Thursday, March 16, 2006

inner dork: coffee

A cup of joe, java, coffee and the history of it all.

Why is coffee refered to as a cup of Joe? No one really knows, but the most accepted is the naval legend.
The U.S. Navy use to serve alcoholic drinks on its ships, typically wine. When Admiral Josephus, "Joe" Daniels became secretary of the Navy, he made a number of reforms, including accepting women into the Navy and abolishing wine from the official mess. Alcohol was outlawed on ships except for special occasions. Instead of drinking alcohol, the sailors had to drink coffee. Perhaps out of sarcasm refering to it as a, "cup of Joe."

The term, Java, was coined by American hoboes in the late 19th century. The term comes from, of course, the coffee making country of, Java.

Some believe the term coffee comes from Caffa, an Abyssinian province. Other's believe it's derived from the old Arabic word, qahwah, which means wine. Coffee cherries were used to make wine long before the coffee bean was used to make coffee.

Factoids:

Malays chew the leaves of the coffee plant because they contain more caffeine than the beans.

Coffee is second only to tea as the world's most popular drink.

In 1732 there was a movement to prevent women from drinking coffee because people thought it would make women sterile. Johann Sebastian Bach poked fun at the movement by composing his, "Coffee Cantata," an ode to coffee. It included the aria, "Ah! How sweet coffee tastes! Lovelier than a thousand kisses, sweeter far than muscatel wine! I must have my coffee."

A German coffee importer, Ludwig Roselius, took a batch of coffee beans that had been ruined and gave them to researchers. The researchers perfected a method of removing the caffeine from the beans while retaining the flavor of the coffee. The product was given the name, "Sanka," and was introduced in the US in 1923.

1 comment:

Jay said...

Outer-dork: chocolate.

The first people clearly known to have discovered the secret of cacao were the Classic Period Maya (250-900 C.E. [A.D.]). The Maya and their ancestors in Mesoamerica,(South and Central America,) took the tree from the rainforest and grew it in their own backyards, where they harvested, fermented, roasted, and ground the seeds into a paste.

When mixed with water, chile peppers, cornmeal, and other ingredients, this paste made a frothy, spicy chocolate drink.

The Aztecs adopted cacao.
By 1400, the Aztec empire dominated a sizeable segment of Mesoamerica. The Aztecs traded with Maya and other peoples for cacao and often required that citizens and conquered peoples pay their tribute in cacao seeds—a form of Aztec money.

Like the earlier Maya, the Aztecs also consumed their bitter chocolate drink seasoned with spices—sugar was an agricultural product unavailable to the ancient Mesoamericans.

Drinking chocolate was an important part of Maya and Aztec life.
Many people in Classic Period Maya society could drink chocolate at least on occasion, although it was a particularly favored beverage for royalty. But in Aztec society, primarily rulers, priests, decorated soldiers, and honored merchants could partake of this sacred brew.

Chocolate also played a special role in both Maya and Aztec royal and religious events. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the gods and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies.

Until the 1500s, no one in Europe knew anything at all about the delicious drink that would later become a huge hit worldwide. Spain’s search for a route to riches led its explorers to the Americas and introduced them to chocolate’s delicious flavor.

Eventually, the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs made it possible to import chocolate back home, where it quickly became a court favorite. And within 100 years, the love of chocolate spread throughout the rest of Europe.

The hand methods of manufacture used by small shops gave way in time to the mass production of chocolate. The transition was hastened by the advent of a perfected steam engine which mechanized the cocoa grinding process. By 1730, chocolate had dropped in price from three dollars or more per pound to within the financial reach of all. The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 reduced the prices even further and helped to improve the the quality of the beverage by squeezing out part of the cocoa butter, the fat that occurs naturally in cocoa beans. From then on, drinking chocolate had more of the smooth consistency and the pleasing flavor it has today.

The 19th Century marked two more revolutionary developments in the history of chocolate. In 1847, an English company introduced solid "eating chocolate" through the development of fondant chocolate, a smooth and velvety variety that has almost completely replaced the old coarse grained chocolate which formerly dominated the world market. The second development occurred in 1876 in Vevey, Switzerland, when Daniel Peter devised a way of adding milk to the chocolate, creating the product we enjoy today known as milk chocolate.

Factoid:

Most expensive chocolate-

Chocopologie by Knipschildt

Cost: $2,600 per pound
Where: Norwalk, Conn.
Web site: www.knipschildt.com

Knipschildt Chocolatier was founded in 1999 by Fritz Knipschildt, who got his culinary education as a chef in Denmark. The most-expensive chocolate he sells--a $250 dark chocolate truffle with a French black truffle inside--is available on a preorder-only basis. It's made of 70% Valrhona cacao, which is blended into a creamy ganache with truffle oil. The truffle is then hand-rolled with a dark truffle on the inside and dusted with cocoa powder.