Spokane explores the magic of coffee and chocolate

According to some cultures, chocolate is a gift from the gods and coffee can give a person certain mental powers. Although these are different products produced from different crops, they are quite similar in their history and the addictive qualities they possess. Anne of Austria refused to marry Louis XIII of France unless she was able to bring along her chocolatier, and monks relied on coffee for longer and more focused prayer sessions. Karen Decristoforo from Chocolate Apothecary and Katie Blom, head barista at Revel 77 Coffee, spoke about the history, importance and some surprising facts about chocolate and coffee, even passing out some samples at the event, Sip and Savor. The event was hosted at Revel 77 Coffee in South Hill Spokane and organized by Aileen Luppert, librarian at the Moran Prairie library.

Luppert opened the event, welcoming about 30 audience members in the homey and artistic environment of Revel 77.

“We’re trying to think outside of the book,” Luppert said. She explained that Sip and Savor is the first of many events that will be working with local businesses to help them promote and network by creating a support system that will allow businesses to give each other tips and promote each other.

Blom began with an Arabian poem about coffee. Historical legends state that the coffee bean originated in Ethiopia and the Arabian Peninsula around 1000 A.D. According to the legends, Kaldi, a goat herder, noticed his goats became rambunctious after they had eaten a certain berry and would not sleep at night. Kaldi reported his findings to a local monastery, where monks made a drink with the berries. The energizing effects the berries contained were recognized and the brew became a religious drink, allowing the monks to stay awake and focus on prayer.

Decristoforo discussed some chocolate background and specifics on the South American chocolate samples offered to the audience.

“Chocolate is a full-body experience using all the senses,” Decristoforo said. “Chocolate has a distinct texture when it melts in your mouth, a crisp snap when you break it and a smooth, shiny look to it.”

Chocolate was first used as a currency and a bitter, spicy beverage. Theobroma cacao, meaning “gift of the gods,” was used during Mayan rituals of marriage and sacrifice. During times of war, warriors would feast on the chocolate drink to nourish their bodies with the blessing of the gods before battle. Over the years chocolate transformed from a bitter drink, to baked goods, and eventually to sweet solid chocolate.

Death by chocolate is not only a dessert, but holds truth to many cases, such as the death of the bishop of Chiapas. It is said that he and some women of the church had a falling out when the bishop banned chocolate from mass. The ladies then settled this by apologizing with a chocolate gift said to be poisoned, ending his life, Decristoforo said.

“The more I learn about chocolate, the more I love it.” Decristoforo said.

“Chocolate was designed to be consumed by humans. The perfect melting point for chocolate is about 94 degrees, the same temperature it melts at on the tip of your tongue,” Decristoforo said.

For other events like Sip and Savor, check out the Spokane County Library District website or a local library for details.

Alyssa Saari

Staff Writer