Coffee: Whether we like it percolated, drip-brewed, French-pressed or freeze dried, the ubiquitous beverage has long been an essential staple in our morning routines. Yet perhaps it was the rise of Starbucks and the subsequent coffeehouse culture that spread across the country during the 1990s that made many of us think more of coffee than simply that mug of morning joe. Today more than 7.5 metric tons of coffee are produced worldwide every year, meeting the demand of latte and cappuccino drinkers around the globe. An exhibit at the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum, “Coffee: The World in Your Cup,” which is open through Nov. 27, not only helps tell the story of how coffee makes it from bean to cup, but it also uses coffee as a method to tell the visitor more about the world in which we live. From our health (Does coffee aid attention and increase performance or does caffeine have unpleasant side effects?) to the environment (It takes about 37 gallons of water to grow enough coffee beans to produce one cup of coffee.) to economics (including questions about fair trade and price speculation, among others), coffee production touches many parts of our culture.
Tonight, the Bell Museum will host a special Thursday Evening in a Cup event, sponsored by Dunn Bros Coffee. From 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Dunn Brothers and experts from the University of Minnesota will guide museum-goers through the world of coffee with an evening of aroma challenges, coffee tastings, and demonstrations on grinding, brewing, and serving the very best cup. End the evening with a 7:30 p.m. screening of Black Gold, a documentary that takes a hard look at some of the multinational companies at work in today’s $80 billion global coffee industry.
The Bell Museum is located on the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, on the southwest corner of Church Street and University Avenue. Admission costs $5, and the Thursday Evening in a Cup activities and coffee are free with admission. I can smell the dark roast brewing now.