According to legend, Kaldi was the Ethiopian goatherder who discovered the coffee plant. Kaldi, tending his goats somewhere in Ethiopia, became concerned when his goats didn't come home from their food-foraging daily expedition. So, Kaldi began searching for his missing goats.
At last, he found them-----dancing a merry jig, butting heads, kicking their heels and in general, acting in a very ungoatlike manner.
Kaldi, noticing that they were munching on a glossy-leaved, red-berried bunch of plants, decided to check out for himself (he was a curious man, and concerned about the safety of the munch stuff his goats were ingesting). So, he picked some of the red berries, and chewed some himself, in order to discover what was causing all that excess energy in his herd. Meanwhile, he got the goats back to camp and tried to sing them to sleep. However, he discovered that his goats refused to go to sleep, but continued to be full of energy, as though they had taken NoDoz.
Well, meanwhile, the red-berry energizing effect had kicked in on Kaldi, himself, so he and the goats just had an energetic, fun, pajama party that night, all night long.
Kaldi, being a devout man, took some of the berries to a nearby monastery after his all-nighter, and told the local monk leader about the energizing effects of the newly found plant. The monk poo-pooed Kaldi, assuming he had drunk too much wine from his leather wineskin and that Kaldi was just a souse. So the monk threw the berries onto the fire (in a fireplace I presume).
Lo and behold, as the red berries roasted in the fire, they sent up such a delicious aroma that the monk decided to rake the roasted berries out of the fire (wonder what possessed him to do that), whereupon, he mashed the berries into powder with ye olde mortar and pestle. And once he did that, he decided to make a tasty drink by pouring boiling water into a cup (oh, after mortaring and pestleing, he had placed the powder in a workman- like mug). The resulting beverage was swallowed and the monk was possessed by an excess of energy, good works and other monkly doings. And he didn't go to sleep that night. So, he said to himself, “Hmmmm, this would be a good thing for our monastery----we can stay awake and pray and do monkly stuff all night and all day if we drink enough of this heavenly brew." And so it was written and so they did and became known as the Alnighter Monks.
And, thus, the universally loved and ingested brew called COFFEE came into being, and has been around ever since---used in religious ceremonies, drunk by every race, and next to oil is the most sold commodity in the universe.
There are two types of coffee----Robusta and Arabica, with Arabica being considered the top dog in the world for superiority of quality and flavor. Under each of these types, are many, many sub-types and I shan't go into that here. You can Google it for yourself.
However, I thought it might be helpful, should you not be knowledgeable when you enter a coffee house, what your selections might be (it gets very confusing). So, following is a list with description of what is generally available in a coffee house, say like Starbucks:
AMERICANO: A single shot of espresso with about 7 ounces of hot water added to the mix. The name for this coffee drink stemmed from an insult to ‘uncouth’ Americans who weren’t up to drinking full espressos.
BLACK COFFEE: A drip brew, percolated or French press style coffee served straight, with no milk.
CAFE AU LAIT: Similar to Caffe Latte, except that an au lait is made with brewed coffee instead of espresso. Additionally, the ratio of milk to coffee is 1:1, making for a much less intense taste.
CAFE BREVA: A cappuccino made with half and half milk, instead of whole milk. The theory is that the mix gives a richer, creamier flavor. You should be aware, before trying this for yourself, that half and half is much harder to foam.
CAFFE LATTE: Essentially, a single shot of espresso in steamed (not frothed) milk. The ratio of milk to coffee should be about 3:1, but you should be aware that latte in Italian means ‘milk’, so be careful ordering one when in Rome.
CAFE MACCHIATO: A shot of espresso with steamed milk added. The ratio of coffee to milk is approximately 4:1.
CAPPUCCINO: Usually equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk, often with cinnamon or flaked chocolate sprinkled on top. Some coffee shops will add more milk than that so that the customer will get a bigger drink.
DOUBLE/DOUBLE SHOT: Just as it sounds, this is two shots of espresso mixed in with the regular amount of additional ingredients. So, for example, if you were going to make a double hammerhead, you would put two shots of espresso into a coffee cup, and fill it with the drip blend, rather than the usual single espresso shot.
ESPRESSO: Caffè espresso, espresso, or expresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee. As a result of the pressurized brewing process, all of the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of coffee are very concentrated. For this reason, espresso is the base for other drinks.
ESPRESSO CON PANNA: Your basic standard espresso with a shot of whipped cream on top.
FLAVORED COFFEE: A very much ethnic tradition, syrups, flavorings, and/or spices are added to give the coffee a tinge of something else. Chocolate is the most common additive, either sprinkled on top or added in syrup form, while other favorites include cinnamon, nutmeg, and Italian syrups. And at present, many flavors in powder or liquid form can be bought. (My favorites are International Delight flavors in liquid form).
FRAPPE: A big favorite in parts of Europe and Latin America, especially during the summer months. Originally a cold espresso, it has more recently been prepared putting 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee with sugar, water and ice. The brew is placed in a long glass with ice, and milk if you like, turning it into a big coffee milkshake ( My personal favorite with whipped cream, and nutmeg sprinkles on top)
HAMMERHEAD: A real caffeine fix, this drink consists of a shot of espresso in a regular-sized coffee cup, which is then filled with drip coffee. Also known as a Shot in the Dark, although many cafes rename the drink further to suit their own needs.
ICED COFFEE: A regular coffee served with ice, and sometimes milk and sugar.
INDIAN (MADRAS) FILTER COFFEE: A common brew in the south of India, Indian filter coffee is made from rough ground, dark-roasted coffee Arabica or Peaberry beans. It’s drip-brewed for several hours in a traditional metal coffee filter before being served. The ratio of coffee to milk is usually 3:1.
INSTANT COFFEE (or soluble coffee): These grounds have usually been freeze-dried and turned into soluble powder or coffee granules. Basically, instant coffee is for those that prefer speed and convenience over quality. Though some prefer instant coffee to the real thing, there’s just no accounting for taste.
IRISH COFFEE: A coffee spiked with Irish whiskey, with cream on top. An alcoholic beverage that’s best kept clear of the kids, but warms you up plenty on a cold winter night.
KOPI TOBRUK: An Indonesian-style coffee that is very similar to Turkish and Greek in that it’s very thick, but the coarse coffee grounds are actually boiled together with a solid piece of sugar. The islands of Java and Bali tend to drink this brew.
LUNGO: One for the aficionados, this is an extra long pull that allows somewhere around twice as much water as normal to pass through the coffee grounds usually used for a single shot of espresso. In technical terms, it’s a 2-3 ounce shot.
MELYA: A coffee mixed with 1 teaspoon of unsweetened powdered cocoa and drizzled honey. Sometimes served with cream.
MOCHA: This popular drink is basically a Cappuccino or Latte with chocolate syrup added to the mix. Sweeter, not as intense in coffee flavor, and a good ‘gateway’ coffee for those who don’t usually do the caffeine thing.
OLIANG/OLENG: A stronger version of Thai coffee, Oliang is a blend of coffee and other ingredients such as corn, soy beans, and sesame seeds. Traditionally brewed with a “tung tom kah fe”, or a metal ring with a handle and a muslin-like cloth bag attached.
RISTRETTO: The opposite of a Lungo, the name of this variety of coffee means ‘restricted’, which means less water is pushed through the coffee grounds than normal, even though the shot would take the same amount of time as normal for the coffee maker to pull.
TURKISH COFFEE(also known as Greek Coffee): Made by boiling finely ground coffee and water together to form a muddy, thick coffee mix. In fact, the strongest Turkish coffee can almost keep a spoon standing upright. It’s often made in what’s known as an Ibrik, a long-handled, open, brass or copper pot. It is then poured, unfiltered, into tiny Demitasse cups, with the fine grounds included. It’s then left to settle for a while before serving, with sugar and spices often added to the cup.
VIETNAMESE STYLE COFFEE: A drink made by dripping hot water though a metal mesh, with the intense brew then poured over ice and sweetened, condensed milk. This process uses a lot more coffee grounds and is thus a lot slower than most kinds of brewing.
WHITE COFFEE: A black coffee with milk added.
And there you have it. My long, long post that has been “percolating” in my brain for weeks now. I decided to go ahead and write this post so I could get coffee off my brain and think about it only when my addiction to coffee has kicked in and I make myself a cup, or two, or three. Hope you are now educated on how coffee came to be and some of your choices for drinking of same.