More than 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year, making coffee the world’s most popular beverage. It is also the world’s most traded commodity, after crude oil.
Coffee was originally regarded as a wonder drug in Yemen and Arabia and was taken only at the advice of a doctor. Many saw coffee as a brain tonic or as a way to stimulate religious visions.
With more than four billion coffee trees, Brazil is the world’s leading producer of coffee. In fact, Brazil produces around one third of the world’s coffee today. Vietnam, Indonesia, Colombia, and India round out the top five coffee-producing countries.
The Arabs discovered coffee, but were jealous of their discovery and refused to allow fertile coffee seeds to leave their country. However a 17th-century Muslim pilgrim, Baba Budan, smuggled seven seeds out of Arabia and planted them in India. It is said that all the world’s coffee came from these seven seeds.
A 2011 study showed that women who drink two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day were 15% less likely to develop depression over a 10-year period than those who drank one cup of coffee or less per week.
Coffee trees are cultivated in over 70 countries, mostly in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.
The only places in North America where coffee is grown is in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
The health effects of coffee depend largely on how coffee is prepared. For example, coffee paper filters remove oily components called diterpenes, which have been linked to coronary heart disease. Metal filters, however, do not remove these oily components.
Besides Americans, the two other largest drinkers of coffee are the French and the Germans. These three countries drink approximately 65% of the total coffee consumed in the world.
The world’s first coffee house opened in 1475 in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).
Studies show that men who drink six or more cups of coffee daily decrease their risk of developing prostate cancer by 20%.
According to legend, coffee was discovered in the 9th century when an Ethiopian goat herder named Khaldi noticed that his normally lethargic goats were more excitable after they had nibbled the red berries from an evergreen tree. Khaldi took the berries to a Muslim holy man, who turned the raw fruit of the coffee tree into the delicious beverage.
Though coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around A.D. 850, it wasn’t until it spread to Mocha, Yemen, in around 1100 that it became firmly established as a popular drink. From Mocha (from which Mocha coffee derives its name), beans were shipped to India, Java, and eventually Europe in 1515. By 1675, England had more than 3,000 coffee houses.
During WWII, American soldiers were known as G.I. Joes. Because they drank large amounts of coffee, the drink soon earned the popular nickname “a cup of Joe.”
When Khair Bey, the governor of Mecca, banned coffee in 1511 because he feared it might encourage resistance to his rule, the sultan executed him on the grounds that coffee was actually “blessed.”
The word “coffee” is from the Arabic qahwah, which is thought to have meant “wine.” The Turkish word for coffee, kahve, is derived from the Arabic word and is related to the word café. Other scholars believe the word is from Kaffa, a region in Ethiopia where coffee is thought to have originated.
To produce enough beans to make one cup of coffee requires 37 gallons of water. By comparison, an apple takes 19 gallons, a banana 27, and a pair of leather shoes 4,400 gallons.
Coffee was imported from Arabia to Europe through Venice in the 1600s. While some monks urged Pope Clemente VIII to outlaw the “Muslim” drink, the pope argued that the drink was so good that it would be a “sin” to let only “pagans drink it.” Coffee thus began to spread across Europe.
The most expensive coffee in the world is Indonesia’s Kopi Luwak or civet coffee. It is made from coffee beans that have been eaten, partially digested, and then excreted by a weasel-like animal called the Asian palm civet. These beans sell for more than $600 a pound, or $50 a cup.
Light roast coffee has more caffeine that dark roast coffee. The longer coffee is roasted, the more caffeine is cooked from the bean.
Americans are the world’s leading coffee consumer. They consume 450 million cups of coffee per day, or more than 150 billion cups a year.
When the first coffeehouse opened in England in 1652, women were prohibited from entering, other than to serve men.
One third of the tap water used for drinking in North America is used to brew daily cups of coffee.
The amount of caffeine in coffee depends on the type of beans, how they were roasted, and how the coffee was brewed. Typically, a small 8-ounce cup of coffee has between 65 milligrams of caffeine if it’s instant and 115 milligrams if it’s drip brewed.
It takes 3 to 4 years for a coffee tree to mature. Once it matures, each tree will bear one to two pounds of coffee beans per growing season.
Studies show that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, cirrhosis of the liver, and gout.
A Belgian named George Washington invented instant coffee in 1906 in Guatemala.
In the United States, September 29 is celebrated as National Coffee Day. In Costa Rica, it’s September 12; in Ireland, it’s September 19; and in Japan, it’s October 1.
Although yields vary from harvest to harvest, a single coffee tree usually provides only enough coffee beans in a year to fill a half-kilo (one-pound) bag of ground coffee.
An estimated four out of five Americans start their day with a coffee.
In 1715, Dutch coffee merchants presented the influential King of France, Louis XIV, with a coffee tree of his own. Millions and millions of trees have sprung from that single tree, thanks in part to Chevalier Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu, who stole some cuttings from the tree and began cultivating coffee on Martinique in the Caribbean. Within 50 years, there were over 20 million trees on Martinique and neighboring islands.
Because the organs and systems in a fetus are not able to metabolize and excrete caffeine fully, caffeine can stay in its blood 10 times longer than in an adult. Because of this, physicians advise that pregnant women drink a moderate (less than 200 milligrams) amount coffee per day.
The Dutch were the first Europeans to enter the coffee trade. They imported coffee plants from the Malabar Coast of India to their colonies in what were then called the Dutch East Indies, or present-day Indonesia.
Coffee contains antioxidants, which helps prevent free radicals from damaging cells. One study found that a typical servicing (approximately 9 oz) of coffee contains more antioxidants than a serving of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries, or oranges.
There are two main species of the coffee plant used to commercially produce coffee: 1) Coffee arabica, which originated in the Middle East, and 2) Coffea robusta, which originated in the Congo. Arabica trees produce the best quality coffee and are the most widely cultivated (3/4 of the world’s coffee), while Robusta beans are hardier, contain 40-50% more caffeine, and are used in many instant coffees.
Tea was more popular than coffee in America until King George the III’s Stamp Act of 1767 increased taxes. The result was the Boston Tea Party, a rebellion in which Bostonians dumped the British East India tea cargos into a harbor. From that point, coffee became America’s national drink and was emotionally linked with its revolution.
Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971. In 2010, it boasted revenues of $10.7 billion and 16,850 stores in 40 countries, making it the world’s top coffee retailer. Starbucks offers over 87,000 possible drink combinations.
The coffee industry employs 25 million people around the world.
The smell of burning wood is the most recognizable odor in America. The smell of coffee is the second.
Coffee was banned three times in three different cultures: once in Mecca in the 16th century, once when Charles II in Europe banned the drink in an attempt to quiet an ongoing revolution, and once when Frederick the Great banned coffee in Germany in 1677 because he was concerned people were spending too much money on the drink.
Starbucks coffee shops use over 93 million gallons of milk per year. This would be enough to fill 155 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Additionally, they use 2.3 billion paper cups annually.
The Turks call their coffee houses “schools for the wise.”
The name Starbucks was inspired by a character in the novel Moby Dick. The owners almost named their coffee shop Pequod, after the whaling ship in the novel.
Research has shown that drinking coffee may decrease cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders.