Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Coffee or Tea?
by Roseanna M. White
I'm a coffee drinker. Oh, I love tea too, but when the day is new and I make my way out to the kitchen to start my morning, tea doesn't cut it. It's coffee who has my affections just then.
When traveling in England last autumn, I quickly learned that where the American culture has leaned heavily toward coffee in recent centuries, the same cannot be said for England. Though you can buy a cup of perked coffee from any restaurant or bakery, it's not made as often at home--and when it is, it's usually with a French press, which is lovely, but doesn't make a whole pot like American families might be accustomed to. Which meant that when I got home, one of the best parts was having my coffee again. ;-)
I knew from research, however, that coffee houses were actually all the rage in England of old. They are, in fact, responsible for its ever coming to America. So why did England then become the tea country, and America in love with coffee?
After doing some digging, it seems that the answer is two-fold.
First, England--though tea, hot chocolate, and coffee were all introduced around the same time in England, and hence in America, the East India Company was in the tea business, and they began pushing to make tea king.
This went according to plan in England, but their plans for New World Domination were foiled by the disastrous Stamp Act in the American colonies. Though most of these taxes were repealed, the one on tea remained--which made the Americans, bolstered by their cries of "no taxation without representation," turn to other sources for tea--and to coffee.
Coffee houses and taverns have existed here since the 1600s, but it was the strife with England that made coffee the choice of many Americans. Which is curious, since the beans were shipped green and often arrived musty and damp and, well, kinda gross. Still, Americans preferred to drink what might be a rather noxious brew rather than buy tea from England.
New York's first coffee roaster opened in 1793, which led to a rash of such places. Coffee continued to gain dominance in America, though it wasn't for another hundred and fifty years that they finally turned to quality beans being grown in Central America. They launched a serious ad campaign in the 1950s that revolutionized coffee in America by introducing the "coffee break." Suddenly coffee was about quality, which led to the rise of such institution as Starbucks.
But the coffee industry we know today--be it trendy or eco-friendly, designer or instant--all has its roots in the American cry for independence. Without that, we'd likely be sitting every morning sipping our tea, as they do in England.
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two small children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels…to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. Learn more about her and her books at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.