Coffee is far and away the world's most popular beverage, with a daily estimate of 1.6 billion cups consumed globally. Such an everyday drink can easily be taken for granted. But delving into the world of coffee unveils plenty of intriguing coffee facts for the coffee lover to ponder.
Coffee's Origins and Modern Day Sources
Coffee facts related to the origins of these magic beans are quite interesting. It's the stuff of legend that the uniquely invigorating effects of coffee were uncovered by an Ethiopian goatherd sometime during the first millennium. This pioneer noticed that his goats began to ‘dance' after feeding on the berries of a particular shrub, and before long the pits of these coffee berries were being ground down and mixed with animal fats to produce the forerunners of today's energy bars.
The identity of the first genius to brew a drink from these same ‘beans' is lost to history, but once the idea formed it quickly took hold across north Africa and the Middle East, and then the world. Today, coffee is grown across all tropical territories, including Central and South America, northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and the many islands of the Malay Archipelago.
Modern Coffee Drinking
In the US, around $18bn worth of coffee is sold each year, with around a quarter of that accounted for by single-serve coffee pods and Kcup technology- fast-growing favorites providing a fresh, high quality cup with every brew. The average consumption across all coffee types is 3.1 cups a day, although interestingly it's said that New Yorkers manage twice this amount.
[the_ad id=”336″]Coffee is of course known as a pick-me-up owing to the energizing effects of caffeine, which takes just ten minutes to be felt and lasts for up to two hours. Caffeine itself is made from tiny crystals measuring just over a thousandth of an inch across, and works by blocking adenosine, a natural neurotransmitter that promotes drowsiness.
Decaffeinated coffee is increasingly popular among those wishing to avoid this effect. While decaffeinating process was once lacking, it is fast improving, and now provides a genuinely drinkable alternative. Illy decaf K cups® and Hag decaf espresso are some of many excellent alternatives and come highly recommended by even the most hard to please coffee drinkers. Nonetheless, true coffee purists may like to seek out the Coffea Charrieriana bean, from Cameroon, which is naturally free from caffeine – the world's only known example.
Coffee Facts Related to Health
Although the effects of excessive caffeine can be troubling, causing jitters and insomnia, in moderation coffee confers many health benefits. It is packed with antioxidants, helping to protect against the cell damage associated with ageing, and also contains high levels of various vitamins including B5 and B2.
Several studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers reduce their risks of contracting heart disease, type two diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and degenerative brain conditions including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. As an added bonus, slimmers will be pleased to hear that coffee consumption can boost the metabolism by up to 11%, burning off calories rather than storing them as fat.
Two truly gourmet coffees are perhaps best drunk while turning a blind eye to their production method. It's one of the most interesting coffee facts. But if you don't have the “stomach” for it, it's perhaps best that you skip this final paragraph. A variety of bean called Black Ivory is collected from the dung of elephants who habitually consume the coffee berries, while Luwak or Civet coffee follows a similar production method, only using Sumatran wild cats as the processing workers. If you feel the urge to sample these truly exotic and unique coffee brews, be prepared to pay: Kopi Luwak coffee can cost up to $600 per pound. If you are interested in sampling this rare blend, you can order Kopi Luwak Coffee in smaller quantities. Regardless of the process, there is no question that Luwak and Civet coffee are the most rare and expensive coffees in the world.
All this is only the tip of the coffee iceberg. Next time you're enjoying a cup of your favorite blend, will you be inspired to find out more about the rich and unique history of the world's most popular brew?