Coffee’s Illustrious History...

Many of us take some of the simple things in life for granted and when we question how they came to be, our brains tend to freeze up, ask for more coffee and slowly start to shut down until caffeine levels are restored to normal.  Take coffee for instance, we all drink it, well over 50% of adults anyway, it gives us a boost to help get us through our day and it is something that we assume has been around forever and we don’t ever ask how it was invented. That’s a good question though; how was coffee invented and where did it come from?

Let’s take a look at the history of coffee and see the turn of events that took place and brought us one of the most popular drinks in the world.

Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water. It's the second biggest commodity next to oil. Yes, "Coffee" simply rocks, especially the Coffee Cousins' coffee. (Had to throw in that plug. Sorry. lol).

Popular theory has it that a 9th-century sheep herder in Ethiopia had noticed that his sheep would get a strange boost of energy every time they ate these wild growing red cherries. The sheep herder was intrigued by this and tried some of the “cherries” himself. The caffeine rush was new to him and, like many of us, he liked it. A lot. So much so, that the local monks scolded him for this “drug” and, until they tried it for themselves, banned what is now known as coffee.

Soon enough, villagers, travelers and even the local monks began to realize just how powerful this coffee was and began taking it so they could work longer hours, stay up later and travel farther. How did they consume it? They would wrap the beans in animal fat and pack it in their hunting and raiding packs to keep longer, of course.

It wasn’t long before other villages saw the important benefits of the coffee plant and created a monopoly over the farming of it. Arabians farmed it heavily and still consumed it in the same tradition that the Ethiopians invented. It wasn’t until 1453 that the Turks turned the coffee cherry into a consumable drink. Turkey was actually the location of the very first coffee shop; Kiva Han opened in 1475.

This is where coffee’s history becomes political. In 1511, the governor of Mecca, Khair Beg, tried to ban coffee. Since the Sultan of Arabia saw coffee as sacred and had the plants heavily guarded, Beg was killed. The Sultan wanted to keep coffee in Arabia and make his country the only source for it.

We all know how well that worked. Any time you tell someone they can’t have something, they find a way to have it anyway. A famous smuggler took some of the coffee beans and began farming them himself in Mysore, India. Even now, hundreds of years later, there are offshoots of the original plants still being farmed there.

Initially, not everyone was a fan of coffee and the church had something to say about it. They dubbed it the Devil’s Drink and banned it from their flock. This was before Pope Vincent III decided to try it. He thought it tasted so good that it would be a shame not to let his flock drink coffee and lifted the ban making coffee an official drink of his Christian flock.

This was just a brief look at how coffee came to be one of the top beverages and trade commodities in the world today. Be sure to watch for our upcoming posts which take a look at the commercialization and marketing of coffee including how it made its way to America.



The Commercialization of Coffee...

As interesting as coffee’s history and travels are, the commercialization of coffee here in America is equally interesting.

If you visit your local supermarket, you will find dozens of choices in the coffee aisle. From flavored coffees, mass produced brands and boutique coffees, to decaffeinated, instant and flavored coffees in all varieties. Coffee is so commonplace, that many of us are often surprised when we hear a friend or coworker say that they don’t drink it. Some people are even offended by that.

Coffee wasn’t always as popular or as commonplace here in America as it is now. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that coffee roasters and mills were seen locally in our cities. Soon, there were coffee shops, roasters and grinding mills on every street corner and coffee seemed to be taking off quickly. That is, until the Hills brothers began roasting coffee and packing it into vacuum tins keeping it fresher, longer. This all but destroyed the local roasting shop industry but built a well-known coffee manufacturer known today as Hills Brothers.

Just a short year later, in 1901, instant coffee was created by Japanese-American Chemist Satori Kato in Chicago, and only two years after that, a German coffee importer, Ludwig Roselius, decided to see if a batch of ruined coffee beans could be turned into something useful by his researchers. They found that the caffeine had been removed from the beans while rinsing them leaving all of the flavor but none of the pep. Their creation became known as Sanka.

Fast forward to 1920 and we see instant coffee, decaffeinated coffee and vacuum packed coffee in every home in America. The coffee industry seems to be growing and doing very well. Then, the American government put a ban on alcohol giving coffee even more reason to flourish and even become the national drink. Now, with nothing stopping coffee from taking over the world, sales grew and it became more commercialized than ever. In 1940, the United States began regularly importing 70% of the world coffee crop for itself and even supplied coffee, Maxwell House Instant, to American soldiers fighting in World War II.

Let’s fast forward again, this time to 1971. The year that Starbucks opened its first store in Seattle’s Pike Place public market. This gave coffee another boost cementing it as the world’s most popular drink and one of the most successfully traded commodities. From 1995 to 2000, coffee consumption skyrockets once more, rising a whopping 700%. Now, most everyone is drinking coffee and not just for breakfast. Starbucks made coffee popular to drink any time of day and with more than just some cream and sugar in it.

With some products, commercialization is bad, but with coffee, commercialization has helped the industry grow and given coffee lovers a wide range of choices at their local coffee shops, supermarkets and restaurants.



Coffee Terminology...

Alright all of you coffee lovers out there. Do you think you know your coffee? Can you walk into your favorite Starbucks in “Zombie mode” and order your morning coffee, making it sure it's made skinny, with soy, extra hot, with two shots of espresso and cream on top?

If you have a hard time understanding the difference between an Americano and a latte, this post is for you. We have created a list of some of the most popular coffee terms and some that you are sure to hear when sitting in your favorite coffee house.

AFFOGATO... Ice cream “drowned” with a shot of espresso.

AMERICANO... A shot of espresso diluted with hot water. (So, basically just coffee).

BARISTA... The person who prepares coffee at a coffee bar. If they are good (and friendly), remember to tip them well.

CAPPUCCINO... An espresso shot combined with foamed steamed milk.

CHEMEX... The classic hourglass-shaped filter coffee brewer. Chemex filters are denser than other paper filters, and many believe that this creates a sweeter, well-balanced cup of coffee.

COLD DRIP COFFEE... Coffee grounds are steeped in cold water for about 12 hours, then strained to make a concentrate that is often used for iced coffee and cut with milk or water. 12 hours?!

CORTADO... Espresso topped with flat steamed milk.

CREMA... Thick, caramel-colored emulsified oils that sit on top of an espresso.

CUPPING... Tasting method used by coffee professionals. Coarsely ground coffee is steeped with hot water in shallow bowls, then slurped from flat spoons.

DARK ROAST... Coffee beans roasted until they exude oils.

DIRECT TRADE... When coffee roasters buy directly from farms rather than from brokers. Proponents say it increases coffee quality and gives farmers more power.

DRIP COFFEE... Coffee made with a filter, a press pot, a percolator or a countertop coffee maker. Flavor is extracted by contact with water not under pressure.

ESPRESSO... Concentrated coffee made when hot water is forced at pressure through fine coffee grounds.

EXTRACTION... Drawing flavor from coffee grounds. Coffee can be under extracted and taste sour or over extracted and taste bitter.

FAIR TRADE... Private programs that certifies that farmers or coffee growers are paid a fair price for coffee.

FILTER COFFEE... Drip coffee made with a ceramic, glass or plastic cone lined with a paper filter.

FLAT WHITE... Espresso with flat, steamed milk.

FRENCH PRESS... Coffee made by steeping grounds with hot water in a vessel with a plunger and metal filter that pushes the grounds to the bottom. Often used in coffee bars for limited-edition coffees.

GREEN BEANS... “Un-roasted” coffee beans.

LATTE... Espresso with steamed milk.

LATTE ART... The pattern formed by rhythmically pouring steamed milk into an espresso drink. Decorative and demonstrative; only properly steamed milk will hold a form. 

MACCHIATO... Espresso topped with a dab of foamed steamed milk.

MICRO-LOT... Coffee from a single farm, or a specific part of that farm.

MOCHA... Espresso mixed with chocolate syrup and steamed milk.

NEL DRIP... Short for “flannel drip,” it’s a form of drip coffee that uses flannel filters imported from Japan. The filters are temperamental, and must be washed by hand and kept chilled when not in use. Not the most efficient way to make a cup of coffee.

PORTAFILTER... The filter basket and handle on an espresso machine.

POUR-OVER COFFEE... A method of drip coffee developed in Japan in which the water is poured in a thin, steady, slow stream over a filter cone. One cup of coffee takes as long as three minutes to brew. Three minutes doesn’t seem that bad unless you are just staring at the coffee dripping into the cup.

PULL... Espresso shots are “pulled.” The term is a holdover from when machines were lever operated.

REDEYE... A cup of brewed coffee with espresso. Also called a Shot in the Dark.

RISTRETTO... Espresso pulled short, meaning with less water. This creates a smaller, more concentrated drink.

ROAST... Unpalatable green beans are heated to create complex flavors that are extracted during brewing.

ROAST DATE... Most small-batch roasters print the roast date on bags of coffee. The rule of thumb is that coffee should be used within two weeks, and some coffee bars won’t sell beans more than a week after they have been roasted. But who here let’s a bag of coffee sit around that long?

SEASONAL COFFEE... Coffee beans ripen at different times of the year in different regions, and can appear in markets and coffee bars for limited times.

SINGLE ORIGIN... Coffee from a particular region, farm or area within a farm.

SIPHON... A coffee making device, using vacuum pressure and a series of vessels, that originated in the 19th century. It recently gained popularity in Japan and is being used more in the United States. Despite its complications, it is known for producing fruity, bright coffee.

SLOW DRIPPER... Unusual devices imported from Japan with a glass sphere and a series of tubes and valves that make coffee with cold water in about 12 hours. 12 hours for a cup of coffee?!



The Coffee Plant...

"Coffea" (yes, correct spelling) is a genus of flowering plants whose seeds, called "coffee beans," are used to make various coffee beverages and products. Several species of Coffea may be grown for the seeds. 

There are more than 125 coffee plant species out there, and undoubtedly Coffea Arabica is the most popular and widely-consumed one because of its rich and one-of-a-kind flavor and aroma and its ability to turn us from zombies into productive human beings. It originates from east Africa and a country like Ethiopia or Sudan and grows in mountainous regions with a lot of rain.

And while the plant grows in a lot of areas and countries around the world, there are some that offer a better environment and conditions. One such place is Honduras - Latin America's leading coffee producer. It has some of the best conditions for Coffea Arabica, the farmers there have plenty of knowledge and experience behind their backs. That's why the Coffee Cousins decided to team up with some of the most renowned farmers there who offer certified organic coffee with unique flavor and aroma.

Coffea Arabica Plant... Coffea Arabica is difficult to cultivate, and only the most knowledgeable farmers out there manage to create healthy and productive plantations. Arabica makes up approximately 70% of the world's coffee production. The plant itself is a small tree with horizontal branches, while the leaves are shiny and evergreen. This is one of the very few species amongst Coffea plants that is autogamous, and one plant can use its own pollen to produce coffee seeds. A single tree is able to produce up to 11 pounds of dried beans. The flowers of the plant have a really appealing sweet scent; they are white in color and usually have 5 lobes. Most fruits of Coffea Arabica are red, but they can also be yellow or even purple in color. The fruits are quite delicious, and although they are soft, their heart is composed of one or two seed protected by a hard outer layer. Once the outer layer is removed, you get a pale brown or fawn colored coffee seeds, which actually become medium to dark brown after they are roasted, depending on how long they are roasted.

Coffea Arabica and Coffea Robusta... There are many coffee species out there, but Coffea Arabica and Coffea Robusta are the most well known and consumed. However, there is a significant difference between these two types of coffee and it is important to know it in order to get just the experience you are looking for. Coffea Arabica tastes better than Robusta, and it is renowned for its exquisite and rich flavor that leaves you wanting more. Coffea Robust, on the other hand, has higher caffeine content, but it certainly isn't amongst the tastiest beverages out there, and that is why it is often combined with other types, including the Arabica.

The Coffee Cousins use 100% Arabica coffee.


Roasting Coffee...

The process of roasting coffee changes the chemical and physical properties in the green coffee beans and changes it into roasted coffee products. The roasting is the process that produces a specific flavor in the coffee beans.

The large majority of the coffee is usually roasted on a large scale. However, small scale commercial roasting is also done and has grown in popularity.

The Roasting Process... The roasting process follows coffee processing but it is done before coffee brewing. It consists of a number of things including: sorting, roasting, cooling and packaging. Roasting is done on a large scale and small scale level.

Green beans are weighed and stored. From the storage hoppers, the green beans are then conveyed to the roasters.

Once the roasting cycle has completed, the roasted beans are then dumped from the roasting chamber and put into an air cooled area with a draft inducer.

Equipment Used... Those are the details of the roasting process. The next step is to assess what kind of equipment is used in the roasting process. There are a few different machines that are used to do the job. These include drum and hot air. Even though there are others that you can use, these two are best for roasting coffee. The roasters can operate in continuous modes or in batch modes. Moreover, there are home roasters that are available as well.

The drum machines contain horizontal rotating drums that change the green coffee beans when put in a heated environment. Moreover, the heat source can be given natural gas or LPS or even electricity. The most common employ that is indirectly used in heated drums is the main heated source in the drum. Moreover, the direct fired roasters are simply called roasters and in these, the flame contacts the beans present inside the drum.

The roast process involves 8 different steps. The first step is the yellowing step that involves the beans to change their color from a yellow to a green, grassy type. The next step is to steam as the internal water content dissipates. Then comes the first crack and the first roasted stage. The first crack involves an audible cracking sound coming as the coffee starts to roast. Then is the first roasted stage that involves roasting the coffee beans at a particular heat. The next steps are caramelization and the second crack. Caramelization makes the beans expand in size. On the other hand, the second crack is more volatile than the first one but it is a result of the coffee beans roasting. The final two steps involve the darkening of the roast and finally, having the coffee roasted.


Coffee in America...

We drink it, we love it, we can’t get enough of it. I am talking, of course, about coffee. How did this well-loved drink that is not grown here, make its way to America so many centuries ago?

There are some that say Captain John Smith brought it here when he founded the colony of Virginia at Jamestown. Coffee houses were already opening in Italy and England making it an incredibly popular drink in Europe so it makes sense that it should have been brought to America around the same time. In fact, coffee became so popular here, that it replaced beer as the favorite breakfast drink of New York City. So we know that it made its way to America in the 1600’s, but let’s take a look at how it became as popular as it is today.

Coffee was originally smuggled out of Arabia by the Dutch and taken to Ceylon and Java where they created a monopoly of their own. In the early 1700’s, the French, using a play from the Dutch playbook, smuggled a single coffee plant to Martinique and created a growing industry for the plant. Within 50 years, there were over 19 million coffee trees on the island, and over time, 90% of the world’s commercial coffee crop would come from that one single plant smuggled by the French.

The success of the coffee industry got the attention of the Brazilians and this is where the story takes a slight twist. In 1727, a Lieutenant Colonel Francisco de Melo Palheta came to arbitrate a border dispute between the French and the Dutch colonies in Guyana. While there, he and the wife of the Governor of French Guyana had an affair. When Palheta departed, she saw him off with a bouquet containing hidden coffee cuttings and fertile seeds. With coffee being grown in many countries around the world, it became more than just a beloved drink that offered a quick boost of energy and alertness; it became a political tool which soon would spur a revolution.

In 1773, Americans threw coffee and tea overboard in a protest against English taxes on the nation. This soon became known as The Boston Tea Party and would bring on the start of the Revolutionary War.

Coffee’s rich history can be traced back many centuries and it has become a part of much of the world’s own history creating wealth, war and love affairs.

So when you sit down to your next cup of coffee, think about how far coffee has come to provide you with its flavor, its aroma and that extra push you need to get through your day.



 Arabica vs Robusta...

There are several important differences between Arabica and Robusta Coffee that you need to know. And, know why you should be drinking Coffee Cousins' 100% Arabica coffee. Watch the short video to learn more.



25 Potential Health Benefits of Coffee...

Many of us drink coffee because it wakes us up, makes us more cheerful and helps us get more work done. But did you know that coffee also provides a wide range of health benefits? From fighting cancer to losing weight, coffee can help keep you healthy and may make you live longer.

Let’s take a look at what studies have shown for some of the many health benefits coffee provides.

Coffee Can Boost Your Physical Performance... Drinking a cup of coffee before working out is more effective than any of those sugary pre-workout drinks sold at the gym. Just one cup of black coffee can improve your performance by 11-12%.

Coffee Can Help You Lose Weight... The magnesium and potassium contained in coffee helps the body use insulin more efficiently and regulates your blood sugar levels. This can reduce your cravings for sugary treats or snack foods, thus you lose weight.

Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat... The caffeine in coffee helps your body break down fat, making it useful as fuel for your workouts.

Coffee Helps You Focus and Stay Alert... Just 1-4 cups of coffee a day, can help you stay more focused and can improve your mental alertness.

Coffee Can Lower the Risk of Premature Death... Coffee can help you live longer. Studies are showing that coffee drinkers may be at a 25% lower risk of premature death over those who don’t drink coffee.

Coffee Can Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer... Studies have shown that men who drink coffee are at a 20% lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

Coffee Can Help Reduce the Risk of Stroke... Just 2 cups of coffee every day can help lower your risk of stroke.

Coffee Can Reduce Risk of Parkinson’s Disease... In a Science Daily report in 2012, Ronald Postuma, MD, stated that drinking coffee may help people with Parkinson’s disease control their movement. Coffee causes activity in the areas of the brain that are affected by Parkinson’s disease. Drinking coffee can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s by as much as 25%!

Coffee May Lower the Risk of Type II Diabetes... In a report published by the American Chemical Society, researchers found that the caffeine in coffee can decrease your insulin sensitivity and impair glucose tolerance, two factors that can cause Type II diabetes.

Coffee Brightens Your Mood and Helps Fight Depression... Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, of the National Institute of Health has stated that two cups of coffee a day can stimulate the central nervous system and boost the products of neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, thus elevating your mood and making you happier.

Coffee Contains Antioxidants... Coffee contains more antioxidants than anything else the average person regularly consumes. In addition, the antioxidants in coffee are easy for the body to absorb.

The Smell of Coffee Can Make You Less Stressed... A recent study conducted by researchers at the Seoul National University has shown that just smelling coffee can leave you less stressed and more energized for your day. This is another reason to brew your own Coffee Cousins' coffee at home and benefit from the aroma that fills your kitchen.

Coffee Can Help Prevent Cirrhosis... Liver cirrhosis is an autoimmune disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption that could lead to liver failure and cancer. Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of cirrhosis by up to 20%. Studies have also shown that coffee can help prevent people from developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School revealed that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day may be beneficial in preventing the progression of NAFLD.

Coffee Can Decrease Your Risk of Suicide... A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health has determined that drinking coffee on a regular basis can reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by as much as 50%.

Coffee Can Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer in Women... Women who drink three or more cups of coffee per day, are less likely to develop skin cancer.

Drinking Coffee Can Help Prevent or Delay Alzheimer’s... Studies have shown that people who drink coffee daily, have a decreased risk of getting Alzheimer’s. Researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami found that people older than 65 who had higher blood levels of caffeine developed Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than others with lower caffeine. It has also been shown to delay the onset of the disease in others.

Coffee Drinkers Have Stronger DNA... The white blood cells of coffee drinkers have far less instances of spontaneous DNA strand breakage. This shows that the DNA of coffee drinkers has a much stronger integrity than that of non-coffee drinkers.

Lower Risk of Multiple Sclerosis... Drinking just 4 cups of coffee a day may help lower your risk of Multiple Sclerosis. Coffee helps prevent the neural inflammation that leads to the disease.

Coffee Can Reduce Colorectal Cancer... If you are at risk for colorectal cancer, drinking coffee has been shown to help reduce that risk as well as protecting you from certain other forms of cancer.

Coffee Can Prevent Retinal Damage... A recent study at Cornell University has shown that coffee may prevent retinal damage due to oxidative stress. The strong antioxidant, chlorogenic acid (CLA), is the ingredient that provides this important health benefit.

Black Coffee Helps Prevent Cavities... Drinking black coffee kills the bacteria on your teeth that can cause cavities.

Coffee May Protect Against Periodontal Disease... Drinking coffee daily is shown to protect our gums against gum disease according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs Dental Longitudinal Study.

Coffee Decreases Your Risk of Gout... Coffee decreases the risk of gout in men. The more coffee you drink, the lower your risk can be.

Coffee is a Natural Diuretic... Coffee helps our bodies produce urine enabling us to flush out toxins and keep our urinary tract healthy.

Coffee Can Help You GO... If your morning cup of java has you rushing to the bathroom for more than just to pee, that is because coffee stimulates your colon causing you to poop. That’s right, coffee helps you poop. Keeping your colon clear is one way of staying healthy and avoiding many colon-related diseases.

#26 BONUS... Finally, Did you know that drinking a couple cups of the Coffee Cousins' coffee daily Makes You Awesome?

Disclaimer: In no way are we making any medical claims or guarantees.