The story of chocolate, as far back as we know it, begins with the discovery of America. Until 1492, the Old World knew nothing at all about the delicious and stimulating flavor that was to become the favorite of millions.

The Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella got its first look at the principal ingredient of chocolate when Columbus returned in triumph from America and laid before the Spanish throne a treasure trove of many strange and wonderful things. Click here

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Great Coffee Is Like Fine Wine

To the true coffee connoisseur, the beans, roast and resulting aromas and flavors are not unlike fine wine. Rich, rewarding and full of flavor, good brews are meant to be savored, enjoyed and taken in. To drink too fast or too slow without enjoying the bouquet and the richness of flavor would be a breach of etiquette. To this type of coffee drinker, a coffee bean isn't ready for the grinder until it's been roasted to its absolute perfection.

Whether a subtle light roast or a robust dark, the expertise of the roaster at flavoring the bean is crucial for a good cup of coffee. But, for the rest of the world, coffee is coffee. Despite this, people know the brands, the flavors and the mixes they like. Whether it's X name brand from the can or Y type of beans, freshly roasted and ground, the type and style of coffee people like has become highly personalized.

With literally hundreds of choices of brands, flavors, roasts and additives, it's no wonder coffee has become a very personalized venture. Served warm, hot and even iced with a milkshake twist, there's a coffee to match just about every type of taste. Some of the most popular coffees on the market today include: * Regular American light roast. This subtle flavored creation is the mainstay of most American drinkers. Less bold than its European counterparts, the key to this flavor is a quick roasting time. * Dark.

Whether medium or full-dark in roasting, these varieties are stronger and bolder than the American blends. They are kept in the roaster longer to ensure a richer flavor is released from the beans. Espresso dark, however, is kept in the longest right to the point of burn. * Iced. This confection can be full flavored coffee or mixed with ice cream, cream, sugar and more.

A treat touted by restaurants ranging from fast-food joints to coffeehouses and beyond, iced coffee is a big sensation on the market now. * Flavored coffee. Infused with the aromas of other flavors right after the roasting phases, these beans take on an array of flavors. They can include fruit flavors, nuts, chocolate, vanilla and more. The sky's almost the limit here when it comes to choices. Whether you like a plain old cup of coffee with a little bit of cream or straight up dark roast black with no sugar, if you're a coffee lover, there's little doubt you like it your way.

Coffee drinkers are found the world over and this "club" is responsible for making the bean the world's second largest commodity.

Paul Duxbury writes extensively on Coffee. You can read more of his articles at Gourmet Coffee


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