The go-to morning pick me up for many of us, coffee, is consumed by millions of adults each day.  Thirty years ago coffee was served black, or with cream or sugar.  Nowadays thanks to coffee chains, we have our coffee drinks frothed, syruped, spiced, iced, skinny, non-fat, tall, grande, double-shot or macchiato-ed.  We all have our favorite variation of coffee beverages. Many of us know our baristas as well as we know our hair stylists or bartenders. We have our favorite cafes and can be snobby when it comes to “the other” brands.  How did this exotic bean (berry, really) become such a large part of our daily ritual?

 History

The story goes that an Ethiopian goat herder was woken from a vivid dream by his goats dancing, kicking up dirt, and strolling more merrily than usual.  Once he determined he was awake by means of a strong pinch to himself, he noticed that the goats were eating the pink berries of a local bush.  He mustered up a little courage to try a few the mysterious berries and was soon dancing along with the goats.  A few days later a monk was strolling by and observed the extremely happy herder and his goats.  The herder let him in on the berry discovery.  The monk determined them to be a gift from the heavens, as they seemed to solve the recurring problem of dozing off during long meditation sessions.  He experimented with different ways of consuming the berry, eventually deciding that cleaning, drying, and grinding them into a tea was the greatest way to receive their newly discovered magical powers.

Some say that coffee came to America with captain John Smith in 1607.  Not too long after, coffee shops popped up in Italy and England.  Soon coffee was more popular than beer in New York City.

Health Effects

We all know that coffee has the uncanny ability to perk us up and make us more alert.  Aside from the energy boost there are a few other added benefits to sipping our morning cup of Joe: coffee has been shown to lower the chances of depression; researchers have also found that there is something (this something is still being determined) in coffee that can help fight off Alzheimer’s; coffee has high anti-cancer fighting properties and could help protect from type 2 diabetes; and coffee can also help lower the risk of Parkinson’s.  Coffee is high in anti-oxidants, which are key fighters in free radicals.  If you are not a coffee drinker due to the caffeine and its sometimes-jittery effects, try decaf, it will still give you all the same super powers without the caffeine buzz.  Experts do not recommend any more than 3-4 cups a day, however one cup of coffee a day will allow you receive all these benefits.

 

Cooking with Coffee

Aside from drinking the brew, there are many ways to incorporate coffee into some of our favorite recipes.  Coffee can add depth and earthiness to dishes.  (Using decaf in place of regular will not change the flavor).  We gathered a few coffee classics and new favorites:

 

Epicurious: Coffee Rubbed Cheeseburgers

Country Living: Cuban-Coffee Chili

Food Network: Tiramisu

Epicurious: Jamaican Coffee Brownies

Delish: Irish Coffee

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