May 2016


[Elevation chart above taken from the Revel Mt. Charleston website. All rights belong to them. If asked to remove it, I will.]

When my friend Jackie asked me if i wanted to run a race in Las Vegas, my first reaction was “Sure! When?” I’ve only run two other races in the Las Vegas area, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon (multiple times) and the Sin City Shootout, and enjoyed both, so why not? That’s how i decided to run Revel Mt. Charleston–I signed up a few days later.

While I had never run a Revel race, many of my friends had run the Revel Canyon City race and enjoyed it. Since they all said it was a class act, I figured it wasn’t too much of a risk–plus it would be an excellent excuse to hang out with Jackie, and all I had to do was show up.

Luckily I was going to be working in Southern California, just one short plane hop to Las Vegas. Not-so-luckily there was a giant storm and they shut down McCarran, so my 55 minute flight took more than six hours to get off the ground, and I had to miss the expo.

Jackie reported the expo was fairly small–remember we both do tons of races and have seen expos that look like mini-malls–but well organized. Once I figured out I was likely to miss the expo (even though it was open until 8 pm!), I sent Jackie a text with my driver’s license and asked her to get my packet. Revel allowed her to pick up my packet, which I really appreciated.

Speaking of the packet, I was impressed. The drawstring bag came pre-tagged with my bib tag, so I didn’t have to do anything to it before using it as a sweat-check bag. Not only that, if you had registered early enough to personalized you bib (Jackie did, I did not) the race bib’s reverse was pre-printed with the emergency contact information from online registration. Nifty!

In addition to just a few race postcards (for the Revel series, and a few others that might be of interest to Revel-ers) and a few samples, the packet included a cold weather kit: runner gloves, a heat sheet (folded in a tiny pouch), and a sweet tech-fabric beanie that even had a hole for my ponytail. Race shirts came in three varieties, and at registration the runners could choose a tank, a short sleeved shirt, or a long sleeved shirt. I love the ombre design and colors, as well as the turtle-shell logo for Mt. Charleston.

Nifty tech shirt!
Nifty tech shirt!

Just like at Disney, race day started way the flapjack too early. Since the course was a point-to-point, there was bus service up to the starting point, and we’d run back. Parking was in a shopping center and quite plentiful. The bus service used charter coaches (not school buses) and seemed to run very smoothly. A belated thank you to the volunteer who told me I was about to get on the marathon bus, or this story would not have had a happy ending!

Flat Bain, unpacking for Revel
Flat Bain, unpacking for Revel

The marathon and half marathon were both on Mt. Charleston, with the entire course running down the mountain (until the last few miles). Marathoners started nearer to the top of the mountain, with half marathoners starting at marathon mile 13. The marathon runners reported starting temperatures in the 30s, and snow on the ground! From the half marathon start we could see the snow, but the temperatures were quite a bit warmer–mid-40s at the start.

The half marathon staging area had a gigantic bank of porta-potties, a hydration station with both water and gatorade, trucks for the sweat-check bags, and plenty of room to mill about and selfie. The desert mountain scenery was pretty, so there was hot and frantic selfie-taking action! (I suppose if you live in that scenery, you were probably looking at the rest of us and wondering what the big deal was.) I snapped a #Buffie with Smitha, marveled at how short the porta-potty lines were (race directors, take note: more potties = shorter lines), and yapped with Jackie about what the race plan would be. Smitha pointed out that the race director was boots-on-the-ground, wearing a safety vest and directing bus traffic. That’s pretty awesome, and the kind of all-hands teamwork I love to see in the running community.

Jackie is still asleep, while I have learned to sleep with my eyes open
Jackie is still asleep, while I have learned to sleep with my eyes open

The race start was a short walk down the mountain road. While there was a clearly marked start, there was no clearly defined START to the race. As we were walking down, I heard many people saying what I was thinking: “wait, did the race already start?” On the one hand, I’ve never been to a race where people just got to the starting line and started, so it was pretty weird. On the other hand, it did work wonders to keep the race traffic appropriately spaced out on the course. Overall I liked it, but I would have liked some warning (“start will be at 6:30 or whenever you hit the starting line”) so I could set my expectations accordingly. (Of course if I had remembered Carlee’s review of the Revel in California, I would have expected this.)

The course was 100% on paved roads in good repair. Most of the half marathon course headed down the mountain, with the last 3 miles or so veering off to the right to return to the start. Runners had about half of one of the lanes on this four-lane road, plus a generous shoulder; the remainder of the road was open to police-directed/escorted traffic. One nice perk of this course is that the road was NOT canted for rain-drainage purposes. (You know how sometimes you’re running on the outer lane and it’s very clear your left foot doesn’t have as far to go down as your right? Then maybe your SI joint starts to whine? None of that here.) My guess is that this is because the road itself is downhill with very slight curvature, allowing the water to naturally drain away. Overall, a great surface to run on–no potholes, dips, chips, or other road hazards.

Fast, flat, downhill
Fast, flat, downhill

For the first mile, I felt like I was FLYING. The course was clearly downhill, even though driving up to the start didn’t feel like much of a climb. It wasn’t such a huge grade that I was worried about momentum (you know, like when you feel like you’re gaining so much speed that you might fall over and you start to rein in that momentum). Since I hadn’t done any downhill-specific training–and yes, the Revel website does quite clearly recommend hill training!–I was working on managing my energy output. Before the race I had turned off the interval function on my Garmin, and initially ran and walked random, untimed, intervals. (Later on I switched to using the metal posts by the side of the road, doing a run-2, walk-1, for example.) This mainly worked out well.

Similar to my experience in Sedona, I had to really work on my breathing. As a flat-lander, my lungs don’t want anything to do with elevation. It took about 4 miles for me to get into a good breathing rhythm, and even so the prime movers felt a little fire. At times I’d run until it hurt to breathe, then walk until I’d recovered. There were plenty of people also running intervals–timed, distance, or random–and much to my great delight, everyone signaled their stops and slow traffic kept right. (It’s not rocket science–the rules of the road are very simple–but some runners are so rude!)

At mile 3 I noticed my run intervals were around 9:35/mile pace (though I wasn’t running an entire mile at a time). That’s pretty darned FINE for me. I continued to run my intervals at that pace (or sometimes faster!) for quite a few more miles. Through miles 4, 5, and 6 I still felt like I was just cruising down that hill–no surprise, since I’d looked at the course elevations, and the first six miles had the most slope. By mile 6 I was pretty sure I had killed my 10k PR (though I haven’t looked at the data to confirm).

SPI belt Venture joins me in running Revel Mt. Charleston
SPI belt Venture joins me in running Revel Mt. Charleston

Around mile 8, I started to feel a hot spot on my left foot, along the arch. This was puzzling, as I had worn my usual foot gear (wonky toe taped, 2Toms Sport Shield applied, Wright’s Double Layer socks) and the Brooks Glycerin didn’t have that many miles on them (I’m guessing under 150, based on my total mileage this year and the races/runs for which I have worn other shoes). At first I thought I had something inside my shoe, and I stopped to fish it out, but that wasn’t it. At mile 10 I considered my sock might have wadded up, and I stopped to straighten it out, but that wasn’t it either. (I’m going to be working with the good folks at Brooks to figure this out–I’ve never had a problem with any pair of Brooks, so this is an anomaly.)

As the course came to the bottom of the run down the mountain, it turned right to run along some roads and head to the finish (a park by where we had parked). The course flattened out quite a bit, and there were a few uphill sections (what the what?), one up to the freeway’s service drive, and another up to the overpass. We ran a brief section by the freeway, but mostly through residential areas. There was a volunteer/course marshall at every turn, so getting lost was not an option.


As we turned the second-to-last turn we started to run past spectators! Since there were basically none (other than aid station volunteers) on the mountain, this gave me another kick of energy. There were lots of kids holding signs to cheer on mom and/or dad. When I hit the final turn and saw the finish line, I took everything I had to sprint, blister-in-formation be darned, across that finish line. Then I hit stop on my Garmin. (Or so I thought…) PR achieved! In fact, I actually beat my old PR by a few minutes (not that I’m fast), which impressed me because my prior PR I was about 20 pounds lighter and in much better shape. (So if I start training now…)

The finisher chute had bananas and water and carbs. Better, there was hot pizza! Better, there was pie!! I had a slice of ‘za and a slice of pumpkin, met up with Jackie, and wandered out into the now-sunny park to hang out for a bit.

Beanie & Bling
Beanie & Bling

The park had a few booths from miscellaneous vendors, a massage tent, a tent with Revel merchandise, and a stage with live music. I put my feet up on one of the chairs and relaxed in the grass for a bit. There were also several backdrops with signs and such for taking photos. Oh right, almost forgot another cool benefit: Revel gives runners FREE race photos. (Yup, that’s free, no additional charge, go ahead and download them all.)

It's a sign!
It’s a sign!

After we walked back to the car, drove over to brunch, ordered, and sat down…I noticed I hadn’t even paused my Garmin. Whomp, whomp, sad trombone noise for me!  User error aside, I had a fantastic race and would gladly do this one again. Have you run Revel? Join me at the next one?


Disclosure: (1) I borrowed the featured image above from the SPI belt website. (2) I received a complimentary SPI belt Venture series because I am a BibRave Pro. (Per usual, all opinions are my own–you should know by now I don’t need any help with that, I’ve got plenty of ’em!) Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro here. Read and write race reviews at! It’s a great way to choose between conflicting races, to help runners find the best races, and the help race directors improve each year.

I bought my first SPI belt several years ago, long before I had invested in much running “gear,” the Original SPI belt. I picked a bright turquoise color because most of my running gear was drab (this was before the dayglo/neon revival, and before the advent of patterned leggings) and I thought a pop of color would be a little wild for me. When I upgraded to iPhone 6, I also upgraded to a slightly larger, waterproof, Endurance series SPI belt with a wider elastic (to protect the phone, and because it fits better).

Prior to trying out the SPI belt Venture, I was NOT a fan of hydration belts. I dislike them for the same reason I dislike most waist-packs: bouncing.  Even when I’m running a race and I see other people running with hydration belts, it makes me nuts to see the bottles/bottle cages flapping up and down. How can anyone run like that?!? The other thing I really hate about hydration belts–actually, most bottles–is that the liquid sloshes around and they leak and make a mess. It’s fine if you’re running in the heat and just carrying water, but is miserable when it’s cold and sticky and disgusting when you carry a hydration-fuel product.

While I was skeptical about the SPI belt Venture series, my experience with SPI belts was that they don’t have that bouncing/flapping problem most other belts do when I run, so maybe they figured out this hydration belt thing.

SPI belt Venture joins me in running Revel Mt. Charleston
SPI belt Venture joins me in running Revel Mt. Charleston

Now that I’ve successfully completed three races with the Venture, I’ve reached the conclusion that used properly, this is a viable option for anti-bounce, anti-flap, anti-slosh hydration. Even when I had consumed part of the liquid, I didn’t feel the sloshing I’ve felt with other hydration belts. It’s not just me, BibRave Pro Gina also found merit to the no-bounce claims. There are three factors that make Venture work for me:

  1. Bottles clip on. As you can see from the photo above, the bottles clip onto the belt; there is no cage or strapping device on the outside. This makes them easy to grab and replace, as you can clip them anywhere on the belt (in other words, you’re not aiming for a special slot). This also means you can choose to wear the pouch in the front or the back (or on the side, I guess). The clips slide the bottles far enough down that they don’t bounce, as they are pretty securely attached. The clips are removable (see photo below) which makes them easy to clean.
  2. Bottles are vaguely “body shaped.” Like some other brands of hydration bottles, the Venture bottles have a curve to them. I found that curve–in combination with the clips on the outside–prevented the bottles from poking or stabbing me as I ran. At the same time, the bottles stand up on their own on a flat surface, making them easy to fill. (I broke a Nuun tablet in half and put half into each bottle.)
  3. Bottles have a leak-resistant system, Jet Nozzle. This is THE big one. I can’t exactly say they are 100% leak-proof (because that’s like saying they are idiot-proof, and since I found a way to make them leak, that makes me a better idiot). When you initially fill the bottles and close them, you can invert them without any liquid escaping. While you run, getting liquid out requires creating pressure (e.g. squeezing the bottle or sucking the nozzle with your mouth). If you look inside the valve, you can see there is a little X-shaped cut in the rubber that seals the valve shut. (It did not photograph well.) That’s what prevents the leakage. Note it IS possible to leave a few drops of liquid between that cut and the tip of the nozzle, and if you do that, those drops can slip out and get your waist a little wet. (I may have learned this through personal experience.)
Venture comes with two bottles and their clips
Venture comes with two bottles–the SPI H2O Companion–and their clips.

A few additional details: The bottles hold 8 ounces and are top-rack dishwasher safe and BPA-free. The pouch comfortably held my iPhone 6s, though it was a bit of a pain to try to get it out and then re-stow it while running (which I suppose you only do rarely unless you happen to be a blogger!). The belt has an adjustible buckle, so you can make the fit snug to your body. The Venture also comes with bib clips–elastic you thread through the hole on the bib and then through a toggle. You can run the toggles over any part of the belt, adjusting to all bib sizes/shapes. Christine’s review reminded me that there are also elastic loops on either side of the pouch. Both she and Abbie figured those were to hold gels; but the loops are tiny, as Abbie pointed out, and I thought they were to thread the bib holder toggles through (since other SPI models have a different type of loop for holding nutrition). Heather’s review has better pictures than mine, and shows how she did use the loops for gels.

Important safety tip #1: It is possible to clip the bottles anywhere on the belt (meaning you can wear the pouch part in the front or the back), you should wear the bottles in the front when you run.  If you don’t, and you’re wearing the belt on your waist, the movement of your butt might jostle the clip up and kick the bottle off of the belt in a way that doesn’t happen when you walk. (I may have learned this through personal experience.)

Important safety tip #1, corollary: If you drop the bottle on pavement, nozzle down, the nozzle/lid WILL dent/scratch, and this may result in a sharp/pokey/pointy surface. A few light passes of an emery board or fine sandpaper will take the edge off. (I may have learned this through personal experience.)

Important safety tip #2: The pouch on the Venture is NOT waterproof. It says so right on the website, and I felt no compulsion to test it out for myself. If it is going to rain, or you tend to use water stops to take a shower, you should put your phone or other electronics into something waterproof. SPI recommends using a LOKSAK® re-sealable bag; I’ve used a Ziploc freezer bag.

Interested in checking out the SPI belt Venture series? Score a 10% discount with code elizabeth10. Don’t forget to join us for #BibChat on Tuesday, May 24th, at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Maybe you can win some goodies?

Have you tried the SPI belt Venture? How do you carry hydration on your long runs?


Disclaimer: I received a swag kit to review and a free entry to The Color Run Sacramento because I am a BibRave Pro. (As always, ALL opinions are my own and I wrote my review all by myself.) Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews! Reviewing races on BibRave helps other runners plan their race schedules, and helps race directors make races even better! 

In the world of the Serious Runners, there are MANY people who have strong opinions about The Color Run. I’m one of them. So when BibRave provided us with the opportunity to have a swaggy giveaway and help promote The Color Run, I was ALL IN. In my least humble opinion, here are the most important things to know.

Pro Tip: Plan Ahead! If you’re worried about inhaling too much color (for whatever reason) stick to the outer lane of the course, and wear a bandanna over your mouth/nose. If you plan to take pictures, cover your camera with a clean plastic bag (as that color is sneaky and will get everywhere). You don’t need massive race gear, but if you want to carry a water bottle, choose one that seals shut (so you can control whether it turns colors!).

A burst of color at the starting line. (Individual runner's packet, not a mile-marker color zone!)
A burst of color at the starting line. (Individual runner’s packet, not a mile-marker color zone!)

The Color Run is the original, reliable, real deal. If you sign up for The Color Run, you’re going to have a run, as well as all the swag you pre-ordered. I mention this because over the past few years there have been a ton of imitation races that have not been responsible members of the running community. (If you are one of the people who got stiffed by the 5k Foam Fest, I’m so sorry. I promise, The Color Run is NOT like that!) I’ve done The Color Run and they deliver!

THIS is how I roll!
THIS is how I roll!

The Color Run is FUN (and colorful). Part of the joy of The Color Run is that everyone is there to have a good time–it’s okay to act like a kid! Everyone gets a packet of color to toss, and you have the opportunity to get more (you can buy them at the event, and when I ran the DJ at the starting line was tossing out packets too). The colors are basically non-toxic coloring agents and corn starch. If you missed the opportunity to play with these colors during the Indian festival of Holi–which you probably did, since it is a spring festival and took place in March this year (though I just learned the Krishna Temple hosts Color Festival events throughout the summer in various locations)–The Color Run is your opportunity! Unlike many of the color powders now used in India, The Color Run’s colors are made in the USA and do not contain heavy metals or other questionable ingredients. Common sense should reign, however, and you can take away this important safety tip: tossing color straight up in the air does not produce a cool shower of color, but instead guarantees it will fall straight back down into your face. Oops.

Pro Tip! Wear The Color Run white shirt to the event. The colors show up best on white. If you want to keep the color on your shirt after you wash it, spritz it with water to let the color soak in, then let it dry 100% before washing. Don’t use bleach (it is the anti-color).

Small to Tall, Fun for All!
Small to Tall, Fun for All!

The Color Run may or may not involve running. As the website explains, The Color Run is not a timed event. You don’t get a prize for coming in first. While some runners complain this isn’t a “real” run, I think those folks just need to relax! I am in favor of any fun, physical activity that gets people up off the couch and out into the world. One thing I really liked about The Color Run is that everyone could enjoy it. I saw singles and groups of high school students, college friends, adults of all ages, families, and parent-child teams. Personally, I think it’s a great sneaky way to get kids to exercise. 5k is still 3.1 miles, which isn’t really that far for any kid (they walk more if they go to Disneyland), but the permission to get messy and colorful is pretty much the opposite of what a kid associates with exercise.

Pro Tip!  If you DO want to run, you should seed yourself accordingly: plant yourself at the very front of your wave. (To reduce the chance that anyone gets trampled, The Color Run uses a wave start to break runners into groups.) If you are planning to stroll (or roll!), hang out towards the back. The Color Run is like a mullet–serious in the front, party in the back.

Post Race Posing at The Color Run
Post Race Posing at The Color Run

The Color Run Tropicolor is coming to Baltimore on May 21! All the details are HERE and you should go register immediately. (I’m not in Baltimore or anywhere nearby, so I’m running in Sacramento.) Plus you can save $5 with code BRP16.

Pro Tip for Post-Race! Pack a post-race kit for your car. (Unless you want a tropicolor-mobile, in which case, ignore this tip.) Personally, my Color Run kit includes a gallon of water, face/body wipes, and a big beach towel to cover my car’s seats. The water is nice for rinsing off hands–I don’t trust wipes 100%!–which will turn brown when all the colors mix up on your hands.

Also, enter to win a Tropicolor Swag Pack from The Color Run. Don’t wait! It’s a short, sweet, swag giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Try Out ThursdaysI’ve joined Running With SD Mom for the “Try Out Thursdays” LinkUp. I tried The Color Run–and I’m committed to do it again!

Disclosure: BibRave and BUFF have partnered up for a BUFF prize pack giveaway, and because I am a BibRave Pro, I am giving you a chance to win! Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Join Me In the Buff®! What?

As a BibRave Pro, I’ve been introduced to some really great gear for running and a healthy lifestyle. One product I had seen, but never tried, is the Buff®. The Original Buff® is basically a seamless soft fabric tube that you can wear a variety of ways. My favorite way to wear the Buff® is as weather protection: in colder weather, I wear it around my neck and pulled up over my mouth and nose; in warmer weather, I wear it as a hat liner and to cover the tops of my ears (which have a habit of getting very sunburned in the summer).

Speaking of sunburned, I’ve also been able to test-drive the UV Buff® and UV Half Buff®.  The UV collection Half Buff is the perfect hat-liner size for me. The entire UV collection blocks 95% of UV rays, so it is a must-have for all the best summer activities, regardless of whether you like to get out and run, watch parades, go fishing, or work in the yard.

How much did I love these Buff® products? So much that in addition to buying a few more of each, I also bought a wool Buff® (because, winter) and a Buff® Headband (a quick-drying way to keep sweat out of my eyes during hot yoga), and I bought all the women in my immediate family a Buff® scarf for Christmas.

photo 1 (11)
#Buffie alert!

To enter to win the giveaway, you need to find me (or another BibRave Pro) at a race during the month of May. My race schedule is:

Come find me at a race and snap a Buffie with me! It’s BYOB (bring your own Buff®) or you can try on mine.

If you won’t be at any of these races, perhaps you’ll be at a race with the other BibRave Pros who will be out there wearing Buff® in the wild? Check out more places to play to win by finding out where Karen, Mark, Angie, Brenda, Heather, and Katherine are running–we’re running wild, all over the country!

UV Half Buff as packaged
UV Half Buff as packaged


Giveaway Details!

What’s the prize? The winner will receive:

  • 1 Original Buff®
  • 2 UV Buff®
  • 1 Merino Wool Buff®
  • 1 UV Half Buff®
  • 1 Headband Buff®
  • 1 Shirt
  • 1 Sweatshirt
  • Stickers

What are the rules? Official Rules:

  • Take a #buffie with a Bibrave pro AT A RACE
  • Post your #buffie to Twitter or Instagram. (Note: this contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or otherwise affiliated with Twitter or Instagram.)
  • Tag @Bibrave & @buff_usa
  • Use hastags #buffie & #bibchat
  • Contest runs May 1–31, 2016
  • Open to US residents only (sorry Canadians, I still love you!)
  • Participants can enter #buffies from multiple events
  • One #buffie entry per race

Come Buff(ie) With Me!

Part of my Buff collection
Part of my Buff collection




When I was a kid, this was one of my favorite jokes:

Q: If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

A: Pilgrims!

I thought this was hilarious. (It probably didn’t hurt that I grew up in a town named Plymouth, and the main fancy hotel downtown was The Mayflower Hotel. Every joke about pilgrims was hilarious.)

As May approaches and I’m writing my May #ButFirstCoffee post, I wondered if the Mayflower also brought coffee. I mean, we all learned in elementary school that the people on the Mayflower drank tea, because it played a big role in one of our most cherished national folktales, the Boston Tea Party. But did they have coffee?

Short answer: Yes. Or rather, maybe.

So wait…how did the colonists have coffee? It isn’t exactly a Spanish or British crop. While there are whole books that examine the history of coffee (none of which I read for this post), the most popular origin legend goes something like this:

Once upon a time–maybe it was a thousand years ago, or 850 A.D., or the 10th century–there lived a shepherd. His name was Kaldi, and he lived in a land far, far, away–either lived in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, or somewhere in “Arabia,” or on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. One day, Kaldi observed his normally sanguine goats dancing around joyously. Upon further investigation, Kaldi saw they were eating bright red berries from a bush/tree with shiny green leaves. Kaldi tried some of the berries and joined his happy dancing goats. Because coffee.

Personally, I’m going to go with an earlier year versus a later one, as The Atlantic (see below) reported “the first person known to write about coffee was a Persian physician and philosopher named Rhazes or Razi (850 to 922 AD), who characterized it as a medicine.”

The legend continues–perhaps this is an add-on to combat suspicious Europeans’ description of coffee as “the bitter invention of Satan” or as a Christianization of the fact that Muslims used coffee to maintain wakefulness during long prayer sessions :

Some time later, a sleepy monk happened upon Kaldi and his happy goats. The monk asked Kaldi about the goats, and Kaldi told the monk about the effect the red berries had on the goats. The monk, who had a tendency to fall asleep while reciting his prayers, saw this as a gift from God (because coffee!) and tried the magic berries. Indeed they did help him stay awake during his prayers. The monk took the berries back to his monastery where he came up with the idea of drying the berries to make a tea to drink before prayers. He shared it with other monks, and monasteries began to cultivate coffee, beginning the spread across Europe.


At some point, it becomes easier to tell what is likely fact, and what is a legend. (Don’t ask me how.) According to Tori Avery (PBS, see below), modern roasted coffee originated in Arabia and was popular during the 13th century. She reports the tradition is that not a single coffee plant existed outside of Arabia or Africa until the 1600s, when an Indian pilgrim (Baba Budan), left Mecca with some hidden fertile beans and introduced them to Europe. (Most of the sources I looked at noted that the Arabian businessmen who were exporting coffee to Europe deliberately parched the coffee beans so that they would be infertile. Think about that the next time you accuse Monsanto of coming up with new ways to be evil.) The Atlantic gives roughly the same timeframe, but pinpoints the cause of the spread of coffee as the Turkish conquest of the Arabian peninsula.

Conquest played a role in the spread of coffee, which is true of pretty much every type of agricultural and cultural cross-pollination I’ve read about. Coffee just spread from there. Avery writes that the Dutch founded the European-owned coffee estates in Sri Lanka (1616), then Ceylon, then Java (1696). As the European age of exploration and conquest continued, it makes sense that they planted coffee on plantations in each new location with a suitable climate (the French in the Caribbean, the Spanish in Central America, the Portuguese in Brazil). While I didn’t research this specifically, I’d bet my next ten cups that slavery played a huge role in coffee production for hundreds of years.

By the mid-1600s, the Dutch settlers brought coffee to New Amsterdam (nka New York). The National Coffee Association summaries what later ensued. “Though coffee houses rapidly began to appear, tea continued to be the favored drink in the New World until 1773, when the colonists revolted against a heavy tax on tea imposed by King George III. The revolt, known as the Boston Tea Party, would forever change the American drinking preference to coffee.” Drinking tea was now unpatriotic.

According to the Rainforest Alliance, the United States is only 25th in consumption of coffee. Trust me, I’m doing my share!


P.S. According to Avery, the natural caffeine in coffee acts as an insecticide. (Consider that the next time you assume anything that kills bugs must also be bad for people.)

IMG_4096 (1)

For further investigation

Books (that I have not read) about the history of coffee:

  • Steward Lee Allen, The Devil’s Cup: Coffee, the Driving.
  • Mark Pendergrast, Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. Revised Second Edition. New York: Basic Books, 2010.
  • William H. Ukers, All About Coffee. New York: The Tea and Coffee Trade Journal Company, 1922.

Selected Online Resources:

Sells a variety of coffees (this is NOT an affiliate link, I get no love from them) and includes coffee reviews and articles about health, business, history, and the arts as related to coffee.

The RA works with small farmers to teach them agricultural methods to boost yields and keep the land productive for future generations. The Rainforest Alliance certification involves social and economic criteria in addition to environmental ones.