HP Chamber Speak

Humanity runs on Coffee

“…My nerves have gone to pieces, my hair is turning gray, all I do is drink black coffee since my man’s gone away.”- Ella Fitzgerald

Is coffee a nectar from the gods or a stimulant from hell? Actually it’s both. It will take control of your life and it will insert itself into your life with its rich, dark goodness (or so it’s been said.) After oil, coffee is the world’s second-most-valuable commodity exported by developing countries. The global coffee industry now earns an estimated $60 billion annually.

Ethiopia appears to be the country in which coffee got its start. Seems a man name Kaldi, a 9th century Ethiopian goat herder discovered coffee when he noticed how excited his goats became after eating the beans from a coffee plant. (This version did not appear in writing until the late 17th century and is questionable.) The earliest supported evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen, officially known as the Republic of Yemen, an Arab sovereign state in western Asia at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.

The world’s most consumed beverage, not counting water, which has no equal, is actually tea. Data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization suggest that the world drinks about six billion cups of tea a day. Based on “The Book of Incredible Information”, coffee is the most popular beverage in the world, with more than 400 million cups consumed each year. More than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed in the United States every day. And, the United States doesn’t even come close to drinking the most coffee per capita. That title belongs to the country of Finland. In reality the United States isn’t even listed in the top 15 countries for per capita consumption of coffee.

Good news. The Journal of the American Medical Association says, “…people who drank coffee, no matter how much or what kind they drank (includes decaf and instant), were less likely to die over a 10 year study period than non-coffee drinkers.” It gets better – coffee drinkers fared better than people who did not drink coffee.

Several explanations: coffee is the #1source in the American diet of antioxidants and coffee lowers and protects against diabetes, Parkinson Disease and liver cancer. Note: caffeine in large amounts can kill, but it takes huge amounts of coffee to deliver a legal dose (20 cups at once.) Not to be the bearer of bad news but you should enjoy as much coffee as you can at today’s prices because it might be harder to get if warm temperatures (read: global warming) stay consistent. Research from Oregon State University shows even short spurts of over-the-top temperatures mean Arabica plants (the most common coffee plant) will be unable to produce flowers and fruit. And no flowers and fruit means no beans..which means no coffee. The study is just the latest alarm bell for the coffee industry. According to Time Magazine “…as temperatures rise and droughts intensify, good coffee will become increasingly difficult to grow and expensive to buy.”

Before your daily pick me up turns into a high-priced luxury item, perhaps you should take advantage of the local coffee shops and cafe’s in Hyde Park before that sweet fragrance wafting through the air becomes a thing of the past. Blame it on the climate, but don’t blame it on the messenger.

Local places to grab a cup of coffee include: Au Bon Pain 5841 S. Maryland, Bridgeport Coffeehouse, 5030 S. Cornell, Bonjour Cafe, 1550 E. 55th Street, Cafe 53, 1369 E. 53rd Street, Cafe Logan, 915 E. 60th Street, Dollop Coffee Co., 5500 S. University, Dunkin Donuts, 1418 E. 53rd Street, Einstein Bros., 5225 S. Harper Court, Ex Libris Cafe, 1100 E. 57th Street, Greenline Coffee, 501 e. 61st Street, Grounds of Being, 1025 E. 58th Street, Harper Cafe, 1116 E. 59th Street, Hollowed Grounds, 1127 E. 57th Street, Plein Air Cafe, 5751 S.Woodlawn, Medici on 57th, 1331 E. 57th Street, Picolo Mondo Cafe, 1642 E. 56th Street, Pret A Manger, 5706 S. University, Refectory & Sola Cafe, 1100 E. 55th Street, Sanctuary Cafe, 5655 S. University, Sip and Savor, 5301 S. Hyde Park Blvd., & 528 E. 43rd Street, Starbucks, 1530 E. 53rd Street & 1174 E. 55th Street, True North Cafe, 1327 E. 57th Street, Treasure Island Cafe, Vanille Patisserie, 5229 S. Harper Court, Naked Coffeehouse Chicagoland, 1507 E. 53rd Street, and honorable mention – Robust Coffee Lounge, 6300 S.Woodlawn.

JoAnn Fastoff Blackman is a long-time Hyde Parker and an award-winning author of both fiction and non-fiction books. Her various blogs have focused on environmental issues in and around Chicago. HPChamber Speak will appear periodically addressing issues impacting Hyde Park’s business community.