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Ode to coffee

The smell. Is that it? The anticipation perhaps? Why does coffee have this cult-like status that has garnered it such a devoted world wide following?
Tightwad thinks it's Pavlovian, really. Something to get you out of bed. A ceremony of sorts; freshly grinding the dark, oily beans, listening to it brewing, the wait. Steamy and fragrant. Even cold coffee is better than no coffee. Rue the day when you get up and discover that you are out of coffee beans, instant, even - gasp - decaf.
Caffeine is one of the reasons people love coffee. Apparently caffeine works in the brain the same way that amphetamines, cocaine and heroin do, mimicking a chemical in the brain called adenosine, which plays a part in sleepiness by slowing nerve cell activity in the brain.
But, coffee is more than caffeine. Coffee is social. Coffee brings people together, gets you out of the office, gives you a convenient excuse to break during a meeting. Coffee is such a nice way to give something to someone; show you care, show you are paying attention. People love it when you remember how they like to take their coffee. And, let's not forget, coffee presents a great excuse to invite someone over to your place after dinner.
Your experience as a tourist is sadly lacking if you don't like coffee. How can you possible go to Verona or Venezia and not order a brioche marmalata and an espresso? Like, several times a day? Your piazza experience simply would not be complete.
You know what's the best? Camping coffee. Made in one of those Bialetti mocha express contraptions on your camping stove or camp fire. Fresh crisp air, a wilderness setting, worrying about bear attacks, a steaming mug of camping coffee, what could be better?
Did you know that the world's most expensive coffee is - conceptually - totally unpalatable? Not sure how else to describe the Indonesian coffee Kopi Luwak, which sells for about $30 a cup. Its a low production coffee, because it's made from the sun ripened droppings (that is no typo) of the jungle dwelling Asian Palm Civet. They find the sweetest, ripest berries to eat but they can’t digest them. Instead, their stomach enzymes break down the coffee’s bitterness and the beans pass through their digestive tracts. The result? Coffee with chocolate and caramel notes, apparently. Here are some other interesting tidbits about coffee.


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