Coffee, Tea and Cocoa were all popularized in Europe at about the same time in the sixteenth century. The newly arrived, cheap sugar, helped establish them as favorite breakfast drinks.

Each satisfies in its own way. So much so that many people have become so accustomed to just one that they hardly partake of the others particularly for breakfast. Such exclusivity is sometimes cultural yet in our global society all three have become so popular that all are offered in most international hotels around the world. In Latin America one will have cocoa at breakfast and coffee later in the day. In North America coffee is the more popular breakfast drink with the possibility of tea later in the day. The British will have tea to start their day with ale later in the day. Just kidding. 

The discovery of tea considerably predated coffee and cocoa by a few thousand years. Only recently have the Chinese started growing and consuming coffee.

China, Japan and India have all developed tea cultivation, processing and beverage preparation to a fine art. It took a couple of centuries for these teas to make their way down the Silk Road to the West.

As tea traversed the Russian frontier its influence took hold to such a degree the Samovar was invented exclusivity for its service. The Cossack became one with his morning tea. The Aussie sheep rancher wakes to his Billy Tea. The Japanese have a morning meditation ceremony based around a powdered green tea. The British so enjoyed their morning tea such that they invented an afternoon brunch called “High Tea” as a special indulgence. It’s something like American’s coffee break I guess.

Of the three, tea has the most diversity of types and preparations. India has its spiced tea called Masala Chai. The Tibetans take theirs salted with Yak butter. The Thais invented iced tea with sweetened cream for their over heated climate. 

Cocoa’s origin is obviously Mesoamerica where it was elevated to the status as a beverage suitable for the King. The Aztec beverage with its ground maize made it a most popular breakfast beverage throughout Latin America. It is still the preferred breakfast beverage from Mexico to Colombia.

We can thank a Dutchman for making the powdered form that is now consumed with a marshmallow topping, preferred by most American and European children. Coincidently all three beverages have gained additional popularity with the added dairy component even though all were introduced uncorrupted. By the same token all three are also vehicles for that energy producing carbohydrate – Sugar. To this purpose, Turkish coffee is half sugar.

Coffee variations are more subtle than teas, yet distinct to the connoisseur. The differences between Colombian, Yemen and Sumatra are evident to most everyone. 

Coffee is the strongest as a central nervous system stimulant yet all three have caffeine or something akin.

One third of the world now drinks coffee, which makes it the most popular beverage after water. I expect tea is second as a hot prepared beverage. Not many people drink warm beer at breakfast any more.

Coffee was discovered and used as a beverage in Yemen possibly as early as 1000AD. Surprising to some, coffee was introduced as a fruit tea. The popular Arabian beverage “qishr” is brewed from the fruit skins and pulp of the coffee cherry with indifference to the seeds therein. In fact the coffee cherry skin, pulp, and leaves all contain caffeine albeit to a lesser degree than that found in the roasted seeds. Some rural people in Indonesia still make a coffee tea from the toasted leaves.

Soon after coffee’s popularity grew in Yemen, the Ottoman Turks took control of Arabia and coffee was introduced across the Ottoman Empire. Coffee from its earliest days was known as the Turks drink.

After coffee reached Europe, via Constantinople, it was subject to recipe innovations by Italians, Austrians and the French. In its various forms, the Cappuccino, Caffe Latte, and Café au Lait were served with breakfast breads and pastries across Europe. It is said the croissant was invented as a memorial to Austria’s defeat of the Turks.