Coffee is the New Red Wine

 By: Eileen Shi
Coffee has changed from being a simple everyday thing to becoming a way of life for the many "Baristas" who have popped up all over the western world.

Coffee originates from Ethiopia. It didn't come to Europe before the 18th century. At that time it was only for the elite, but that has changed, and today coffee is a part of the lives of most people in the western world.

It is somewhat curious that coffee once again has become an exclusive product. I remember that 15 or 20 years ago coffee was just coffee, but that is not the case anymore. Coffee, almost like wine or fine liquor, has become a way of signaling commitment to a certain style of life. The amount of different sorts of coffee being offered for sale has sky rocketed during the last couple of years. And there is almost nothing people will not do to improve their image.

Thus the most expensive sort of coffee in the world today comes from Indonesia. Kopi Luwak as this gourmet coffee is called is made from beans that have passed through the digestive system of Indonesian palm civets (paradoxurus hermaphrodites), a kind of monkey. According to the Manila Coffee House, who produces and sells Kopi Luwak, the palm civet just happens to like to ingest the ripest and reddest coffee beans, which also happen to be the ones best for brewing. The cat eats the outer covering of the beans in the same way that is accomplished by de-pulping machines. Something happens to the beans in the journey through the cat's intestines that gives it a flavor that is celebrated by coffee drinkers.

Even though, to many westerners, it is almost unthinkable to imagine a life without coffee, in other parts of the world, coffee is still considered an exotic commodity, only enjoyed by the few. In China for instance most people still prefer tea to coffee. Those who drink coffee often do because it is something special, much like many people in the west have started drinking exotic tea. In China it is young educated people who will drink coffee, often at Starbucks. Also, coffee is an urban phenomenon. In the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, finding places that serve coffee isn't too difficult, but when you get as little as 10-15 kilometers outside of the cities, it is almost impossible. But coffee is gaining terrain even in China. Hopefully More China manufacturers and China Suppliers will start producing coffee. Otherwise we westerners might find that in the future, it will be difficult to purchase the coffee that we have come to cherish so.
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