Coffee Anyone, Coffee Everyone
Ms. Cohen and Eighth Grade
“O Coffee! Thou dost dispel all care, thou are the object of desire to the scholar. This is the beverage of the friends of God.”
– Arabic Poem, “In Praise of Coffee” 1511)
As part of our work in World Geography and Revolutions, the 8th Grade studied the origins of several cash crops that have shaped the course of history; coffee is one of them. Preparing and drinking coffee has been part of many cultures for centuries. Between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn lies the Coffee Belt, where many of the world’s coffee plantations can be found. We compared the benefits of shade-grown and fair trade coffee with corporate monoculture, and looked at the ways in which coffee has influenced society in the SWANA region, in Europe, South America, Oceania, as well as in our own backyard.
Roasting green coffee beans in a pan on the stove, watching them turn golden brown and crackle, and inhaling the delightful aroma before grinding the beans by hand, the students were given a multisensory experience of the ritual of making and tasting coffee.
They experienced firsthand the effects of coffee on their physical bodies, linking up with our work in Anatomy and Chemistry that will follow later this year. Lots of ideas were poured into the classroom space at a rapid pace, and we discussed the importance of coffee during the lead-up to the American Revolution.
“Wherever [coffee] has been introduced it has spelled revolution. It has been the world’s most radical drink in that its function has always been to make people think. And when the people began to think, they became dangerous to tyrants.”- Mark Pendergrast, from his book, Uncommon Grounds