You know you love the taste of coffee, and how it wakes you up in the morning or provides the perfect finish to a great meal. You know your favorite way to drink it, and you savor the scent, taste, and feeling of a steaming cup. But how much do you really know about coffee? Aside from a caffeine jolt, there are many other benefits of coffee that are often overlooked. The history of coffee is also fascinating, and one most people don’t know. Here, ten amazing things you didn’t know about coffee, so now you can feel even better next time you take a sip.
1. Coffee is good for you!
Not only does it help wake you up and make you more productive, but coffee has actually been proven to be good for your health. Coffee is a fantastic source of antioxidants, which help protect your cells from aging and keep your body safe from cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. Those who drink coffee daily have a 40% lower risk of developing liver cancer, an 11% lower incidence of heart failure, an 42% lower rate of type II diabetes, as well as reduced cases of certain autoimmune diseases. Coffee can also increase liver function among those who drink alcohol, which reduces cirrhosis rates by 22%, and reduces death by cirrhosis by 66%. Parkinson’s disease symptoms and the severity of Alzheimer’s can also be reduced by regular coffee consumption. So, drink to your health!
Read more about the heath benefits of coffee…
2. Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth.
Right behind crude oil and above natural gas, coffee is traded around the globe. Europe and the United States are the biggest consumers, with most production coming from South America and Africa. On a daily basis, more than 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the world! Traditionally, Coffee was developed as a colonial cash crop, planted on large plantations in tropical climates by serfs. Today, the situation has changed to more family-run coffee farms, but coffee production still requires a lot of work. There are approximately 25 million coffee workers around the world, and 11 million hectares of farmland across the globe are dedicated to coffee production. With so much labor going into the world’s favorite beverage, it’s important to create and maintain fair working conditions for coffee farmers and workers. After all, what would we do without it?
3. Coffee comes from berries.
Most people are unsure what a coffee bean actually looks like before it’s ready for purchase. All coffee actually starts as bright, red berries, often called ‘coffee cherries.’ And, coffee grows on trees, which surprises a lot of people. The trees can grow up to 30 feet tall, but most are cultivated to grow to only three feet to make harvesting easier.
4. Coffee wasn’t always a beverage.
People have been consuming coffee for ages, but not always in the same way. Originally, the Oromo tribe in Ethiopia ground coffee beans and mixed them with fat, then ate them like energy bars. Legend has it that a man named Kaldi, a goat herder, discovered coffee when he realized his goats became more lively every time they ate berries from a certain tree. Kaldi told the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink out of the berries and said it helped him stay awake for evening prayers. Soon all of the monks were consuming coffee beans, and word spread to the Arabian Peninsula. Later, around 1000AD, Arab traders brought coffee beans back from Africa. They started boiling the beans, creating a drink called ‘qahwa,’ which today means ‘coffee’ in Arabic, and the rest is history.
5. Arabica beans win the coffee popularity contest.
Around the world, Arabica coffee is the most popular. Seventy percent of the world drinks the mild and aromatic Arabica coffee, while 30 percent drinks Robusta, a more bitter tasting coffee. However, Robusta has 50 percent more caffeine. While the quality of both coffees varies, Arabica is considered better the world over. You’ll be hard pressed to find a specialty coffee shop serving Robusta, and it’s usually reserved for the likes of bulk coffee sold in supermarkets. Robusta is cheaper, and during World War II production spiked as Europe was devastated by war. It’s stuck around for bulk purchase and quick fixes, but most coffee shops and most coffee drinkers prefer Arabica, despite the slightly higher price tag.
6. All coffee in the entire world is grown in the Bean Belt.
The Bean Belt, the area between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, is the only area where coffee can grow, because of the climate. This includes much of South America, Africa, some of South Asia, and Hawaii. While it sounds limiting, there are actually 50 countries along this belt that have the ability to grow caffeine. Though the latitude of these countries is very similar, factors like soil quality and elevation can greatly impact taste, producing vastly different coffees even from the exact same latitude.
7. Coffee is good for your work productivity.
Studies have shown that people who drink coffee are actually more relaxed, and are more interested in their work. The caffeine found in coffee helps maintain alertness, which improves your performance and enhances your mood. Similarly, coffee is useful when studying, as it improves attentiveness and wakefulness, which makes learning easier.
8. Athletes, drink up.
Those in competitive sports should start sipping, as drinking coffee before a sporting event improves endurance and increases your heart rate, while also minimizing any pain felt during exertion, so you can push yourself harder. Coffee is absorbed quickly, and peak blood levels occur about 45 minutes to an hour after consumption, and effects can last anywhere from four to 12 hours.
This South American country has been on top of coffee production for the past 150 years. While Vietnam and Columbia hold the second and third spots, in 2011 Brazil produced almost twice as much coffee as the two countries combined. It is also one of the only countries that grows both Arabica and Robusta beans. As the number one coffee exporter in the world, the Brazilian economy is heavily reliant on its coffee crops.
10. Coffee Reduces Stress.
Coffee makes you less stressed, and you don’t even have to drink it before the effects start kicking in! Even smelling a cup of coffee reduces stress, according to a study by Seoul National University. Researches studied the brains of rats that were stressed from sleep deprivation, and found that those who were exposed to the aroma of coffee saw changes in brain proteins that tied to stress. So take a deep breath in while grinding your coffee beans and savor that coffee aroma, then drink up!