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TOEFL listening: A lecture from a social science class

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    50 TOEFL lectures   50 TOEFL conversations

    TOEFL Listening Comprehension Transcript

    Narrator
    Listen to part of a lecture from a social science class.

    Prof: Show of hands. How many of you drink coffee? Mm-hm, that looks about right. So do I. (sound of professor sipping from a cup, smacking lips). Ahh. According to those who know more than I, about eight of every 10 Americans drink coffee each morning, and the typical American will have three cups of it per day. (drinking sound again). I''m not typical (laughter). But it isn''t just Americans who need their daily caffeine fix. Those same people in the know estimate that more than a third of all the people in the world drink coffee, which makes it the number-one processed beverage on the planet. Sorry, Coke!

    We do, most drink coffee for the stimulation provided by caffeine. Do any of you know what caffeine is. Yes?

    S: It''s a kind of drug, isn''t it? Like nicotine?

    Prof: Yes, it''s a mild natural stimulant, a type of alkaloid. Like most drugs, it''s beneficial in small amounts. It''s been shown to help, to improve coordination and increase concentration. Also like most drugs, in large amounts it''s harmful, and several studies suggest it could contribute to serious ailments such as cancer and heart disease. (sound of drinking). Oh no, my chest! Ow! Ha ha, just kidding. Seriously, though, would you drink coffee because of the taste alone? One cup contains about 100 milligrams of caffeine, which is twice as much as a cup of tea and three times as much as a cup of cola. Now...yes, question?

    S: How large is a cup?

    P: Good question. Um, six ounces. Now, because of its popularity, coffee has become one of the world''s most important commodities. For example, between 1998 and 2000, a total of 6.7 million tons of coffee was produced each year, and experts -- those guys in the know -- forecast that production will rise above 7 million tons annually by 2010. Coffee is the world''s fifth-, no, make that sixth-largest agricultural export in terms of value. Though people in Europe and the United States drink 85% of all exported coffee, it is becoming increasingly popular in traditional tea-drinking Asian cultures such as China and Japan. Japan, in fact, has become the world''s [pause] let''s see, seventh-largest retail market for coffee, as well as its third-largest importer. And in China, the Starbucks has opened almost 450 shops since first entering the country in 1998. So, coffee clearly plays an important role on today''s world stage. (sound of drinking, lip smacking) Ahhh.

    How did coffee become so popular? Well, it really always has been. The first coffee beans are rumored to have been discovered by a goat herder in ninth century Ethiopia. The story is that this goat herder discovered his goat eating these strange berries from a strange plant. The herder tried the berries, probably got buzzed out of his mind, and ran back to his village to spread the news of his exciting discovery. People enjoyed the new beans so much, they would later literally steal for a good cup of coffee, as we shall see. From Ethiopia, coffee beans spread to the rest of the world via Arabia and Europe, often through, er, subterfuge. Muslims introduced coffee in Persia, Egypt, northern Africa, and Turkey, where the first coffeehouse, Kiva Han, opened in 1475.

    Seeds of the coffee plant were apparently limited to Africa and Arabia until the 1600s. A Muslim smuggler supposedly sneaked coffee seeds into Turkey, spreading coffee throughout Europe by the mid-seventeenth century. In 1616, Dutch traders brought the first coffee plant into Europe, and twenty years later they founded a coffee plantation on the island of Java, in present-day Indonesia. A navy officer reportedly stole a sprout from the coffee tree of the king of France, and took it across the Atlantic Ocean to replant in Latin America. By the 1800s, coffee trees had spread to Brazil, where its mountains and fertile volcanic soil soon made it the coffee-growing capital of the world. Today about half the world''s coffee is produced in Brazil. Another 25% comes from other Latin American countries, and about 17% from Africa. There are currently twenty-five different kinds of coffee trees, but two main species - coffee robusta and coffee arabica - produce most of the global supply. The robusta beans are generally grown in lower altitudes on commercial plantations, where the berries are harvested all at once, ripe or not. Ar [false start]Arabica beans typically grow on wild plants in higher altitudes, and they''re used to make premium coffee. Arabica coffees seem red, and have about 1% caffeine, while robusta coffees are usually black or dark brown, and have about 2% caffeine.


    Excerpt from the TOEFL test listening conversation

    Prof: Good question. Um, six ounces. Now, because of its popularity, coffee has become one of the world''s most important commodities. For example, between 1998 and 2000, a total of 6.7 million tons of coffee was produced each year, and experts -- those guys in the know -- forecast that production will rise above 7 million tons annually by 2010.
    Prof: Seeds of the coffee plant were apparently limited to Africa and Arabia until the 1600s. A Muslim smuggler supposedly sneaked coffee seeds into Turkey, spreading coffee throughout Europe by the mid-seventeenth century.
    50 TOEFL lectures
    50 TOEFL lectures
    A great variety of English listening comprehension tests that will help you increase your TOEFL test score.
  • based on TOEFL academic lectures
  • written and recorded by experienced US authors and voice-over specialists
  • 50 TOEFL lectures   50 TOEFL conversations




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