We all know the old tales, where coffee originates, and maybe most of us already memorized it in our minds the old story about the Ethiopian goat herder named Khaldi, who noticed his normally lethargic goats were more excitable after they had nibbled the red berries from an evergreen tree. But of course, this tale is just the beginning of the coffee journey, and there are more stories to share about it.
So, if you want to know more about your coffee, just continue reading as we unfold 20 coffee facts that you might already know, or it’s your first time knowing it.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. The only places in North America where coffee is grown is in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
6. The world’s first coffee house opened in 1475 in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Light roast coffee has more caffeine that dark roast coffee. The longer coffee is roasted, the more caffeine is cooked from the bean.
13. 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.
14. The coffee industry employs 25 million people around the world.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Studies show that men who drink six or more cups of coffee daily decrease their risk of developing prostate cancer by 20%.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.