Victorian Coffees: How A Penny’s Worth Shaped Modern Culture

Let’s hop in a time machine and travel back to the Victorian times, spanning from 1837 to 1901, to see how our beloved coffee was enjoyed back then, especially in the good old UK. During this era, coffeehouses were the go-to spots for the thinkers, the dreamers, and the doers, earning them the cute nickname “penny universities” because for just the price of a coffee, you could join in on some brainy conversations.

Now, heading a bit south to Australia, the temperance movement spiced things up by introducing coffee palaces. They were the wholesome cousins to the rowdy pubs and bars, encouraging folks to ditch the booze for a cozy cup of coffee.

Coffee-making back in the day was a bit different from our modern brews. They liked it strong and a tad rough around the edges due to the coarse grinding and brewing styles of the time. There was a whole array of brewing gadgets like percolators, the budding espresso machines, and the exotic Turkish coffee methods. And oh, the market was adorned with fancy coffee brewers and grinders for anyone keen on a delightful coffee experience.

The Victorian era was also a booming time for the global coffee trade, with coffee plantations sprouting in colonies. But it’s not all beans and roses, as this period also saw the harsh exploitation of local labor in these coffee lands, casting a long, dark shadow on coffee trade’s history. Coffee started becoming a big player in the global trade scene, laying down the roots for today’s coffee industry.

Now, here’s a bit of a coffee scandal – some shady sellers were mixing coffee with other stuff like chicory, or even nastier things to make a quick buck. This trickery helped push for food and drug regulation laws to keep our coffee pure and safe.

Socially, coffee was the classy drink, often seen at gatherings and events. It was the favorite of the emerging middle class, marking a cool shift in social vibes and cultural habits. Coffee even found its way into the arts and literature of the time, showing how much it was intertwined with daily life and social chit-chats.

The Victorian era brewed a rich legacy for our modern coffee culture, with its coffeehouses, brewing innovations, and the global coffee trade buzz. It set a fantastic stage for how we enjoy and share coffee moments today, making it a cherished ritual in our everyday lives.

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Coffee is Steep in Facts & Fiction, enjoy some fun ones

Coffee, a beverage as rich in history as it is in flavor, has woven itself into the fabric of cultures across the globe. This potent elixir, brewed from the humble beans of the Coffea plant, has played a significant role in shaping societal structures over the centuries, acting as a catalyst for conversation, inspiration, and even revolution. From its mythical discovery by an Ethiopian shepherd noticing his goats’ lively antics after consuming the cherries of a strange tree, to its revered status in the high-tech modern cafes of the 21st century, coffee’s journey is as complex as the notes in a well-crafted single-origin brew.

What started as an exotic novelty from the wilds of Africa, spread through the Middle East’s sophisticated coffee houses, spurred intellectual discourse in the European enlightenment, fueled the grind of the industrial revolution, and now energizes the ceaseless pulse of the digital age. In this exploration, we’ll delve into some of the unexpected, bizarre, and often misunderstood aspects of this beloved drink, separating the facts from the fictions and shedding light on the hidden corners of coffee’s enduring legacy.


Coffee was originally eaten: The origin of coffee is thought to be Ethiopia, where the coffee cherries and their beans were initially eaten by slaves taken from Sudan to Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They would grind the beans and mix them with fat to create a kind of energy ball. (now in chocolate covered varieties).

Coffee led to the invention of the webcam: The first webcam was developed at the University of Cambridge to monitor a coffee pot in the computer science department’s Trojan Room to avoid wasted trips to an empty pot.

Beethoven was a coffee lover: Beethoven was such a fan of the brew that he’d count 60 beans per cup before making his coffee. He believed this to be the perfect amount for his preferred taste.

Coffee is a fruit: Coffee beans are actually the pits of a cherry-like berry that grow on bushes. Even though coffee is actually a seed, it’s called a bean because of its resemblance to actual beans.


Coffee stunts your growth“: This is a common myth that has been debunked by many scientific studies. There is no evidence that coffee consumption has any significant effects on a person’s physical growth.

Espresso has more caffeine than regular coffee“: While it’s true that espresso contains more caffeine per volume, a typical serving of espresso is much smaller than a serving of regular coffee. Therefore, a cup of brewed coffee will generally have more caffeine than a shot of espresso.

Coffee dehydrates you“: This myth likely stems from the fact that caffeine can have a diuretic effect, but regular coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to this effect. For most people, the water content in coffee will offset any dehydrating effects.

The darker the roast, the stronger the coffee“: Many people believe that a darker roast means a stronger or more caffeinated coffee. In fact, lighter roasts tend to have slightly more caffeine because the roasting process reduces caffeine content. The “strength” people associate with dark roasts is actually a stronger flavor, not more caffeine.

These are just a few of the many facts and fictions about coffee. The world of coffee is full of fascinating history, science, and cultural nuances. I will share more as I uncover them.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.


Ethiopia to Colombia: A Coffee Lover’s Travel Diary

Prelude: The Dream Journey of a Coffee Enthusiast

As a devout coffee enthusiast, I have always been captivated by the mystique of this universal brew. Its aroma, taste, and invigorating power have been my daily solace. But my love for coffee extends beyond the confines of my morning mug. I yearn to explore its origins, understand its cultivation, and witness firsthand the passion that goes into creating each cup. That’s why I’ve envisioned a dream journey, an exploration of the coffee culture in two of the most renowned coffee-producing countries in the world: Ethiopia and Colombia. It’s a journey that will take me from the birthplace of coffee, steeped in ancient tradition, to a nation that has transformed coffee cultivation into a fine art. This diary reflects that dream journey, a pilgrimage I hope to undertake, tracing the path of coffee from bean to cup.

Entry 1: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Arrival and The Birthplace of Coffee

My journey begins in Ethiopia, considered the birthplace of coffee. My first stop was Addis Ababa, the country’s capital, where I discovered the deep-rooted coffee culture. I visited the National Museum of Ethiopia, where I gained a greater understanding of the country’s rich history and, of course, its deep connection to coffee. I explored a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony – a time-honored tradition that’s as much about community as it is about the drink itself.

Entry 2: Sidamo, Ethiopia – Coffee Farms and Forests

Travelling south, I journeyed to Sidamo, home to some of the best coffee in the world. I walked through lush coffee forests and witnessed how coffee grows in its natural habitat. I observed coffee beans being harvested by skilled farmers who taught me the process from bean to cup. The local coffee, known for its light body and complex flavor profile, was unlike any I’ve tasted before.

Entry 3: Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia – A Coffee Connoisseur’s Dream

Next, I arrived in Yirgacheffe, a region known for producing some of the world’s most distinctive coffees. The hand-picked beans here are washed and sun-dried, giving them a unique, fruity flavor profile. Savoring a cup of Yirgacheffe coffee, with its bright acidity and tea-like characteristics, was a truly unforgettable experience.

Entry 4: Departing Ethiopia – The Cradle of Coffee

Before departing Ethiopia, I had the chance to partake in one more traditional coffee ceremony. The feeling of unity and warmth in these gatherings was truly inspiring. The coffee, always served black, tasted even more wonderful, perhaps owing to the rich culture and tradition infused into each cup.

Entry 5: Bogotá, Colombia – New Terrain, Familiar Aroma

Arriving in Bogotá, Colombia, I could feel the shift in culture, yet the love for coffee was just as deep. Colombia’s rich volcanic soil, altitude, and climate make it a perfect landscape for coffee growing. I visited the famous Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learned about the country’s history and deep connection to coffee production.

Entry 6: Salento, Colombia – Into the Coffee Triangle

Salento, part of Colombia’s famed Coffee Triangle, was my next stop. Here, amidst lush coffee plantations, I learned about the production process of Colombian coffee, which is typically washed, giving it a clean taste and bright acidity. The fresh brew, paired with breathtaking views of the Andean landscape, was simply exquisite.

Entry 7: Medellín, Colombia – A Taste of Innovation

In Medellín, I witnessed how the city has innovatively integrated its coffee culture into modern cafes, pushing the boundaries of brewing methods and presentations. The diverse selection of coffee, from single-origin varieties to blends, was both inspiring and overwhelming. The vibrant city life, coupled with its rich coffee culture, made my visit to Medellín a thrilling experience.

Entry 8: Farewell, Colombia – A Journey Through the World of Coffee

As I leave Colombia, I can’t help but reflect on this incredible journey. From Ethiopia, where coffee has its roots, to Colombia, where coffee production has been refined into an art form, it has been a voyage of discovery. The aroma, taste, and ritual of coffee have shown me the profound impact this humble bean has on communities around the world.

Every coffee lover should make this journey… I’m sure our paths would cross along the way. If not, we can send a postcard.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.


The Controversy of the Flat White Silky Coffee

There’s always been a certain rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, even when it comes to the origin of the controversial, silky coffee drink known as the flat white. Both countries claim to have created this fine brew, and while we might not be able to settle that debate, we can certainly delve into the rich history of this beloved beverage.

The Birth of the Flat White

The flat white’s history is a bit hazy, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming it as their invention. The term first appeared in Australia around the mid-1980s. The story goes that Alan Preston moved from Sydney to Queensland in 1985 and started a coffee shop named Moors Espresso Bar. Preston claims he invented the term “flat white” as a way to simplify the coffee menu. He wanted a term that would encapsulate the idea of a milky coffee without the froth and foam associated with a cappuccino.

On the other hand, New Zealand’s claim lies with Fraser McInnes, a barista at a well-known Wellington coffee shop named DKD Cafe. In 1989, McInnes claims he inadvertently created the flat white when the milk for a cappino failed to froth correctly. He served the drink anyway, and it became popular as a new style of coffee.

What Makes a Flat White?

A flat white is essentially an espresso-based coffee drink that contains a similar amount of coffee but less milk than a latte, and less foam than a cappuccino. A flat white is typically served in a smaller ceramic cup and features a higher ratio of coffee to milk, allowing the espresso’s flavor to shine through.

The secret of a great flat white lies in the steaming of the milk. The milk is steamed to create microfoam, which is velvety and smooth, creating a rich, creamy texture when poured over the espresso. The result is a beautifully balanced coffee drink where the espresso and milk complement each other rather than one overwhelming the other.

The Rise of the Flat White

The flat white remained a Down Under secret for many years, with only the most discerning international coffee lovers knowing of its existence. That began to change in the 2000s, as Antipodean coffee culture started spreading worldwide, especially in the UK and the USA.

The flat white started gaining recognition internationally in the late 2000s and early 2010s when big-name coffee chains began introducing it to their menus. In 2010, Starbucks started selling the flat white in their Australian stores before launching it in the USA and UK in 2015. This boosted the flat white’s popularity, and it soon became a staple on coffee menus worldwide.

The Legacy of the Flat White

Today, the flat white is a globally recognized coffee beverage. It’s the pride of Antipodean coffee culture and a testament to the influence of Australian and New Zealand coffee techniques worldwide.

In the end, whether the flat white was born in Australia or New Zealand might not matter as much as what it represents: a commitment to quality, an appreciation for balance, and a love for coffee that transcends borders. This creamy, smooth coffee drink has become a gift to coffee lovers around the world, and for that, we have our friends in the Southern Hemisphere to thank.

Please note that if you purchase from clicking on the link, some will result in my getting a tiny bit of that sale to help keep this site going.