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A History of the World in Six Glasses When taking a deep look into history, there are many characteristics to look at. Even the most minuscule things have a massive impact on the world.

In Tom Standage’s book, he chooses to tell the story of how six different drinks had massive impacts on the world and its history. Many people believe that drinks have no correlation to world history but, Tom Standage shows that these six drinks were motivations for careers, enlightenment in intellectual and political views, and starting points for revolutions. In Europe during the seventeenth century, coffee was introduced to the masses. During this time, coffee was the most preferred drink of many intellectuals, scientists, and merchants because it prompted the sharpness and clarity of thought.

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Coffee originated in the Arab world but, made its way to Europe via trade. The drink’s original correlation was with religion, but then developed into a more social drink. The drink was widely accepted as an alternative to alcoholic beverages by many people, especially by Muslims. Due to the wide acceptance of coffee, many coffeehouses were established. These coffeehouses functioned as places where intellectuals, scientists, business men, politicians, and writers could go and share thoughts with each other. By this action, many people’s ideas of politics and intellectual views were enlightened and simulated.

Coffeehouses also became heavily associated with many trades since they were meeting places for actors, musicians, or sailors if they were looking for work. In modern times, the consumption of coffee is greatly widespread that the impact and appeal of the first coffeehouses are hard to imagine. Today, coffee still is the drink that many people meet to discuss, develop, and exchange ideas over, thus proving coffee had a massive impact on history. Tea began as a very luxurious drink, but then trickled down to the working classes. Tea’s story involves imperialism, industrialization, and also domination. According to Chinese tradition, it is said that tea became mainstream in China after Emperor Shen Nung brewed the first cup. In China and Japan, tea was used for medicinal purposes and chewing.

Tea also made trade routes throughout China. By making these trade routes, eventually China gets an economy boost. Tea also became a daily drink in China during the 3rd century. Next, tea became massive in Europe once Catherine of Braganza introduced tea to the English courts.

At this time, the Industrial Revolution was taking off. The tea offered a type of “fuel” to the workers. The factory workers stayed alert during the long, monotonous shifts because of the caffeine in the tea.

Because of this fuel, it provided a foundation for building more factories and manufacturing companies. These manufacturing companies and factories would process the evergreen and turn it into the tea ingredients that were then sold to the public. This helped England amass large amounts of money, thus, making them a world superpower. The tea the British wanted was native to India and cannot be grown in England.

Britain had colonies in India and they established a very successful trade network called the East India Company. Britain also had a very strong military spread across the world so it made it very easy to trade and transport goods. The goods that they would transport would be tea and it was transported to Britain and other British territories. As a result, this made Britain rich. Since England had the factories that made the tea in their country, they were tea’s largest consumers. Since they were tea’s main consumers, cultural rights such as meeting and talking over a cup of tea with groups of people became very common amongst the British.

Today, many people still meet and congregate over cups of tea. This shows that tea shaped social movements in history. Also, Britain is still a very strong country today, thus proving tea did have a massive impact on the world and its history. In May 1886, John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola by accident while trying to make a medicine for headaches. Pemberton was very experienced maker of patient medicines, which was popular in the nineteenth century. He promoted the drink by sending out tickets for free samples, getting logos put into newspapers, and putting up many posters. Many used Coca-Cola as medicine for headaches but then, it soon evolved into a drink for soldiers while they fought battles. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, the soldiers took Coca-Cola along with them to battle.

Coca-Cola also became seen as an American value because the troops had it overseas and it became popular in the US. Since the American troops had Coca-Cola, many other countries tried the soft drink and liked it, making it popular in their countries. Coca-Cola proved to be “Globalization in a bottle”, meaning that it spread worldwide and became famous in all countries. It also promoted the rise of consumer capitalism and made America a worldwide superpower. Today, this soft drink is one of the world’s most valuable brands. It is also the second most widely understood phrase besides “OK”, according to Standage, thus proving Coca-Cola had a massive impact on the world.

It’s astonishing what effects drinks have made throughout the course of human history. Drinks have changed the way people think and react. Drinks have also changed the world by the way of global revolution, strong motivation, and political and intellectual enlightenment. Seeing that liquid is essential to human survival, it is very unlikely that man will overlook many drinks, but with small bit of analysis, we can come to realize how important drinks are to us and to our history.


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