Anyone acquainted with me knows that on most mornings I can be found in any one of several coffee houses on the peninsula. In fact, many of the personnel in these coffee conclaves know what my drink is without me having to tell them. I like the familiarity of being accepted like Norm in “Cheers.” Plus, I can usually count on seeing someone I know so I can dish the dirt while working my crossword puzzle, trying to figure out that the French author (seven letters) who wrote “Carmen,” the book on which the opera is based is: Merimee.
I’ve often wondered: What is the source for the coffee house craze in America, especially the phenomenal success of one particular chain and its chocolate flavored coffee drinks? I discovered that the Mayas stated this craze They drank cocoa 2,100 years before Columbus landed.
A resource article explained that 2,600 year old pottery shows the ancient Mayans made cocoa drinks as early as 600 BC in cities such as Xacting in the Yucatan Peninsula. Some anthropologists have called this area “the cradle of chocolate,” so obviously cocoa stains stuck to the shards of pottery..
I know the feeling. My favorite drink at my local coffee boutique is a non-fat, no whip, extra hot mocha. I have to stir my mocha two or three times with a wooden stir stick while I’m drinking it or the chocolate forms a little sludge pool on the bottom of my cup. If the Mayans has used stir sticks we probably wouldn’t have known they even drank cocoa.
Further research led me to the discovery than the Mayans also used cocoa beans to do calculations. Once cocoa bean was the equivalent of a penny. A Ω (Mayan symbol for Grande) cocoa drink cost 305 beans. Many Mayans thought their neighbors were crazy to stand in line for 20 minutes then pay more than 300 beans for cocoa.
Excavations in the Yucatan Peninsula indicate that in the financial district of some Mayan cities there were as many as 20 cocoa houses in the area of a square mile. Along with cocoa, Mayans ate hard, dry, triangular pastries called Xcones that stuck to the roofs of their mouths, which may explain why there were so many guttural sound in the Mayan language.
Mayans stopped drinking cocoa more than a thousand years ago. The reason has been a mystery until more excavations in the Yucatan Peninsula provided scientists with the answer. Many of the most frequented Mayan cocoa houses were centered in the University area in the city of Xerkeley, in the province of Calle Fornia. The high priests of that area passed a resolution that only organic or shade grown cocoa could be served. The organic cocoa did not please the discerning palates of Mayan cocoa drinking giving them Venti headaches. Most of the cocoa houses were forced to close. With the economy in shambles the Mayan culture simply imploded. Tragically, the remains of many cocoa houses can still be seen throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.
Experts haven’t determined the exact cause for the demise of this thousand year old civilization. What happened is that Mayans who couldn’t bear living without their cocoa moved north to Xeattle where cocoa houses flourished because local rulers did not force their politically correct cocoa on the general populace.
I hope something like that doesn’t happen here. I would miss my Ω mocha.