By now, most of you know about my goat obsession. So it was to my great delight when I discovered goats had a hand, or should I say hoof, in the creation of a long-time vice of mine: coffee.
Believe it or not, goats played a pivotal role in the historical first-time human interaction with coffee berries. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine the high altitude mountains and contrasting valleys of the Ethiopian highlands…Now picture goats grazing…Open your eyes and keep that visual in mind while reading the following:
‘In ancient Ethiopia a young goatherd named Kaldi noticed his goats dancing and prancing after eating the small, red fruit of a nearby shrub. Not wishing to be left out of the fun, Kaldi ate the coffee cherries and soon he was dancing with his goats.’
Some call this a legend. I tend to believe it on face-value now that I’ve had firsthand experience with goats; in the garden or otherwise!
Historically, the Arabs were the first, not only to cultivate coffee but also to begin its trade. By the fifteenth century, coffee was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia and by the sixteenth century it was widely known throughout Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey.
Coffee was not only drunk in homes but also in the many public coffee houses — called qahveh khaneh — which began to appear in cities across the Near East. The popularity of the coffee houses was unequaled and people frequented them for all kinds of social activity. Not only did they drink coffee and engage in conversation, but they also listened to music, watched performers, played chess and kept current on the news of the day. In fact, coffee houses quickly became major centers for the exchange of ideas and information, gaining a reputation as being ‘Schools of the Wise.’
Over the years, I have accumulated an impressive a list of my favorite ‘Schools of the Wise.’ Personal criteria being: a place filled with ambiance, artistic vibes, happenings and serving quality coffee, preferably in-house roasted. Oh, and the possible perk of offering killer chocolate croissants is always an added plus.
Here’s a brief rundown of the very best coffeehouses, beginning with those stalwart gems I frequented regularly at home in Colorado before we moved.
The Laughing Goat – Boulder, Colorado
-my fav place for happenings,including but not limited to regular poetry readings, improv sessions, great coffee art, meeting place for students, families, people of all persuasions, and besides…it’s in Boulder…
Cannon Mine Coffee – Lafayette, Colorado
-always a good space to perform, listen to quality musicians play or just hang out with friends.
Those I discovered during our on-the-road journey between-homes include:
The Blue Lion Coffeeshop – Pierceton, Indiana
-this place, alas, no longer exists, but when we were sojourning in the Lakes Region of Indiana, it offered the absolute best in the way of weekly in-house roasted beans including a variety of specialty blends based upon local clientele palate requests all available for purchase. My fav was called ‘Morning Thunder’ a non-acidic, full bodied, spicy-toned, medium-dark roast full of fragrant wake-up coffee aroma. I have yet to find anything else come close to its equal. Personally, I’d re-name it ‘Heavenly Roast’ if ever the place re-opens.
The Cartel Coffee Lab – Tempe, Arizona
-the baristas absolutely forbid clients to order ‘Starbucks style’ instead they prepare coffee drinks with traditional precision, using only in-house roasted beans of course. Located inside a former mechanics garage near ASU, the place is definitely full of funkiness. ‘Meet you at the Cartel!’