Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

The Origin of the Special: Coffee

Yasunari Ramon Suarez Taguchi - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Without a doubt, coffee holds a special place in the hearts of many Cebuanos - with many convinced that the beverage, in and by itself, is already the ultimate "breakfast of champions."

Often attributed to be the world's second most consumed drink next to water, the beverage has a number of "origin stories" under its belt - the story of its discovery by a 9th-century Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi being one of the most popular.

As the "Kaldi-Coffee Legend" goes, it is said that the goat herder, one day noticed how energized his flock got after eating the ripe red berries of a certain bush.

Noticing a quick burst of energy after sampling the berry himself, it is said that Kaldi promptly reported his discovery to the abbot of a local monastery, who, after hearing about its energizing effects, made a type of beverage using the berry as a key ingredient.

Noticing that the drink had energizing properties that kept those who consumed it alert, the abbot realized how beneficial the drink was and shared it to the other members of the monastery.

It is said that the drink was such a hit that word of its discovery went beyond the monastery's walls - eventually spreading eastward to the Arabian Peninsula, where, as historians note, coffee as we know it today was already being brewed by around 1000 AD.

Though the "Kaldi-Coffee Legend" is quite popular, there are historians who are not that convinced of its authenticity, arguing that the earliest written variant of the legend dates back to 1671; suggesting that embellishments in its telling and retelling are likely.

But as unconvinced as these historians are about the factual details of the legend, one thing's for sure: coffee is one of the world's most well-loved beverages that has inspired its own share of special blends over the centuries - blends like the "Irish Coffee" and "Civet Coffee."

Irish Coffee

As a type of coffee blend, "Irish Coffee" is essentially a mix between hot coffee, Irish whiskey and sugar, topped with cream.

A chef from Foynes, County Limerick, Ireland named Joe Sheridan is often credited to be the "inventor" of the Irish Coffee - and is said to have served the beverage in the 1940s to group of American passengers who just arrived from a Pan Am flying boat one cold winter evening, setting the stage for its popularity as a unique coffee blend.

Though historians note that coffee and alcohol cocktails have been around before the "formal invention" of the Irish coffee, Sheridan's version of the beverage has somewhat become the contemporary times' poster boy for coffee-whisky cocktails.

Civet Coffee

Civet Coffee - known as "Kapeng alamid" in the Philippines and "Kopi luwak" in Indonesia - is often used to denote coffee beans that are derived from the excrement of the Asian palm civet known for its penchant for coffee berries.

It is said that its discovery came to be when the Dutch, who established coffee plantations in the islands of Java and Sumatra in the early 18th century, prohibited local farmers from using the coffee fruits for their own consumption.

Noticing that the droppings of the Asian palm civet contained undigested coffee seeds, the locals gathered the undigested seeds, cleaned them and roasted them to make their own coffee brews - hence the "discovery" of the exotic Civet Coffee.  (FREEMAN)


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