MORNING PERK-UPPER

“The smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the world’s greatest inventions.” – Hugh Jackman

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WHAT is one of the world’s most popular drinks? Coffee, that’s what.

The popular drink comes from an evergreen tree, which was first discovered in Ethiopia, where its red, cherry-like berries (generally containing 2 seeds per berry) was used for wine and food before A.D. 1000. Its beans are first grounded and roasted and made into a drink during the 15th century in the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee later spread throughout Europe since the 17th century.

Coffee comes from an evergreen tree, which was first discovered in Ethiopia, where its red, cherry-like berries (generally containing 2 seeds per berry) was used for wine and food before A.D. 1000. Its beans are first grounded and roasted and made into a drink during the 15th century in the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee later spread throughout Europe since the 17th century.

Today, eight out 10 adults in the Philippines drink an average of 2.5 cups of coffee every day.   However, the country comes second only to Japan in the amount of coffee consumed in Asia. 

“In the Philippines, coffee has a history as rich as its flavor,” notes the National Coffee Development Board (NCDB). The first coffee tree was introduced in Lipa, Batangas in 1740 by a Spanish Franciscan monk. From there, coffee growing spread to other parts of Batangas like Ibaan, Lemery, San Jose, Taal, and Tanauan. Batangas owed much of its wealth to the coffee plantations in these areas and Lipa eventually became the coffee capital of the Philippines.

“By the 1860s, Batangas was exporting coffee to America through San Francisco,” the NCDB records. “When the Suez Canal was opened, a new market started in Europe as well. Seeing the success of the Batangeños, Cavite followed suit by growing the first coffee seedlings in 1876 in Amadeo. In spite of this, Lipa still reigned as the center for coffee production in the Philippines and Batangas barako was commanding five times the price of other Asian coffee beans.”

In 1880, the Philippines was the fourth largest exporter of coffee beans, and when the coffee rust hit Brazil, Africa, and Java (Indonesia), it became the only source of coffee beans around the world.

Today, however, the Philippines produces only .012% of the world’s coffee supply. The majority of coffee produced in the country comes from the mountain areas of Batangas, Bukidnon, Benguet, Cavite, Kalinga Apayao, Davao and Claveria.

However, the recent worldwide popularity of special brews and exotic blends of coffee gives a sliver of hope to the Philippine coffee industry. This new trend might be the breath of life that the Philippine coffee industry needs to savor once again the taste of its coffee’s golden years.

More and more people are drinking coffee these days than drinking milk, chocolates, and soft drinks.  In One Step Behind, author Mankell discussed the importance of coffee in a conversation between policemen.  “Police work wouldn’t be possible without coffee,” said one.  The other replied, “No work would be possible without coffee.”

That may be too excess.  But then Chris Kyle has written something more than just that in his American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History.  He wrote: “The joke was that President (George) Bush only declared war when Starbucks was hit.  You can mess with the United Nations all you want, but when you start interfering with the right to get caffeinated, someone has to pay.”

In Selected Writings, Gertrude Stein has also written something about coffee. “Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening.  Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself.  It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”

Here are more coffee aficionados.  “A morning coffee is my favorite way of starting the day, settling the nerves so that they don’t later fray,” admitted Marcia Carrington.  “The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks,” Sir James Mackintosh believed.

Oliver Wendell Holmes. Sr. stated, “The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.”

The popularity of coffee around the world is due to the health benefits it offers.  Aside from the energy-boosting caffeine in coffee, people who drink it might also be reaping its cancer-preventing and depression-lowering effects.

“There is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health,” says Dr. Frank Hu, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

A growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are less likely to have type 2 diabetes.  Although those with this most common form of the debilitating disease don’t need insulin injections, about 25 percent of them take drugs to improve sugar metabolism.

Can coffee help people who are depressed?  Studies have shown that women who drink four cups of coffee per day are 20 percent less likely to be clinically depressed than women who drink only one cup of coffee per week.

Regular coffee drinkers who skip their daily coffee fix may experience temporary “caffeine withdrawal” (usually in the form of a headache or drowsiness), but these symptoms will go away within 24-48 hours or after getting a new dose of caffeine.

In My Sister’s Keeper, author Judi Picoult wrote: “I don’t know. I don’t care.  All I know is when you pay for something that’s supposed to give you a cup of coffee, you deserve to get your fucking cup of coffee.”

Want to have another cup of coffee?