Most Sunday mornings, I watch my favorite barista, Sonia, prepare lattes, cappuccinos, and cafe Americanos at the Market on Larimer Square. She remembers everyone's name and what they order, then proceeds to prepare it in blur of activity, all while catching up on her customers' lives or commenting on the relative difficulty or ease of the New York Times Crossword.

Sonia is one of 20 million people employed in this huge global industry; coffee is a commodity that is second only to petroleum in dollars traded worldwide. Per-capita global consumption works out to 400 cups annually, making it the world's most popular beverage.

This mania for coffee isn't a new phenomenon. Fifteenth-century Arabs were the first to cultivate and trade coffee, and by the sixteenth century its popularity had spread to Syria, Egypt, Persia and Turkey. Long before Seattle created a latte culture in the 1970s, there were many public coffee houses known as qahveh khaneh in the Near East, where people would congregate to play chess or catch up on news.

There have been over 19,000 studies on the health impacts of coffee, and it turns out the our cup runneth over with health benefits. According to WebMD, "Coffee is a rich source of disease-fighting antioxidants. And studies have shown that it may reduce cavities, boost athletic performance, improve moods, and stop headaches -- not to mention reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, liver cancer, gall stones, cirrhosis of the liver, and Parkinson's diseases."

Not only is coffee social and healthful, many people express their artistic ability by creating paintings using espresso or coffee reductions to achieve beautiful brown hues. Another more immediate way to appreciate the beauty of coffee is by ordering a latte from a barista who is skilled in latte art, a demanding and tricky process of pouring steamed milk into a shot of espresso and creating a design.

Espresso is what they specialize in at Emily's Cafe at 1261 Glenarm. Their baristas are refugees and immigrants who are learning about American work culture and customer service while in the training program, which is affiliated with the Emily Griffith Technical College. Their pastries are created onsite by the culinary program and they mostly use locally roasted, fair trade beans from Kaladi Brothers Coffee. For further information about how and why to buy fair trade coffee, you can visit Fair Trade USA.

Written by Lisa on August 2, 2012


Anonymous on August 2, 2012


Break time!

angela on August 2, 2012


Emily's Cafe sounds amazing!

Anonymous on August 2, 2012


I knew drinking coffee was good for me!

Erin T. on August 3, 2012


Great Post!!! I drink more coffee thank I like, I'll have to check out Emily's!

Vikki on August 7, 2012


I learned a great deal reading about coffee. I have become quite fond of ice coffee. Thanks Lisa for the great blog.

Anonymous on August 15, 2012


This is great info. Thanks!

Jennifer on August 17, 2012


I heard somewhere that coffee stores are really in the milk business and not coffee. They use more milk products than coffee. Most coffee drinkers love the fancy coffees, such as lattes, etc. and don't or can't drink plain black coffee. Wonder if this is true? I happen to be one of the fancy coffee drinkers and seldom have just black coffee.

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