Coffee, Mugs, and Coffee Mugs - History and Fun Facts
It is rather difficult to do a history of coffee mugs without first going through the history of coffee and the history of mugs. Which came first - coffee or mugs? Without coffee, how could there be coffee mugs. So one would likely conclude that coffee came first. Am I right? If one considers the fact that coffee plant has been in existence since time immemorial, that would be true. But coffee as we know it has only been brewed as early as 1000 A.D. (abbreviation for "Anno Domini" in Latin or "the year of the Lord" in English). What about mugs? The first mugs are related to the Neolithic Stone Age and pottery vessels which were found in China and Japan and date to about 10000 BCE (meaning "before the common era" which is the same as BC, meaning "Before Christ").
So, mugs have been in existent before coffee as we know it.
Isn't history so very interesting?
Now let's find out the history of coffee mugs by learning the history of coffee and the history of mugs.
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History of Coffee
800 A.D. - According to legends, Kaldi, a goatherd, noticed his herd dancing from one coffee shrub to another, grazing on the cherry-red berries containing the beans. He copped a few himself and was soon frolicking with his flock. Witnessing Kaldi’s goatly gambol, a monk plucked berries for his brothers. That night they were uncannily alert to divine inspiration. The Ethiopian ancestors of today's Oromo tribe, were the first to have recognized the energizing effect of the native coffee plant. However, no direct evidence has ever been found indicating where in Africa coffee grew or who among the natives might have used it as a stimulant, or known about it there earlier than the 17th century.
1000 A.D. - Coffee as we know it kicked off in Arabia, where roasted beans were first brewed around A.D. 1000. By the 13th century Muslims were drinking coffee religiously. Wherever Islam went, coffee went too: North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean, and India.
1600 A.D. - Arabia made export beans infertile by parching or boiling, and it is said that no coffee seed sprouted outside Africa or Arabia until the 1600s -until Baba Budan. As tradition has it, this Indian pilgrim-cum-smuggler left Mecca with fertile seeds strapped to his belly and that's how coffee was introduced to Europe's colonies.
1615 A.D. - A merchant of Venice introduced Europe to coffee in 1615. But the end product didn't amount to a hill of beans to many traders - they wanted the means of production. The race was on.
1616 A.D. - The Dutch cleared the initial hurdle in 1616, spiriting a coffee plant into Europe for the first time.
1696 A.D. - Then in 1696 they founded the first European-owned coffee estate, on colonial Java, now part of Indonesia. Business boomed and the Dutch sprinted ahead to adjacent islands. Confident beyond caution, Amsterdam began bestowing coffee trees on aristocrats around Europe.
1714 A.D. - Louis XIV received his Dutch treat around 1714 - a coffee tree for Paris's Royal Botanical Garden, the Jardin des Plantes. Several years later a young naval officer, Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, was in Paris on leave from Martinique, a French colony in the Caribbean. Imagining Martinique as a French Java, he requested clippings from his king’s tree and, of course, was denied. de Clieu then came back in the middle of the night, went over the wall and stole a sprout. Mission accomplished, de Clieu sailed for Martinique.
1720 to 1770 A.D. - The sprout grew strong in Martinique and the extended family sprouts flourished and 50 years later there were 18,680 coffee trees in Martinique enabling the spread of coffee cultivation to Haiti, Mexico and other islands of the Caribbean.
1727 A.D. - Brazil's government wants a cut of the coffee market. Brazil dispatched Lt. Col. Francisco de Melo Palheta to French Guiana, where Palheta got the precious coffee seedlings by romancing the governor's wife.
1800 A.D. - From these scant shoots sprout the world's greatest coffee empire. By 1800 Brazil's monster harvests would turn coffee from an elite indulgence to an everyday elixir, a drink for the people.
1900 to present - For many decades in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Brazil was the biggest producer of coffee and a virtual monopolist in the trade. However, a policy of maintaining high prices soon opened opportunities to other nations, such as Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Indonesia and Vietnam, now second only to Brazil as the major coffee producer in the world. Large-scale production in Vietnam began following normalization of trade relations with the US in 1995. Nearly all of the coffee grown there is Robusta.
Brazil remains the largest coffee exporting nation, but Vietnam tripled its exports between 1995 and 1999, and became a major producer of robusta beans. Indonesia is the third-largest exporter and the largest producer of washed arabica coffee.
Today, Americans drink about 2,600,000,000 pounds of coffee every year, or about 1/3 of all the coffee grown in the entire world!
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The Three Types of Coffee Beans
Kona - Much smaller coffee bean than Robusta and Arabica yet very expensive. Highly in demand worldwide due to its powerful aroma. Kona coffee is gourmet coffee grown only one place in the world... on the Island of Hawaii, on the golden Kona Coast, on a very small number of Kona coffee farms... most of them owned by the same kama'aina families for generations.
Robusta - Robusta or the Canephora type of coffee beans covers 40% of the coffee production in the whole world. It is easier to grow compared to Arabica as it has a very high resistance to weather and disease. Robusta coffee beans are lower grades of coffee that is commonly known at the lower elevations because of its feature of having an astringent flavorings and containing higher caffeine amounts.
Arabica - The Arabica type of coffee beans covers 60% of the coffee production in the whole world because of the large bush that Arabica plants have. Arabica coffee beans can be used on its wholesome form as well as it can be used as a base with Robusta for coffee blends. The Arabica coffee beans have the moderate aroma and body, which are used mostly for breakfast blends with American flavored coffees. Arabica coffee beans produce a superior grade of coffee known as the gourmet coffee because it contains half of the Robusta caffeine as well as more aromatic properties and desirable flavorings.
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History of Mugs
What is a mug?
According to dictionary.com, a mug is a drinking vessel with a handle, usually cylindrical and made of earthenware
According to Wikipedia, a mug is a sturdily built type of cup often used for drinking hot beverages, such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Mugs, by definition, have handles and often hold a larger amount of fluid than other types of cup. Usually a mug holds approximately 12 fluid ounces (350 ml) of liquid; double that of a tea cup.
The oldest drinking vessels recovered by archaeologists were made of bones, but they didn't have handles and therefore are not mugs. The first mugs are related to the Neolithic Stone Age and pottery vessels which were found in China and Japan and date to about 10000 BCE.
The first pottery was shaped by hands and was later facilitated by invention of the potter's wheel (date unknown, between 6,500 and 3000 BCE). It was relatively easy to add a handle to a cup in the process thus producing a mug. A rather advanced, decorated clay mug from 4000-5000 BCE was found in Greece. The biggest disadvantage of those clay mugs was thick walls unfit for the mouth. With the development of metalworking techniques, the walls of the mugs were thinned .
Metal mugs were produced from bronze, silver, gold and even lead, starting from roughly 2000 BCE and were hard to use with hot drinks.
Wooden mugs were produced probably from the oldest time, but most of them could not be preserved to the present time.
The invention of porcelain around 600 CE in China brought a new era of thin-walled mugs suitable both for cold and hot liquids, which we enjoy today.
History of Coffee Mugs
Nobody knows exactly when people started calling mugs "coffee mugs". For all we know, someone in the office lost her beloved mug that she used to drink her morning coffee (a major disaster) and angrily screamed "Who the bloody hell stole my coffee mug?" And the rest as they say is history.
What we know is, coffee is the world's second most consumed drink after water. And coffee lovers are very particular about their coffee and their coffee mugs to perk up their mood specially in the morning.
Coffee mugs are sturdily built and typically used for drinking hot beverage like coffee, cocoa and tea. Coffee mugs are bigger in size and can contain a larger amount of liquid than cups. You can find coffee mugs with capacity ranging from 11 to 22 ounces.
But of course, there are bigger ones. Just look at this video.
Coffee mugs have thick walls, as compared to the thinner walls of teacups, to insulate the beverage and prevent it from cooling or warming quickly.
Coffee mugs bottom is often not flat, but either concave or has an extra rim, to reduce the thermal contact with the surface on which a mug is placed. These features often leave a characteristic O-shaped stain on the surface.
Finally, the handle of the coffee mugs keeps the hand away from the hot sides of the mugs. The small cross section of the handle reduces heat flow between the liquid and the hand.
Coffee mugs are usually made of materials with low thermal conductivity, such as earthenware, bone china, porcelain or glass.
Travel Coffee Mugs
Travel coffee mugs were introduced in the 1980s and generally employ thermal insulation properties for transporting hot or cold liquids. Similar to a vacuum flask, travel coffee mugs are usually well-insulated and completely enclosed to prevent spillage, but will generally have an opening in the cover through which the contents can be consumed during transportation without spillage.
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