Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Hot Cup of 1,3,7, Trimethylxanthine


1,3,7,trimethylxanthine = Caffeine

I do not feel I am truly myself until after I have drank my first cup of coffee in the morning. Like billions of people around the world, this legal drug, caffeine, prepares me for the world. Also like billions around the world, I am addicted to the brew. I enjoyed the buzz of a double or triple espresso before watching an action movie, or a warm cappuccino to wind me down at the end of a stressful day.

Coffee originated in the highlands of Ethiopia. Coffee seeds were brought by Arab traders from Ethiopia to Yemen. The first mention of coffee was around the fifteenth century when it was used as a medicine. However, by the sixteenth century Arabs begin to drink brewed coffee socially. As alcohol was forbidden in Islam, coffee became an acceptable substitute. Coffee houses sprang up overnight and became social centres where men would hang around drinking coffee and telling tall tales. From Yemen, it spread to Turkey, India and Java. Coffee beans and coffee growing was strictly controlled by the Arabs. The Dutch finally managed to bring a tree back to Holland. This tree was grafted and grown in Paris. This tree was supposed to the the ancestors of the millions of coffee plants around the world.

In an earlier post, I have mentioned the close association of coffee drinking and book selling. Many bookstores also sell coffee. People will spend hours pouring over their books and coffee.

Anne Fadiman (2007) At Large and At Same: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist, London: Allen Lane is a collection of personal essays by bibliophile Anne Fadiman. Though it was not a good as her earlier book, Ex Libris, it does bring across her love of reading, her familiarity with many literary figures and their works.

There is a chapter title 'Coffee' where she shares her love of the drink and some nostalgic memories of being with some literary friends while drinking coffee when she was younger.

I suspect that there is a connection between the development of books and the widespread consumption of coffee. I do not believe anyone has done any study of this phenomenon. I will not be surprised if there is a correlationship, because reading a book or the act of writing is more pleasant when you have a warm cup of 1,3,7, trimethylxanthine in your stomach.

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8 Comments:

Blogger pearlie said...

You nearly made me go and make myself a good cuppa - I don't think I should but I already smelling it ... I am having these bad stomach cramps and I have been going to the bathroom until 2am last night!

3:42 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

oh dear, I hope you are feeling better now.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Leon KJ said...

Oh Coffee, like Wine, is a sweet gift of God. In my imagination, there must be 2 rivers in heaven, one with the finest brew of beans and the other the best fruit of the wine.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

ah, Leon, you are my Kind of a Christian. May we partake of the grain of the Bean and juice of the Grape together one day. Amen.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Ron Choong said...

You probably know that the Arabs called alcohol al-kahal (the devil) for a reason, right? It can make you do things that makes you believe only the devil could make you do - when drunk. ;)

Coffee lover.

5:01 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi ron choong,

wow, we are in good company, we coffee lovers. No, I did not know the Arabs named alchohol al-kahal. Interesting. No wonder they drink a lot of coffee.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Ron Choong said...

Actually Alex, it is the English word alcohol that was derived from the Arabic word, al-Qahal. My current fav coffee roaster is Lavazza of Italy. There are a tad stronger than Illy and is a favourite among the Francophone North and West African restaurants like the Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian. We brought back coffee from Panama and the Galapagos Islands as well when we visited and they are distinctly different, as are Peruvian and Ecuadorian coffees. When I was in Turkwy some 20 years ago, I met my match in their dense brew. I had 5 in a row until 4am while discussion 1 Corinthians with a translation team from Wycliff Bible Translators late into the night near the town of Ephesus. Wow, it was bitter - phew. But for all that, when I am home, I still enjoy a full-bodied teh tarik as a local Mamak. Can't take the malaysian out of a Malaysian.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi Ron,

I like Lavazza from Italy. man, 5 cups of Turkish coffee! I am sure by the end of the discussion you can read 1 Corinthians in Turkish! One cuppa is more than enough for me. One cup of Greek coffee is almost more than I can handle and I believe it is closely related to Turkish coffee (they have to boil the coffee).

Have you tried Kopi Luwat? Great culinary and psychological experience. Cat poo coffee.

Yes, you can't take the malaysian out of a Malaysian. Don't you miss the takeaway kopi in a condensed milk can?

12:58 PM  

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