Do you drink Kava? It’s like coffee… in French? Café? Kava with “v”? Yes! Like the Spanish Cava! No? I don’t understand anything anymore… – it’s an illustration of a typical conversation about Kava. Every connoisseur of the drink from the Pacific Islands probably knows it. So, let’s resolve a few doubts about these similar-sounding names.
KAVA – also called Kava Kava – is the name of the drink and the plant from which our drink is made (the botanical name of the species is Piper methysticum, or Methystine Pepper). The name is the same, because the preparation of the drink does not require any additives – Kava for drinking is only a natural extract from kava roots. In different parts of Oceania, Kava operates under slightly different names: for example, in Hawaii it is called AWA, and in the islands of Samoa – AVA. In Fiji Kava is also known as YAQONA or GROG, in Vanuatu – MALOK, on Pohnpei – SAKAU. The name Kava is probably taken from the Polynesian language, in which it means bitter taste.
KAVAHA, on the other hand, is a brand that brings together only the best kava types, mainly from Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and Samoa.
Meanwhile, the well-known COFFEE that accompanies us every day – prepared from roasted coffee beans – has probably taken its name from the Arabic term QAHWA. In European languages, it first appeared in Italian as CAFFÈ. In Spanish and French, coffee is CAFÉ, in German it’s KAFFEE. The biggest problem, however, is kava kava fans from the Czech Republic, where black coffee is called KÁVA. Since coffee comes from Ethiopia, its name is also associated with the Ethiopian region of Kaffa, where climate and soil have always fostered coffee cultivation. Interestingly, the Arabic word QAHWA used to be a term for wine as well.
And so – albeit somewhat by chance – we come to the name CAVA.
CAVA is a sparkling wine (mainly white, less often rosé) produced in Spain, mainly in Catalonia, in the Penedès region. It takes its name precisely from the Catalan term cellar, where it can mature. Unlike champagne (and it’s worth mentioning that not so long-ago Cava was promoted as Spanish champagne) it tastes best just when it reaches maturity. Cava has the category “DO” – denominación de origen – which distinguishes it from other sparkling wines and at the same time strictly determines who has the right to use the name Cava. The name was officially adopted in Spain in 1972, about 100 years after the first official presentation of wine. Spanish strains of macabeo, parellada and xarello are most commonly used to produce Cava wine.
What connects and what divides the effects of COFFEE, CAVA and KAVA? While coffee (through the content of caffeine) stimulates the body to be more active, it gives energy to action, and for many it is simply a daily fuel, without which they cannot start the day. Kava works differently: it helps to relax the body and cleanse the mind, and helps to reduce stress which wrecks our bodies every day. Unlike coffee, Kava does not flush out nutrients (we don’t have to fear, for example, magnesium loss), and helps to lower blood pressure, which coffee in turn raises.
On the other hand, Kava is also an increasingly popular alternative to alcohol. It is great for example, during social gatherings – it aids relaxation and honest conversations. While Cava bubbles can get to your head, Kava does not disturb mental clarity and is not addictive.
The story of KAVA, COFFEE and CAVA will end with a little advice: everything is worth a try, but… choose the best products, drink in moderation and never mix them with each other!