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In a 2005 essay for the New York Review of Books, the late historian Tony Judt offered a telling comparison between American coffee and Italian espresso. He asked his readers:
Consider a mug of American coffee. It is found everywhere. It can be made by anyone. It is cheap – and refills are free. Being largely without flavor it can be diluted to taste. What it lacks in allure it makes up in size. It is the most democratic method ever devised for introducing caffeine into human beings. Now take a cup of Italian espresso. It requires expensive equipment. Price-to-volume ratio is outrageous, suggesting indifference to the consumer and ignorance of the market. The aesthetic satisfaction accessory to the beverage far outweighs its metabolic impact. It is not a drink; it is an artifact.
The article was significantly titled ‘Europe vs. America’. Judt used this simple comparison between American and Italian coffee culture as a means of introducing his real theme: the deep divergences and tensions between European and American attitudes towards culture, economy and politics in an age of globalization. Although he may not have known it when he wrote these words, Judt was following an established tradition of critical writing about coffee and nationality.
Almost since its discovery in the late fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Ottoman world, coffee has been central to consumption routines and to practices of sociability in the societies to which it has been introduced.
Porphyrins exhibiting discotic liquid crystalline phases have been developed in order to prepare thin, large-area, crystalline films of molecular conductors. A series of octaalkylporphyrins bearing different side chains have been synthesized including some with electron-withdrawing substituents at the meso positions. The photophysical properties of thin films of these compounds are a strong function of the film order (crystallinity). A substantial and persistent photovoltaic effect was achieved (e.g., Voc = 0.3 V, jsc = 0.4 mA/cm2 under white light, 150 mW/cm2) in capillary-filled symmetrical cells with indium-tin oxide electrodes. A model based on kinetically-controlled asymmetric exciton dissociation leading to photoinjection at the illuminated interface is presented to explain these results. This appears to be the first unambiguous example of a photovoltaic cell controlled entirely by interfacial kinetics. The predominance of the photoinjection process in these cells is attributed to the single-crystal-like character of the porphyrin films.