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Coffe in the Columbian Exchange

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by

Tish Lewis

on 25 September 2012

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Transcript of Coffe in the Columbian Exchange

Today's greatest convenience at a deadly cost. Coffee in the Colombian Exchange The Colombian Exchange was a widespread diffusion between cultures brought on by Christopher Columbus's great voyage. During the exchange many things we are now accustomed to including spices, potatoes, corn and of course our morning best friend coffee. Were brought over for us to enjoy. Coffee originated in Ethiopia during the thirteenth century and spread to Egypt and Yemen. However the earliest recording of the use of coffee for drinking purposes comes from the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. A trade was taking place between Old World countries and Africa, Egypt and the East which in turn brought back many goods in to Europe like our beloved coffee. Coffee drinking was widely controversial in Europe because Catholics weren't sure if it was OK to consume but was later settled by Pope Clement VIII in 1600 despite many pleas to ban the drink from society. People saw it as as an "bitter invention from Satan" because it was popular amongst many Muslims, we have him to thank for our morning Tim's or do we have him to blame? In the noted documentary it says the our morning coffee has tremendous impacts on our society: socially, economically, ethically and even sexually. But how is that? How is it that a simple medium double double that cost a $1.67 have such an effect? The original use of coffee was in fact drinking it and was very common amongst Muslims and especially Sufi's. Like noted before, many Catholic Europeans didn't have believe it was "right" to drink because of its connotation of being a "miracle drug" which, during a time of understanding God's ways wasn't exactly encouraged many opted out. Still to this day the most prominent use of coffee is as a beverage but overtime it has been proven to be sufficient for a number of tasks. Coffee grinds can be used a deodorizer to get rid of food prep smells, it can also be used a dye. By steeping the grounds in hot water you can dye paper brown which is a practice we all have done to make our history posters or papers look authentic. Coffee also can be used to get rid of unwanted wrinkles and lines. So as you can see, overtime coffee has proven to become more useful than a simple pick-me-up in the morning. Now, coffee was originated in countries like Ethiopia and Egypt and then spread its way quickly into Europe with the first coffee house being opened in Oxford in 1651 and for a while many Ethiopian farmers were able to enjoy the freedom of growing a few beans on their lands and merchants bought directly from them. Which makes sense, you work the land, you grow the crop and the obvious reward would be full profit for YOUR crop. However, the more coffee became popular the more coffee was needed to fuel this new luxury item and shortly within the 18 th century the coffee industry turned to slaves from Africa to work on these plantations. As you can so notable see those who originated from the land coffee was discovered in were now working for mere amounts of money and taken away from their land to fuel the luxury many thought they were "entitled" too. If we look at the positives and negatives of coffee from a purely economical stand point it is obvious that it is in fact a positive resource. One man said that it is a Positive Economic Impact that is within every cup we consume. Facts like " The coffee industry pumps 70 billion dollars into the economy annually" or that the economic livelihood of many countries is provided solely by the exportation of coffee to the U.S can all make one believe that a simple morning cup of coffee is doing good things for our world. However the old saying is you can't believe in God unless you believe there is a devil, all things cannot be good if nothing is evil. A nice morning cup of Tim's comes at a price that will never be quoted in any one of their many commercials and will not surface in the staffroom conversations. A price that we must recognize, reflect and reconsider if it, in fact is really worth it. Over a million slaves were imported like cargo and not the precious kind for decades to work in the harshest conditions to provide others with a luxury they, themselves would never be able to experience. Raped, beaten, underpaid and taken off their land to cultivate in order to tame the selfishness of those who can afford it. So of course, coffee is an amenity in our daily lives and granted serves as a best friend on mornings when we are literally walking dead but we have a responsibility to know the impacts it places now in the present and also in the past. Long ago coffee was seen as a "mans drink" and many women couldn't enjoy the beverage without fear of being "unlady like" and it created many dividing lines between the sexes, men weren't keen on the idea of a women drinking a drink for men. Slaves dreams, lives and freedom was ripped from their very hands. Coffee is grown in many high elevation areas and contributes to biodiversity however when they are chopped down to provide only one type of crop the ecosystem is left unbalanced and many species are harmed because of it.
So should coffee, the worlds number one drink be regarded as the best thing that has ever happened to us? Absolutely not, and if you think so you are steaming your opinion only on the sanctification you receive after enjoying a hot cup however after analyzing facts and understanding the suffering many had to endure and still are to produce coffee it is clear as day that adequate education of its origins and effects are a responsibility that comes with this leisure item and cannot be ignored.
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