Coffee wasn’t always the king of drinks that it is today. Going back forty years, the number of coffee shops in western countries outside southern Europe was pretty minimal.
Now, though, that’s all changed. There’s a Starbucks on every corner. And you can grab whatever type of coffee you want to go.
Tea was once the preferred hot drink for most people. But coffee unseated it spectacularly. How did it achieve this remarkable feat? What makes coffee such an exceptional drink such that it is second only to water? Let’s find out.
The Rich Flavor
Tea tastes okay. So do other herbal concoctions, like mint and hibiscus, both popular in certain parts of the world. But nothing really compares to the rich creaminess you get with coffee. Unlike the others, it is not an infusion. It’s so much more.
When baristas make coffee professionally, they force hot water through grounds at high pressure. During the process, the beans leach some of their natural oils into the drink. It is this fat that helps to make coffee a delectable suspension, enhancing the taste.
You can get a similar effect at home too if you have the right machinery to hand. Keurig coffee makers are a great choice, but other brands are available. Home-based products use a similar principle to their commercial counterparts, forcing water through the beans to create a rich flavor.
The Caffeine Hit
The caffeine in tea and coffee is different. In tea, polyphenols in the tea leaf bind the caffeine particles, preventing most of them from getting into the bloodstream. Furthermore, when the rest arrives, additional plant compounds prevent it from exerting the full effect. Thus, after tea, you feel mildly more awake. You’re not buzzing.
With coffee, though, it’s different. Americanos are what you turn to when you feel tired, but have a deadline your boss insists you have to meet.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of coffee, though, is the sheer variety of drinks and recipes you can make with it.
On the drinks front, you have standard black coffees, lattes, Americanos, cappuccinos, and espressos. Then, you have all the drinks that baristas have developed over the years, including flavored coffees and beverages made with plant-based alternatives.
Then, you have food. Coffee cakes, buns, and chocolates are all the rage. And, unbelievably, the addition of coffee flavoring actually makes them taste even better.
Coffee beans themselves are also highly varied. For instance, arabica and Robusta taste entirely different from each other, especially to a trained palette. Some people become accomplished coffee connoisseurs and can detect the precise species of the bean that went to make the drink in the first place – a remarkable achievement.
Coffee, therefore, will continue to be the drink that dominates the world. Currently, it is second only to water. But as the world gets richer, you can imagine even that changing. It is unlikely anything else will come along to unseat it as the undisputed champion of drinks. And it could even grow in popularity, especially if India and China continue expanding their middle classes.