Archive for Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being a coffee ‘purist’

June 20, 2012

Is there any better way to wake up than to smell the wonderful aroma of coffee brewing? Somehow, just the thought of a fresh cup of coffee is enough to make many of us willing to exchange the pleasant feeling of warmth and comfort of being in bed for the cruel reality of starting another day. I look forward to the morning newspaper, my bowl of breakfast cereal and, most of all, my morning coffee.

Back in the ancient days when I was in the newspaper business, I was always up at 6 a.m. Then, I started the day with instant coffee and when I reached the Chieftain office, the first task was always to start the coffee. It was always on no matter how many hours we worked. I once heard that newspapers were operated by hard work, creativity and coffee.

By this time you have gotten the idea I’m a coffee lover. I started drinking coffee when I was in college and it remains my beverage of choice at most meals. Now, let me state that I am a coffee purist. I want my coffee black and I never use sugar or cream. I know this puts me in a small minority, but I don’t like lattes, espresso or any of those other flavored coffees. If I want ice cream or a sweet treat, I’ll take it by itself, not ruining my cup of coffee. I do have one quirk when it comes to coffee: I like mine just below hot.

There has long been a debate about caffeine and whether it’s good for one’s health. Certainly caffeine is a mild stimulant; however almost all of what I have read states that it isn’t harmful. For many, the answer is decaffeinated coffee, which was developed in 1903 by Ludwig Roselivs in Germany and was marketed as the “Sanka” brand. I read that “sanka” means without caffeine in French. It was first marketed in the United States in 1923.

According to legend, in about 850 A.D., a goatherd named Kaldi noted that goats nibbling on the red coffee berries became much more active. He gave the berries a try and agreed. He passed the word to a monk and from that simple start, the love of coffee spread around the world.

Originally, it was thought to have great medicinal powers, but it wasn’t long before coffee was a drink to be enjoyed.

Union soldiers in the Civil War were coffee lovers. Sadly, profiteers mixed shreds of glass in the coffee, causing lots of problems, so the government issued coffee beans, which the soldiers ground up using their rifle butts.

The world of coffee changed in 1901 when a Japanese chemist, Satori Kato, prepared the first pot of instant coffee in Chicago. Five years later, an American chemist known only as G. Washington produced a refined soluble or instant coffee. Instant coffee was used by U. S. troops in World War I and World War II.

Coffee is almost a luxury drink now, costing $3.50 to $6 and up per pound. I checked the ads in The Chieftain 50 years ago and the cheapest price I saw was 48 cents per pound at Sav-On. Now there are many blends of coffee, ranging from the original to the exotic.

I will always remain a hard-nosed coffee lover. I have been asked why and my answer is simple: It tastes good and doesn’t have many calories. As a matter of fact, I have been sipping while writing, and I think it’s time for a fresh cup.

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