Coffee is One of Life's Greatest & Simplest of Pleasures

Some of life's greatest pleasures also happen to be among the most simple of pleasures. Of these, coffee drinking must surely be one. Coffee is high on the list of most people's favorite simple pleasures. When a cup of hot coffee is good, folks luxuriate in the experience. In the morning, coffee helps people enjoy moments of peace and reflection while at the same time it stimulates them sufficiently so they can take on the day. Coffee is at the same time a celebratory beverage and a staple, routinely consumed during break time in almost every place of business on earth. To deem it "ubiquitous" would be a grievous injustice. One can easily imagine that steaming cups of coffee were present during many of history's loftiest (and lowest) social occasions. Brewed from the roasted seeds of special evergreen shrubs, the beverage is steeped in history and integrated tightly within the culture of people on every continent. Legendary accounts of how coffee was spread from the Middle East to Europe and beyond by Dutch East India Company traders simply adds to its mystique.

Coffee Enhances the Enjoyment of Life

Its stimulating effect on humans perks them up, while its profoundly recognizable warmth and essence relaxes them. The appreciation of the drink begins with its luscious aroma. Hot coffee is a highly complex brew consisting of a thousand or more aromatic compounds. The simple act of taking in the aroma from a pot of coffee percolating on the stove is an experience on par with the smell of bacon in the morning. The aroma of fresh-brewed coffee is capable of generating permanent smiles on the faces of its drinkers, and is liable to trigger fond daydreams of breakfasting at a favorite vacation resort while living completely in the moment.

A good cup of coffee is at worst benign or mildly beneficial to the well-being of the average healthy adult. A strong cup of coffee is a performance booster. The stimulating effect of it makes coffee a natural depression fighter as well. Many people are not aware that caffeine helps to regulate the liver, and that the small amount of caffeine in coffee works to suppress the appetite. Some of the best news ever for coffee drinkers is that it seems to help keep the mind sharp. Moreover, the medical community has recently signed on to the notion that coffee can actually slow the development of some neurodegenerative diseases. There is even evidence that coffee lowers the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's for some people.

The shrubs on which coffee beans grow are cultivated in at least 70 nations in the world. All of these beans can be put into one of two categories -- Arabica beans or Robusta beans. There are several varieties of both of these classes of beans and every variety gives the region it comes from its special character. Arabica coffee beans are of high quality and are known for brewing a superior cup of coffee. Some of the countries where Arabica beans are grown include Columbia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Yemen, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Guyana, Mexico and Panama. Coffee beans from the Republic of Panama have gone largely unnoticed throughout much of their history. This is very unfortunate because coffees from Panama have indeed won some important industry awards. In fact, in certain international competitions, Panamanian coffees were actually ranked first in the world by expert coffee tasting judges.

Why are Panamanian Coffee Beans so highly rated?

Climate and soil are two important factors that influence the flavor and quality of coffee beans. In Panama, volcanic ash is the difference maker. As an active volcano, the Volcán Baru enriches the soil of the Volcán de Chiriqui region of Panama with minerals from deep beneath the earth's surface. The growing conditions in the region make its soil as dark as a cup of black coffee and ideal for growing the kinds of beans that go into that perfect cup of Boquete.

For many, the best cup of coffee they will ever have is café con leche - espresso served with warm, creamy milk. The joy of drinking espresso is about savoring the richness of its assertive flavor and wonderful aroma.

How to make a Great Espresso at Home

Making a perfect cup of espresso at home requires know-how and the right equipment. For connoisseurs of the beverage, the brewing of espresso is both an art and a science. To begin with, one needs pure, clear water to make great espresso. The beans should be very finely ground to a consistency that approximates bakery flour. What this does is expose as much of the bean's surface area to hot water as possible. In this way, all of the essential oils are released into the drink.

Tamping the grounds makes certain that water can flow evenly and smoothly throughout all parts of the basket holding the grounds. Optimal water temperature for brewing espresso is just below boiling, about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is too hot, the product will burn and taste bitter. If too cold, it will be without character and flavor. The best espresso is extracted rapidly and should require no more than 20 or 30 seconds from start to finish to brew. Finally, espresso should not be allowed any time to stand and cool. It needs to be served straight away and sipped while fresh and hot.