THE aroma of coffee wafts through the pages of the book ‘How Starbucks Changed the World.’ It is about the history and trivia on coffee narrated through the corporate story of Starbucks, the largest coffee chain in the world.
The first cup of coffee was tasted by a tribe in Ethiopia. According to the book, a shepherd was grazing his goats when he noticed that they were dancing after tasting a berry. He himself tasted it and started feeling good. He took a handful of these back home and offered it to the elders. They threw those berries in fire, scolding him for consuming ‘intoxicating’ substance. A few minutes later, a fine aroma filled the area. They doused the fire and quickly retrieved the berries and squeezed the water out and drank it. And that was first cup of coffee.
From Ethiopia, it spread to Arabia and they kept it under their tight hold for decades. The Dutch were the first to carry a live plant of coffee and cultivate it. From there it went on. Today coffee is produced in 60 countries and provides a living for 25 million coffee farmers around the world.
Starbucks started its first counter in 1971, to sell only the beans by three men – Gordan Bowker, Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegl. It was later that they started selling the fresh beverage. Some 70 per cent of the coffee consumed is of the variety called ‘Arabica’ which is considered superior to Robusta. Today Starbucks has 16,700 outlets spread in 47 countries. The company today ranks seventh in the Forbes list of 100 best companies to work for. One of the USPs of the company is the location of its outlets.
There are several interesting anecdotes and ‘did you know?’ on coffee that makes the book interesting to read. Some of the statistics are awesome, like the number of cups of coffee consumed daily. There is even a recipe for a perfect coffee. On the whole an interesting read, though the writing is in a somewhat dull prose.
(Jaico Books, A-2, Jash Chambers, 7-A Sir Phirozshah Mehta Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001)