Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline,the first often tasting like the second.

Edward Abbey

According to the Wikipedia the history of coffee has been recorded as far back as the tenth century. During that time, coffee remained largely confined to Ethiopia where its native beans were first cultivated by Ethiopian highlanders. However, the Arab world began expanding its trade horizons, and the beans moved into northern Africa and were mass-cultivated. From there, the beans entered the Indian and European markets, and the popularity of the beverage spread.

The word “coffee” entered English in 1598 via Italian caffè. This word was created via Turkish kahve, which in turn came into being via Arabic qahwa, a truncation of qahhwat al-bun or wine of the bean. One possible origin of both the beverage and the name is the Kingdom of Kaffa in Ethiopia, where the coffee plant originated (its name there is bunn or bunna). It has remained very closely related to the original words in various other languages such as in Finnish: kahvi; and in Swedish: kaffe. The earliest mention of coffee may be a reference to Bunchum in the works of the 10th century CE Persian physician Razi, but more definite information on the preparation of a beverage from the roasted coffee berries dates from several centuries later. Coffee beans were first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland and began to cultivate the bean.

The first coffee house was Kiva Han, which opened in Istanbul in 1471. Coffee was not well received to begin with; it was first imported to Italy, according to historic sources. The vibrant trade between the Italian city of Venice and the Muslims in North Africa, Egypt, and the East brought a large variety of African goods, including coffee, to this leading European port. Venetian merchants decided to introduce coffee to the wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for the beverage. Yes, indeed the Merchants of Venice are still famous today in our day!

The first European coffee house (apart from those in the Ottoman Empire, mentioned above) was opened in Italy in 1645. Coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century according to Leonhard Rauwolf’s 1583 account and by 1675, there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses in England. In Victorian England, the temperance movement set up coffeehouses for the working classes, as a place of relaxation free of alcohol, an alternative to the public house (pub).

What is so interesting to read is that women were forbidden in some countries such as England and France, but not in Germany, to frequent these coffee houses at the time! She was ’allowed’ to boil and serve it, though! The banning of women from coffeehouses was not universal, but does appear to have been common in Europe. What is amazing is that there was a petition against the brew by women in 1674! How far have we women got now, for is it not our dearly loved beverage of choice these days?!

In 1669, Soleiman Agha, Ambassador from Sultan Mehmed IV, arrived in Paris with his entourage bringing with him a large quantity of coffee beans. Not only did they provide their French and European guests with coffee to drink, but they also donated some beans to the royal court. Between July 1669 and May 1670, the Ambassador managed to firmly establish the custom of drinking coffee among Parisians. There is a coffeehouse in Paris The Cafe Le Procope’– established in 1686 – which still exists today.

In Les Entretiens des caffés, 1702, remarked:

“The cafés are most agreeable places, and ones where one finds all sorts of people of different characters. There one sees fine young gentlemen, agreeably enjoying themselves; there one sees the savants who come to leave aside the laborious spirit of the study; there one sees others whose gravity and plumpness stand in for merit. Those, in a raised voice, often impose silence on the deftest wit, and rouse themselves to praise everything that is to be blamed, and blame everything that is worthy of praise. How entertaining for those of spirit to see originals setting themselves up as arbiters of good taste and deciding with an imperious tone what is over their depth!”

The first coffeehouse in Austria opened in Vienna in 1683 after the Battle of Vienna, by using supplies from the spoils obtained after defeating the Turks, with the mysterious sacks of green beans left behind by the Turks. The officer who received the coffee beans, Polish military officer Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki, opened the coffee house and helped popularize the custom of adding sugar and milk to the coffee. Aha, that is where the origins of a good Latte are!

The introduction of coffee to the Americas is attributed to France through its colonization of many parts of the continent starting with the Martinique and the colonies of the West Indies where the first French coffee plantations were founded. The first coffee plantation in Brazil occurred in 1727 and by the 1800s, Brazil’s harvests would turn coffee from an elite indulgence to a drink for the masses.

Many believed coffee to have several medicinal properties in this period. For example, a 1661 tract entitled “A character of coffee and coffee-houses”, written by one “M.P.”, lists some of these perceived virtues:

“ ‘Tis extolled for drying up the Crudities of the Stomack, and for expelling Fumes out of the Head. Excellent Berry! which can cleanse the English-man’s Stomak of Flegm, and expel Giddinesse out of his Head. ”

And, not only the English-man’s insides but also this Finnish-woman’s et all the other nationalities these days!

This for now. Riihele xx


Picture: off the net.

Looking Good: HAIR


“I’d luv to kiss ya, but I just washed my hair.”

Bette Davis
(American actress 1908-1989)

All of the females know the saying: ‘To have a Good Hair Day’ when everything of you and on you looks absolutely a million dollars! The opposite is also so familiar to us. I came to think of this subject because my hair is showing signs of needing a good crop, a sprucing up and a re-styling. Planning to get it done ASAP; i.e., the hairdresser will have a time slot for me.

Talking about hairdressers; the worst ones ever to cross my path were in Sweden, who simply had no clue as how to cut hair. I went to several highly recommended ones but to no avail. Disaster after disaster, I am telling you! My hair is silken in texture but thick and naturally curly – I keep it as straight as I can manage it, so when a hairdresser sees it, they think ‘ooh, easy-peasy…!’ But it isn’t, and shocking hairdos are dished out to me time after time.

My approach to a new country, to a new town and a new hairdresser therein is with the outmost caution these days – after so many woeful shocks what else could I be?! The very best hairdressers I have had, have all been in Ireland, in particular. Even there anytime my familiar hairdresser moved on or changes to another town, I bid them a sad farewell, thinking:

‘ Where to next?!’

In Israel the early adventures of my haircuts there were not positive so while living there the last time I fine combed – – an enormous amount of them before I trusted anyone to touch my hair. Why? Well, the last haircut I had in Eilat one time before travelling back to Scandinavia was the one where I was given a happy zig-zag all around the head in the various lengths et cetera. More of a very, very bad hair day in a nightmare. So this time while there my caution paid off as the ‘research’ – which was letting them wash my hair at the most in places, sometimes not even that, but it did give a feel of the place.

Finally I walked into a very stylish and posh looking place thinking that this could be it and saw four hairdressers sitting there and asked them in a friendly but no nonsense style:

Me: “Are you all hairdressers?

They : “Yes.”

Me: “Who is the best of you to cut hair?”

They: “Zvi is.”

So that was that. Zvi, the owner, became my hairdresser and Hanan, his sidekick, too, as they were both equally talented at the art of haircutting and styling. The salon gave Lattes, Cappuccinos and sodas on the house. Nice touch. My beverage of choice there was Espresso, which was done in a real machine, no instant packet stuff there. In Ireland one could have a cup of tea or the instant coffee-powder coffee. In Finland not even the packet stuff is offered in any of the salons that I have been in. (Anyhow, offering an instant coffee to a Finn would be considered an insult. This country takes its coffee very seriously.)

Now I am back in Finland and here again the research was done with a comb so fine that I thought that there was none to do the hair until I found Lea. And does she know how to cut, indeed, she does, and with such a flair to boot!

Do Have A Good Hair Day!

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

© Photo: By Riihele. All rights reserved.

Tips on hairstyles and such like in this link and this here.

Travelogue from Dublin: Coffee Shops

Village Square

It’s your very own tour guide Barbie here again doing her tour in the Emerald Isle – and yes, me cheeks are killing me with all that smiling…!! This time in the ‘logue it’s going to be about the cafes in the locale where I am staying at the moment and also of the cafes that I like elsewhere in this country. Here is a very handy link to touristing in  Ireland and in Dublin, in particular.

My very favourite cafe, Coolbeans, is in Bray where I just step in and really don’t have to have say a word and the things are served to me with speed and the accuracy of the pro. Just marvellous. I hadn’t been in there for two whole years and the staff remembered me name and all as I walked in there the other day as if I had never ever been away at all. Excellent.

There are some other favourite haunts of mine as well such as the Cafe an Seine – yes, it’s very O’ La La, French – which is situated right in the centre of Dublin on the Dawson Street. The pastries are outstanding and the coffee ab fab and the ambience – well, let’s say, very turn of the century as in the 19th century Paris. Another great French place is the cafe called, Cafe des Amis at the Alliance Francaise on the Kildare Street where the food, the pastries, the coffee and the prices are first class. I highly recommend both of these places.

In Dun Laoghaire one of my favourite places for cafes is Costas – a new place in the Pavillion in the centre of the town which is located upstairs of the most marvellous bookstore called Hughes & Hughes. Go n stuff your gullet in there at your leisure and enjoy the fab view! Then there is Walters, where the cappuccino is just right and the food in general extremely good and delicious. The GTI cafe cum restaurant on the George’s Street, that is the main street in Dun Laoghaire, is always great and the service is both humorous and precise. Here is a link to Dun Laoghaire tourism online site.

The Cafe Javas are these days in nearly ‘every’ place around Dublin, but in my mind the best of the lot is the one in the corner at the lower end of the Leeson Street in Dublin. They are consistently fab and better somehow than the other branches for whatever reason. The Bewleys’ Cafes were an institution but as the institutions go, they often lose their momentum and this is what has happened to them as well in my mind. Shame.

Tis for now from your guide in the Emerald Isle. The tour continues… Riihele xx.

The photograph is the village square in Enniskerry, County Wicklow taken by me.

Impressions: IRELAND


One of the first things that I noticed on the Island of Ireland were the palm trees. I thought that I was seeing visions of the Middle East with all them palms! What the amazing thing about them is that one would not connect the palm trees with a climate like Ireland‘s but with the tropics. And Ireland is not the tropics, most certainly not! This palm tree is one of the ones we had in the side garden. As a matter of fact, these palm trees in Ireland are a hardy variety from New Zealand called the Cordilyne australis in Latin.

The next thing that I noticed were the mountains that are really quite high. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. The Dublin Mountains and the Wicklow Mountains handsomely wrap the coast by the eastern side from Dublin down to nearly Wexford. Here are some fab photos of Ireland in the various parts of the country. This is the way the Lonely Planet describes Ireland.

I arrived in Ireland in early January when it was still rather nippy and wet; well, wet it is all year round. Hence, the 40-shades of green that is supposed to be in Ireland. Yes, green it is. Even the roses used to flower until xmas – my visitors at that time of the year from various nations, were most astonished seeing me roses still in full steam blooming! The snow only lasted on the ground a day or two. Once, though, what is still known as ‘The Big Snow’ in 1986 there was snow – a few inches – for a whole week. I found it all rather amusing; I am born & bred in Lapland, after all, where the masses of snow used to stay put on the ground from September until mid May! In Ireland the land and the people thereof got an extra week’s holiday at the time. Nobody could move because the roads were covered in snow and no snowploughs, then. It was also freezing inside as well as outside. The heating system in our first house was not the most modern and the windows were single pane, also the walls and the attic were not insulated properly in that house. Here is my ‘advice’ to my future-in-laws on how to insulate them windows. Have a great laugh reading it!

I was so very, very cold the first years in Ireland right through the seasons that I drank so much black tea that I became allergic to it. Still, today, I cannot drink it! Not that I become a jibbering eejit* with it, it just that it makes me feel so terribly ill. Tea is the Irish central heating and pick-me-up of old. In anything and everything a nice cup of tea is the cure. You are upset, a cuppa. You are happy, a cuppa. Whatever the case may be – there is always a reason for the brew. And the brew has to be done in the prescribed manner:

A Perfect Cup of Tea

  1. Heat the teapot with the boiling hot water.
  2. Pour out the heating water off the teapot.
  3. Put the tea leaves – 1 teaspoon per cup + 1 extra in the teapot.
  4. Pour the boiling hot water over the tea leaves.
  5. Cover the teapot with a tea cosy.
  6. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir the tea in the pot and serve .
  8. ENJOY!

My mother-in-law kept her teatimes always spot on time: the first cuppa of the day at breakfast, the elevenses at 11am and the afternoon cuppa dead on at 3pm. Then in between cups if visitors happened to call. I was instructed by her to do a ‘Protestant cup of tea’ thus:

Put the milk in first in the teacup – hers was fine bone china – then the tea n sugar. The reason why for the milk first, according to her, was that the cup would not get stained black. So it is, the Mother knows best, as always!

If an Irish person asked you to come for Tea, what do you think he/she meant? No, not for a cup of tea but for tea as a dinner which was the main mealtime at 6 o’clock in the evening. The High Tea – notice the silly hats in the article, excellent recipes for little something to nibble, though – which is served at 5 pm is also very different from the Afternoon Tea which is served much earlier in the day.

One thing that was nigh impossible to get in this tea culture was a decent cup of coffee. A person like myself that is from the ‘coffee culture’ of Scandinavia tis was most vexing a la Jane Austen-way of expressing the matter. I was praised the high quality of the coffee in the Bewley’s and their famous Sticky Buns. Well, I went there, actually, to the flagship Bewley’s on the Westmoreland Street and I went to the Grafton Street one as well and sampled them – and twas quite OK. Am afraid nothing to write home about. It was, certainly, a totally different coffee to the usual instant variety that one was served if one by mistake said ‘coffee, please’ when being asked ‘tea or coffee? ‘ in somebody’s house.

That is why my coffee was brought to me by somebody coming from Scandinavia, sent to me by post or fetched by me while in Finland or Sweden. The system worked beautifully as I hardly ever had to buy the coffee in Ireland where the price of the brew is astronomically high compared to Finland.

Tis for now – Slán. Riihele xx.

* eejit is the same as ‘idiot’ in the Oirish language.

Slán is ‘Bye’.

Oirish = Irish put in a jokey way of language. Not insulting at all.

The photo is one of our Palm Trees in Ireland.

On The Pink Sofa – Let’s Talk: Coffee

Pink Sofa

I made this collage to go with the theme I have in mind, which is to sit down on the sofa like I would do with a friend at home, a cuppa in hand and we would just nat away. Yep, typical for the female of the species. What I have in mind is things like a good book, an article in a magazine or in a newspaper and stuff like that that we can natter about and comment. I have called this entry ‘On The Pink Sofa‘ – Let’s Talk – for there are so many little and some are somewhat bigger things on my mind and this time tis coffee. Cuppa of coffee n here we go…

Finland, for sure, has such a great tasting, though, strong coffee – there is a calculator in that link to check if you are drinking too much; so do have a check how you doing. Yet in Finland we can buy it at a reasonable cost because the stores use the price of coffee as their honey trap to lure the customers in. Finland is the number one country in the world for the consumption of coffee at 11,99 kg/per person per annum. Sweden comes in number two at 8,05 kg/per person and the European Union average is 5,12 kg/per person per annum. The USA is only 4,62 kg/pp per annum and tea drinking nation of Britain has just 2,43 kg/ per person per annum. It could be nearly said that coffee is the national beverage of the Land of the Fine Finns. Would you agree?!

I am very fond of the Turkish Coffee and tis my favourite type of coffee or as it is called in Israel, Cafe Aravi aka Arabic Coffee, as well. It is just the ticket after a (big) meal. The cardamom in it is said to aid digestion, I have heard said and held by many. I am of the same opionion, as I have by experience proven this theory to be just that. Here is a link to me Morning Routine.

I have listed coffee drinking as one of my interests/ hobbies in life. Yup, that’s true. I use it for medicinal purposes as well as recreational. Huh?!! Well, I will tell you: the reason for the medical use is that I have an extremely low blod pressure that causes me to be a Ditzier Blond than I would need to be – many a time!! Once I went to our family doctor a good few years ago in Ireland – great one really, normally – and he took my blood pressure, patted my hand very patronizingly and said:

Doc: ” So brilliant that you are such a laid-back personality.”

                       Riihele: ????!!! Image

One thing, for definitely, that I am so not is laid-back. The reading of the blood pressure at the doc’s was all of 85/50 and I was feeling more dead than alive. Then to be told this. Shocking. He would not prescribe me anything – zippo – for the pressure to leap up. No, Sir! Staggered home and started to think for a Plan B. Hmmm… So, as I am inventive and a need is a mother of invention – I thought that as one is so much been warned NOT to drink coffee for its blood pressure hiking reasons, I said ‘Bingo’ to myself and that is when it became my medicine.*

And what a great medicine at that has it been to me! At times, when the blood pressure stubbornly refuses to hike up, I am forced to, instead of the usual Finnish pitch black brew, make coffee in the Mocha aka the Italian Coffee Maker on the stove. I pour myself a double whammy of espresso and gulp it down with a sugar lump or two. Sure enough, that kick and jolt works then for ages.Gift.

The bigger thing on ma mind is this: the doctors need to listen to their patients patiently and then make their decision. Our doc usually was and is first class, but here he just missed the boat! And I let him know that – in the nicest possible way – naturally!

Tis for now – Riihele xx.

* This is my experience with
coffee – everyone should consult their own doctor on the issue of blood pressure etc.