Coffee: drink it, know it, love it

Coffee is perhaps one of the greatest discoveries as valued by Western civilization. This precious resource was discovered hundreds of years ago in Yemen, and although the exact history of who discovered the coffee bean is in question, there is no doubt that this little bean has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry that dominates Western culture.

The sheer amount of coffee shops in North America is overwhelming. In Winnipeg, coffee chains such as Starbucks Coffee and Tim Hortons have seemed to sprout up everywhere. For example, around the intersection of Kenaston Boulevard and McGillivray Boulevard there happens to be three different Starbucks Coffee stores in less than one square kilometre.

Better yet, while visiting the West Coast this Christmas I came across an intersection in downtown Vancouver, Robson Street and Thurlow Street, that had two Starbucks directly across the from each other and another one just a stone’s throw down the block. The funny thing was that all of these stores were packed! Finding its way into every nook and crevice, coffee has truly annexed our culture.

There obviously has to be a reason for our immense consumption of coffee. Some drink the beverage for the stimulating effect that the caffeine has on their bodies, while others use coffee as an excuse to relax and catch up with friends.
As the years have progressed, the evolution of coffee has progressed as well. In the early days of coffee, people used devices similar to a pestle and mortar to grind their beans down into a coarse powder.

After that, they added water directly to the ground bean, leaving a heavy and thick residue at the bottom of each cup. As the 20th century came around, we started to learn more efficient ways of harvesting, roasting and grinding our coffee. We are now to the point where the coffee grinder has became a staple product in many North American homes.

Also, we have now developed methods of filtering our coffee to reduce the unwanted amount of waste material left over after enjoying our beverage. As this evolution continued, the development of instant coffee was inevitable.

Perfected in 1903, instant coffee has become almost as popular as the real thing. The inventor of modern instant coffee, Satori Kato, was a Japanese chemist who resided in Chicago. He is credited with having the first patent on water-soluble coffee, otherwise known as instant coffee.

The reason for instant coffee is without a doubt convenience. While a regular cup o’ joe can take upwards of 15 minutes from start to finish, instant coffee is, well, instant. Other than having to open a small package and waiting for your water to boil, there is no wait time for instant coffee.

Companies such as Starbucks have launched their own lines of instant coffee. Boasting of unparalleled convenience, Starbucks also is pretty sure that you will love their new instant line. How confident are they? If you claim to dislike Starbucks instant coffee, when compared to their regular coffee, Starbucks will compensate you with a 12oz bag of real coffee.

But all in all, it comes down to personal preferences. When running late for class, would you rather wait an extra fifteen minutes for your normal coffee or grab a packet of instant and some hot water?