Coffee: A Crash Course

Doesn’t the smell of fresh coffee just fill your soul with warmth? There’s a reason why we can’t start our day out right without it! Coffee is such an integral part of culture, since Americans drink it during business meetings, to help them stay alert for school, and, best of all, to socialize with friends. I have a very vivid memory of a time that I felt very connected with coffee’s history, being a Seattle native. My mom and I took the day off on a spring day back in 2011 and we spent the morning down at the iconic Pike Place Market, (my favorite place to wander), where the world’s first Starbucks is located.153091777Photo Credit:

We ate a quick breakfast at The Crumpet Shop and decided to stop by the first Starbucks to relax over a cup of coffee. It was only my SECOND time in that shop over my 17 years of living there. Why? If you ever decide to check the store out (and I recommend that you do!), be prepared to stand in a line that wraps around the building… every day. By some miracle, the line was actually an average length that day we visited. I remember being in such amazement over the beauty of the incredible woodwork and the very cozy ambience of that coffee shop…it feels exactly the way a coffee shop should. That morning, my mom and I talked about everything from family, to boys, to work, to where I wanted to go to college…I always loved those moments when I could spend an entire day with my mother, since both my parents work full time; I will cherish that moment always. Let’s explore the cultural significance behind the nation’s most popular drink.

Coffee and Pop Culture

Taylor Swift wowed the world at the 2016 Grammy Awards after her big win for “1989” as Album of the Year.  Another time she had everyone buzzing was during Valentine’s Day last year, when everyone thought that her hit, “Blank Space” contained the lyrics “Starbucks Lovers.” Because of this, Taylor sent out a clever tweet, saying, “Sending my love to all the lonely Starbucks lovers out there this Valentine’s Day…..even though that is not the correct lyric.”

taylor_swift_640Photo Credit: Jackie Willis

Starbucks tweeted back at her with the perfect response: “@taylorswift13 Wait, it’s not?”

Maybe we should play some Taylor Swift tracks a few more times, eh? (As if we don’t play them enough)

Source: Woodward, Ellie. “Starbucks Just Responded Perfectly to Taylor Swift’s Tweet About ‘Blank Space’.” Buzzfeed UK. BuzzFeed, 16 February 2015. Web. 23 February 2016.

Coffee and History

The history of coffee takes us back to an era when technology had barely existed. History demonstrates the simultaneous growth of coffee with technology.

C.E. 850 Ethiopia

DISCOVERY –  The legend of the goat

According to legend, a goatherd named Kaldi coined the term ‘coffee.’ It happened when Kaldi saw his goats behaving differently after eating a particular cherry which turned out to contain coffee beans, which were later brewed with water by a monk making the first cup of coffee in a tin jar (“Coffee Maker’s List”).

C.E. 850 – 1000

Coffee as a religious ritual

Drinking coffee became a religious ritual for Muslims, and soon spread amongst other people and religions around the world.

C.E. 1000 – 1600

Coffee cultivation begins to spread worldwide

People started to smuggle coffee beans to different countries for yielding. Countries in Europe and the Middle East began to cultivate. Coffee began to be referred to with different names, such as Kavah Kanes and Dutch Koffie (“Coffee Maker’s List”).

C.E. 1600 – 1616

Public started consuming coffee

Coffee consumption continued to increase among the people, due to its great ability to energize drinkers immediately. “Pope clement VIII legalized coffee, enabling the common people to engage in coffee culture” (“Coffee Maker’s List”).

C.E. 1637 – 1696

Coffee houses and rising coffee culture

Public coffee houses arose in each part of world. Written regulations were also put into place following the rising coffee culture.

C.E. 1710 – 1790

France initiates first coffee brewing technique

People started to use coffee bags similar to tea bags for brewing coffee with water. In 1780, the first coffee brewer was invented and included filters (“Coffee Maker’s List”). Because the after taste of coffee filters was so unpopular, another invention caused a stir in France named the French drip pot, paving the way for contemporary culture.

coffee-983955_1920Photo Credit: Royalty Free Image


Coffee brewing techniques started to stick

Coffee cultivation turned into mass cultivation. “Coffee machines such as the espresso maker, the vacuum pot and the siphon coffee maker were invented, which brewed coffee grounds with hot steam” (“Coffee Maker’s List”).


Wholesale coffee

Coffee started to be consumed in large quantities, especially within the United States.


Commercialized coffee

From France to Europe, products like commercial espresso machines and the French press were drawing customers. People started using coffee machines in their own homes. The French press was remodeled in 1929, and was later known by different names in various countries (“Coffee Maker’s List”).

1908 – 1950

A more modern era

Nestle created steam-free, ready to brew packets to facilitate the coffee preparation proceess. Steam-free techniques began to develop across the world. More coffee houses began to pop up across the world; a favorite of World War II fighters was Maxwell House (“Coffee Maker’s List”).

1956 – 2012

Coffee moves to the city

The first Starbucks opened at Seattle’s Pike Place in Washington, introducing the all-too-popular concept of customizable coffee drinks. Makers developed long-lasting, durable, and high-tech machines, accounting for brewing time and good taste (“Coffee Maker’s List”).



Coffee today

Technology became so advanced that coffee types and quantities are now completely customizable to whatever style or flavor consumers choose to drink (i.e. quad grande, nonfat, extra hot caramel macchiato, upside down)!

Source: “Timeline of Coffee Makers.” Coffee Makers List. Coffee Makers List, N.D. Web. 23 February 2016.

Coffee and Politics

While coffee can be a delicious mid-day pick-me-up or breakfast accompaniment, it unfortunately can be one of the only things that a person drinks if he or she has anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is an emotional condition in which a person is so obsessed with losing weight that he or she refuses to eat. Anorexia is very common amongst adolescents and women (though it is a disease affecting both sexes), and about 5-20% of individuals that are diagnosed with anorexia will die (“Anorexia Nervosa”).

Warning signs to look out for in people who might have the condition, according to the National Eating Disorders Association:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g. no carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Frequent comments about feeling “fat” or overweight despite weight loss
  • Anxiety about gaining weight or being “fat”
  • Denial of hunger
  • Development of food rituals (e.g. eating foods in certain orders, excessive chewing, rearranging food on a plate)
  • Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to “burn off” calories taken in
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns

Being a survivor of anorexia myself in middle school, I can tell you that the disease (for me) stemmed from insecurity about not being “perfect.” I felt that controlling what I ate made me more in control of my life, and that being skinny would make people like me more. In reality, however, not living up to my own expectations to what I thought was “perfect” ended up causing me to hate myself and just about everything I did. While I had good friends who expressed their concern, I think there were other people who could sense my inner weakness, and they definitely preyed on it. In fact, I was playing select/varsity volleyball at the time, and a few of the girls on my school team would shove me, and I would often fall over because I was so weak.

If it weren’t for my incredible coaches and personal trainers, who taught me that good health would make me stronger so that I could stand up for myself, I would not have gotten myself into shape or have become the person I am today. I am so appreciative to everyone in my life who made me realize the importance of good health, and more importantly, what true friendship is.

I really don’t want to sound preachy, but I am being sincere here…I strongly urge anyone who thinks that they or a friend are a victim of anorexia to contact the NEDA helpline at 1-800-931-2237, and more importantly, to receive counseling. Please remember that even though society puts so much emphasis on how you look, the truth is, you are so much more than just a body, and your dreams matter. Don’t let any feelings that you aren’t good enough or aren’t worth it allow you to harm yourself to the point that your body cannot achieve what you were born to do; graciously accept any help from friends who want to support you, and reciprocate any selfless acts your friends do for you.

So, next time you take that coffee break, feed off that caffeine buzz and extra energy to do something you love!

beach-21815_1920Photo Credit: Royalty Free Image

Source: “Anorexia Nervosa.” National Eating Disorder Association. National Eating Disorder Association, N.D. Web. 23 February 2016.

© COPYRIGHT Meagan Nelson & Dinner and Democracy. All Rights Reserved.