Globalization: Social & Geographic Perspectives

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Assignment #1 – The Creolization of Coffee

March 10th, 2011 · 7 Comments
Creolization Essay - Assignment # 1

Without coffee, it would probably be quite a bit harder for most of us to get up in the morning. Especially in the US, our conceptualization of coffee revolves around Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and our local coffee house.  Coffee has undergone the process of creolization; it’s become commercialized and has spread around the world. As it did that, its value changed. Thanks to creolization, the idea of morning coffee is an institution, now more than ever. So where was this legacy born?

Coffee Arabica (the finest bean) is believed to have been discovered in 600AD growing along the central Ethiopian plain land; trees had also been growing in Yemen. The Arab people guarded the Arabica beans until 1650, when seeds were stolen by an Indian traveler who then returned back to India. The French and then the Dutch would attempt to grow coffee. While the French failed for growing the beans too far up north, the Dutch were able to successfully breed coffee trees from seed. In 1715, the Dutch gave Louis XIV of France a coffee tree as a sign of favor and good will. This coffee tree, called the Noble Tree, is the tree from which all coffee in France is derived. It continues to produce seeds which are sent back and grown in Ethiopia. From France, coffee tree seeds traveled with nobles to the Caribbean. Being geographically close France, soon England had coffee.  Of course, this meant that our colonial ancestors soon were soon able to enjoy it.

Dorothy Jones was the first woman in the American colonies licensed to sell coffee. She sold coffee seeds to enterprising young colonists. Coffeehouses became extremely common. During the Revolution, coffeehouses were sites of pro-colonial sentiment. Colonists planned the Boston Tea Party while at a coffeehouse. The Declaration of Independence was first read publicly at a coffeehouse, and plans for the Constitutional Congress were conceived in a coffeehouse.

There’s no argument that the number of coffeehouses in the US has skyrocketed since then. Americans love their coffee. Besides its delicious taste, a cup of coffee represented many things in the past that it still represents today: warmth, energy, a moment’s peace.  Not much has changed in how we view our coffee (except perhaps for those who grab their coffee on the go, it is not so much “a moment’s peace” but the willpower they need to get to work).

The aspect of coffee which has creolized is its method of delivery. In America it seems we want our coffee to be served quickly and to taste impeccable. We do not want to go to a coffee shop and get good coffee the first day, bad coffee the next. Chains like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have capitalized on these market desires, opening up across the country. They each serve their own products and thus each has developed a specialized language – like a grande skinny caramel macchiato or a medium vanilla dunkaccino. Small individual coffee shops which open up as a countermovement to this commercialization do find success, but it is often limited to localized regions or neighborhoods. The most lucrative coffeehouses are the national chains. This is one way that coffee consumption differs in the US as compared to other places in the world. In Europe for example, though Starbucks exists, it is not the norm. Starbucks is mostly found in airports to accommodate tourists. Additionally, Dunkin Donuts is almost nonexistent outside of the US. Rather, the local population drinks at locally run coffeehouses.

The ways in which coffee preferences and coffee distribution have evolved are quite extraordinary. No other beverage has the universal appeal of coffee.  As it travelled around the world, its nature changed and shaped lives.

Source: “Coffee and its Origins.” Online. http://www.italiancook.ca/origins-coffee.htm

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1    jasmina786 // Mar 10, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Whenever I think of coffee I will remember this post. I honestly believed that coffee was from America, but it is interesting to learn that it came from Yemen. It is fascinating how a simple seed has emerged into many large fanchises of today. However it would be great if this post discusses the health issues and consumptions that plays role in the human body. The post would also be intriguing to the reader if it discussed how human beings enjoy coffee in different countries especially in a social setting. Some countries treat coffee differently and very appreciative when attached with social groups, whereas in NY it is somewhat fast paced. It would be interesting to learn and compare countries on how they take their coffee in the morning. I liked how this post details concisely and yet it is right to the point. Good job and a great read!

  • 2    rachdavoudi16 // Mar 10, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Coffee is an amazing creation. I thank whoever created such a thing. I sort of had an idea that coffee came from overseas. Especially when you walk into Starbucks and they have coffee from every country all over the place. Speaking of cofee I heard on the radio that it’s healthy to drink up to 5 cups a day ( that’s a little much I think). I don’t leave my house without my mug. By now I have tried a number of different types of cofee and my favorite one is Samoa ( can be found in Starbucks), so delicious!

  • 3    mikesans76 // Mar 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Good read! I find it quite interesting that a plan to destroy copious amounts of tea was actually planned in a coffeehouse. Perhaps this is the game changer. In 18th century America tea was a staple in the everyday lives of the colonials. Now it is and has been coffee for quite some time.

  • 4    temimahz // Mar 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    This was especially interesting because coffee is a product that we see wherever we go. Coffee is extremely creolized based on every country, or even city in which it is sold. Coffee in Asia or Europe is so different to us than that coffee which we have here and it’s important to know how this well known product became that way!

  • 5    Samantha Plaut // Mar 16, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I found that reading this was very interesting to see the true origins of coffee. I knew that coffee was a very popular thing among Americans, but I didn’t know really that it was also popular in many other places. Coffee seems to definitely be an incredible invention for Americans, it’s what some of us live on everyday, as you said.

  • 6    Jessica Sorensen // Mar 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    When looking through the different essays to read from, your essay had caught my attention. I love coffee and drink it all the time. I rarely go to small coffee shops because if I go to any starbucks or dunkin donuts, I know that I will receive the same tasting coffee I typically order everytime.

    I was unaware that starbucks and dunkin donuts was more popular in the United States than anywhere else. I figured the desire to have “perfect” coffee on every other corner was just as normal in other places besides the U.S.

  • 7    brenda // Mar 21, 2011 at 10:28 am

    It is amazing how popular coffee is here in America. Coffee has even adopted new meanings here in the United States. Coffee is no longer only a breakfast beverage, but also a dessert beverage. People even add alcohol to their coffee, making it a party beverage. We have coffee flavored ice cream, candy, crème, pastries, etc. Ordering coffee has become more complicated than ever. There are now endless ways for one to enjoy their coffee. For example: sugar or no sugar, skim milk or regular milk, iced or hot, latte or frappe. The options are infinite. We have even created fancy names for small, medium and large. It is like a whole new language. Coffee continues to grow more and more popular in the United States. It also seems that people are even starting to drink coffee at a younger age. Young people crowd Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts at all hours of the day.

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