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Creative coffee: serving suggestions

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coffee and cake
Serving something to pick on is essential to serving coffee.
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The magic is in the presentation

Coffee history is under debate according to the National Geographic website. The history of coffee is much longer than contemporary coffee serving suggestions would imply, although many ways of serving coffee are centuries old.


There are some who attribute this marvelous stimulate to dancing goats in Africa. The legend has it that an Ethiopian goatherd noticed his goats were very happy, almost dancing between these bushes that contained red berries. When he tried them himself, he started dancing along with his goats. When the local monks heard about these bushes and gave them a try, they discovered a way to stay awake during long prayer sessions. Thus, the world discovered the benefits of that stimulating concoction we know as coffee. 


In the beginning, people created interesting food to take on long journeys by mixing the crushed coffee berries with animal fat. Others made a wine from them, but coffee as we know it really got going in Arabia around 1000 A.D. when people began roasting the coffee beans and brewing the crushed beans into a “broth,” or the coffee drink we know today.


Throughout many cultures, coffee has been a staple when people gather to chat or eat a meal together. Coffee serving suggestions vary among cultures, but it begins with making good coffee. Many coffee afficionados insist on grinding fresh coffee beans before brewing with a drip-style coffee maker. Freshly ground gourmet coffee generally keeps for a month, if ground in bulk and stored in an airtight container. Some coffeemakers use pre-filled cups of coffee to which the machine adds boiling water. You only have to insert the k-cup, add water to some of the coffeemakers (others have a several-cup reservoir), place your cup in it, and flip on the button. The machine does the rest!


Regardless of how you do it, when you have mastered the perfect cup, follow some of these coffee serving suggestions. 


Serve “pickies”


Any Italian-American worth his salt offers a visitor a cup of coffee when they come into their home, and this custom carries through many cultures throughout the world. When serving coffee, it is almost a sin to put it on the table without also offering something to eat, usually a sweet such as gourmet cookies, biscotti or baked goods. The coffee you serve is even more special if you make your own cookies or cake. You can find some great cookie press recipes  and a surf through the internet is bound to present many more interesting recipes for “pickies” to go along with your coffee.



Always serve condiments


Condiments are natural coffee serving suggestions. Growing up, we were taught to always put cream and sugar on the table when serving coffee. These days, I forego the formality sometimes when a friend stops by and I already know how they take their coffee. The nicest way to serve cream and sugar is to pour the cream (or milk) into a little creamer and place a sugar bowl on the table next to it. Be sure to include a spoon with the sugar along with a spoon for each cup. It is always helpful to include a variety of sweeteners since many people prefer one type or another of sweetener. Try fanning out the packets in a decorative container or saucer. This way guests who do not want to ask for it will have their favorite sweetener.


Mug or cup?


In England, coffee is served in a cup with a saucer underneath it to catch the spills, and in Ireland it is sometimes served in a small glass. Many people are more informal these days preferring to serve coffee in a mug instead of a dainty cup. Unique coffee mugs are a nice way to serve coffee. They hold more than a cup and saucer-type cup and they can be as unusual as you want, reflecting your inner artist or a favorite pastime such as music or sports. 


Keep it hot


If you plan on keeping coffee out for a while, such as during a meeting or while you are working on a project, thermal carafes are your best. In fact, this is one of the most practical of all coffee serving suggestions. Thermal carafes keep your coffee hot and stop it from cooking like it would if you left it on most coffeemakers’ heating elements. Each time you pour a cup, you depress a little button at the top of the carafe or twist the top, keeping the coffee from getting bitter. You get a perfect cup every time your pour.


Recipes for coffee


Make it Cuban! A favorite of those of us who prefer strong coffee is Cuban coffee. Even though the purist prefers to drink coffee as close to black as possible, Café Cubano is a taste to be savored. Add milk and make it Café con Leche (coffee with milk). There is an art to producing this bittersweet brew, but with a little practice, anyone can manage it. A sip of this strong drink can transport you to the island without a plane! Not really, but you get how strong it is.


Italian coffee is similar, but excludes the sugar. Served in small cups like its Cuban counterpart, Italian coffee, known as Espresso, can be taken with a shot of a licorice-flavored liqueur called Anisette. If you add foamed milk or cream, it turns into a cappuccino. It is traditionally served in Italy with a little heart made out of the foam, but this is usually reserved for the women if your barista is male. (Those Italian men!)

Irish coffee starts out similiar to American coffee in that it is not as strong as Cuban or Italian coffee. The difference is they add a shot of something, usually whiskey, and then top it off with cream. As you can imagine, Irish coffee is usually served at the end of a meal like a dessert. 


However you take it, using some of these coffee serving suggestions will help you serve up your coffee with some attitude. Who knows? You may become the talk of the town for your heavenly brew. At the very least, you will be able to dance like the goats in Ethiopia! Not really, but you get the picture.


National Geographic: coffee History

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