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Figure 1A. Coffee and tea personifiedClick to Enlarge ImageFrom its humble origins in Africa, coffee has risen to worldwide prominence, giving a lift to countless tired individuals every day. Vega recounts the tale of coffee's breakout cultivation of over 10 million hectares, from just a few seeds of two species, through Yemen and Cairo to Europe and then to Asia. He has collected botanical drawings of coffee from the 1700s-1800s to illustrate how the plant has advanced from a curiosity to a staple. Vega also describes how the chemistry of coffee processing produces distinctive aromas and tastes. Recent work on the coffee genome may help decipher what gives this "black wine" its vibrancy.

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