Coffee...and the dancing goats --* ("Salem Blue", about which they have nothing more to say)
the origins of coffee are surrounded by legend. The most famous legend concerns Kaldi, an Ethiopian goatherd, who one day noticed that his normally lethargic goats were dancing on their hind legs and bleating with glee. He also noticed that they had been feeding on the red berries of a shiny dark-green shrub nearby. He sampled the berries himself, and experienced an immediate boost in his spirits and energies.
Puzzled, he took some of the berries to a local monastery where the head monk subjected them to various experiments including parching, crushing in a mortar and pestle and stirring in boiling water. Eventually the beans yielded a fragrant beverage which the monk termed "heaven-sent," and henceforth gave it to all the monks in the evening to keep them from falling asleep during their prayers. The heaven-sent beverage was called "coffee," and it quickly spread from the monastery to the town, and eventually throughout the world.
Today, coffee is harvested in nearly every tropical country within 1000 miles of the equator, where growing conditions meet the plants' requirements. Coffee plants require average temperatures of 70�F, at least two hours of sunlight each day, ample shade to protect the trees from direct sunlight, abundant rainfall throughout the year, and well-drained soil.
A coffee bush begins to produce only after about five years, and produces enough berries (called "cherries") to make just one pound of roasted beans per year. (A coffee "cherry" contains two beans, and it takes about 4000 or so beans to make a pound.) The berries are hand picked when ripe, then cured. In curing, the skin is removed, the berries fermented to loosen the other coverings, and the hull milled off. The end process is green coffee beans.
Green beans are sorted and graded according to a host of factors including growing altitude, method of curing, size and weight. Then they are shipped to a roaster, who chooses a type of roast which brings out the finest qualities of the beans.
Also, thanks out to Joanna for winning an argument about mold by pointing me to a good blue cheese site which inspired all this!