PLANTS AND PEOPLE
Hugh D. Wilson

 Beverages I

'Stimulating' Beverages:

Coca-Cola: - a typical stimulating beverage of modern times (John S. Pemberton - from toxic tonic to 'pop') - is a concoction of many different natural products taken from plants:

'Coca': Erythroxylum coca (Erythroxylaceae) - Shrubby plant of the Eastern Andes - produces cocaine which is removed for Coca-Cola, but other compounds in the leaves are retained (Stepan Company- ca. 100 metric tons of dried coca leaves per year) for use in the soft drink (Andean market scene)

'Cola':  Cola nitida (Sterculiaceae) - A woody plant from West Africa - flavoring (and other ingredients) is taken from the seeds

Damiana (Turnera diffusa - Turneraceae)

These plants provide a rich mixture of complex compounds that relate to flavor and color - what about MAJOR ingredients in terms of weight:

Sugar: Saccharum officinarum - Poaceae) - far east - New Guinea - chewing (low fiber, high sugar) - India by 5000 bp - alexander the great brought to europe stories of sugar from grass (honey in europe - refined sugar very rare - medicines - 'officinarum = "from the apothecary" - discovery of the New World - Columbus's 2nd trip - started european cultivation of this tropical grass - rum - 'aguacaliente' ('grain' or pure ethanol) - cultivars ususally at a high level of ploidy (2n=8x=80) and essentially sterile - vegetative reproduction - sucrose (most common plant-produced sugar) - but, with regard to Coca Cola, see High Fructose Corn Syrup.  See cultivars, etc

Caffine: world's most popular drug - alkaloid - general cellular stimulant - causes 10% increase in metabolic rate - mimics feelings that the body produces when it releases adrenaline - approximate intake: drip-brewed coffee 146 mg, tea 20-50 mg, Dr. Pepper - 37-38 mg, NoDoz - 200 mg/dose. One gram (ca. 10 cups of coffee) can cause unpleasent side effects - can develop a tolerance - withdrawal. About 2 million lbs (900k kg) of pure caffeine is produced each year (much from decaf. coffee and tea) in the U.S., an equal amount is imported each year - ca. 3/4 used in soft drinks, the rest in headache and cold remedies (overview).

Coffee: - Coffea arabica - Rubiaceae - 'seed' or 'bean' represents 1/2 of a two-seeded 'drupe'

Origin in Africa (Ethiopia) - taken to Arabia ca. 1400 BP - arabs were the 1st to brew - [Ethiopians chewed the leaves (Ref. coca) - Arabia to Egypt ca. 1510, reached europe 1616, England 1650 - became a 'social' element of British culture - by 1675 est. 3k coffee houses in London - arabs monopolized coffee trade [boiled seeds - nonviable - prior to selling] - dutch got viable seeds and started plantations in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] - eventually french got viable seeds to the 'west indies' - Martinique - from there seeds were transported throughout favorable habitats (mid-elevation forests) in the western hemisphere - now Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico lead the world in coffee production.

Ten species total for the genus, two lineages under cultivation, C. arabica represents 90% of world crop - self-compatible tetraploid (2n=44) (others [Coffea canephora/robusta] are self-incompatible diploids) with - perhaps - better flavor. All small trees that are cultivated on hillside plots at 1500 to 2k m (ca. 5k ft). Chicory (Cichorium intybus - Compositae) is sometimes added for flavor (comp. to hops for brewing) - dried root - no caffeine.


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27 Sep 2010 - Cotton