and other sources, for dogs it’s good to see multiple sources of animal protein in the first five ingredients of a premium dog food. It’s especially important to have a good source of protein in the first couple of ingredients. The exception would be with foods that are sold as pre-mixes, such as dehydrated or freeze dried foods, which are intended to be supplemented with protein sources by the owner. In these cases you would not expect to see protein sources among the first few ingredients.

Many concerned owners look for the following in their pet foods:

You should avoid generic ingredients such as “meat meal” or “animal fat.” Instead look for named sources such as beef fat, chicken fat, lamb meal, fish, etc.

Look for human grade, USDA approved ingredients. Pet food cannot, by law, be sold for human consumption, but look for companies that are committed to using human grade ingredients. You can also seek out hormone- and antibiotic-free meats. All poultry is already raised hormone-free in the U.S. but other meats are not necessarily raised this way unless specified.

Try to avoid foods that use corn gluten meal and other glutens. Many dogs are allergic to corn. Corn gluten is often a cheap protein filler and waste product from other industries. There can be similar problems with wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate, which are also used as fillers.

Avoid “meat by-products” and “meat digests.” When reading pet food labels look for specific, named sources of protein, such as lamb, chicken, tuna, beef, and so on. The term “meat” is a catch-all phrase that allows the pet food industry to be very unspecific about what kind of meat it’s using, so you don’t know what you could be feeding your pet.

There’s also a vast difference in preparation between “whole” chicken, chicken “meal,” chicken “by-products,” and chicken “digests.” Each term describes different preparation and parts of the chicken used. As a consumer and pet owner, you want to purchase foods which rely primarily on whole foods and meals. These are the foods which are closest to their original, live form and contain the most nutrition. By-products and digests contain necks, feet, intestines and other parts of the animal that you would not consider fit for human consumption.

Many foods may contain these ingredients as well as the more premium ingredients. But the primary ingredients you should look for should be whole foods and meals made from named meat sources.

Avoid BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin. These are artificial preservatives and often used in poor quality foods. Ethoxyquin is banned in foods for human consumption except as a color preservative in spices.

Avoid artificial colors, sugars and sweeteners.

Another thing to watch for on the ingredient list is “splitting” — many times an ingredient such as corn is split into multiple listings — ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, and other corn sources. Singly they are not a big presence, but added together, corn can become the biggest ingredient in your dog’s diet.

Taurine was added to cat foods in the 1970s when cats began going blind and dying due to taurine deficiencies. Dogs were thought not to need taurine but now links are being found that suggest they do require it. Some companies have begun adding it to dog foods.

Many people also prefer to buy from companies that have U.S.-grown ingredients. This isn’t simply patriotism. The United States has some of the strictest regulations in the world for growing and manufacturing foods. Some companies list the source of their ingredients on their Web sites but it is more difficult to find out this information from other companies.

Some people prefer to feed their pets so-called “exotic” protein diets — venison, buffalo, duck, trout, etc. They may be trying to find foods that won’t trigger allergies in their pets. In general, it’s considered good advice to avoid feeding your dog (or cat) such unusual proteins unless he or she already has an allergy problem. If your pet does well on a more common protein it’s a good idea to stick with it and save the exotic proteins for a time when it’s needed. That way you know you have some options if you run into problems. If your pet should develop an allergy to the exotic proteins you would have nowhere to go.

High protein diets are very popular at the moment. The old ideas about excessive protein possibly harming your pet’s kidneys seem to have been debunked. However, if you wish to try a high protein diet, or one of the new grain-free diets, make sure that you find a food that has the AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy statement. You want to make sure that you are feeding a food that is nutritionally balanced.

Clean and Conscious Dining With Halal Foods

The process of preparing halal foods can be said to be multidisciplinary. The foods should not only be from good sources but they should also taste good. For example, the true taste of chicken biriani cannot be compromised. The spices must be in the right proportions and prepared at the right temperature. Presentation is also important especially for gourmet food and specialty food. Zabihah halal food distributors do justice to the ingredients they work with bringing out the true flavor.

Considerations must be made whether to have fully cooked or precooked meals. This is important with regards to frozen food which must be reheated. Some dishes go especially well with specific sauces. For obvious reasons, they are packed separately but they should be served in one dish. Some of the halal food like chicken nuggets can be taken as snacks. Others are the variety of gourmet food and so are served as appetizing entrees.

Frozen food is convenient for individuals and also for parties. You don’t have to be worried that guests will reject the food at the event you are hosting. The halal food is enjoyed both by vegetarians and beef eaters. The logistics of preparing food en masse is beaten hands down by the availability of frozen food. Call it modern convenience; you can now be the perfect host without having a clue on culinary matters. The makers of frozen food have explored the intricacies of world cuisine. They have the knack of producing the family meal that can bring a sense of nostalgia to many people.

Apart from the gastronomic experience, halal food is a health plus and a credit to the reduction of green house gases. This comes about due to the fact that halal food originates from farms that run on sustainable energy. Taking the entire subject of conservation and social responsibility to another level, bio-digestors and other sustainable energy sources are used. The source farms are a haven for clean energy. The animals themselves can be considered clean because they are never given antibiotics. The animals are of a natural size since they don’t have growth enhancers such as hormones. The goal is to culture food sources which are less fattening or pegged with risk indicators to cancers and other health issues. For the same reason, the sauces have no preservatives as they come from fresh produce which is not processed.

It is worth mentioning that meat from halal food is from animals that were not abused neither did they face animal cruelty. It thus gives consumers a clean conscious when choosing halal food from the frozen food section. The livestock such as lamb, cow and chicken are well treated and their animal rights are respected. The farms that are certified for halal food are currently small farms. However with the endorsement of conscious consumers they are growing larger and larger. For the health freaks or for persons who are ill, specialty food is also available. Many have seen the benefits of specialty food when they are ill and have continued taking it after full recovery.

Dieting and Fitness

A lot of people these days are getting a bit more health and fitness conscious. But it does not just stop there. These health and fitness nuts have one common goal and desire to sculpt their bodies into shapes fit to be flashed on magazine covers. Because of that, fitness centers like health gyms and spas have been flourishing all over since these establishments provide what these health and fitness buffs want and need.

The domination of weight loss merchandises, exercise machines, and other fitness and health paraphernalia is getting pretty much evident as it gains control over communication waves and has made its way into our households. And yet, as you would most probably already know, exercise alone will not give you the beautiful body you have been wishing for. Being body beautiful requires a specific degree of responsibility and discipline, not just with training and exercise, but also with your diet. To be completely immersed on the road to health and fitness, you will need to pair up exercise with the proper diet. And proper diet means knowing what food to eat.

Having a proper diet is just as vital as getting adequate exercise. Dieting or choosing the right food to eat offers a person the important nutrients that he needs in order to repair muscles that have been damaged or worn out, and helps such muscles to develop and be restored in a healthy manner. In short, one should never take dieting for granted. The popularity of keeping fit has given rise to the creation of several health programs and strategies for dieting from many health and diet experts. The high-fat diet and the high-carb diet are among those popularized diet strategies that have invaded our suddenly health conscious society. And so the big question now is which of the two diets is better and more effective? To answer this, let us first dissect the basic differences between the two diets.

A high-carb diet is that which requires a person to concentrate on ingesting only foods that are rich in carbohydrates. While presumably so, a high-fat diet is that which sanctions foods that are rich or high in fat. Now, we all know that carbohydrates are high in glycogen, and this element gives a person a rather high level of energy. Fats, on the other hand, are the richest calorie source.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that no matter what diet you follow, the one that will work best for you is the one that is right. Remember that our bodies react differently to stimuli. So to have a fit, healthy, and sexy body, stick to the diet that satisfies you best.

The Final Word On Fitness For Women

When women are looking for a fitness program you know they’re not just looking to ‘get fit’. Anyone who understands women knows that they always have more than one reason for doing anything. As women we want to get fit, but we also want to: lose weight, halt the effects of aging, improve our tone, improve our flexibility, look younger, be more attractive to the opposite sex and even more importantly help us look attractive enough to pass inspection by other women. Continue reading

Buy a Case of Ramen to Begin a Food Storage Program

Food storage and emergency preparedness have been buzz words for decades among people who are trying to be prepared for whatever the future may bring. There are companies which provide elaborate plans and programs to help people buy the food they need in order to sustain themselves and their families during emergencies or natural disasters.

Most people will never personally experience a devastating act of nature which will immediately change their lives and cause them to need to use their food storage. However, many families will have personal tragedies strike such as illness or loss of a job which may cause them to rely on food which they have stored for a rainy day.

Several home based businesses have sprung up in the food storage and emergency preparedness arena. If people are interested in food storage, there are ways to earn money by working from home in these businesses. Several companies provide a network marketing and direct sales opportunity. People who have a passion for preparedness may find a lucrative business by sharing the knowledge and products with friends and neighbors.

Complete devastation from such natural disasters as the earthquake a year ago in Haiti may not have been able to take advantage of personal food storage if there had been any. However, for most people food storage is a means of feeling some security in their day to day lives with the knowledge that they are prepared in case of an emergency.

Ramen is a hot noodle dish which is popular in Japanese culture and among many Americans as it has become readily available in a packaged form which is simple and easy to prepare. Indeed, many high school and college students almost live on ramen. Although it is not as inexpensive when served in restaurants, it is a cheap meal which can be tasty and filling when made at home from the packaged instant variety.

There are several different brands of ramen available in grocery stores. Fancier types of packaged noodles may also be found. They are convenient and easy to prepare. An extremely simple and inexpensive way to get started with a food storage program is to buy a case of ramen or several cases. With the price per package sometimes as low as ten cents, a case of twenty-four packages can be less than $3.00. You may find that your family enjoys it and uses it as a staple for their diet or as an after school snack.

Food storage is a good idea for every family. An effective program may be started for only $50 a month. Whether it is done on a serious basis with a plan or just being prepared with food for a few days, it is wise to have some extra food stored. If you are interested in a feeling of security, check it out and get started. Getting into a home based business may be another way of being prepared.

Eleven Steps to a Better Cup of Coffee

If you are like most coffee drinkers, you probably think you are already getting an awesome cup of coffee. However odds are that you can probably still improve the quality by following these eleven steps:

1. Use Quality Coffee Beans

Stay out of the grocery stores! OK that is a serious statement, but seriously do not buy coffee beans at the grocery store. No one knows when it was roasted and that is a critical, key point in coffee freshness. These beans are known for being stale, whether they are in the gravity bins (especially stale!) or bagged (usually stale!). No one really knows how long the beans have been in the bins or bags. Buy your coffee from an area independent coffee shop or artisan coffee roaster that can verify the roasting date. This is the only way to know you are buying freshly roasted coffee beans of gourmet quality. Their reputation is on the line so they strive for the best quality coffee freshly roasted.

2. Store Properly Remove your beans from the original bag and put in an airtight container like Tupperware or Glad Ware. The more opaque the container, the better to keep harmful light out. Extreme light like keeping coffee in a glass jar on the sink can cause deterioration of your beans, allowing your final cup of coffee to taste flat or stale.

Do not store in the freezer or refrigerator. Keep them in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place like a cupboard or pantry. Refrigerators harbor many odors and coffee is very porous. It will act like a sponge to odors whether it’s ground or whole bean. Freezers can cause freezer burn, and the flavor oils to crack and lose flavor. These oils are where the flavor is. Storing in the freezer freezes the surface condensation each time the coffee is taken out of the freezer.

Excess moisture will cause your beans to stale faster and shorten the life span of your coffee so a cool, dry and dark place it recommended for storage.

3. Proper Grind and Grind Just Before Using

The grind of the coffee matters. Your coffee should be ground for the type of brewing method you are using. Coarse for French press and single serve, fine for espresso. The in between matter but for most auto-drip makers your grind should be just finer than coarse meaning that when you rub it between your fingers the grinds should feel similar to typical bread crumbs. Espresso grinds should feel like somewhere between sugar and powdered sugar. Also, by using a burr grinder your coffee will receive less friction than a typical blade grinder giving your grinds less chance to get scorched during grinding.

Coffee is very porous and will absorb odors and air (oxygen) very fast. Oxygen will make your coffee taste really bad! So, the longer your coffee is ground and not used the longer it has to stale and make a bad cup.

4. Measure Properly

Weigh your coffee before you grind it. To make a good, well-rounded cup of coffee you should use approximately.75oz (22g) of coffee beans to every 8oz of cold water. You can +/- to taste but this is a good starting point.

5. Purified Water at Precise Temperature

Fresh, clean tap water (purified is best) or quality spring water is recommended. Do not use mineral water, distilled water or tap water with any type of odor. It will make your coffee taste bad. The water should be between 195-205 degrees when ready to brew. At this temperature, the coffee will get proper extraction to optimize the flavor oils and caramelized sugars inside the coffee bean. This is hard to accomplish with most home brewers as the heating elements are not heat adjustable nor are they reliable to heat to the proper temperature at all. Good home coffee brewers will cost about $200 but are well worth it and last a lot longer. If you can, try the single cup pour over methods available or other brewing methods such as French press or siphon. The taste difference is remarkable. Google search each method for more information.

6. Brew Just Enough to Drink

Letting your brewed coffee sit waiting is not a good idea. And more so please do not let it sit on the hot plate! This is a good way to cook your coffee. Constant ‘keep warm’ mode like this will make it taste bitter. If you have to brew more than one cup and are not going to finish is right away, get an airpot of air tight hot container to keep it in. Still drink it within an hour or so but it will buy your more time.

7. Let it Cool

By letting your coffee cool to about 170 degrees (for black coffee) you will not only avoid burning your mouth, you will also get a more enjoyable coffee experience because you will taste the true essence of what coffee is all about: the brightness, the chocolaty notes, the citrus notes, the spices. It’s all there, get a little geeky! If you insist on pouring cream and sugar in your coffee, forget #7 and for #8 respectively!

8. Drink it Black

This is the coffee geek purist in me coming out! I used to drink my coffee with cream and sugar all the time until I got into the coffee business years ago. Society decided cream and sugar was the norm because of bad tasting coffee, not because coffee tastes bad. Coffee used to be bitter as a rule, but that was your father’s cup! Most likely the canned stuff from the grocery store. Ick! That is the old-school coffee made from Robusta beans, a low-grade coffee. Today the high quality coffee beans are called Arabica and you get them from coffee houses and artisan coffee roasters. When beans are blended and roasted properly black coffee is not bitter. It may take some getting used to but I assure you that you are missing a lot of great tasting coffee by adding cream and sugar!

9. Throw Out Any Leftover Brewed Coffee

This is part of #6 above, but deserves its own number. If you have brewed coffee left over past an hour in an airpot or air-tight container, throw it out. Brewed coffee has a life span as well and letting it cook itself in a container is not part of it.

10. Throw Out Any Leftover Coffee Beans

OK let me clarify! By this I mean the coffee that is left over after 21 days. Coffee beans have a life span of approximately 21 days from the day it is roasted. I prefer to drink mine within 10 days but that is just the coffee geek again. If you can span your coffee for use within 21 days of the day it’s roasted you will get a better tasting and far more superior cup. I know, you are asking “how do I know when my Seattle’s Best or Newman’s Own coffee beans were actually roasted?” Well, see #1 above for your answer.

11. Rinse and Repeat

That says it all! If you follow these steps I promise you will notice a more flavorful and tasty cup of brew!

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