[ Coffee: from Goat to Gourmet ] ~ from HerbCo
[ Coffee: from Goat to Gourmet ] ~ from Herbco
What does a 9th century Ethiopian herdsman, Saint Baba Budan of India, Pope Clement VIII, Pocahontas, Oxford University and Lloyd's of London all have in common? They each had a role in the development of the caffeine culture that much of the world embraces today, a story that spans a thousand years marked by religious condemnation, civil unrest, international piracy and romance. As a result, roughly 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world each year today. That’s a lot of java!
Just as the Dutch East India Company drove the Portuguese out of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to hijack the cinnamon trade, the company also took control of the coffee plantations that the Portuguese seized from the Arabs 150 years before. Setting thievery and war-mongering aside, the Dutch East India Company, the first known stock-trading super-corporation, ultimately gave the entire world access to coffee, as well as exotic spices from foreign lands. Blending coffee and spice together is a culinary delight and is bound to bring out the creative barista in you.
coffee with spice

[ COFFEE - follow the beans ] ~ from HerbCo

follow the beans

The journey begins in 850 AD with a goat who became quite animated after chewing the bright red berries of Coffea, a species of shrub in the bedstraw family. The shepherd, an Ethiopian named Kaldi, was so impressed with the stimulating effects of the beans that he brought some to a nearby monastery, where the monks quickly proclaimed them to be an instrument of the devil and tossed them into a fire to destroy them. One monk, overcome by the aroma of the roasted beans, secreted a handful of the beans as they laid cooling and combined them with hot water, making the world’s first brew. Seven centuries later, coffee came out of the dark when Pope Clement VIII, upon sampling the aromatic beverage himself, declared it was too good to go to the devil and decided to baptize the brew, making coffee the official potion of the pious.

The Arabs were the first to bring the beans from Ethiopia to what is now known as Yemen in 1100 AD to cultivate what they called qahwa, which means “that which prevents sleep.” By the 1600s, coffee made its way to various port cities around the world, such as Venice and Constantinople (now Istanbul), but Arabs maintained the largest share of the market. To prevent smuggling of the beans to other lands for cultivation, exported beans were boiled to remove their husks and make them infertile. But while one daring man named Baba Budan was on a pilgrimage to Mecca, he managed to sneak a few beans out of the city to cultivate in his homeland of India. Subsequent generations of these beans, affectionally known as “Old Chik,” yield one-third of India’s coffee production today. In gratitude, Baba Budan was made a saint.

coffee berries

[ COFFEE - coffee firsts ] ~ from HerbCo

coffee firsts

The New World was introduced to coffee by Captain John Smith, who brought the Turkish “coffa” to the first English colony at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607. Soon after, he unknowingly ventured onto the wrong side of the Chickahominy River and into Powhatan territory and was captured by the tribe’s hunting party. As he was about to be executed for his trespass, the Chief’s young daughter, apparently smitten with the Englishmen, intervened by putting herself between the prisoner and her father’s raised war club. The chief took pity on the girl and relented. Thanks to Amonute, better known to most of us as Pocahontas, Smith was released and he returned to Jamestown, where the Powhatan princess reputedly visited him for several years.

Nearly 40 years later, an international student from Greece named Nathaniel Conopios brewed the first cup of coffee in England while in attendance at Oxford. Unfortunately, he was later expelled due to political conflict that arose in 1648, but he inspired fellow students, including the renowned chemist Sir Robert Boyle, to convince a local apothecary to make brewed coffee available when they gathered to engage in stimulating discussions of scientific theories. The group became known as The Oxford Club and later as the Royal Society, one of the most prestigious scientific bodies of research in the world today. In fact, many studies on the pharmaceutical actions of coffee would emerge from Oxford many years later.

coffee grinder

[ COFFEE - pass the sugar, leave a tip ] ~ from HerbCo

pass the sugar,
leave a tip

Another Greek coffee enthusiast named Pasque Rosee is most often credited as being the first to open a coffee house in London in 1652. By the late 1660s, coffee houses began to outnumber taverns as public meeting places in the city. Although pub owners put forth the argument that beer brewed by monks was far more appropriate for good Christian men than a suspicious dark drink promoted by Arabs, coffee houses continued to grow in popularity. One clever proprietor named Edward Lloyd compiled lists of his patrons that docked with ships, including detailed information about the schedules they kept and the cargo they carried. Local underwriters used this information to offer the merchants financial security to protect their investments. Hence, the infamous insurance company, Lloyd's of London, was born.

Before another quarter of a century would pass and tea would replace coffee as England’s beverage of choice, a few other interesting firsts occurred in English coffee houses. For instance, in order “to insure prompt service,” it was common practice to drop coins into a box clearly marked with the acronym TIPS. Meanwhile, in a small alleyway in an old part of the City known as Exchange Alley, Jonathan Miles established a coffeehouse of considerable reputation. A popular meeting place for many years, Jonathan's Coffee-House was allegedly the site where a number of men sipped coffee while plotting the assignation of Willian of Orange. Later, a broker named John Castaing posted stock and commodity prices for customers to review over coffee each morning, and the place became famous again as the site of the original London Stock Exchange.

coffee sugar tip

[ COFFEE - the world in your cup ] ~ from HerbCo

the world in your cup

According to the National Coffee Association, coffee is currently cultivated in more than 50 countries, the vast majority of which are within “The Bean Belt,” a horizontal band on the globe situated between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn that spans from Mexico to New Guinea, as well as including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Just as different varieties of grapes yield differences in the quality and flavor of wines, the flavor of coffee beans depends on the soil and climate in the region they are grown.

Hawaii is known for its rich, medium-bodied Kona coffee that thrives in the volcanic soil on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Coffees from Central America tend to be full-bodied with chocolate undertones, while South American varieties are slightly more acidic. Indonesia produces rich coffees of mild acidity, such as Sumatra and Java. Arabica and Robusta coffees hail from Brazil, and the Sidamo and Kaffa coffees come from Ethiopia, where the coffee craze was kickstarted by an excitable goat more than 1,100 years ago.

coffee world cup

[ COFFEE - coffee's tea eclipse ] ~ from HerbCo

coffee's tea eclipse

In America, the rejection of the British Crown over the unrepresented taxation of tea that led to The Boston Tea Party made coffee drinking a patriotic duty, and a necessity during the American Revolution when tea would become scarce. Over the next 100-plus years, innovations in how coffee was prepared went full steam ahead with the advent of the first percolators and espresso machines. Then, in the mid-1800s, 14-year old James Folger took a position with The Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills in San Francisco while his brothers panned for gold in the Sierras. Within a few years, he struck gold himself when he bought out the company partners and formed the J.A. Folger Coffee Company, famous today for the jingle, “The best part of waking up, is Folger’s in your cup.”

You might be thinking that Folger’s was the beginning of instant coffee, but that honor actually goes to George Constant Louis Washington, a Belgium immigrant who secured a patent for the first mass-produced instant coffee which he called Red E Coffee in 1909. This product was a boon for American WWI soldiers, who affectionately referred to the brew as “a cup of George.” World War II soldiers received instant coffee in the ration kits provided by Maxwell House, named after the establishment where the proprietary blend was first served. Produced by the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company, this brew quickly gained popularity in homes and quality hotels across the land, and reputedly acquired its slogan from Teddy Roosevelt, who claimed the beverage was “good to the last drop.”

coffee takeaway

[ COFFEE - connoisseur coffee ] ~ from HerbCo

connoisseur coffee

Americans got serious about coffee consumption after prohibition was enacted, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that coffeehouses became popular again. From New York’s Greenwich Village to San Francisco's North Beach, Beatniks debated politics, discussed philosophy, recited poetry and grooved to folk music (or the simple beat of a bongo) while sipping strong espresso. Known as the Beat Generation, these pioneers sparked a counter culture revolution that changed American society and which still resides in the nation’s psyche today. Coffee cafes and roasteries seem to appear on every corner in big cities and small towns alike, and are still hot spots for intellectuals and creative types who expect exceptional gourmet coffee served with lively conversation and a side of wi-fi. In fact, these establishments often compete for dominance with art exhibits and literary readings as much as offering specialty blends and creative flourishes added by baristas skilled in expresso and latte art.

Whatever part of the world your favorite coffees come from, or wherever you enjoy sipping to the beat, the flavor in your cup can always be improved upon by adding a one or a combination of spices. It’s as easy as adding your custom spice blends to a basket of ground coffee and hitting the “start” button. Or, if you prefer, you can pre-mix your grounds and spices together and store in a freezer-safe container. The latter method also works well if you have a coffee maker that takes "K-cups" and use re-usable cups. No time to sit and savor? No problem. A reusable travel cup is all you need to take your caffeine rush on the road.

While you are experimenting with your own creations, you can also try our:

HERBCo coffee spice blend
This coffee blend is enhanced with the warm, fragrant spices of cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, and finishes with the punch of black pepper.

"Science may never come up with a better office communication system than the coffee break."
— Earl Wilson

coffee grounds
make your own CUSTOM COFFEE with these spices

fennel seed

fennel seed, whole
Fennel seed provides a mild anise-like flavor and helps to counter the coffee acidity.

cinnamon chips

cinnamon chips, cut & sifted
Cinnamon adds brightness and sweetness to coffee and is a favorite in light roast coffees. Works well with other spices too, especially orange peel, ginger and cloves.


cardamom pods, whole
Common in Indian coffee blends, cardamom is often combined with cinnamon and black pepper.

bulk ginger root

ginger root, cut & sifted
The spicy and slightly woody flavor of ginger complements cloves and cinnamon.

bulk cloves

cloves, whole
The warm, spicy flavor and aroma of cloves is ideal with full-bodied, dark roast coffees.

bulk black peppercorn

black pepper, whole
The root of this beautiful flowering plant gets its scientific name from the Greek word that means “sweet root,” As such, this is herbal bitter is preferred by children.

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