“I love coffee, I love tea. I love the boys, and the boys love me.”
I chanted that silly jump-rope jingle hundreds of times on the Oak Knoll Playground, certain I’d never acquire a taste for either coffee or tea. Little did I know. Today I live for that first morning cup.
My earliest coffee memory was watching Dad pour his steaming coffee into a saucer, slurping it carefully before racing off to work. Mom often sat at our yellow formica table, chatting over steaming cups of coffee with a friend. I remember, too, being told that coffee would stunt my growth. I was big for my age, so I snuck a sip in hopes it would retard my vertical development—YUCK! I swore off coffee forever. My resolve was strengthened by Mr. Ryshavy’s rancid coffee breath in 6th grade. I worshipped the man, but his breath could send me reeling to my seat.
A NEED FOR THE CAFFEINE PERK
Circumstances forced me to change my mind. As a university freshman, my procrastination got the best of me; at 10:00 one night a research paper and a final exam necessitated a quick dose of caffeine. I hated Coke and refused to take No-Doz (drugs!), so what was left? Coffee. Ralph & Jerry’s Grocery was open ‘til midnight, so I headed out for some instant Jo. I choked it down with a half cup of sugar, and it did the trick. I was up all night.
I decided it might behoove me to acquire a taste for the stuff. For the next few years I searched out all the coffee-flavored sweets I could find to acclimate myself to coffee’s bitter taste. Thanks to coffee ice cream and Coffee Nips, by the time I graduated, I actually liked it.
My taste buds have been further transformed by egg coffee, trips to Starbucks, treks through Europe, and finally, my own French press. Love the stuff—the stronger the better.
COFFEE OFFERS HEALTH BENEFITS
Over the years, coffee has gotten a bad rap, but more recent tests have indicated that it offers health benefits. According to Donald Hensrud, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, coffee has been shown to “protect against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.”
Not only that, but consuming four to five cups of coffee a day has been shown to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research by Dr. Chuanhai Cao at the University of South Florida.
Of course, drinking too much coffee can have health risks as well. As with most foods, moderation is the key.
•Brazil produces 40% of the world’s coffee, twice as much as 2nd and third place Colombia and Vietnam.
•Coffee was discovered in Turkey around 800 A.D. and is currently the most widely consumed beverage in the world.
•In Turkey, the bride-to-be is expected to brew perfect Turkish coffee for her intended groom and his parents before they will approve the match, and then the husband promises to always keep the wife supplied with coffee beans. If he doesn’t, it’s grounds for divorce (pardon the pun).
•Beethoven was a coffee fanatic and counted out exactly 60 beans to brew each cup of coffee.
•The Americans, French, and Germans consume 65% of the world’s supply of coffee.
•Honoré de Balsac, a famous 19th century French writer, drank up to 40 cups of coffee a day.
•Coffee represents 75% of all the caffeine consumed in the United States (Coke comes second).
•Coffee beans are actually berries, not beans.
•The human body can absorb up to about 300 milligrams of caffeine at a given time; additional amounts are sluffed off, providing no further stimulation. The body dissipates 20% of the caffeine in the system each hour.
•Dark roasted coffees actually have less caffeine than medium roasts, because the longer beans are roasted, the more caffeine burns off in the process.
So enjoy! And remember the Turkish proverb, “Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love.”
This article first appeared on Sixty and Me: