Bernie Block: My Java Might Be Going Away

We truly love coffee.

 It's the first thing we drink after getting up from our night's sleep.

 We were sitting in our new condo's kitchen nook, Jael and I, discussing this important drink that we both loved. 

"I would love to take a trip to the coffee-growing area to see how it's grown and processed. We knew that it originated in Ethiopia when a goat herder discovered coffee after noticing that his goats, upon eating berries from a certain tree, became so spirited that they did not want to sleep at night.

"This story passed on to Arabs and they were the first not only to cultivate coffee, but also to begin its trade since they were always looking for a drink that did not have an alcoholic connection because it was forbidden in their religion. They used the thousands of pilgrims visiting the holy city of Mecca each year to spread the word about this fabulous drink.

"By the 15th century, coffee was being grown in many counties around Asia, Central or South America, the islands of the Caribbean or Pacific, all of whom can trace their heritage to the trees in the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. By the first century coffee made its way to Europe and was becoming quite popular across the continent. Today, it's grown in 50 countries, mostly along the equator."

We both took an extra sip from our coffee cups as a toast to this wonderful drink.

"So where do you want to go?" I asked my wife.

"I think I would like to go where it was first discovered...on the Ethiopian plateaus."

"Good, I'll call our travel agent to book a trip. When should we go?"

"I think we better ask our agent when's the best time to go. You know, stuff like the best weather and when it's not too crowded."

"Yes, you are right. I'll call now."

Jael got on the phone, and I heard him talking to the travel agent. "Yes, that's right, Ethiopia. We want to see where coffee beans were discovered....Good, look it up and give me a call back as soon as you can."

A couple of hours later the agent returned our call to advise what he found. 

"The best weather time is during the dry season which usually is from May to September. He told me what he could book, where we should go, and how much it costs. No problem."

We really don't want to describe the trip to you, but it was fabulous. We were gone for two weeks and enjoyed practically every day. We had some tough moments when we had to climb a tree to get close to the coffee berries, but we managed.

When we got home we couldn't wait to tell all out children and friends. They were fascinated with our descriptions and the pictures we took.

There are some highlights we think you might like to hear about coffee, so here goes even though it sounds like we are promoting the drink. 

"Coffee bushes can grow to three to four feet, while trees are about 9.8 or 11 feet (with some even growing to 16 feet high as a tree) produce their best beans when grown at high altitudes in a tropical climate where there is rich soil. Such conditions are found around the world in locations along the Equator zone. The weather, particularly the amount of rainfall and sunshine, combined with the way the coffee beans are processed, contribute with the distinctions between coffees from countries, growing regions and plantations worldwide. The combination of these factors is so complex that even from a single plantation one finds variation in quality and taste. It's the same feeling you get with wine which may be blended with grapes from different plantations.

"A coffee bean is actually a seed. It takes three to six years for a newly planted tree to begin to bear fruit. The cherries are harvested by either being strip picked (the entire crop is harvested at one time) or selectively picked when only the ripe red cherries are harvested by hand; this process is so expensive that only finer Arabica beans are usually picked."     

Jael continued the story. "Once we pick the cherries they must be processed as quickly as possible, either by a dry method or a wet one. I won't go into detail about the processes which includes drying, milling, hulling, polishing, grading and sorting. The milled beans now known as 'green coffee' is shipped in either jute or sisal bags.

"The rest of the story about coffee relates to the roasting and grinding of it for brewing which can include mixing berries from different plantations (similar what happens with the making of many wines). Storage also plays an important role in making coffee one of the best drinks on earth, especially when you are coffee lovers like we are.

"There is one problem coming up. We saw a news flash come across CNN that the future of coffee is in jeopardy because of the drought possibility in the areas where coffee is 50 years it will affect us when we become ancient seniors. We'll keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't happen." 


From    MEDICARE PROJECTS STABLE DRUG COSTS IN 2017....Center for Medicare & Medicaid predicts average basic premium for a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan is projected to remain relatively stable at an estimated $34 per


SENIOR ONE-LINE HUMOR...I'm wondering if you are only as old as you feel, how could I be alive at 150?

Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.

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