A bitter sweet liquid that gets you up in the morning…coffee is by all means a global sensation. Discovered by the ‘Galla’ tribe in the depths of Ethiopia over a thousand years ago coffee is now grown in more than 50 countries world-wide. As I sit in Starbucks, sipping my Mocha I truly cannot imagine life without coffee, and it’s not just me that feels this way – coffee is an essential part of everyday life for the majority of the populace.
During a time of economic strife, during the worst recession in decades, during soaring unemployment levels – at least we have more time to enjoy coffee. In fact, as I sit here and write, I can spot one, two, no three people circling advertisements in the job section. I can think of no better way and would go as far to say that there is no better way, than to look for a job whilst holding a large frothy cappuccino. An acquaintance once said to me that it was ‘money, money, money that made the world go round,’ now I realise that money was just a formality, a middle man – it is what allows us to buy coffee, for it is truly ‘coffee, coffee, coffee that makes the world go round.’
Coffee has become so integral to contemporary times one’s mood can be defined by their order. For instance, the pin striped man that has just entered – he orders a double espresso; obviously he has a deadline and needs an extra boost. Stressed. Behind him a skinny blonde teenager who has obviously been spending too much time at the gym or too little time eating. She orders a white coffee with skinny milk. Image conscious. Behind her a handsome greying father. He orders an Americano, he takes it with sugar. At Ease.
Perhaps I am being slightly generic, but you get the gist – coffee is not only a delicious beverage, but it has come to symbolise humanity. If my Mocha were a man, it would be George Clooney – sumptuous, tall and utterly delicious. If the girls white coffee was a person, it would be Paris Hilton – blonde, skinny and boring.
Segregated into two main categories; the Arabica and the Robusta, coffee beans have been mixed, roasted and blended over the centuries in the quest for the perfect brew. Today we are spoilt for choices; cappuccino, espresso, latte, mocha – an attractive Italian girl has just placed an order for a caramel frappacino with extra cream. I focus on her as she tosses back her inky hair and delicately licks the cream oozing over the glasses rim. The act looks like something from a soft-core porno, rather than the corner of a coffee shop. I ponder – could coffee be classified as sexual? Could Ann Summers create a Luscious Latte Lube? The mind boggles.
She stirs the iced drink softly and laughs revealing a perfect set of pearly whites. I look to the opposite corner where an elderly woman, munching on a bar of rocky road is unwittingly covering her friend in bits of marshmallow, in between gulps of gingerbread latte. I realise that is the Italian girl that makes the coffee appealing, not the coffee itself. I suppose it is in her blood, Italy and coffee go hand in hand.
Baptised by Pope Clement VIII in 1600, coffee is core to Italian society. The drink is given a separate schedule, it is not the post-meal afterthought it is here, it has its own time – just as it should. In Italy, coffee has the potential to be romantic, philosophical and rebellious; indeed Verdi quoted it as being, ‘the balm to the heart and spirit.’ As women and men sit in the sunshine with their Mocha complexions and tanned drinks one can only think that this is where god intended coffee to be drunk.
We must not forget Italy’s neighbour, for in France coffee is also key to the mechanics of society. Coffee is part of their literary history – is it not true that Sartre wrote ‘Being and Nothingness’ in ‘The Café Fleur’ on Boulevard St Germaine? Rich, oily and robust, French coffee is tantalising to the taste buds. In an interview Johnny Depp said that if he could live anywhere he would live in 1920’s Paris. Why would he pick that era many wondered – I wondered why anyone wouldn’t. 1920’s Paris, aka -Coffee, Chantilly and Cigarellos.
Coffee has a well-deserved place throughout European history. Indeed we can look closer to home, for Lloyds of London was founded in a coffee house. Moreover, the second greatest selling book of all time was first sketched out on coffee house napkins – Yes, I do refer to the one and only, ‘Harry Potter.’ From the Wizarding world to one of the most influential philosophical books of all time – where are the boundaries of this delicious drink?
Let me bring you back to the coffee house in which I reside, back to the elderly woman who has finally demolished her calorific treat and back to the exotic Italian beauty. From Kenya, to Italy, to America, to England, coffee has swept over the globe, engulfing us with its sensual flavours. A drink no, a commodity yes. In fact, Coffee was such a valuable commodity in 15th century Turkey that if a husband could not provide enough of the beverage for his wife it was suitable grounds for a divorce! Leaning back in my chair and taking my last sip of luke warm Mocha, I give sincere thanks to the ‘Galla’ tribe of Ethiopia for discovering such a bountiful bean.