It is said that the stimulating effects of coffee were discovered by a 9th century goat-herder who observed his goats becoming livelier and more energetic after consuming the fruit of a certain bush. As the story goes, the shepherd gathered up some of the coffee “cherries”, brewed himself a drink and, as any coffee lover can well-imagine, became hooked.
Whether that’s a true tale or a tall-tale, historical records show that by the 15th century coffee consumption was wide-spread throughout Africa and the Middle East. It wasn’t until the mid-1600s, though, that coffee merchants began importing the beans on a large-scale basis to the Netherlands, home of Europe’s first coffeehouses. Today, coffee is enjoyed world-wide and has become a part of our cultural landscape. Cafes and coffee-shops are everywhere and “going for coffee” remains an affordable daily indulgence; even with today’s economic belt-tightening. For some of us, it is the one vice that we have allowed ourselves to hang on to.
Sue Urquhart, of Lulubug Jewelry [previously featured here], is a kindred spirit of mine when it comes to her love of coffee and that affection shows in this carefully handcrafted piece (above). Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to keep your favourite beverage close to your heart than with this fabulous silver pendant in the shape of a steaming cup of coffee. Inlaid with concrete, this piece is definitely a conversation-starter. It, like the other items in the Lulubug shop, are made from Precious Metal Clay (PMC) which, as Sue tells me, was developed by Mitsubishi in Japan as a way to use their silver waste. While PMC is not 100% reclaimed silver, a large percentage is used, making these pieces not only stunning, but eco-friendly.
Charlene Simon, of the Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium, isn’t herself a fan of coffee’s taste, but that doesn’t stop her from using it in her products. Soaps like her cold-process Espresso Roast (above), take full advantage of the natural exfoliating properties of ground coffee, as well as other surprising benefits. In addition to smelling great, coffee can be a chef’s best friend at the kitchen sink, acting as an odor neutralizer on the skin.
The caffeine contained in coffee is also a beautifier, as Charlene explains, “A great customer of mine used to be a professional ballerina and said her group would use coffee scrubs before a performance to reduce the appearance of cellulite.” The Espresso Roast soap and Cioccolato Foaming Coffee Scrub (pictured below), both made from scratch from a blend of plant-based natural ingredients, were created with coffee-lovers (and ballerinas!) in mind. They are available from Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium’s shop, their brick & mortar store in Hot Springs, AR and on their website.
Finally, I can’t talk about coffee without mentioning my favourite brand. Canadian coffee company Level Ground Trading of Victoria, BC roasts all of their beans (including my favourite – Café la Paz) in small batches for maximum quality and flavour. What is more impressive, though, is their commitment to providing small-scale coffee farmers with a direct fair-trade option to sell their beans. Through their initiatives, Level Ground pays farmers 40% more than conventional coffee importers, and 19% above the Transfair certified minimum price. To read more about Level Ground and their efforts to make a difference, please visit their website.
Interesting fact: according to Wikipedia, consumption of coffee in Europe and North America is one-third that of tap water!