Friday, December 21, 2007

A cup of Java

The 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition, held between May and October in Chicago, was desigened to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the "discovery" of America by Chiristopher Columbus.

Countries from all over the world were invited, and 553 acres of land in central Chicago were dedicated to hosting them : There was Donegal Castle and a Lapland Village, a Moorish Palace and Persian Theater. It was also platform to introduce future obsessions such as hamburgers to the United States, anda place to show off new and exciting structure like George Ferri's famous Ferris wheel.

Of all these fascinating exhibitions and product launches, one of the most popular was massive community constructed in the middle of the fairground called the Java Village. Here were batik demonstrations, wayang and gamelan (puppet and music) performances-all introduced to the New World in their entirety for first time. Inside the Java Village, a Java Lunch Room served nothing but pure Java coffee, and visitors quickly began referring to this drink as "a cup of Java".

One can imagine the exorbitant cost and logistical challange of transportation all the performers and their equipment from the then Netherlands East Indies. Fortunately for the performers, and generations of coffee drinkers to come, the full cos was borne by some of the wealthiest benefactors in the Netherlands East Indies; the coffee plantations marketing efforts was profound. Until today, the word "Java" has been synonymous with coffee.

By Gabriella Teggia and Mark Hanusz