Blue Ridge Architects

Architects in Harrisonburg Virginia

Gathering Spaces and a Goat Herder

Gathering Spaces and a Goat Herder

Exactly one half of our office loves coffee. Greenberry’s can dole out Randy’s order before he even says it. Dean and Kirsten can drink a whole pot before lunch time. And just to demonstrate that architects have a life outside the office, our newest employee, Jose Thompson, is not only a coffee aficionado but also a budding latte artist. Demonstrating his vast knowledge of subjects other than CAD and beam calculations, here are Jose’s musings on coffee:

Many of our university clients are including coffee houses on campus. Pictured is a rendering of renovations to the JMU Carrier Library, which houses a Starbucks.

Ah, coffee! Other than petroleum, coffee is America’s fuel of choice and the world’s second most valuable commodity. It is estimated that 52% of Americans drink coffee–our office falling squarely into that figure—and consuming an average of 3 to 4 cups a day, a number driven mostly by caffeine, the fastest-acting drug known to man.

And it all started with a goat herder named Kaldi.

According to legend, coffee was discovered in the 9th century by an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi after noticing that his goats were wide awake and acting frisky at night after consuming the berries. Word of the stimulant properties of the berries started to spread. By the 15th century, coffee was being cultivated in Turkey, Syria, Persia and Egypt.

Coffee became particularly important to the Muslims because it was a substitute for alcohol, which is forbidden by the Koran. It was consumed at home and in public coffee houses. People not only came for the drink, but they engaged in conversation, listed to music, watched performances, and kept current with the news. Coffee houses became major social gathering places.

Stafford Crossing church, another Blue Ridge project, included a coffee bar as a central part of their fellowship space.

In the 17th century, coffee reached Europe but met massive opposition by clergy in the Catholic Church who declared it a drink of Satan. Such a fuss was made about it that Pope Clement VIII was asked to intervene. Being the reasonable man that he was, he decided to taste the drink first before condemning it. He liked it so much that he blessed the coffee and declared it fit to drink. By the middle of the century, there were over 300 coffee houses in London alone. One of the most well-known was Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House, which became insurance giant, Lloyd’s of London.

Coffee houses gained popularity in the new world but tea remained the predominant drink of choice until the colonists revolted against King George’s heavy tea tax. The Boston Tea Party of 1773 in essence made drinking coffee a patriotic duty from that day on.

So next time you find yourself in line at a Starbucks, or pouring yourself a second, third, or fourth cup of coffee, take a moment to thank a humble goat herder named Kaldi.

–Jose Thompson