In 1583, Leonhard Rauwolf, a German physician, gave this description of coffee after returning from a ten-year trip to the Near East:
A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses, particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu.
—Léonard Rauwolf, Reise in die Morgenländer (in German)
From those early beginnings the drinking of coffee spread to Italy, the rest of Europe, Indonesia and the Americas in the course of the next couple of centuries.
The plants are evergreen growing to fifteen foot (unpruned) and produce berries which contain two seeds or beans. The unripe berries are green and then they turn yellow and finally crimson when ripe. It grows all round the world in a broad belt along the equator. Brazil is the top producer followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The berries are gathered by hand, dried and then when most of the fleshy part of the seed has been removed they are fermented to remove the last of the slimy coating. The beans are then sorted, dried and roasted.
There are five degrees of "darkness" from the roasting process - I favour the darkest, smoothest roast. It is interesting (to me at least) that the lighter roasts have more caffeine - maybe, since I drink strength 5 almost all the time, the caffeine level is too low to keep me awake at nights! Or else, I'm immune!
To store coffee it needs to be in a cool, dark and dry place without any air - a vacuum sealed container is best.
When brewed the temperature should be 79 - 85 degrees Celsius and the ideal drinking temperature is between 68 and 79 degrees.
When I have time to enjoy a "perfect brew" the small coffee cup is the ideal size to keep the coffee at a perfect drinking temperature. Sunday is a good day to take extra care so that the full flavour and aroma may be enjoyed to the full.
From left to right in the picture are:
* An Expresso (Arabica) ground coffee imported from France (strength 5),
* Rich Italian (strength 4) which is a blended coffee, and
* Java Volcanic Island (Arabica) produced for Asda by a Dutch company (strength 5).
The Javan coffee is a particularly fine brew and perfect for a cool summer's afternoon when the wind is howling down the chimneys and the rain is threatening to come again at any moment!
Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
Hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer.
Collect of the Fifth Sunday after Trinity.