Library Blog

National Coffee Day

National Coffee Day is Tuesday, September 29th.  Although the history of National Coffee Day is not completely clear, it was probably created as a jolting (so to speak) reminder to get back to work following a long summer.

So in celebration of National Coffee Day, let’s learn more about this wonderful beverage. 

The History of Coffee 

The history of coffee itself dates way back to 15th Century Yemenwhen it was used as a commodity for trade and commerce.  Europeans got their first taste about 100 years later, when European traders and merchants discovered coffee while visiting the Middle East.  Its popularity caught on and spread throughout the continent. 

Per the National Coffee Association, it wasn’t love at first sight (or sip) for everyone.  Some people reacted to this new beverage with suspicion or fear, calling it the “bitter invention of Satan.”  Even the local clergy condemned coffee when it came to Venice in 1615.  The controversy was so great that Pope Clement VIII was asked to give it his blessing.  And thus, Europe’s first official coffeehouse opened in Venice, around 1645. 

At this point, Americans were still drinking tea.  If it wasn’t for the Boston Tea Party in 1773, we may never have switched over to coffee.  After King George III’s hefty tea tax, tea was out and coffee was in. 

Things started percolating in the mid-1800s when James Folger started selling coffee to cowboys and gold miners out West, starting his company in 1872.  Maxwell House and Hills Brothers brands soon entered the coffee market.   

Eventually, a yearning for “specialty” coffee took hold in the 1960s.  And a little Seattle company called Starbucks took over in 1971. 

Today the U.S. Coffee Shop market has grown to $45.4 billion industry, and dry coffee sales topped $9 billion in 2017. 

Coffee Beans 

Most coffee connoisseurs recommend grinding your own beans for maximum flavor.  There are lots of types, but the four basic species of coffee beans are: 

  • Arabica beans.  Arabica accounts for the majority of the coffee produced and sold in the world today, about 60% of the world’s coffee consumption.  They’re generally considered to be a higher quality than the other bean types.   
  • Robusta beans are a much stronger and bitter bean that is produced and used in many types of espressos, and for those that prefer a really strong coffee.  They have around double the caffeine content of Arabica beans.  
  • Liberica and Excelsa are much less common and are rarely seen in the United States.  They only make up about 7% of the world’s consumption.   

Types of Coffee Drinks 

And from these coffee beans (usually Arabica beans), comes an abundance of coffee drinks!  Some of the most popular include: 

  • Caffè Americano  Made simply by adding hot water to a shot of espresso coffee.   
  • Café Latte (or Café au Lait) – Consisting of steamed milk and a single shot of coffee, usually quite frothy. 
  • Cappuccino  Consisting of three layers: a shot of espresso, a shot of steamed milk, and finally a layer of frothed, foamy milk.   
  • Espresso – Shoot boiling water under high pressure through finely ground up coffee beans and then pour into a tiny mug.   
  • Flat White – The steamed milk from the bottom of the jug (usually not so frothy, but rather creamy) is poured over a shot of espresso.  
  • Long Black – Hot water is poured into a cup, and then two shots of espresso are poured into the water.  Long blacks can be quite strong, and have more crema (a creamy foam that tops espresso shots). 
  • Macchiato – A shot of espresso topped off with foamed milk dashed directly into the cup.   
  • Mochaccino – A “mocha is just a latte with added chocolate powder or syrup, usually topped with whipped cream.  This is a delicious “entry level” coffee, being a mix between hot chocolate and the café latte. 
  • Irish Coffee – This type of coffee is brewed with whiskey, sugar, and a thick layer of cream on the top. 
  • Vienna – A Vienna is made by adding two shots of particularly strong espresso together, then adding whipped cream as a substitute for milk and sugar.   

Toppings and Flavorings 

If you are interesting in creating and/or enhancing your own coffee concoction, or dressing up your latte, you have lots of options for delicious add-ons. 

Make your coffee routine special with just a splash, sprinkle, stir-in, or dollop of these choices: 

  • Cream and sugar.   
  • Spices.  Try cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom, or even a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.  Add the spices to the drink, or to the grounds before brewing. 
  • Sweetened condensed milk.  A couple of tablespoons to sweeten. 
  • Non-dairy milks.  Almond milk and coconut milk, available in vanilla and chocolate.  
  • Flavored syrups.  Including maple, pumpkin spice, peppermint, etc. 
  • Vanilla/almond extract.  
  • Whipped cream.   
  • Ice cream.  shot of espresso over ice cream or gelato.  
  • Liqueur.  Bailey’s, Kahlua, or amaretto. 
  • Powders.  Cocoa powder and Vanilla Bean Sugar. 
  • Sweet treats.  Marshmallows or caramel or candy canes. 
  • Chocolate.  Chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, hot cocoa mix, chocolate milk, or a small Hershey bar. 
  • A pinch of salt.  This will draw out any bitterness from the coffee. 

Coffee Makers 

If you are a serious coffee connoisseur, you will want to invest in your own coffee maker.  These listed here are some popular types of coffee makers.  It seems like they’re always coming up with new (and more delicious!) ways to extract coffee.  Be sure to do some research to find the best fit for you before investing in one. 

  • Single Serve Coffee Maker. Like a Keurig. 
  • Drip Coffee  
  • Thermal Coffee Makers  
  • Espresso machines  
  • Percolators  
  • Siphon Coffee Makers  
  • French Press Coffee Makers  (learn how to use a French Press in the video below!)
  • AeroPress  
  • Cold Brew Coffee Makers  
  • Moka Pot 
  • Vietnamese Coffee Maker 
  • Ibrik (Turkish) 

Coffee Books 

For more information about coffee, click here to view our collection of coffee related books and ebooks. 

How to use a French Press: