When you spend quite a bit of your time alone a person has to do something to pass the time. I don’t know how others spend their alone time but me, I think about strange things, most of which never make it past my cranial cavity.
One thing I’ve wondered about for years is who in hell figured out coffee? Coffee isn’t simple. In their basics certain things are simple and it’s fairly easy to figure out how they came to be. Tea is simple. Take some leaves from a plant, put them in some hot water and voilá, a tasty beverage. Wine? Somebody was really thirsty and didn’t care that the grape juice had bubbles all over the surface. They gulped it down and WHOA! Altered state of consciousness. Even the beginnings of cheese is fairly simple in its origins. Some hungry camel herder carrying milk in saddlebags made from animal skins, and possibly made from the stomach, which contains the coagulating enzyme known as rennin. Or, fermentation of the milk sugars would cause the milk to curdle. The galloping motion of the horse or camel, acting as churning, would effectively separate the milk into curds. The result, curds and whey, provided a refreshing whey drink as well as curds, which would be drained through perforated earthenware bowls or woven reed baskets, and lightly salted to provide a tasty and nourishing meal. All accidental discoveries that were later expanded on.
But coffee isn’t simple. It’s complicated if you think about it a bit. I don’t buy that story of some Ethiopian herder saw his goats getting frisky after eating the fruits off some bushes and suddenly we had coffee. It’s a multi-step process. First you have to pick the fruit, known as “cherries.” Then the pulp has to be removed and the bean inside has to be left out in the sun to dry. After that the husks of the beans have to be removed. Then the beans must be cooked (roasted), ground up and infused with boiling water. That’s a bunch of work. Who in hell figured that all out, anyway?
Since I’m moving to Panama there are several blogs I read on a daily basis. Richard Detrich actually grows coffee on his place and has some good posts about how he does it at http://richarddetrich.wordpress.com/ and Don Ray who authors Chiriquí Chatter http://www.chiriquichatter.net/blog/2009/10/21/rancho-gotta-coffee/ has this good story of his recent visit to a coffee plantation.