Friday, March 23, 2007

Show me your coffee and I'll show you who your people are. Part II

Link to Part I

When we examine the ways coffee is produced and consumed, we get a glimpse of the people: culturally, economically and historically. And so, before I go further with my observation on and Cuba, I would like to make a little tangent in this post and give some clear examples of how coffee is related to a people's culture, economy, and history.

The Vietnamese have a small metal coffee filter and water basin that rests upon the mug. Boiling water is poured into the basin, brews the coffee, and drips ever so slowly over condensed milk. While this slow process happens, it is a strong custom to chat with friends. I've actually been told by several Vietnamese friends that one should never drink coffee alone. Thus, coffee is part of the Vietnamese coffee, and a way for people to gather together a build community.

Go to any Starbuck's, Seattle's Best, or Cafe Caribou here in the US, and you will find that often the smallest size is a "Tall." Moreover, any of these coffees will have anything from milk to caramel syrup in them. In many respects the variety, proportion, and quantity of the types of coffees present in the US speaks something of the prosperous economic status that is evident this country.

Ever had Louisianan coffee? It is a blend of coffee and chicory that the French in general consumed during the 18th century. During the 18th century, when Haiti and the Dominican Republic revolted against France, coffee importation became quite expensive. In order to alleviate the cost of coffee, the French decided to mix the coffee with chicory. After the Louisianan purchase, the custom of drinking coffee with chicory remained as a cultural relic. Thus, there is an historical element in drinking coffee.

Similar economic and historic factors in coffee consumption are also found during the World Wars of the 20th century. During this time there were cases when in the US coffee was cut with acorns, and in Germany chickpeas were added to coffee. In both cases, each country acted out of an economic response. In regards to US coffee consumption over tea consumption, many believe that it was a historical factor that dates back to the Boston Tea party and the Stamp Act of the 18 century.

Thus, when one examines how and why coffee is consumed, one gets a glance at a people's culture, economy, and history.

C*ño, y que tiene esto que ser con Cuba?
Trust me, Part III is on its way.

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