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Introduction

A cup of coffee

Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain Coffea species. The genus Coffea is native to tropical Africa (specifically having its origin in Ethiopia and Sudan) and Madagascar, the Comoros, Mauritius, and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. Coffee plants are now cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in the equatorial regions of the Americas, Southeast Asia, Indian subcontinent, and Africa. The two most commonly grown are C. arabica and C. robusta. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed, and dried. Dried coffee seeds (referred to as "beans") are roasted to varying degrees, depending on the desired flavor. Roasted beans are ground and then brewed with near-boiling water to produce the beverage known as coffee.

Coffee is darkly colored, bitter, slightly acidic and has a stimulating effect in humans, primarily due to its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and it can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways (e.g., espresso, French press, caffè latte). It is usually served hot, although iced coffee is a popular alternative. Clinical studies indicate that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults, with continuing research on whether long-term consumption lowers the risk of some diseases, although those long-term studies are of generally poor quality.

While coffee is native to Ethiopia and Sudan, the earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking as the modern beverage appears in modern-day Yemen in southern Arabia in the middle of the 15th century in Sufi shrines. It was in what is now Yemen that coffee seeds were first roasted and brewed in a manner similar to how it is now prepared for drinking. But the coffee seeds had to be first exported from East Africa to Yemen, as Coffea arabica is thought to have been indigenous to the former. The Yemenis obtained their coffee via Somali traders from Berbera (who in turn procured the beans from the Ethiopian Highlands) and began to cultivate the seed. By the 16th century, the drink had reached Persia, Turkey, and North Africa. From there, it spread to Europe and the rest of the world.

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An Irish coffee being prepared
Irish coffee is a cocktail consisting of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar (some recipes specify that brown sugar should be used, and that fresh cream should be floated on top), stirred, and topped with thick cream. The coffee is drunk through the cream. The original recipe explicitly uses cream that has not been whipped, although drinks made with whipped cream are often sold as "Irish coffee".

Although different variations of coffee cocktails pre-date the now-classic Irish coffee by at least 100 years, the original Irish coffee was invented and named by Joe Sheridan, a head chef at Foynes, County Limerick but originally from Castlederg, County Tyrone. From the mid 19th Century, earlier versions such as the Pharisäer and the Fiaker were served in Viennese coffee houses, both coffee cocktails served in glass, topped with whipped cream. The former was also known in northern Germany and Denmark around this time. Around the turn of the 20th century the coffee cocktail menu in the Viennese cafés also included Kaisermelange, Maria Theresia, Biedermeier-Kaffee and a handful of other variations on the theme.


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Roasted coffee beans

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A coffee plantation in Quimbaya, Quindío, Colombia. View from the road to La Union (Quimbaya), looking south towards Montenegro.
Credit: Shaun McRae

A coffee plantation in Quimbaya, Quindío, Colombia. View from the road to La Union (Quimbaya), looking south towards Montenegro.

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Advertising for Lavazza, transport of coffee in Indochina, circa 1900
Luigi Lavazza (24 April 1859 – 16 August 1949) was an Italian businessman. He was the founder, in 1895, of the Lavazza coffee company in Turin, Italy. The origins of the Lavazza firm go back to 1895, when Luigi Lavazza purchased a little grocery store, Paissa Olivero, in the old commercial section of Turin (Northern Italy). The purchase was made for 26,000 Italian Lire, or about US $20.

In those times such stores operated as both retail and production outlets. The coffee, sold among thousands of other products, was bought raw, and then roasted and blended according to very personal recipes depending on the customers' requests. This activity soon attracted the interest of Luigi Lavazza, who had already demonstrated considerable knowledge and skills in the processing of blends, including both the quantities of the ingredients and the degree of roasting. The firm's expansion from retailing to wholesale trade (1910), the joining of Luigi's three sons Mario, Beppe and Pericle (during the First World War), and the progressive narrowing of the production range marked the first steps of an irresistible commercial growth, which enabled the Firm to acquire a notable position at regional level. The little grocery store became in 1927 the modern Luigi Lavazza S.p.A. that, after the forced stop caused by the League of Nations' economic sanctions, by the prohibition on the importation of coffee, and by the outbreak of the Second World War, finally came to specialize in the production of coffee. The first Lavazza logo was then created and the annual production reached 1,000 tons.


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...that the berries of Kopi Luwak are eaten by and passed through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet before the berries are given a light roast?
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The following are images from various coffee-related articles on Wikipedia.

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