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"Coffee, Tea or me?"
by John Bowerman-Davies

Coffee Cup Actually, nobody has ever said "coffee, tea or me?", either at 35,000 feet in the air or on the ground. However, the proverbial "cuppa joe" (this side of the pond), or "cuppa tea", (the other side) is one of the most common forms of exploratory interpersonal relationships (getting to know somebody) in existence.

And nowadays, who even thinks of having a plain "cuppa joe" when you can have a "double grande decaf cherry-banana skinny latte, light foam please."

Yes, the profusion of coffee shops is such that it doesn't matter whether you are a construction worker or a federal judge, you're still a potential customer. The reason for this is quite simple - everyone can afford to upgrade their coffee drinking habits. Upgrading your wine can cost you the equivalent of the GNP of many third-world countries.

Coffee can be likened to wine since both are agrarian products. And just like wine, there's a burgeoning number of people becoming "coffee snobs", and just like their cousins, (the "wine snobs"), they usually have no idea what they're talking about!

Coffee Cup Coffee, like wine, is blended to ensure that your favorite coffee tastes the same today as it did last week, and as it will be next week or even next year. This means that the variety of beans used will be constantly changing to take into account the supplies of beans available, and different taste characteristics from different harvests.

Each batch of beans from different estates should be roasted separately. Different types of beans have different physical characteristics and require different roasting times and temperatures. And to properly blend the coffee, a panel of experts will constantly "cup"(taste) the different beans to ensure consistency of the blend.

Of course, one of the reasons why people drink coffee and tea in the morning is that they want the caffeine to help wake them. (In the case of the wineophiles, it's often the only thing that will wake them). And there is a popular misconception that espresso has more caffeine than a regular cup of coffee.

First, some Botany 101. Plants develop caffeine as their natural defense against insects, bugs, creepy-crawlies, and "things-that-go-bump-in-the-night." The higher up the mountain a coffee plant grows, the less caffeine it has to produce since there are less insects, bugs, creeps, etc. More of their energy can go into producing the fruit.

So it's time to explode the enormous myth that espresso contains more caffeine than regular coffee. On the contrary, espresso has less caffeine!

1. It's usually brewed with better beans, grown higher up the mountain so there's less caffeine in the beans to begin with.

2. Because caffeine is water soluble, with an espresso machine, the "shot" (1 to 1 fluid ounces) only takes about 15 to 20 seconds to brew, and about 85% of the available caffeine will be extracted. An espresso can actually have 50% of the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee.

But please don't tell anyone, otherwise they'll all go back to that regular "cuppa joe"..

John Bowerman-Davies is with Automatic Brewers and Coffee Devices, Inc. (ABCD) "the espressso authority."

Still curious about Coffee, check out our Coffee Alphabet.

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