Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Jolt from the Past: Coffee Memories

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
A Historical Testimony
The coffee was boiling over a charcoal fire, and large slices of
bread and butter were piled one upon the other like deals in a lumber yard.
--Charles Dickens (1812-1870)(1)

Coffee in different forms treated my pre-teen, green taste buds. My budding imagination took me to foreign lands where coffee trees grow and flourish and people enjoy coffee sophisticated coffee drinks. I observed adults sip coffee spiked with alcohol and non-alcohol. It was intriguing to discover a new spin on the beverage that was forbidden for kids like me to drink.
After one dinner party at our home, my mother (coffee must have been the gift that gave her boundless energy) served slices of cheesecake paired with a dark colored coffee in small white porcelain cups. I asked her, “What is this dark stuff?” She answered, “Espresso. I drank it in a bistro in Paris.” Since her trip to Europe, when I was in the third grade, she came back home with coffee attitude.
Served in a 3-ounce demitasse (espresso cups) the beverage presentation looked cute like something in an Alice in Wonderland scene. I wanted to taste the strange, dark brew, but was timid. It looked like the coffee cup picture on the cover of a French menu that my mom brought home from her trip abroad to France, Spain, and Italy. Actually, the Italian-sounding “espresso” word (which I incorrectly pronounced “expresso”) originated in France since the late 1800s and was appreciated in Italy later.
So, I shut my eyes (like diving off a block into a cold pool at swim club) and sipped the dark mud. “This tastes awful,” I exclaimed. I was still a kid (like a coffee plant that had not fully matured), what did I know? I swapped my coffee for a bowl of coffee ice cream with chocolate syrup.
At the same time, during the 20th century, coffee roasters and retailers were also discovering what titillated the palate of Americans. Coffee company pioneers understood the demand for the caffeinated brew, from coffee breaks in the workplace to coffeehouses. They knew that coffee had a place both at work and play. And these findings have been embraced and are now expanding to buzz-worthy health news effect of coffee to the mainstream audience.

Some of the noteworthy coffee producers of the world made history in the 20th century and paved the way for the 21st century coffee companies on the West Coast, America and worldwide. Also, what is so interesting is that many of these groundbreaking pioneers are family generation run and have ties back to the 1900s.
By the mid 20th century, coffee was a staple beverage in the average American home and on the road. The popularity of cars and highways made traveling more common, and stopping at a coffee shop or diner for coffee and a bite to eat was a trend that became a mainstay.  As a kid growing up in the fifties, my parents ordered coffee at coffee shops before our lunch or dinner made its way to the table. And after the meal coffee was served, too.

When I began my exploration to discover who’s who in coffee companies I quickly learned that there was a ready-made list compiled of well-known top coffee brands much like there is for leading chocolate companies...
Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Coffee by Cal Orey

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