The Evolution of Coffee

A Thought About Coffee

With the explosions of Starbucks coffee at every corner some ten years ago, one would be forgiven to think that these were the hey days of coffee. Far from it, in fact depending where you are geographically located coffee dominated the lives of the people around you for centuries.

People wake up for coffee because it is a stimulant – that's why most people don't wake up to say a cup of apple juice. When people are excited a natural cyclic AMP reaction is created.

cAMP is a second messenger, used for intracellular signal transduction, such as transferring into cells the effects of hormones like glucagon and adrenaline, which cannot pass through the plasma membrane. It is involved in the activation of protein kinases and regulates the effects of adrenaline and glucagon. - In other words this is a stimulant!

In order for us to to work until we drop dead there is also a natural counter action – telling the body – “hey that's enough playing for now!”

The caffeine molecule inhibits this natural counter reaction – allowing the cAMP to continue. That is why caffeine is indeed a stimulant, and with over 1000 molecules in a roasted coffee bean, the aroma and taste of coffee are highly cherished.

Post war coffee in America was to most people the instants coffee at home.
To be sure, there was a lot of excitement at home when the father opened the vacuum sealed coffee tin (only the father!) and of course the ritual of inhaling the coffee aroma, but not much more.
The second wave was perhaps with Starbucks. A lot of credit needs to be given to Starbucks than we would probably like to admit. Starbucks for example made the geography of coffee available to all of us.
The third wave of the coffee evolution is a refinement of what Starbucks gave us. We now pay special attention to the source of the beans and very much so to the roast. Roasting the coffee beans really is a craft!

The coffee ceremony, the grinding of the coffee right before it is served, the pouring of the perfectly heated boiling water in a spiral in, a spiral out.... (it really is hypnotic), how the grinned coffee bells up and then settles – it is absolutely beautiful!

Furthermore, coffee defined class themes and culture themes. Nowadays, in a culture where everybody needs to be different and calling someone "normal" is almost an insult – coffee had to evolve too! As a result it seems to me that everyone has THEIR coffee, nobody has to be better than anybody else's coffee – it is YOUR coffee after all.

I have collected some coffee adverts from “different times”.
It's amazing to see how coffee played such an important role in defining class and statues.

sexist coffee advert
Is this ad endorsing domestic violence over a pot of coffee or a sex game?
If you think this advert is sexist, have a look at some of Folger's Coffee advert!

Nowadays. it is just the opposite. 

And I have not even began to show how racist coffee advert were.

I think I will opt for a coffee substitute for now :-)

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