You love coffee and drink it every day, whether in the morning or at any other time of the day. But how much do you really know about your favorite beverage? Coffee is undoubtedly one of the most popular drinks in the world, but also one of the most unique.
The 20 most curious facts about coffee
Legend says that coffee was discovered by goats
According to the popular story about the origin of coffee, coffee was first discovered in Africa. It is said that one day the goat herder Kaldi noticed that one of the goats was behaving very strangely and showing a lot of energy. He soon realized that the animal’s behavior was due to the consumption of coffee fruit.
Coffee is a seed and comes from the fruit of a tree
In reality, coffee beans are the seeds of a fruit that grows on a plant called the coffee tree. Inside this coffee cherry are two small seeds (with exceptions). Usually, after being extracted from the fruit, they are dried, roasted, and finally ground. The result is what we know as coffee beans or ground coffee.
There are several types of coffee
In general, 4 types of coffee are distinguished: Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. However, only the first two are of real economic importance.
Arabica is the most traded variety and accounts for 60% of world exports. It is considered to be of better quality, has a mild taste and aroma, and has less caffeine than Robusta.
On the other hand, Robusta accounts for 40% of international exports. The plant is much more resistant to disease, but the coffee is of lower quality. It contains more caffeine than Arabica and has a stronger, more bitter taste and aroma.
It can be grown only in the famous Coffee Belt
The coffee tree is a plant that grows only at a certain altitude and under certain climatic conditions. The Arabica variety grows at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,280 – 6561 ft) above sea level, but the highest quality coffee, i.e. high-altitude, is grown at an altitude of over 1,400 meters (4593 ft) above sea level.
Robusta is more resistant and can be grown at lower altitudes between 800 and 1,900 meters (2,624 – 6,233 °F) above sea level. The ideal temperature is between 18 °C and 22 °C (64.4 – 71.6 °F), but it can also tolerate temperatures between 22 °C and 29 °C (71.6 – 84.2 °F).
The only countries that meet these and other conditions are near the equator, between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. That is, Central and South America, Africa, and Asia, which is why this zone is also called the coffee belt. For this reason, the largest coffee producers are countries like Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Ethiopia, etc.
Did you know that you can make coffee flour?
It is not a flour made from coffee beans, but from the dried coffee cherry from which the beans are extracted. It was born as an alternative to make use of the leftovers from coffee processing. The coffee flour is very nutritious and healthy and is used in sweet preparations or pastries.
Coffee is healthier than you think
Coffee is sometimes considered a “harmful” drink because of its caffeine content. However, coffee has been shown to be an excellent natural source of antioxidants. It can also reduce the risk of heart attacks, help with headaches and migraines, and even reduce the likelihood of depression in people.
The dose makes the poison
Excess is bad, and this one is no exception. Consuming more cups of coffee than usual can have the opposite effect to its benefits, such as triggering a more severe migraine. It can also cause anxiety, greatly increase heart rate, and lead to sleep problems.
However, these negative effects usually occur in only two cases: when the person in question already suffers from a related health condition, and when more coffee is consumed than recommended.
Coffee and its close relationship with animals
You probably don’t see much of a connection between coffee and animals, but they are more closely related than you think. The most exotic coffees in the world are usually made with the help of a specific animal. Examples include coffee chewed by bats, black ivory coffee, monkey coffee, and the famous Kopi Luwak.
The most expensive coffee in the world comes from animal excrement
For a long time, the most expensive coffee in the world was Kopi Luwak. What makes it so special is that the Civet, a small Asian mammal, eats the coffee cherries and excretes them with its feces. As it passes through the animal’s digestive system, the coffee takes on very special characteristics that enhance its flavor and aroma. It can cost as much as $600 per pound.
Years later, however, it was dethroned by Black Ivory coffee as the most expensive coffee in the world. The coffee goes through the same process, only this time it is Thai elephants that enjoy these fruits. One of the main differences with Kopi Luwak is that the animals are kept and treated appropriately and in good conditions. Its production is also smaller, making it even more exclusive. One pound can cost up to 1,500 US dollars.
The forbidden drink
Today, it is hard to believe that one of the most consumed and popular drinks in the world was once one of the most forbidden. And not only at different times in history, but also in different places. Let’s take a look at what happened!
Despite being one of the most important places for coffee, it was forbidden to drink it between 1511 and 1532 because it was said to promote and stimulate radical thinking. The governor at the time believed that his opposition was conspiring against him and banned coffee drinking.
During the reign of Sultan Murad IV in the years from 1623 to 1640, over the Ottoman Empire, coffee was also banned. Consumption was even considered a capital crime. So much so that the Sultan himself dressed up as a citizen and patrolled the streets with a large sword. Those he caught drinking coffee were beheaded on the spot.
His successor was more “merciful”, but the punishment was still brutal. People caught drinking coffee for the first time received a “small” beating. The second time, they were sewn into a leather bag and thrown into the river.
When the coffee came to Europe around the 16th century, it was thought to be an invention of the devil himself. Many religious and priests believed that it was an attempt to replace the wine of the Eucharist and that it “smelled” like Islam.
The excitement over this issue was so great that Pope Clement VIII himself had to intervene. A single sip of coffee was enough to prove that it was delicious. He liked it so much that he even baptized and canonized it.
In 1746, during the reign of King Gustav III, coffee was definitely not welcome. It was believed to be so bad that even the police were ordered to confiscate all coffee cups and plates.
In fact, the king was so interested in confirming the cruel effects of coffee that he conducted an experiment. He ordered prison inmates to drink three cups of coffee a day while doctors documented the process. The idea was to see how long it would take before it killed them. It was clearly the most palatable “punishment” for the prisoners and the most boring work for the doctors.
In 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia proclaimed that beer was a better drink than coffee. His argument was that coffee had a bad effect on beer consumption in the country. He even wanted beer to become the new favorite beverage at breakfast.
Fortunately, none of these bans lasted or became quite official. Otherwise, coffee would have taken a very different path, and we might never have been able to enjoy it.
The drink of revolutions
As we have already seen, coffee was not always the drink of choice. In general, the main reason was that it was seen as something that cultivated and promoted revolutionary ideas.
With alcohol, people got together, got drunk and laughed, in other words, they didn’t “think.” In contrast, coffee shops were places where people sat and talked, always remaining sober. For governments, this was a dangerous thing, because they thought that here the opposition would gather and conspiracies and radical thoughts would be born.
The first coffee shop in the world
The first establishment for the brewing and sale of coffee was located in Constantinople, now Istanbul. It was called Kiva Han and opened in 1475.
The largest coffee shop in the world
It is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and is called Al Masaa Café. With 1,050 seats, it holds the Guinness World Record for the largest café.
It was a legal ground for divorce
You can’t provide your family with coffee? Divorce.
Although this does not seem to be a valid reason for such decisions today, it was for women in Turkey. In their culture, the woman could ask for a divorce if the man did not provide his family with even the most basic necessities. Coffee was (and is) so important that even men considered marrying a woman for her coffee-making skills. Therefore, it was considered almost a staple food.
There is a country that has banned coffee capsules
You have probably heard about coffee capsules or you are even a coffee capsule lover. And it’s hard not to because enjoying a delicious cup becomes a real experience. Many prefer them because they are quick, practical, and easy to use.
However, in Hamburg, a German city, this does not seem to be the case. The city is the first in the world to ban coffee capsules or pods in order to reduce waste and energy consumption. However, this is only in government buildings, offices, and facilities such as schools and universities.
Considering their environmental impact, this is not such an extreme measure, as there are ways to reuse the capsules.
Coffee has its own cantata, written by Johann Sebastian Bach himself
Just as coffee had a close relationship with politics, it also shared a close relationship with music. As we have seen, it did not have a very good reputation and was even a very feared drink for politics. It was considered terrible for children, women and even men with potency problems. Coffee, however, was one of the things that the famous baroque musician Bach liked the most.
The cantata’s original name is “Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211,” but it is also known as the Coffee Cantata. It is actually a short comic opera with a satirical tone. It tells the story of a merchant named Schlendrian who did not want his daughter Lieschen to become obsessed with drinking coffee. It also tells the story of the daughter’s protests and resistance to stop drinking coffee.
Coffee could be the next biofuel
Today, there are several studies on the coffee waste that show it can be used as a biofuel. Currently, biofuel can be derived from edible oilseeds such as palm, sunflower, soybeans, etc.
However, growing coffee solely for this purpose can lead to deforestation and compete with other agricultural products for water and land. Therefore, the use of waste, such as coffee waste, is a more sustainable alternative.
Espresso is not the most caffeinated brew
Espresso is a concentrated drink with a strong taste and a full body. For this reason, many people think that it is loaded with caffeine. However, the opposite is true. Because of the way it is brewed, it is one of the least caffeinated coffees.
The most caffeinated coffee brews are those with the longest extraction time. That is, coffee made in French presses, drip coffee makers, V60, siphon, and so on. In espresso, the extraction is faster and with higher pressure, so the caffeine content is much lower.
The largest cup of coffee is in Colombia
Chinchiná, a Colombian city in the Caldas department, holds the Guinness World Record for making the largest cup of coffee in the world. About 50 people worked on its construction for more than a month. It is located in Bolivar Park and holds 22,739.14 liters (768,901.7 oz). Coffee of the Arabica variety was brewed for it.
The largest coffee painting in the world
It was created by Saudi artist Ohud Abdullah Almalki in the city of Jeddah. She not only won the Guinness World Record but also became the first woman in the country to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The work is painted on a canvas with a total area of about 220.96 m², which consists of 7 interconnected canvases and is called Naseej. For the painting, the artist used about 4.5 kg of expired coffee powder mixed with water.
How many of these facts did you know?