Coffee is so much more than a morning drink, a pick-me-up, or something to sip during a boring meeting. Coffee, the world over, is a passion, a culture, an economy, a science even, and yes, an art.This dark, delicious beverage has a story to tell and a new story is written every time someone takes their first sip of this glorious brew.

Coffee is grown in over fifty countries around the world. That's a lot of beans! With over one thousand compounds in one coffee bean, including caffeine. The best part of all, other than the pure delight of drinking the coffee, are the wonderful health benefits associated with it.

Whether served hot or cold, chilled or steaming, some of the benefits of coffee are hard to ignore. For instance, prevention of liver disease, improved cognitive function in older adults, improved memory, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and even longevity.

Those benefits alone would do it for me, but recently the latest U.S. Dietary Guidelines added coffee as part of a healthy lifestyle! Pour me a fresh cup of that dark magic and let's move on to Summer brews and four ice coffee delights.

Top 4 picks for this summer:

North Africa: Mazagran

Brought back from North Africa to France in the nineteenth-century, the Mazagran is known worldwide as the original iced caffeine beverage. It was the first European coffee to be served in tall, narrow glasses, and very quickly became the rage in Paris coffee houses.

Greece: Frappe

The Greek Frappe is drunk all over Greece - summer, and winter, with subtle variations. This is very thick and very different from the one you'll find at Caribou or Starbucks.

Italy: Affogato

A traditional Italian coffee, Affogato is made with ice cream and espresso. Italians drink it for breakfast, as a dessert, or every occasion in between!

Saving the best for last...

America: Coffee Milkshake

This is the ultimate American decadence! Deliciously rich, aromatic brew whipped into a creamy, icy slush! Yummy!

Coffee's beginnings

In Africa and Asia Iced Coffee has been a popular drink for centuries. However, Americans only joined the iced coffee bandwagon the last few years thanks to the explosion of London's coffee scene and a few American industry giants.

Does it really matter who started this caffeine craze? Some say it was the Aztecs, who called it the drink of the Gods, but it's the Arab world history books credit.

All I know is very morning when I wake up and sip, either with a straw or a cup, my first sip of black gold, I thank the heavens for this amazing brew that helps me begin my day.