We’re back with our second post in our Coffee 101 Series: The Discovery of Coffee! Coffee has a long and interesting history, including dancing goats, smuggling and bouquets of flowers spiked with coffee seedlings.
Coffee is native to Ethiopia, in Africa, where it is still a popular part of local culture and traditions. Today over 12 million people in Ethiopia are involved in coffee production. A common phrase in Ethiopia is “buna dabo naw,” which translates to “coffee is our bread.”
Evidence of humans drinking coffee can be traced to the middle of the 15th century in Yemen’s Sufi monasteries. It is not known who actually discovered coffee, but there are several interesting theories and stories.
One story credits the discovery of coffee to a Yemenite Sufi mystic who was traveling through Ethiopia. He noticed some very energetic, lively birds and decided to sample the red berries he saw them eating. He quickly felt the energizing effects of the berry.
Another tale tells of a man named Omar, who was exiled from Mocha to a desert cave. He was starving and only found red berries from a small shrub to eat. They tasted bitter so he tried roasting, and later, boiling them. The fragrant smelling liquid he created from boiling the berries kept Omar alive for many days, allowing him to eventually return to Mocha with his “miracle drug.”
In the tenth century, coffee is said to have been eaten and fermented into wine. Ethiopian tribesmen used the coffee berries as an energy ball, crushing and mixing them with animal fat to sustain them on long journeys.
The most colorful of all of the coffee origin tales is the story of Kaldi and his goats. Kaldi was an Ethiopian goat herder who was looking for a spot to allow his hungry and tired goats to graze. Instead of pasture, his goats came upon a bush with bright red berries, which they devoured. The goats began to behave strangely, some stories say they danced, others claim the goats wouldn’t sleep at night. All tales agree that the goats became very lively after eating the berries. In one version of the story, Kaldi eats the berries and then shares his discovery with the monks who use them to make a beverage so they can stay awake through their late evening prayers. In another version, Kaldi shares his discovery with less open-minded monks: they throw his berries into the fire, creating a delicious aroma. Curious, the monks take the roasted berries out of the fire and grind them before dissolving them in hot water, thus making the first cup of coffee.
Regardless of which story is true (the story about Kaldi did not appear in writing prior to 1671, though the legend states the story took place anywhere from the 6th to 10th century), the image of dancing goats discovering coffee has become quite popular!
Coffee’s rise to becoming the world’s most popular drink after water began in the Islamic world. Coffee was believed to have restorative powers and was used as a religious potion to keep Muslims awake during their evening prayers. Coffee beans, exported from Ethiopia, were grown first in Yemen before spreading across the Arabian peninsula. In 1720 the port city of Mokka was the global coffee trading center. As the Ottoman Empire grew, so did coffee’s range. Soon people in Syria, Egypt, and southwest Europe were enjoying the “wine of Islam,” so named because Muslims do not drink alcohol, but were permitted to consume coffee.
Coffee houses quickly became popular meeting places. The first European coffee house outside of the Ottoman Empire was opened in Venice in 1645.
For centuries, coffee plants were carefully guarded. Exports of live plants or viable seed were strictly prohibited; only roasted coffee was allowed to leave Middle Eastern countries where it was grown. In order to become a widely grown and consumed beverage, coffee would have to be stolen and smuggled out of the Middle East.
In the 17th century, some enterprising Dutch merchants managed to sneak some unroasted coffee beans to Europe where they grew coffee in greenhouses. In the early 1700s, coffee seedlings were grown on islands in the Caribbean, as well as Brazil, Kenya, and Tanzania.
Coffee reached Brazil in an interesting way. Portugal wanted to get in on the lucrative coffee market by growing the crop in Brazil. The King of Portugal couldn’t get coffee seeds from neighboring French Guiana due to tight border restrictions. The King sent Sergeant Major Francisco de Melo Palheta to settle the border dispute and secretly obtain coffee seeds. In order to get the coffee out of the country, Palheta had to get creative. He seduced the French Governor’s wife, Madame D’Orvilliers, who secretly gave him a bouquet laced with coffee seedlings before he left French Guiana for Brazil. Palheta is credited with planting the first coffee trees in Brazil in the state of Pará in 1727. Today, Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world, a position which the country has held since 1852.
Coffee became popular in America after the Boston Tea Party in 1773 when it became unpatriotic to drink tea. Today coffee is consumed daily by 54% of Americans over the age of 18 (that’s about 100 million people!). Specialty coffee in the U.S. is now billion dollar industry with Americans spending 18 billion dollars on their favorite drink a year.
Next, on our Coffee 101 series will discuss how coffee is harvested and processed. Stay tuned!
We’re back with our second post in our Coffee 101 Series: The Discovery of Coffee! Coffee has a long and interesting history, including dancing goats, smuggling and bouquets of flowers spiked with coffee seedlings.
We’ve gone coconuts here at Winans Chocolates + Coffees! We’re featuring all of our favorite coconut sweet treats this summer, including a blast from the past: our coconut chews! We used to make coconut chews on a regular basis at Winans, but about ten years ago we debuted a new cream: coconut almond bliss. We’re not getting rid of coconut almond bliss, but our coconut chew is here to stay!
These are some of our favorite coconut treats:
Coconut Chew: chewy coconut enrobed in milk or dark chocolate
Coconut Almond Bliss: chocolate-covered coconut cream with almonds scattered throughout the chocolate
Coconut Haystacks: chocolate-covered coconut flakes
Coconut Brittle: coconut and peanut pieces that are buttery and crunchy with a touch of salt
Piña Colada Smoothie: non-alcoholic smoothie made with real pineapple puree and cream of coconut
Toasted Coconut Flavored Coffee: a customer favorite!
We recommend pairing our coconut treats with our fair trade and organic single origin Honduran coffee. This coffee has notes of lemon and a hint of caramel, which perfectly compliment the tropical coconut flavor of our coconut chews!
Coconuts are used around the world for a myriad of purposes – and not just for eating! Check out some of these fascinating facts about the coconut tree!
Fun facts about the coconut tree
- The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the palm family. Coconut palms are grown in more than 90 countries of the world, most of the world production is in tropical Asia.
- A coconut is not actually a nut, it is a fruit called a drupe. Other fruits that are drupes are mangos, olives, apricots, cherries, peaches, and coffee! A full-sized coconut weighs about 3 pounds.
- The word coconut is thought to have come from 16th-century Portuguese explorers who thought that the three holes on a coconut looked like a human face so they called the fruit “coco” meaning “grinning face, grin, or grimace.”
- Coconuts are known for their great versatility, virtually every part of the coconut palm is used by humans in some way. Coconuts are used as food, in cosmetics, in construction and building – even in religious ceremonies!
Coconut has a wide variety of culinary uses – though we like it best when it’s covered in chocolate! Coconut oil is used for cooking in its liquid form and as butter or lard in its solid form. Coconut meat can be eaten fresh or dried and is added to both sweet and savory dishes. Coconut flour is used in baking, it makes a great gluten-free flour alternative for those with gluten sensitivity.
Coconut water is consumed as a sports drink and contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can ever be used as a substitute for blood plasma! The high level of sugar and other salts make it possible to add the water to the bloodstream, similar to how an IV solution works in modern medicine. Coconut water was used during World War II in tropical areas for emergency transfusions.
The apical buds of adult coconut palms are edible and are known as “palm cabbage” or heart of palm. They are considered a rare delicacy, as harvesting the buds kills the palms. Hearts of palm are eaten in salads, sometimes called “millionaire’s salad”.
Coconut is also widely used in the commercial, industrial and cosmetic industries. Coir, fiber from the husk of the coconut is made into ropes, mats, doormats, brushes, and sacks, as caulking for boats, and as stuffing fiber for mattresses. It is also used in horticulture in potting compost, especially in orchid mix. The leaves of the coconut palm can be made into toys, brooms, baskets, mats and roofing thatch. Coconut trunks are used for building small bridges and huts; they are preferred for their straightness, strength, and salt resistance.
Coconut is highly valued for use in the beauty industry as moisturizers and body butter. Due to the chemical structure of coconut oil, it is readily absorbed by the skin. It also used in cosmetics, hair oil, and massage oil. The coconut shell may also be ground down and added to products for exfoliation of dead skin.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy coconut?
Coconut From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fun Food Facts for Kids: Fun Coconut Facts
Is Coconut a Fruit or a Nut? From the Best of RawFood
This year will mark the 3rd year for the Winans to Winans Half Marathon. The half marathon starts in Troy, near Winans’ downtown Troy location. The 13.1-mile course winds through parks in Troy, connecting with the bike path and running past the historic Eldean Covered Bridge, following the bike path to finish in Piqua. The race ends at Winans’ Hometown Store + Tasting Room in downtown Piqua.
Race participants receive a t-shirt and their choice between a race medal or a travel coffee mug. At the finish runners and walkers are rewarded with beer and sweet treats from Winans Chocolates + Coffees. Xcel Sports Medicine will be on site to answer injury questions and give short post race massages. Winners in each group are awarded beer growlers with the Winans to Winans Half Marathon logo emblazoned on them. The top three finishers overall will have their growlers filled with beer.
Those ambitious runners and walkers who have signed up for all three years of the race will be given a pint glass with the race logo and the words “completed 39.3 miles.” Next year those who compete for their fourth race will be given a memento that says “completed 52.4 miles.”
The concept for the half-marathon was brought to life by Joe Reiser, co-owner of Winans Chocolates + Coffees. Joe says that running is “just one of those things that are part of my life that I’ve shared with the business and now the business has taken it into other people’s lives.” Joe brought his passion for coffee to Winans in 1994, coffee now makes up 50% of our business. In the past several years he has brought another passion, running, to the Winans family.
Joe started running when he was 18 and a freshman at The Ohio State University. He saw people running around on OSU’s beautiful campus and thought it looked cool. Running quickly became a part of his life. He didn’t run races, he just ran for his psychological well-being. Running became Joe’s way to keep his mind clear for studying for exams and a way to destress, which he continued to do after graduating college.
The idea to host a half-marathon started about seven years ago. Joe wanted to host a marathon from one Winans store to another. He mentioned his idea to Levi Fox. Levi had an office over the downtown Troy Winans location and was a former cross country star at Troy High School and state champion runner.
Levi, familiar with the intense amount of work involved in setting up and running a marathon (both the logistics and the actual running) instead suggested they start a running group. The Winans running club started in February 2011 and has been going strong ever since. The group philosophy is that there are no dues, no membership and you don’t have to attend every week. The one and only rule is that they meet every Saturday morning at downtown Troy Winans; if you run or a walk a mile you get free coffee.
It’s become this cultural thing in downtown Troy. There’s this group of people out running and you’ll see us hanging out drinking coffee. In warmer weather the group will hang out outside, in the cooler weather they sit in the back area of the store. They run no matter what. They have run when it’s -30°F below or 105°F. It’s just what we do. – Joe Reiser
The running group has become an extension of the Winans family. Some of the runners were not coffee drinkers before joining the group, and they are now die-hard Winans coffee drinkers. They support each other in races and they get together to celebrate birthdays and other holidays, usually in the back of the Winans store in downtown Troy.
In April 2013, Joe and his wife, Laurie, were in Boston for the Specialty Coffee Association of America Annual Exposition & Symposium. The Monday after the SCAA event ended was the Boston Marathon. Joe had a friend running the marathon, so he and Laurie went to the finish line to watch him finish. As Joe says, “they went there for coffee, stayed for running.” They ended up watching race finishers for three hours. Joe was impressed with the runners and the marathon itself, “it’s an amazing event if you’ve never done any, no matter what sporting event you’ve ever done this will be the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen.”
The two met up with friends to go eat lunch, while runners were still finishing the race. While sitting in the restaurant, they heard a loud boom. Joe thought it was a dumpster being emptied or construction. Laurie was concerned. After another loud boom, they saw people running in the streets. The Boston Marathon bombers had detonated two bombs near the finish line and race finishers were being rerouted down the street that the Reisers were eating lunch at. Joe and Laurie tried to help the rerouted runners, who were confused and upset as they tried to finish the final portion of the marathon. They also tried to help runners and spectators find their hotels – even though they aren’t from Boston and weren’t familiar with the area.
When Joe and Laurie returned home, the local press found out that they were at the bombing. They interviewed Joe and he told them that “we’re dedicating our running group this Saturday to Boston.” He had no idea how far that simple statement would reach. The next Saturday morning, almost 200 people showed up in downtown Troy for the running group. They wore blue and yellow and brought balloons and signs that read “Backing Boston from Ohio.” Some runners starting throwing money on the counter in the store, Joe quickly asked a fellow runner to collect the donations. They raised $2,000 and an anonymous donor matched it. They sent $4,000 to two young men who were spectators who lost their legs in the bombings because Joe and Laurie were spectators.
The next year Winans’ first half marathon was held on the second Sunday in September. Winans hosts the marathon but does not make any money off of it. Levi Fox’s company organizes the race and takes on all of the work organizing and planning the race. Every year the half marathon has grown. In 2014 about 300 people participated. The next year 400 people ran. This year we’re expecting over 650 people!
If you would like to join us for the 3rd Winans to Winans Half Marathon on Sunday, September 11th, check out all of the details to register here.
Mmmm… sweet and salty. A classic, yet unlikely flavor combination. At first glance, the union of sweet and salty sounds strange, doesn’t it? It doesn’t sound like it would taste good, but it does and we love it!
The savory flavor of salt enhances the sweetness of some of our favorite treats, just try sprinkling a little salt on your watermelon this summer, you’ll definitely notice a difference!
These are some fairly common examples of sweet and salty flavor combinations:
- Fruit and cheese plates
- Chocolate covered pretzels (or wetzels as they’re known at Winans)
- Trail mix with nuts and chocolate or dried fruit
- French fries dipped in a Wendy’s frosty (it’s an Ohio thing!)
- Peanuts and Dr. Pepper (it’s a southern thing!)
- Peanut butter and banana sandwiches…
You get the idea right? We could go on but we’re starting to get hungry!
The combination of salt with sweet, buttery caramel is one of our favorite new flavor pairings! This tasty union has seen a surge in popularity in the past 10 years. Salted caramels are a traditional treat hailing from Brittany, France. In the late 1990s and early 2000, American chefs became interested in the flavor combo after French pastry chef Pierre Hermé invented a salted caramel macaron.
This isn’t to say that salted caramel as a flavor was completely unfamiliar to Americans. Just think of chocolate turtles (like Winans’ wurtles), pralines and Cracker Jack, which was created in 1893.
We’ve been making caramels for over 50 years at Winans. We still use Max Winans’ original recipe for buttery rich and chewy caramels. For our sea salt caramels, which we debuted 5 years ago, we use fine sea salt instead of the regular salt in the caramel recipe. After the caramel is cooked in our copper kettles, we pour it onto steel tables to cool. Once fully cooled, we cut the caramels into bite-sized rectangles and cover them in milk or dark chocolate. While the chocolate is still warm and melted, we hand sprinkle a touch of Mediterranean sea salt on each one. Just a touch of salt to bring out a little extra sweetness.
Once the caramels run through a cooling tunnel they’re ready to be packaged into gift boxes or sent in stock boxes for filling the candy cases in our stores.
You could enjoy your sea salt caramel on its own, but if you’re also going to get coffee during your next trip to Winans, why not pair your brew with your sweet and salty treat? We recommend pairing a sea salt caramel with our single origin Indonesian Sumatra or Monsoon Malabar coffee or our Mo Joe Blend or Mokka Java Blend. These coffees have earthy notes that pair well with the sweet, buttery flavors of caramel. You also can’t go wrong with a salted caramel latte or our Salted Caramel flavored coffee!
The New York Times: How Caramel Developed a Taste for Salt
How Stuff Works: Why do sweet and salty taste so good together?
How Stuff Works: Who invented salted caramel?
All Recipes: Coffee Pairing
Our Everyday Life: Pairing Coffee with Desserts
Here at Winans Chocolates + Coffees, we brew three main types of coffees: blends, single origins and flavored coffees. Blends are a blend of different single origin coffees. For example, our Winans Blend features coffee beans from Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia and Kenya. Single origin coffees are from a single geographic region within a specific country, like Colombia or Costa Rica. Flavored coffees are made by adding flavor extracts to create specific aromas and tastes, like our Highlander Grogg which boasts a rich butterscotch and caramel flavor.
We’d like to highlight one of our single origin coffees in this blog post, Malawi Mzuzu. This coffee comes from the northern region of Malawi, a country in southeast Africa. The flavor profile of this coffee is described as a clean, bright cup with notes of citrus and peach.
Malawi Mzuzu coffee beans are grown by family farmers in the Mzuzu Coffee Cooperative Union. This coffee cooperative has 3,000 members, 25% of them are women. The cooperative emphasizes gender equality and strives to empower women through coffee farming. The co-op does this through their Women in Coffee Programme and focuses on improving access to land for women, encouraging women in decision making at cooperatives and promoting the employment of women in the cooperative.
The cooperative supports community improvement projects such as the construction of a hospital with the help of coffee premiums. They also work to improve the quality of life of their members through sustainable farming, production and processing. They promote Fair Trade certification and are working towards organic certification. The Mzuzu cooperative also works to make sure that their members have decent housing, adequate ventilation, three decent meals a day, clothing for the family, adequate bedding for the family and that children are sent to decent schools. The co-op also encourages farmers to be organized and commercially-oriented, many have diversified their farms to include beekeeping and growing wheat to supplement their coffee income.
Winans is happy to roast coffees from the Mzuzu Coffee Cooperative Union, not only because the beans make a delicious cup of coffee, but also because the co-op works for bettering the community of farmers who raise this amazing crop.
Winans would like to honor all the hardworking mothers who help make this co-operative a success in addition to what they do in their homes and communities every day.
You can learn more about the Mzuzu Coffee Cooperative Union here:
Mzuzu Coffee Cooperative Union
Mzuzu Women in Coffee
Fair Trade USA Producer Profiles Mzuzu Coffee Planters Union
Photos of women coffee farmers are from Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union