Thursday, April 14, 2011

the mystery of coffee

i can't figure out how coffee as a drink was ever invented. i guess i could read a book or something, and maybe i will! but until i do, it just doesn't make sense.

look at it from the perspective of our theoretical pre-coffee people: they find these berries in ethiopia. the berries taste horrible though animals eat them. you would think they would have given up at that and just used the berries to feed their animals. there's no sense in trying to find a way for people to eat or drink the stuff right?

but no, instead someone decided to try drying out the berries to see if that will make them better. so now they had what we now call coffee beans. except they still taste horrible. so the experiment failed. no big deal, i guess those berries turned out to be a dead end, right?

no, instead someone decided to take those dried out beans and to try to roast them, which gets them a bunch of black burned beans. the burnt beans smell kinda good, but they still taste pretty bad. maybe they would just work as a potpourri? certainly there's no sense in continuing to look for ways to consume them, right?

undaunted, someone then tried to ground up the burnt beans. they still smell good! and still taste bad! time to finally give this long failure a rest, right?

nope. instead someone tried infusing the ground up burnt beans with hot water. and that person got us to coffee.

those are the minimum number of steps it would take. presumably the people of the pre-coffee world would not have guessed just right and would have tried a bunch of other things along the way before they got to actual coffee. so in addition to all the above steps there were probably a whole bunch of additional steps of things that didn't work out (maybe they tried to soak the roasted beans in animal fat, or buried the berries). that's a whole lot of false starts, each leaving them with little to show for it, before they finally ended up with something good.

what i don't understand is why they kept trying. what made them think that these particular berries would ever amount to anything? or did people try all those steps on everything? did someone, at some point, try drying, roasting crushing and infusing hot water through blueberries?