Published on Apr 6, 2012
The Irresistible Bean explores coffee's origins in Ethiopia and its triumphant spread over five Continents, sparking revolution, controversy, creativity, business and slavery along the way. The episode details the first coffeehouse traditions, which began on dirt floors and eventually developed into more refined Arabic home versions, and chronicles the popularity of the Venetian latte, which developed a reputation that is seen in the Western coffee-marketing 450 years later. The Irresistible Bean also examines coffee's role in historical events, including the French Revolution, the American Revolution and the Haitian slave rebellion.
Gold in Your Cup takes viewers back to examine coffee's 19th century stranglehold on Brazil and Central America. The oppression led to coffee barons, the subjugation of Indians and Africans, the destruction of rainforests and, ironically, the evolution of both democracy and dictatorships. The episode also brings viewers inside an elegant, contemporary competition designed to elevate the quality of coffee in Brazil. Meanwhile, in urban centers across North America in the 1960's, singers like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan spearheaded the emergence of a brand new coffeehouse culture. Unbeknownst to the public, the new bohemians represented Latin America's best hope for a better future. They possessed a heightened sense of social justice and best of all they were hooked on dark, rich, quality coffee.
The Perfect Cup heralds what some coffee experts have called "the romantic age of coffee." North Americans rediscovered what their Europeans counterparts have known all along: coffee is better when it's quality coffee, and the best place to drink it is in the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the cafe. A quirky collection of entrepreneurs emerged from the '70s to create mega-chains like Starbucks and Second Cup in the '80s. Coffee became the first global industry to experiment with Fair Trade practices and a new breed of co-operative farmer was born in Central America. The new coffee consumers expected social justice in their morning cup. Consequently, marketing executives began to realize that "fair trade" is more than ethics, it is good business. Consumers felt better knowing that their coffee habit is contributing to sustainable agriculture practices and increased profit for small grower.