I’ve brought out the coffee press today so I can serve up some extra special brew. My stash of Java is ready for the grinder, too. Java strikes my fancy because the blend of Robusta and Arabica types of beans is “playful” on the tongue.
I also appreciate the fact that this Indonesian coffee has such a history behind it. Its past popularity was so great, that the name became the slang word for the drink. When I hear somebody ask for a cup of Java, I know I’m among potential friends. Another reason I’m drinking Java today is because, in Indonesia, their first coffee day was celebrated on their Independence Day, and my birthday, on August 17th. It’s not difficult to understand why Java has a special place in my heart.
Most coffee days are promoted by commercial interests that encourage coffee consumption. In the US, the title, “International Coffee Day” was referred to in 2009 in a press release for the first New Orleans Coffee Festival. So, aside from a few exceptions, International Coffee Day is celebrated globally.
As you would expect, International Coffee Day is a big deal with growers, wholesalers, and retail merchants. Some stores offer discounts or coupons on September 29th to attract customers. You might even notice mentions on Facebook and Twitter, today. One aspect I’m glad to see, is that coffee day is used to bring public awareness of fair trade coffees, the plight of coffee workers, and the environments where coffee berries are grown.
Most coffee connoisseurs are at least vaguely aware that coffee plants are native to Ethiopia. They may also know that Ethiopian goatherds accidentally discovered the stimulating qualities of the beans when they noticed their goats had become more active after eating the berries of the plants. In the 15th Century, it was discovered that roasting the seeds enhanced the flavor of coffee.
Arabian culture adopted the beverage by the 16th Century as coffeehouses became established in much of the Arab world. In fact, the word “coffee” is derived from the Arabic “qahhwat al-bun” (wine of the bean) By the end of the 17th Century, the brew had become wildly famous in Europe.
The crop’s history is a mixed one. Because of its popularity, coffee needed to be grown as a monoculture that utilized slash and burn agriculture in colonized parts of the world. Alarmingly, slavery was encouraged as a way to expedite the growth and harvesting of coffee berries.
Despite the downsides, coffee encouraged people to socialize and think together. Literature, media, and artists found fertile ground in Europe’s many coffeehouses. Some of the greatest classical music was spawned by coffee lovers J.S. Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.
English colonists in North America used coffee as the alternative to tea. Legend has it that following the Boston Tea Party, the colonists converted to drinking coffee. The habit of drinking tea had become an unpatriotic act.
Various studies have either condemned coffee consumption as harmful or encouraged its use as beneficial to health. The latest research says that the caffeine in coffee can exasperate certain conditions like anxiety. However, the majority of researchers say that moderate coffee drinking is mildly helpful to healthy adults.
Even if your country celebrates Coffee Day at a different date than today, I’m sure you’ll find an excuse to celebrate International Coffee Day, today, with those of us in places like Britain, Canada, Ethiopia, Malaysia, and the USA. If you’re like me, every day is Coffee Day.
The Blue Jay of Happiness notes that the first webcam was installed in 1991, at the University of Cambridge to monitor a coffee pot in the Computer Science Department. For ten years, residents of the department could tell whether or not they could get their cuppa from that pot.