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Coffee in the Historical and Cultural Context Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 16th, 2022

When it comes to the description of certain dishes, food history is often a neglected subject; however, historical and cultural context might provide useful insights on how and why the food is consumed at the present time. The current work is focused on coffee, one of the most prominent and popularized contemporary beverages. Throughout its history, the aforementioned drink has influenced political, cultural, social, and even religious aspects of humanity (Fregulia, 2019). The current work analyzes the historical context, explains the specifics of consumption and health implications of the beverage, and discusses how the cultural traditions of other countries have influenced the image of coffee in America.

History and Cultural Significance

It is essential to understand the history of the beverage to fully comprehend the cultural implications that coffee has at the present time. The origin of coffee is surrounded by a high number of myths; however, according to archeological research, the very first notices of coffee plants come from Ethiopia around the 5th century AD (Fregulia, 2019). At the time, the military kingdom of Ethiopia has invaded the territory, which is currently a part of Yemen, and has introduced coffee cultivation to the residents (Fregulia, 2019). Therefore, archeological research shows that coffee originated from the highlands of Ethiopia and Yemen; nevertheless, the beverage in its current form was first used centuries after.

While some experts believe that the history of coffee as a drink commences in the late 16th century with the simultaneous introduction of coffee houses, this hypothesis is misleading. Fregulia (2019) suggests that this idea originated due to the western-centric approach to the beverage. Initially, though the exact year is unknown, coffee in its current form and coffee houses were also products of Eastern culture (Fregulia, 2019). Consequently, with the emergence of trade routes and the first steps of globalization, Europe was introduced to coffee alongside chocolate and tea (Fregulia, 2019). The initial notice of the beverage was brought to central Europe by Leonhard Rauwolf, an academic and a doctor, who was traveling in the Eastern countries in the period of 1573-1575 (Fregulia, 2019). In his memoirs, he depicted the coffeehouses and the unique beverage that was widely spread in Syria and Palestine, and his literary works boosted the interest in Eastern culture (Fregulia, 2019). Ultimately, it has led to the strengthening of trade relationships between Europe and the Middle East which would consequently allow for the coffee to gain popularity in all parts of the world.

The Specifics of the Beverage

At the present time, there is a high variety of methods of how to prepare coffee; however, in general, they include the four primary stages: roasting, grinding, brewing, and extraction. The first step refers to the transformation of a green coffee bean to a more common look of a brown roasted bean. Consequently, they have to be ground and brewed, and these two primary phases might be performed with various methods and techniques. The last step concerns the extraction of liquid from the brewed mix and the used grounds. Even at the present time, innovative techniques of all the aforementioned steps are being constantly discovered and older methods are improved. Regarding the production of the beverage, Tavares and Mourad (2020) compare the nine most popular ways of making coffee and offer their results concerning energy consumption to improve the environmental situation. Ultimately, even though humanity was introduced to coffee in its current form more than 400 years ago, there is still room for improvement in both the making process and production methods.

Coffee in the cultures of Turkey, Italy, and South Korea

Presently, coffee and coffee shops have become highly common in most parts of the world, and, therefore, have had a profound impact on global culture. The current chapter discusses the tradition of coffee consumption in Turkey, Italy, and South Korea, which all differ in the degree of how the beverage impacts the culture of the country. Moretti (2017) demonstrates the primary differences between Koreans and Italians in how they perceive coffee shops. The results of the research have indicated that most Italian respondents visit coffee shops for a quick break, thus, the distance plays the most significant role (Moretti, 2017). It might be surprising since Italy, and specifically Venice, has played a vital part in the coffee globalization in the history of the product (Fregulia, 2019). On the other hand, Korean respondents mostly choose coffee shops according to the atmosphere in the establishment and the taste of the beverage (Moretti, 2017). Furthermore, they generally visit coffee shops with friends and relatives, thus, spending extended periods of time in the cafes.

Compared to the aforementioned countries, Turkey has a more developed bond with coffee and is the place of origin of several traditional forms of the beverage. Concerning the cultural context, Turkey was also one of the first countries that implemented the common usage of coffee houses with one established back in 1555 (Yilmaz, Acar-Tek & Sozlu, 2017). Consequently, coffee has played a vital role in the culture of the country, and various forms of the beverage, such as Dibek and Memengic coffee, have emerged (Yilmaz et al. 2017). At the present time, different types of regional coffee are united under the term ‘Turkish coffee’ and have vast symbolic importance to the culture.

Coffee in the United States

The history of coffee in the United States is not as fundamental as in Eastern cultures; nevertheless, the drink has been extensively popular in the country for three hundred years. Initially, coffee has found its way to America in 1668 shortly after the second Anglo-Dutch war (Fregulia, 2019). Consequently, the first American coffee house was opened in 1669 in New York, and slowly the influence of the beverage covered the whole of the United States (Fregulia, 2019). By 1750, coffee houses were widely spread in America and offered not only the drink but also meals and overnight accommodations (Fregulia, 2019). The influence of coffee was highly significant, and by 1950, the United States has become the most extensive coffee consumer (Voigt, Buliga & Michi, 2016). Therefore, for the last three hundred years, the prominence of coffee has been continually increasing and is now dominating the market of beverages.

Consumption and Health Implications

Consumption

At the present time, people drink coffee in most parts of the world, and it is currently one of the two most prominent beverages. While some people drink coffee exclusively at home, the culture of the beverage is strongly connected to the coffee houses which have always been the place of social interaction and intellectual discussion (Fregulia, 2019). As mentioned before, such a form of coffee houses was brought to Europe and America from the Eastern countries; and, therefore, heavily influenced the way people perceive coffee houses currently. Nowadays, due to the globalization of the beverage, they are frequently used as places for business meetings and friendly gatherings particularly in the United States. As a result, coffee culture has become a method of social interaction throughout the whole world.

Health Implications

One of the primary compounds of coffee is caffeine, and there is a high number of misconceptions surrounding this stimulant. Some people assume that the intake of this component might ultimately result in heart diseases and other health complications. Nevertheless, the research shows that reasonable consumption of up to four cups a day should not have any major consequences for most people (Nieber, 2017). Still, pregnant women, children, and individuals with certain chronic diseases are heavily advised against large coffee intake particularly due to caffeine effects (Nieber, 2017). Ultimately, coffee is a safe beverage and might be beneficial as a moderate stimulant.

Conclusion

Summing up, the current paper has analyzed the historical context of the beverage, discussed the specifics of consumption, demonstrated how coffee was brought to America, and how traditions of other countries influenced American coffee culture. Concerning history, despite countless arguments about the birthplace of coffee, researchers provide proof that the beverage originated from the plants in Yemen and Ethiopia as early as the 5th century AD. Consequently, it was distributed to other regions of the world, including the four countries analyzed in the work, Turkey, Italy, South Korea, and the United States. Ultimately, the paper discusses the primary methods of coffee making and consumption and analyzes the health implications of the beverage.

References

Fregulia, J. M. (2019). A rich and tantalizing brew: A history of how coffee connected the world. Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press.

Moretti, R. (2017). A comparative study of coffee culture between Italy and South Korea: An exploratory study. Asia-Pacific Journal of Business, 8(2), 41-55.

Nieber, K. (2017). The impact of coffee on health. Planta Medica: Journal of Medical Plant and Natural Product Research, 83(16), 1256-1263. Web.

Tavares, M. P. F., & Mourad, A. M. (2020). The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 25, 1356-1367.

Voigt, K. –I., Buliga, O., & Michi, K. (2016).. Business Model Pioneers, 41-53.

Yilmaz, B., Acar-Tek, N., & Sozlu, S. (2017). Journal of Ethnic Foods, 4(4), 213-220.

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