A Closer Look at Coffee
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages on the entire planet. Its consumption is so great in some parts of the world that it's been taken from being a mere drink to being a way of life. Taking a close look at what coffee actually is, you'll find it's more than just the stuff poured in a cup.
The coffee plant:
The coffee you drink comes from what are commonly referred to as beans and the beans come from plants. There is more than one type of plant, though. In fact, coffee is actually a word that refers to an entire genus of plants that are made up of nearly a hundred individual plant species. Small trees or shrubs, originally native to tropical parts of Asia and Africa, some of the plants are the source of the seeds used to make the drink.
Also spelled Coffea, the species of this genus that produces the best quality coffee beans is called Coffea arabica. The quality that coffee is most famous for, caffeine, is actually used as these plants' defence against wild animals. Caffeine is a natural toxin that would harm feeding animals.
The word coffee:
The word coffee was popularized in the English language at some point in the seventeenth century. There are, however, traces of the word as early as the century prior. It came to the English language through one language that had already taken it from another.
As far back as can be traced, the word originates from one of two Arabic terms. One of them is qahwat al-bunn, which means wine of the bean, and the other is a geographic area known as Kaffa. At some point this gave origin to the Turkish word kahve, which was later translated into English as the word we use today.
Coffee as a drink:
No one really knows how Coffea plants wound up being turned into a drink. There are many legends and stories that try to explain it but the truth will likely never be known. What is knows is that the drink has existed since at least the ninth century of the Common Era, but is sometimes dated back to as early as the fifth century.
The drink is made through what is now a long and heavily specialized process of cultivation, harvesting, processing and preparation. In almost all cases, seeds are actually handpicked and then put through a few normally low tech treatments. Huge industrial machines then roast the seeds until they resemble the beans most of us are familiar with. The actual drink is created by filtering boiling water through the ground beans. Many different steps can be taken, or altered, to create a wide variety of similar beverages.
Types of drinks:
Coffee itself can take several different forms. One popular variant is espresso, a highly concentrated version of coffee that is served as a shot. Cappuccino is another famous form of the drink, which is basically one part espresso and one part milk. Beyond that are countless commercialized forms of the drink designed to make it more popular amongst consumers. These include things ranging from iced coffee to instant coffee. Of course, everyone has their favorite.
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