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by Heather Ramia-Hoins, staff writer


From the old tin pots that our grandparents used —the ones into which, after the coffee boiled for five minutes, you threw a little cold water to settle the grounds —to today’s vanilla soy lattes and double espressos, the idea of coffee, and the habitual ways we drink it, have changed enormously.
The bean itself, from black instant ground we use in a hurry at home to the iced mocha latte that we order at the corner coffee shop, has changed little. What happened in the last 50 or so years to make such a dramatic impact on the way coffee is prepared and consumed?

Coffee actually has a long history, and so do the styles of its preparation and consumption. It was first grown in Ethiopia, then spread to the Middle East via ancient Muslim trade routes. From the original black, water-based beverage grew whole technologies for roasting the bean, grinding it, blending varieties, and then brewing it.

Coffee technologies spread from Mediterranean Muslim countries north into Europe where the beverage became so popular in the 17th century that coffee houses, much like today’s coffee shops, were so ubiquitous, and coffee so heavily consumed, that they were banned for causing “too much stimulation.”

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the cultivation of coffee moved to Brazil and eventually to Asia. As the world’s largest producer of coffee beans, Brazil holds the monopoly on coffee with Vietnam in a close second place.

The modern espresso machine was invented in the 1940s. It quickly became the most popular way to prepare coffee and spread from Milan, Italy, to the rest of Europe and eventually the United States, where espresso was highly sought for its crema, the reddish-brown foam that floats atop the surface.
Per ounce (or shot), espresso has three times the amount of caffeine found a normal eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee. But that’s not enough for the French: their French Press coffee has almost four times the amount of caffeine.

An American word, espresso literally means “pressed-out,” but that term is not used in Italy. So when you order an espresso in Italy you should ask for “coffee,” and when you are in France, “cafe.” You will be served espresso.

Some of the most popular contemporary coffee drinks include:
The Americano, made with 12 ounces of hot water and two shots of espresso. This drink is said to have been invented in World War II by American soldiers who were in Italy. The Italian espresso was too strong, so the baristas, or bartenders would add hot water to dilute the intense coffee flavor the Americans had not had before.

The Latte: an espresso drink made with steamed milk and a little foam. The barista would prepare the espresso while steaming the milk and add the hot milk to the espresso shots.
The Macchiato: prepared with espresso shots and a spoonful of foam.
The Cappuccino: made in thirds, with espresso, steamed milk, then foam.
The Red Eye: regular coffee with a shot of espresso, sometimes called “a shot in the dark,” an “Al Pacino” (from the film, Sleepless), or an autobahn. The more extreme Black Eye is made with two shots.
The Mocha: espresso with steamed chocolate milk, topped with cream.
What makes coffee drinks unique is that they can be customized for every individual with more hot water, less milk, iced, sugared, foamed, or topped with whipped cream. Ethan Fitzpatrick, an HPU alum and an employee of Honolulu Coffee Company, said his ideal drink is the caramel latte.
“ I love to make my own lattes,” Fitzpatrick said. “I get to experiment with all different kinds of flavors. I tried a raspberry latte once. It was...interesting,” he recounted
For hundreds of years and as many ways to make and consume it, coffee, has been an integral part of our social environment. And it tastes pretty good too.

Sources: Ellis, Aytoun, A History of the Coffee-Houses. Illy, Francesco & Riccardo. From Coffee to Espresso. Davids, Kenneth (1991). Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing, and Enjoying.



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