We love learning more about the holy bean – as we like to call it. Coffee is one of our greatest passions, so it’s only fitting that we learn as much as we can about it!
Coffee Facts: The Video Version
For those of you that prefer to watch videos, we put together the key ideas of the facts below into this super cool video! But, you’ll want to read on to get all the details on these crazy facts:
Coffee: The Origin Story:
1. Who discovered coffee?
Legend has it that coffee was discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia in the 1500s. His goats started eating coffee cherries and then their behavior changed. They began having a lot more energy and not sleeping as well at night. The herder shared the magical cherries with the Sufi monks in Yemen who then made their own drink from grinding the pits of the coffee cherries. This drink, the early versions of coffee, allowed the monks to stay up all night praying. After that, word spread quickly, first to other monasteries and then to others.
Even though coffee was banned by religious leaders in Mecca and Cairo later in the 15th century, coffee still made its way across the Balkans and to Europe and Asia. Can’t stop those coffee drinkers!
2. Where did the word “coffee” come from?
We can thank our Dutch friends for the coining of the word “koffie”, which was translated into the English “coffee” in 1582. The Turkish “kahve” and Arabic “qahwah” are also precursors to the word coffee as we call it today.
3. When was the first coffeehouse opened?
We can thank the fearless Queen Elizabeth for this creation in Britain during the late 1500s. Initially, the British were not fond of the bitter taste (gasp!), but the lovely buzz helped it grow and gain popularity. By 1652, we have records of the first British coffee shop in London by a merchant of Ottoman heritage. Like most new things, coffee was first embraced by the young artists and visionaries, who enjoyed the extra energy it gave them. London’s busy financial district also enjoyed the drink and the trendy coffeehouse phenomena was born. (source)
4. What does coffee come from?
What we call the coffee bean is actually the pit of a coffee cherry, which grows in clusters on bushes, very much like grapes. This means that coffee is actually a fruit! There are two main varieties of beans: green and red. The red beans have a nicer smell and are less acidic, which makes them perfect for lighter roasts. The longer that coffee beans have been roasted, the healthier they are.
The word “bean” was coined to describe the shape of the pit and they are seeds because you can plant them and they will grow.
5. What are the health benefits of coffee?
Yes, that lovely daily elixir actually packs some positive health benefits, thanks to the high levels of antioxidants. One benefit is that coffee is considered a stimulant and can improve your brain function, memory, mood, and more. So, it’s not your imagination – coffee really does brighten your mood!
Also, coffee does boost your metabolic rate, which can help you burn fat! And, because it increases adrenaline, it can even improve your physical performance.
As for actual health benefits of the bean, you can appreciate the nutritional boost from vitamin B12, vitamin B5, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B3. Woohoo!
And, don’t forget that coffee can help your body fight off certain types of illnesses and cancers, such as Parkinson’s, liver cancer and colorectal cancer.
Thanks to all these health benefits and more, you’re welcome to sip up and express gratitude for all the ways coffee is helping you live longer and be your best self. (source) Just remember, loading your coffee up with cream and sugar, though, may negate a lot of these health benefits – as those are also inflammatories. Oops!
6. Why do some countries and religions ban the use of coffee?
Well, thanks to all those stimulants we just talked about, some religions and countries have or do consider coffee to have similar effects as alcohol or drugs. However, the effects of coffee are significantly less than too much alcohol, which can radically impair judgement and the ability to operate a vehicle and control your body, or drugs that are highly addictive and offer no health benefits at all. Coffee, even at large quantities, cannot have those same effects on the body or mind.
However, because of the stimulants, coffee can have lightly addictive qualities – although you are probably more addicted to the routine of having your coffee and the positive associations with the improvement in brain and bodily function – than you are to the actual drink itself.
7. How much coffee is produced every year?
Are you ready for this one? 172.8 million bags of coffee are produced a year. One bag equals 60 kilos, so that equals 10.4 million tons of coffee produced a year.
8. What country drinks the most coffee?
Well, before we tell you – try to guess! Okay, now we’ll tell you – here are the 10 top coffee drinking countries in the world:
Curious where the US rolls in? We are all the way at number 25! To see the whole list of all 25 and how much each drinks, check out this post.
9. What is the most expensive type of coffee?
The most expensive type of coffee bean is the Kopi Luwak, which ranges in price from $35 to $100 a cup! Indonesian coffee farmers have claimed for generations that their “special” brewing method produces the best tasting coffee in the world. If you’re curious what that brewing method is, keep reading…
10. What is “Cat Poop Coffee”?
Well, on the heels of number 9 – would you believe us if we told you that the infamous Kopi Luwak coffee, the most expensive cup of coffee in the world – is also dubbed the”cat poop coffee”? This is because it is made from beans that have been eaten and then digested by a civet cat (yup, pooped out).
The coffee farmers believe this makes a better cup of coffee because the civet is supposedly very picky and only eats the best, most ripe coffee cherries. Then, the animals’ digestive enzymes “change the structure of proteins in the coffee beans, which removes some of the acidity to make a smoother cup of coffee,” according to National Geographic. And, when it gets digested, this removes the fruit pulp that would sometimes normally get left on the bean during processing.
So, if you were a Kopi Luwak coffee farmer, you would watch for the civets to eat the coffee cherries, or feed them, and then go looking for their poop after they’ve done their business.
11. Is “Cat Poop Coffee” actually good?
Since we haven’t traveled to the countries where you can order an expensive cup of cat poop coffee, we’ll have to trust the opinions of others, such as this article, where the writer believes it is simply a tourist trap.
12. Is “Cat Poop Coffee” ethical?
The reason why there is a question of ethical and fair practices in farming for Kopi Luwak is because many farmers now cage the sensitive civet so that they can better control the eating and pooping situation. Civets do not do well in these conditions and do not acclimate to living in close proximity to others (I can relate to that…) and they also don’t handle being force fed coffee cherries very well. Many of them end up eating their own legs from the stress and eventually dying.
Some Kopi Luwak farmers do have a more humane approach (think like cage free eggs or hormone free chicken), but the coffee taste is not much improved, according to those who have tried it.
If you are curious and want to know more, read the full post on all things cat poop coffee here.
13. What is decaffeinated coffee?
Decaffeinated coffee is made through a chemical process where the caffeine is taken out of the beans. There are three types of processes that can be used: water process, chemical solvent process and the CO2 process. Essentially, raw and green beans are soaked in water, pressurized so the caffeine can be removed and then dried, polished, and bagged.
The remaining caffeine is usually sold to Coca-Cola.
If you’d like to learn more about the decaffeination process, this post has a great visual.
14. Is decaffeinated coffee bad for you?
Decaffeinated coffee is not worse for you and even offers some of the health benefits of regular coffee. There are some people who feel the chemical solvent process leaves trace amounts of formaldehyde on the beans and prefer greener methods, such as the CO2 method.
15. How much money does the coffee industry make?
Billions, honey. Coffee is the world’s 2nd largest traded commodity – only surpassed by crude oil. It is worth more than $100 billion worldwide. Coffee is the second most popular beverage on the planet; the first is water.
16. Where is coffee grown?
The top producing countries are Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia. The only state in the US that produces coffee is Hawaii – in fact, you can tour the Kona coffee farms when you visit. They smell delicious!
In total, coffee plants are grown in over 80 countries, most of them in what is called “The Bean Belt” located at latitudes 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South.
17. What are the four types of coffee?
The four types of coffee are Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. The most common (and popular) are Arabica and Robusta, but you may find the other two in mixed varieties.
Arabica makes up 60% of the world’s coffee beans and is grown in 50 countries, predominantly located in The Bean Belt. Arabica was the first coffee bean to be discovered in Yemen.
Robusta beans are larger, hardier, and contain more caffeine. They are primarily grown in Africa and Indonesia and are popular in coffee blends. They are less expensive as well, making them a popular choice for budget-friendly roasters.
You can learn more about these beans, as well as the less common Liberica and Excelsa in this post.
17. What conditions are ideal for growing coffee beans?
Well, it depends on the type. For Arabica, the best conditions are high altitudes in rich soil.
The Robusta bean prefers higher temperature and can thrive on lower ground. They are also hardier, grow at lower altitudes and resist diseases better than the Arabica bean.
18. How many types of coffee drinks are there?
If we’re talking about the actual types, such as latte, cappuccino, macchiato, then there are currently 30 types. Read about all thirty drink types with pictures here.
But, as coffeehouses continue to invent their own drinks and coffee drinkers create their own off-menu drinks like these Dutch Bros secret menu drinks, the list grows and it would be impossible to catalogue all of the many types of coffee drinks.
19. What is the difference between coffee and espresso?
Espresso was coined by the Italians, and it means “forced out” to describe the way it is made, where very hot, almost boiling, water under high pressure is forced through finely ground, tightly compacted coffee. The result is a much thicker, concentrated, stronger tasting coffee that is often used as a base for coffee drinks where the added flavors and creams would water down a less strong coffee.
Espresso is also made very quickly, a shot only takes 20-30 seconds, vs. the time it might take to make a french press (4 minutes) or a full pot of coffee (6-12 minutes). This allows for coffeehouses to produce espresso based drinks very quickly.
20. How much do people spend on coffee?
While this can differ from country to country, in the U.S., the average spend is around $1000 a year. This works out to around $20 a week. However, women are said to spend more on coffee than men and millennials lead the charge for coffee spending, far surpassing their elders who average $400 a year.
21. How can you make coffee taste less acidic?
Love your coffee, but want to be able to use less cream and sugar? In some cases, the carbs and calories in a single coffee drink are similar to a full-blown dessert! So, if you’ve ever tried to forgo your additions, only to discover that the acidic, bitter taste of black coffee is not your jam, you are not alone.
There are some ways to make coffee less acidic, such as choosing a lighter roast, shortening brewing time, use cold brewing methods, or buy low-acidic coffee beans.
Different roasts from various roasters can have surprisingly different tastes and flavor profiles, though, so definitely try different types until you find the one that works best for you.
Wow, that was fun! Did you learn something new? We sure did!
If you have a fun coffee fact, make sure to share it with us. We’d love to hear it.
And for more coffee fun, make sure to check out our post with our favorite coffee quotes, including a video!