chocolate covered coffee beans

coffee: the nectar of the gods

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Coffeehouse history, uses, contemporary

A coffeehouse, coffee shop, or cafe (also spelled as café from the French, Spanish, and Portuguese or caffè from the Italian) shares some of the characteristics of a bar, and some of the characteristics of a restaurant. As the name suggests, coffeehouses focus on providing coffee and tea as well as light snacks. Other food may range from baked goods to soups and sandwiches, other casual meals, and light desserts. In some countries, cafes may more closely resemble restaurants, offering a range of hot meals, and possibly being licensed to serve alcohol. Many coffee houses in the Muslim world, and in Muslim districts in the West, offer shisha, powdered tobacco smoked through a hookah. In establishments where it is tolerated, which may be found notably in the Netherlands, in Christiania (Copenhagen, Denmark), and in certain parts of Canada, cannabis is smoked as well.

An essential part of a coffeehouse from its beginnings has been its social functions, providing a place where people go to congregate, talk, write, read, play games, or while away time individually or in small groups.

This tradition is alive especially in the original Viennese cafés which offer (at least) fine sweet bakery and great coffee along with any degree between cemeterial tranquility, urban hustle and enthralling cultural events. In those extended living rooms you may enjoy, as a typical ironic local phrase says, being "not at home and yet not out in fresh air" - caused, different from the aromatic diversity described above, almost merely by common tobacco industry products.


In Middle East, since the 16th century, the coffeehouse (al-maqhah in Arabic qahveh-khaneh in Persian or kahvehane or k?raathane in Turkish) has served as a social gathering place where men assemble to drink coffee or tea, listen to music, read books, play chess and backgammon, perhaps hear a recitation from the works of Antar or from Shahnameh. In modern Egypt, Turkey and Syria, coffeehouses attract many males to watch TV or play chess and have the "shisha".

The traditional tale of the origins of Viennese coffeehouses begins with the mysterious sacks of green beans left behind when the Turks were defeated in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. All the sacks of coffee were granted to the victorious Polish king Jan III Sobieski, who in turn gave them to one of his officers, Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki. Kulczycki began the first coffeehouse in Vienna with the hoard. This has the ring of apocrypha to skeptics who find the story too pat — and the date too late.

In the 16th century there were coffee houses in Cairo and Istanbul , and in the 17th century coffeehouses opened for the first time in Europe. Coffeehouses first became popular in Europe with the introduction of coffee in the 17th century. The first Turkish coffeehouse in England was set up in Oxford by one Jacob or Jacobs, a Turkish Jew, in 1650. The first coffeehouse in London was opened two years later in St. Michael's Alley in Cornhill. The proprietor was Pasqua Rosée, the Ragusan servant of a trader in Turkish goods named Daniel Edwards, who imported the coffee and assisted Rosée in setting up the establishment [1]. Boston had its first in 1670, and Paris in 1671. The Cafe Le Procope [2], which was founded in Paris in 1689, is still in business. It was a major locus of the French Enlightenment; Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot frequented it, and it is arguably the birthplace of the Encyclopédie, the first modern encyclopedia.

Though Charles II later tried to suppress the London coffeehouses as "places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers", the public flocked to them. They were great social levellers, open to all (except, generally, women), and as a result associated with equality and republicanism. More generally, coffee houses became meeting places where business could be carried on, news exchanged and the gazettes read. Lloyd's of London had its origins in a coffeehouse run by Edward Lloyd, where underwriters of ship insurance met to do business. By 1739 there were 551 coffeehouses in London, including meeting places for Tories and Whigs, people of fashion or the "cits" of the old city center, coffeehouses known as gathering-places for the wits or for stockjobbers, merchants and lawyers, booksellers and authors. According to one French visitor, the Abbé Prévost, coffeehouses, "where you have the right to read all the papers for and against the government," were the "seats of English liberty."

Ladies were not permitted in coffeehouses. In a well-known engraving of a Parisian coffeehouse of c. 1700, the gentlemen hang their hats on pegs and sit at long communal tables strewn with papers and writing implements. Coffeepots are ranged at an open fire, with a hanging cauldron of boiling water. The only woman present presides, decently separated in a canopied booth, from which she doles out coffee in tall cups.

In London, coffeehouses preceded the club of the mid-18th century, which skimmed away some of the more aristocratic clientele. Jonathan's Coffee-House in 1698 saw the listing of stock and commodity prices that evolved into the London Stock Exchange. Auctions in salesrooms attached to coffeehouses provided the start for the great auction houses of Sotheby's and Christie's. In New York the Tontine Coffeehouse at the foot of Wall Street near the docks became a central meeting place. In small cities a coffeehouse functioned as a place where messages might be left and picked up. American coffee shops are also often connected with indie, jazz and acoustic music, and will often have them playing either live or recorded in their shops.

Contemporary coffeehouses

The current spate of chain coffee shops such as Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Diedrich, Peet's, Seattle's Best Coffee, The Coffee Bean and Second Cup have a clear lineal descent from the espresso and pastry centered Italian coffeehouses of the Italian-American immigrant communities in the major US cities, notably New York City's Little Italy and Greenwich Village, Boston's North End, and San Francisco's North Beach. Both Greenwich Village and North Beach were major haunts of the Beats, who became highly identified with these coffeehouses. As the youth culture of the 1960s evolved, non-Italians consciously copied these coffeehouses. Before the rise of the Seattle-based Starbucks chain, Seattle and other parts of the Pacific Northwest had a thriving countercultural coffeehouse scene; Starbucks standardized and mainstreamed this model.

The liquor laws in most of the United States prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from entering a bar, so coffeehouses are sometimes youth gathering places.

Since approximately the Beat era, the term "coffeehouse" has come to imply the availability of espresso drinks, while "coffee shop" suggests a diner where coffee is also served.

A counter clerk in a coffeehouse has come to be known in English as a barista, from the Italian word for bartender.

The contemporary coffeehouse is just the latest example of a drinking establishment—bars, public houses, taverns and soda shops have also served this purpose—as the center for cultural exchange in a particular community, often fomenting social and political change. See, for example, the meetings of the Sons of Liberty of the American Revolution and the abortive Beer Hall Putsch by the German Nazi party in 1923.

From late 1950s onward, coffeehouses also served as a venue for entertainment, most commonly folk performers. This was likely due to the ease at accommodating a lone performer accompanying themself only with a guitar, even with limited floorspace; the political nature of much of 1960s folk music made the music a natural tie-in with coffeehouses with their above-referenced assocation with political action. A number of well known performers like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan began their careers performing in coffeehouses.

Contemporary cafes

In the United States, a cafe (from the Spanish word for coffee) is a small restaurant. Styles of cafes vary; some concentrate upon many styles of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, with possibly a selection of baked goods and sandwiches, while others offer full menus. American cafes may or may not serve alcoholic beverages, and the serving of coffee may be incidental to the serving of food.

In France, a cafe certainly serves alcoholic beverages. French cafes also often serve simple snacks (sandwiches etc...). They may or may not have a restaurant section. A brasserie is a cafe that serves meals, generally single dishes, in a more relaxed setting than a restaurant. A "bistro" is a cafe / restaurant, especially in Paris. Bistro food is supposed to be cheap, but in recent years bistros, especially in Paris, have become increasingly expensive.

Thanks to significant immigration from mainland Europe in the 19th century and 20th century a traditional European cafe culture is thriving in the major cities in Australia with dozens of privately owned establishments operating in even moderately sized cities. Often known locally as coffee shops these establishments often cluster along certain streets and with the weather allowing kerb side seating much of the year certain areas resemble a large party on a Friday or Saturday evening.

Cafes developed from the coffeehouses that became popular in Europe upon the introduction of coffee. Those also spawned another, completely different type of restaurant, the cafeteria.

There are two types of cafes: those that specialize in coffee and hot beverages, and those with a full menu, the most famous examples of which are the "French cafes," especially those in Paris.

Cafes, on warmer days, may have an outdoor section (terrace, pavement or sidewalk cafe) with seats, tables and parasols. This is especially the case with European cafes. See also public space.

Cafes offer a more open public space compared to many of the traditional pubs they have replaced, which were more male dominated with a focus on drinking alcohol. Many people complain that traditional, local venues are being pushed out by cloned, characterless cafes controlled by big business. This is often due to the business practices of chains such as Starbucks, which critics have complained will oversaturate an area so as to drive overall corporate profits up while lowering the profits of individual establishments.

One of the original uses of the cafe, as a place for information exchange and communication, was reintroduced in the 1990s with the Internet cafe. The spread of modern style cafes to many places, urban and rural, went hand in hand with computers. Computers and Internet access in a contemporary-styled venue helps to create a youthful, modern, outward-looking place, compared to the traditional pubs, or old-fashioned diners that they replaced. In the mid 2000s, cafes commonly offer Internet access, just as they offer telephones and newspapers.

from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Friday, August 11, 2006

Turkish Coffee

Turkish coffee (Turkish: Türk kahvesi ), also known as Greek coffee is a specific way of preparing coffee. It is common throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Balkan countries. This method of preparation is believed to have originated in Damascus and to have become widespread during the Ottoman Empire - hence the eventual appelation 'Turkish coffee'. In Turkey, it was known simply as "coffee" (kahve) until instant coffee was brought in during the 1980s. Today younger generations refer to the beverage as "Turkish coffee" (Türk kahvesi). In Croatian communities, the most common names are turska kava (Turkish coffee), domaca kava (domestic coffee), and kava (coffee). In Serbian communities, it’s called turska kafa (Turkish coffee), srpska kafa (Serbian coffee), domaca kafa (domestic coffee), or kafa (coffee). Coffee culture is highly developed in the Balkans region, where Turkish coffee is the dominant method of preparation. It also remains a traditional beverage in Greek, Cypriot, Balkan and Turkish restaurants around the world.


The necessary equipment to prepare Turkish coffee consists of a narrow-topped small boiling pot called cezve or džezva, a teaspoon and a heating apparatus. The ingredients are finely ground coffee, cold water and (if desired) sugar. It is served in cups (fincan or fildžan) similar in size to Italian espresso or Japanese sake cups. Some modern cups do have handles. Traditional cups did not, and coffee was drunk either by handling the cup with the tip of the fingers or, more often, by placing the cup in a zarf, a metal container with a handle.

Traditionally, the pot is made of copper and has a wooden handle. The size of the pot is chosen to be close to the total volume of the cups to be prepared, since using a too large pot results in most of the precious foam sticking to the inside of it. Also, a certain depth of water is necessary for the coffee particles to sink. The teaspoon is used both for stirring and measuring the amount of coffee and sugar. Note that the teaspoons in the United States are much larger than the teaspoons in countries where Turkish coffee is common. The dipping parts of the teaspoons in these countries are about 1 cm long and 0.5 cm wide. For heating, an ordinary stove burner is sufficient, but too strong of a heat source is undesirable, as the brewing time needs to be at least five minutes.


As with other ways of preparing coffee, the best Turkish coffee is made from freshly roasted beans ground just before brewing. A dark roast is preferable but even a medium roast coffee will yield a strong aroma and flavour. The grinding is done either by pounding in a mortar (the authentic method) or using a mill (the more usual method today), and the end result is a fine coffee powder. Beans for Turkish coffee are ground even finer than the grind used in pump-driven espresso makers, therefore, Turkish coffee should be powdery. It is the finest grind of coffee used in any style of coffee making. For best coffee, the water needs to be cold. Due to this, if sugar is desired, an easily dissolvable form should be chosen.

The amount of water necessary can be measured using the cups. The coffee and the sugar are usually added to water, rather than being put into the pot first. For each cup between one and two heaped teaspoons of coffee are used. In Turkey, four degrees of sweetness are used. The Turkish terms and approximate amounts are as follows: sade (plain; no sugar), az s,ekerli (little sugar; half a levelled teaspoon of sugar), orta s,ekerli (medium sugar; one levelled teaspoon), and çok s,ekerli (a lot of sugar; one and a half or two levelled teaspoons). The coffee and the desired amount of sugar are stirred until all coffee sinks and the sugar is dissolved. Following this, the spoon is removed and the pot is put on the fire. No stirring is done beyond this point, as it would dissolve the foam. Just as the coffee begins boiling, the pot is removed from the fire and the coffee is poured into the cups.

A well-prepared Turkish coffee has a thick foam at the top (kaymak in Turkish), is homogeneous, and does not contain noticeable particles in the foam or the liquid. This can be achieved only if cold water and a low heat are used. Starting with warm water or a strong heat does not leave enough time for either the coffee to sink or the foam to form. It is possible to wait an additional twenty seconds past boiling, which makes a homogeneous and delicious coffee, but the foam is completely lost. To overcome this, foam can be removed and put into cups earlier and the rest can be left to boil. In this case special attention must be paid to transfer only the foam and not the suspended particles.

There are other schools of preparing Turkish coffee that vary from the above. One such method involves starting with hot water alone, then adding and dissolving the sugar. The product is in essence a sugar syrup, with a higher boiling point than water. The coffee and cardamom are added, and the mixture is stirred. It is then brought to a boil and just before serving is removed from the heat for a few seconds and returned to it, being brought to a brief boil a second time. This double (and sometimes triple) boiling is an essential part of the process, both ceremonially and—as connoissieurs claim—on the palate.


All the coffee in the pot is poured into cups, but not all of it is drunk.

Turkish coffee is drunk slowly and is usually served with a glass of cold water (to freshen the mouth to better taste the coffee before sipping), though sometimes, especially after dinner, with a small glass of mint liqueur.

The thick layer of sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup is left behind. The cup is then commonly turned over into the saucer to cool, and then the patterns of the coffee grounds can be used for a kind of fortune telling called tasseography, or tasseomancy (kafemandeia in Greek). These terms also refer to the reading of tea leaves.

Turkish coffee grounds are sometimes flavoured with cardamom, eliminating the need to have it added during preparation.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Java Coffee

Java coffee is a coffee produced on the island of Java. "Java" by itself is dialect slang for coffee generally.

The Dutch began cultivation of coffee trees on Java (part of the Dutch East Indies) in the 17th century and it has been exported globally since. The coffee agricultural systems found on Java have changed considerably over time. A rust plague in the late 1880's killed off much of the plantation stocks in Sukabumi, before spreading to Central Java and parts of East Java. The Dutch responded by replacing the Arabica firstly with Liberica (a tough, but somewhat unpalatable coffee) and later with Robusta. Today Java's old colonial era plantations provide just a fraction of the coffee grown on the island.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Caffè sospeso

A tradition in the cafés of Naples is to order a caffè sospeso – literally, a coffee "in suspense" – as a sign of your good fortune. When a sospeso is ordered, the customer pays for two coffees, but only receives one. That way, when a person who is homeless or otherwise down on their luck walks into the café, he can ask if there are any coffees held in suspense for him, and he can have one courtesy of the first customer.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Caffè is the Italian word for coffee and may indicate either the Italian way of preparing this beverage at home or espresso, which is prepared instead with electrical steam machines.

Italians, and especially Neapolitans, pay special attention to the preparation, the selection of the blends and the use of accessories, all part of a special culture focused on the drink.

Caffè Espresso

Normally, within the coffeeshop environment, the term caffè denotes straight espresso.

When one orders 'un caffè' it is normally enjoyed at the bar, either with friends or alone or chatting with the barman (Italian: barista). The espresso is always served with a saucer and demitasse spoon, and sometimes with a complimentary wrapped chocolate and a small glass of water. While Caffè Espresso is normally drunk quickly, often with the elbow of the arm holding the glass resting on the bar counter, it may also be enjoyed for the duration of the afternoon, which is often a community custom for retired seniors.

In some regions of Italy, the ultimate compliment to a barista is to turn the cup upside-down onto the saucer, as to indicate you enjoyed the drink thoroughly, and there is no liquid left in the cup.


The necessary instrument, the caffettiera, is essentially a steam machine made of a bottom boiler, a central filter which contains the coffee grounds, and an upper cup. In the traditional Moka, water is put in the boiler and the resulting boiling water passes through the coffee grounds, then reaches the cup. The Neapolitan caffettiera has instead a different working function, and needs to be turned upside down when the drink is ready. Its boiler and cup are therefore interchangeable.

The quantity of coffee to be put in the filter determines the richness of the final beverage, but special care is needed in order not to block the water from crossing it, in case of an excess of grounds. Some hints prescribe that some small vertical holes are left in the powder by using a fork.

A small fire has to be used, in order to have the appropriate water pressure: a high pressure makes the water run too quickly, resulting in coffee with little flavour. The fire under the caffettiera has to be turned off ten seconds after the first characteristic noise is heard, and eventually lit again in case the cup was not filled.

Some claim that the more coffees the machine makes without being cleaned, the more tasty the final drink is. A good compromise between hygiene and taste, is having the caffettiera cleaned once every two days, before the coffee remains begin to turn bad.

Italians usually add some sugar.

The "caffetteria" is the public service in which caffè was traditionally made with Moka, and in the 19th century it was the specialized place for enjoying it, while the domestic habit started at the beginning of the 20th century, when caffettiere became available to the general public.

In elder caffetterie, art and culture events were held, being places in which the upper classes used to spend relevant parts of their days. So many of these places became important sites (like, for instance, the famous "Caffè Greco" in Via dei Condotti, Rome) and became famous for being the usual meeting points of artists, intellectuals, politicians, etc. It was mainly enjoyed by men, while women organised their tea meetings.

For an appropriate formal afternoon service, the caffè is always brought with a silver pot, porcelain cups (which should be the thinner and the less decorated as possible) are always on a small dish and have their small silver spoon on the right (on the dish). Sugar is brought apart, in porcelain pots, with a separate silver spoon. After the consumption, smokers are usually allowed to lit their cigarettes (the service typically includes a porcelain ashtray) if not in the presence of women (who usually invite them to do it, if they wish). Pastry is not properly indicated to accompany this ceremony, but an exception can be made in case there are women at the table. The coffee pot has to be left on the table, for a second cup. After-lunch coffee is enjoyed in separate smaller tables, not at the main one, and children are obviously not welcome to join the team.

Cappuccino is not related to the traditional domestic coffee, being made with an espresso machine. However, caffè latte (also known as a latte in the U.S. and Café au lait in France) is made with a simple mixture of hot coffee and hot milk, and served in cups that are larger than tea cups. Caffetterie usually serve caffellatte too.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, August 07, 2006

Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee

Kopi Luwak or Civet coffee is coffee made from coffee berries which have been eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). The animals gorge on the ripe berries, and the undigested beans are excreted. This process takes place on the islands of Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago, in the Philippines (where the product is called Kape Alamid), in the country of Vietnam, and the coffee estates of south India. Vietnam has a similar type of coffee, called Weasel Coffee which also comes from the droppings of coffee beans after weasels eat robusta coffee cherries.

Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world, selling at $30 USD per quarter pound, and is sold mainly in Japan and United States, but it is increasingly becoming available elsewhere, though supplies are limited.

Kopi is the Indonesian word for coffee, and luwak is a local name of the Palm Civet. The raw, red coffee berries are part of its normal diet, along with insects, small mammals, and other fruit. The inner bean of the berry is not digested, but it is believed that enzymes in the stomach of the civet add to the coffee's flavor by breaking down the proteins that give coffee its bitter taste. The beans are excreted still covered in some inner layers of the cherry, and locals then gather them and sell them to dealers. The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors which develop through the whole process. While praised by many for its rich flavor, the beverage is often derided as "cat poop coffee" or "monkey poo coffee".

A 2004 SARS scare led to thousands of Chinese civets being exterminated [1], [2], but the demand for the coffee was not affected.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Social aspects of coffee

Many social aspects of coffee can be seen in the modern-day lifestyle. The United States is the largest market for coffee, followed by Germany.[citation needed] The Nordic countries consume the most coffee per capita, with Finland, Norway and Denmark trading the top spot depending on the year.[citation needed] However, consumption has also vastly increased in the United Kingdom in recent years.

Coffee is so popular in the Americas, the Middle East, and Europe that many restaurants specialize in coffee; these are called "coffeehouses" or "cafés". Most cafés also serve tea, sandwiches, pastries, and other light refreshments (some of which may be dunked into the drink). Some shops are miniature cafés that specialise in coffee-to-go for hurried travelers, who may visit these on their way to work as a substitute for breakfast. Some provide other services, such as wireless internet access (thus the name, "internet café" — which has carried over to stores that provide internet service without any coffee) for their customers.

In some countries, notably in northern Europe, coffee parties are a popular form of entertaining. Besides coffee, the host or hostess at the coffee party also serves cake and pastries, sometimes homemade.

Coffee plays a large role in much history and literature because of the large effects the coffee industry has had on cultures where it is produced or consumed. Coffee is often mentioned as one of the main economic goods used in imperial control of trade, and with colonized trade patterns in "goods" such as slaves, coffee, and sugar, which defined Brazilian trade, for example, for centuries. Coffee in culture or trade is a central theme and prominently referenced in much poetry, fiction, and regional history. "Die Reading," by Joey Parks, is a modern novel centered around a New Zealand barista/barrista (and his lifestyle), which is a person who works in a coffeehouse and generally knows the aromas, names, recipes and special effects of espressos and other coffee beverages.