The History Of Coffee In The Military

The History Of Coffee In The Military
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The History Of Coffee In The Military

Coffee has been around since the 14th century. Even though the ancient beverage had been around for centuries coffee became popular amongst soldiers during the Industrial Revolution. It became a household staple due to the rise in advertising and the exposure to different cultures after World War I. It continued to play a role in the military through wars and training.

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After World War I, soldiers began to drink coffee even more. In The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, William Ukers wrote that “the 2,000,000 soldiers who went overseas and there had their coffee three times a day…since returning to civilian life are using it more than ever before.”

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The Army Quartermaster Corps estimated that American serviceman were using 32.5 pounds of coffee per year. The soldiers even roasted, ground, vacuum packed and shipped beans abroad.

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It was even rumored that when soldiers tried espresso in Italy that they watered it down to make the strong drink taste more like the coffee they were accustomed to at home. It has even been suggested that this process created the "Americano," a beverage now made at any Starbucks.

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The Marines Michael Suarez and Steven Haft recalled the importance of coffee in their military experience throughout their e-book Perfect Coffee at Home. During both their training and deployment, coffee played an immense role in their lives as a tool both vital to their alertness and camraderie.

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When Suarez and Haft joined the marines, Vietnam veterans recounted tales of burning C4 explosives in order to prepare coffee in the brutal jungle.

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During their basic training, Suarez and Haft recall requiring black coffee to stay awake for their classes. They explain that "nobody talked about recipes or ratios -- on breaks, you threw a dollar into the metal tin, you filled up a plastic foam cup and you got back in the classroom. All you cared about was the caffeine keeping you stimulated for the next hour." They would then share a pot of coffee with their comrades to study in the evening.

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When the in the field soldiers receive an "Each Meal Ready to Eat" pack, which according to Suarez and Haft contains an entree, a snack, a dessert and small items to add variety to the meal. Packets of hot chocolate, coffee, apple cider or even tea were also included. Suarez and Haft claimed that a barter for the coffee-like items would ensue.

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After their deployment, Suarez and Haft recalled drinking coffee in a desert outpost. They described the beverage as a "syrupy, iced coffee creation," but it tasted better than anything they had had in a long time.

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When they returned home the obsession with coffee remained. They believe the process of drinking coffee at home and conversing with friends helped them to re-adjust to civilian life, which inspired them to write a book.

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Coffee certainly has a history as rich as its flavor. Learn more about your morning cup of joe.

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Decaffeinated coffee is not caffeine-free

Scientists have determined that consuming 5 to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee can reach the same level of caffeine as 1 or 2 cups of regular coffee.

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How is coffee decaffeinated?

The most common method of removing caffeine from coffee is water extraction, where hot water leaches out caffeine. The solution goes through a carbon filter to remove the caffeine, and then the water is reabsorbed by the beans for flavor and oils.

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How was coffee discovered?

Legend has it that coffee’s energizing effects were discovered in the Ethiopian highlands where a goatherd noticed his goats dancing around a shrub of wild red coffee berries.

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What does coffee grow on?

Coffee cherries are harvested from trees that can grow taller than 30 feet high and have dark green waxy leaves. Each coffee cherry contains two seeds.

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What varieties of coffee exist?

There are two commercial varieties of coffee that determine the world's supply: Arabica, which bring in higher prices and accounts for 70% of the world's production, and Robusta, which is primarily used in blends for instant coffee.

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How much does the average cup cost?

The average cup of joe costs $1.38, and the average price of an espresso-based drink is $2.45.

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Is coffee good for me?

A slew of recent health studies suggests that coffee can improve your athletic performance, lower your risk of diabetes, protect your brain in old age and decrease your risk of death. However, moderation is key as too much caffeine can cause undesirable symptoms.

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We get most of our antioxidants from coffee

According to a research study from the University of Scranton, coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet. Americans consume on average 1,299 mg of antioxidants from coffee daily. Tea is a distant second with 294 mg of antioxidants.

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Elixir of Enlightenment

French writer and philosopher Voltaire was rumored to be a coffee fiend, and most experts believe that he consumed at least 50 cups of coffee a day!

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Coffee is delicious and maybe even an integral part of your work day, but did you know that the tasty beverage has a rich history in the American military experience?

Since the Civil War, coffee has played a part in the life of the soldier. Civil War Captain Robert K. Beecham wrote in his book Gettysburg: The Pivotal Battle of the Civil War, that "The power of the soldiers to endure the fatigue of the march and keep their places in the ranks was greatly enhanced by an opportunity to brew a cup of coffee by the wayside."

This tradition of coffee and the military particularly fascinated marines Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez. When Haft and Suarez joined the Marines they expected a tough journey, but they didn't anticipate an obsession with coffee. As their enthusiasm with the beverage grew, they began to realize that they had joined the ranks of many soldiers before them who relied on the drink as a way of life.

In The New York Times Haft and Suarez wrote of the importance of the ritual that drinking coffee provided. "We would often share with our platoon sergeants and squad leaders while we gathered around a map and discussed our plans for the day. Whether in the forests of North Carolina, the mountains of California, or the deserts of Afghanistan, the ritual provided a sense of continuity."

Haft and Suarez went on to write a book about their discovery of the link between coffee and American soldiers.

Check out the slideshow above for more on coffee and its history in the military.

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