Although this may not surprise you, coffee is the second most valuable traded commodity in the world. Approximately 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide each and every day! Coffee is a daily ritual in the lives of millions, but where did it all start?
1. The origin of coffee is shrouded in mystery
In Ethiopia, there is a popular legend naming goat herder Kaldi as the founder, as he stumbled upon the red, cherry-like fruit of the coffee shrub (the most basic, unprocessed form of coffee). Early on, the fruit was mixed with animal fat and eaten as a snack. There are also references to a “coffee fruit” beverage noted in ancient texts around 1000 A.D.
The modern version of coffee that we know and love most likely originated in Arabia during the early 13th Century. Coffee grew in popularity among the Muslim community for its stimulant powers, allowing for longer prayer sessions. Coffee remained confined to Arabia and Africa until the early 1600s, when an Indian traveler smuggled coffee beans out of Mecca strapped across his abdomen.
By the late 1600s, coffee plants were widespread throughout Europe. The French began growing coffee in the Caribbean, followed by the Portuguese in Brazil and the Spanish in Central America. Coffee gained significant popularity in colonial America following the Tea Act, when swapping tea for coffee became patriotic duty.
In 1852, Brazil became the largest producer of coffee in the world, dominating world production, and exporting more coffee than the rest of the world combined until 1950. Since then, we’ve seen the emergence of several other “coffee countries” like Colombia, Ivory Coast and Ethiopia.
2. Dark Roasts are Lighter on Caffeine
Although darker roasts tend to taste stronger, they tend to be lighter on caffeine. The longer coffee beans are roasted, the more caffeine is burned off in the process. Coffee starts off as a green bean, and the lightness or darkness is determined by how long it has been roasted – this affects the acidity and flavor of the coffee. A light roast often provides sweet, nutty flavors, while darker roasts have a bold, smokier flavor.
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3. Caffeine is Metabolized by Everyone Differently
Not everyone responds to coffee in the same way. A genetic variant previously linked with nicotine metabolism is now linked with caffeine metabolism. This means that a person’s genetic make-up helps determine whether they can drink 5 cups of coffee and still sleep well at night, or drink one cup of coffee and feel wired.
4. Colombian is Not a Roast
When referring to Colombian coffee, you are referring to the place of origin, not the style of roast. Colombian coffee has a sweet and nutty flavor with medium body. The caramel and cocoa aroma appeals to most, a contributing factor in the mass commercialization of Colombian coffee from major coffee companies, like Folgers, Maxwell House and Starbucks. Skip the Folgers and go for something authentic. Try Java Planet’s Colombia Organic or Sello Rojo Roast and Ground Coffee.
5. Putting Coffee in the Fridge is Actually Bad
I’m sure you’ve heard the myth: putting coffee in the fridge helps it to last longer. But the truth is, the fridge is a bad place to store your coffee. The moisture in refrigerators will actually ruin your coffee faster, not prolong it’s life. What should you do? Store coffee in a dark, dry place. Use an airtight container. Grind coffee at the last minute, as whole beans have a longer shelf life.
6. American Coffee Doesn’t Really Exist (Except for in Hawaii)
Aside from Hawaii, all the coffee we drink comes from different countries. The coffee plant is a tropical, evergreen shrub that grows best near the equator. Nearly 70 countries worldwide produce coffee, with the majority of American supply coming from Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Ivory Coast.Many coffees are named after their native regions. Yirgacheffe coffee is grown in the Yirgacheffe district of Ethiopia. Kona coffee originates from the North and South Kona districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. The big-beaned Maragogipe coffee comes from Maragogipe, a municipality in the state of Bahia, Brazil.
7. Espresso Beans and Coffee Beans are the same thing
There is no actual difference between espresso beans and coffee beans….they are essentially same thing. Typically, coffee beans used to brew espresso are a blend of different beans that complement each other. Espresso is a small volume of concentrated flavor, so the beans used should provide a balanced aroma and sweetness. The beans used for espresso also tend to be beans of higher quality as they are able to withstand the water pressure necessary for creating a shot. If you’re looking for a great espresso, my favorite is Cafe Bustelo.
8. Coffee Doesn’t Dehydrate You
This is another common myth most of us have heard before. But as it turns out, coffee doesn’t leave you dehydrated…especially if you’re a routine drinker. A study at the University of Birmingham determined that in those who drink coffee regularly, it can hydrate you just as well as water. Daily caffeine intake makes the body more tolerant to the diuretic effects. The body learns to compensate, decreasing how often you need to hit the bathroom.