Coffee sometimes means more to me than life itself. I can have an awful day, be sick as a dog, or need sleep after a long day- but I will always be ready for that first sip. I search out the best coffee experience the way some hunt for a life-long mate...
But it doesn't escape me that there is a dark history to this dark liquid.
Overwhelming evidence shows Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. People there first drank it like a tea- by steeping the coffee plant's red berries and leaves. Much later, Sufi monks in Yemen discovered how to roast the beans and drink it as we do today. They were actually just looking for a "fix" to stay awake for midnight prayers.
Coffee has since spread around the world, through trade and large-scale cultivation. Meanwhile people around the globe have worked themselves to the bone to harvest it and bring it to your doorstep.
To learn more about coffee's life cycle look into these:
Coffee takes a critical look at the ‘mean green bean’ (raw coffee beans are actually green), paying keen attention to coffee politics. Learn about coups d'état, family feuds, and global slavery, all in the name of coffee.
Uncommon Grounds describes the changes that coffee has undergone, from its humble beginnings in Ethiopia to its transformation into that $4 dollar cup of joe at your local coffee hangout. The path was not always smooth; coffee was banned in many places. In the 16th century if caught sneaking a cup the punishment was severe and you could be tied up in a sack and thrown into the sea!
Café Life Venice is a beautifully photographed guide that shows the flavor and culture of a city through its neighborhood cafes. Included are sweet, hilarious stories from the owners too; one Venetian owner had to unexpectedly dash out of his café leaving the door wide open. Later, upon return, he found all went smoothly because the locals honorably ran the register in his absence.