7:45 a.m. comes around again and it feels like I just hit the pillow. What’s the first thing on my mind? Coffee. All of the other bullshit that comes with the day can wait; I need my caffeine fix. For nearly a decade I’ve been encapsulated in the tight grip of Ms. Caffeine but sourced only from coffee seeing as though I don’t drink soda or energy drinks–who needs that when the holy roasted bean is plentiful and way more health beneficial? Exactly my thoughts.
Since 2010, when I was a freshman in college, my love for coffee was heightened even more so given the workload, stress, deadlines, and so forth. Though, I learned to curtail my love affair for caffeine so I wasn’t cracking out in the middle of the library having heart palpitations–not good. Even better, I now live directly above a great little coffee shop that offers some phenomenal blends. Owner and roaster Jeff Slostad does a wonderful job in bringing all kinds of green beans that are sourced from all over the globe into his shop, Global Libations, in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. Every other day throughout my apartment building I can smell all of the loving care he puts into those green beans. My roommates think it smells like burnt toast, but I beg to differ. I get notes of tobacco, sometimes worn-in leather, citrus, and a toasty, almost malty aroma as if he’s toasting malts to make a beer (that’s another story for another time). I find it extraordinarily attractive smelling and I almost always find myself standing on my back fire escape and breathing in deeply those earthy smells.
Coffee has been fueling humans for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. There are many legends that denote the origin of who/what/where/when the first beans were used to make a drink that not only promoted a heightened sense of awareness but also tasted great. We have to remember that all of the homo-species started off as hunter-gatherers and would be on hunts for days. Think about it in this perspective: imagine having to run for days on end, chasing an animal through who-the-hell-knows-where and waiting for it to die of complete exhaustion without adequate sustenance and energy. Bingo, someone found the bean from the gods and thus coffee was born. Here’s the way I know the history: In the Ethiopian highlands, legend has it, is where the caffeine phenomenon all began. Kaldi, the goatherd, noticed that his goats were highly spirited after eating the beans of this certain tree and they remained sleepless throughout the night. Kaldi soon shared his discovery with monks at a monastery where they concocted a drink from the berry and remained alert for hours of prayer. From there, it blossomed and traveled across the Arabian peninsula and further lands westward. All roots of the coffee tree can be traced back to the Ethiopian highlands where Kaldi and his goats discovered one of the most highly coveted trades in the world. The birth of the coffee industry came life thanks to Kaldi’s spirited goats. Thanks to Kaldi and his trusty goats we now have the gift of coffee.
Speaking of industry, the global coffee commodity gas skyrocketed over the recent years. Starbucks popping up everywhere like zits on a preteen and everyone wanting their soy mocha extra skinny latte crap. The thing is, it sells and it’s a booming business. Maybe I’m in the wrong field here, hmm. I know, as a current college student, the student population at the university has a love affair with these sweet, somehow coffee infused drinks that taste so good yet cost so much. Everyone can be seen waltzing around with a cardboard mug or clear cup with a Mt. Everest of whipped cream and caramel drizzle. In 2012 Starbucks grossed 13.9 billion dollars in coffee sales. Let that soak in for a minute. The originators in Seattle back in 71′ knew what they were doing when they sold whole bean and ground coffee, tea and spices with a single store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Now, they have 19,000 retail stores in 60 different countries. Those numbers are staggering considering it’s all over coffee. But then again, coffee is everywhere. There are, of course, the giants in the industry but there are many companies making a name for themselves that they too started off with humble beginnings, such as La Colombe Torrefaction that Todd Carmichael and Jean Philippe Iberti started back in the 90s. Between the black coffee drinker as I am and the individuals who take their crazy caffeine-infused concoctions, it’s all the same and they’re being sold at an incredible rate.
Thanks to my parents giving me coffee at a young age I’ve gained an unmatched affinity for such an incredibly rewarding plant. Barista, give me another!