Itís a warm start to your day. Itís a boost of energy in the afternoon. Itís a sweet ending to a meal. What is it? Itís coffee - a bold, robust, flavorful drink that many worldwide cannot do without.

Although the exact origin of coffee is unknown, there are many interesting stories circulating as to the discovery of the tasty bean, many of which have roots in Ethiopia.

While no one can agree on the date of coffeeís discovery, it is commonly agreed that Ethiopia was its starting point. From there, it is said to have found its way to Yemen and Egypt.

The first known evidence of both the existence of coffee trees and the beverage itself can be traced back to the 15th century. It was in Arabia that the flavorful beans were roasted, brewed, and served much like it is today. It became quite popular, and by the 16th century had spread to northern Africa, Turkey, Persia, and the Middle East. It wasnít long before the beverage made its way to Italy, the remaining parts of Europe, Indonesia, and eventually the United States.

Creating coffee isnít as easy as placing ground beans and water in a pot, turning it on, and waiting for the beverage to brew. There is a much more detailed process that takes place before the beans ever make it to your home.

The coffee bean is actually a seed or pit found inside a coffee plantís purple or red fruit. When a coffee tree grows, it usually reaches a height of anywhere from 15 to 30 feet. As it ages, there is less branching and more fruit and leaves grow.

When the treeís fruit ripens, it is usually hand picked to ensure that only the ripest berries are harvested. Then one of two processing methods is completed.

Wet processing, which is usually practiced in Central America and parts of Africa, means the berryís flesh and seed are separated and then the seed is soaked in water for upwards of two days to ferment it and rid it of any residue or pulp. The beans are then washed and dried in either a drying machine or in the sun.

Dry processing is an easier and cheaper method that is usually practiced in Brazil and many parts of Africa. Foreign objects, including twigs, are removed from the berries. The fruit is then placed on brick or cement in the sun for two to three weeks. During the drying process the beans are turned regularly to ensure that they dry evenly. Once they are dried, the pulp and husks are removed, the beans are roasted, and then they are sorted.

Today coffee can be enjoyed in many forms. Black, with cream and sugar, as highly caffeinated espresso, mixed with steamed milk as a cappuccino, with flavored syrups, with alcohol, etc. And, with vendors such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, getting your coffee fix on the road is just as easy as making it at home!

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