Ethiopian coffee

What do people actually know about coffee? We’d like to share our knowledge about the most interesting coffee facts in the world.

There are people who can’t start their day without having a freshly brewed cup of coffee. They love coffee so much that sometimes they call themselves “coffee addicts”. And we understand that all too well. However, drinking your daily cup(s) of coffee isn’t necessarily a bad habit. On the contrary, it’s proven to be healthy, scientists say. Your daily morning coffee provides you with more than just an energy boost. It’s also shown to protect us against Type 2 diabetes and liver diseases as well as lowering the risks of heart failure. Besides the effect on our health, here are some of the more interesting facts about coffee.

Coffee is Culture

Going back in time, we’ve seen that coffee is not just a drink. It’s a means of social interaction and has been for a long time. In the past, people gathered together to share a cup of coffee and exchange information. Ethiopia's most important social connection signifies respect and friendship. In North America and a lot of Western European countries, Starbucks and other major chains have dominated the market because they are providing the customers a complete experience around coffee. Coffee and friends, coffee and work, coffee and snacks, coffee to go! There’s the Irish mix with whiskey called “Irish Coffee”. In Italy, the invention of espresso and the espresso machine made it the favorite whole-day beverage of Italians. In Greece, there is the “kafenio”, an old-fashioned coffee shop for old gentlemen, where they drink Greek coffee and exchange political ideas or they play cards and a board game called “tavli”. And in some countries, like Ethiopia,  Colombia, or Brazil, the whole economy is based on coffee.

That makes us really curious to know more interesting facts about coffee as a commodity, as a beverage, and as a part of everyday culture.

Interesting Facts About Coffee

1. Second in the world
Coffee is consumed in such great quantities, it is the world’s 2nd largest traded commodity, surpassed only by crude oil. It is our most beloved beverage after water. It’s worth well over $100 billion worldwide.

2. Hawaii is the only American state that grows coffee
Good coffee growing conditions are dependent on variables such as high altitudes, tropical climates and rich soil. Therefore, despite all the rich and diverse landscapes of the Continental United States, Hawaii is the only state suitable for growing coffee plants. It has been producing coffee even before it was a state. (Recently, though, farms in California did start growing coffee bushes!)

3. Coffee was discovered by a goat herder
It was said that coffee was discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia in the 1500s. He saw his goats eating coffee cherries. Afterwards, he observed a change in their behavior; they gained a high amount of energy and they didn’t sleep at night.  The herder shared his findings with local monks. After they made their own drink from coffee beans, they realized they could stay up all night and pray. Word spread to other Ethiopian monks and soon after reached all across the civilized world.

4. Coffee helped Olympic athletes
Brazil couldn’t afford to send its athletes to Los Angeles for the 1932 Olympics, so the government sent them in a ship full of coffee which was sold on the way to finance their trip.

5. Mecca banned coffee
Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511, quite soon after its first appearance in Ethiopia. It was believed to stimulate radical thinking and idleness.

6. Add cream, keep your coffee warm
Coffee stays warm 20% longer when you add cream. You’ll have to ask a physicist about that one. We reckon it might have something to do with the principle that makes hot water more suitable for making ice cubes than cold water when you’re in a hurry to cool down your fresh beverage.

7. ‘Divorce on account of terrible coffee’
In ancient Arab culture, apparently still applicable in Saudi Arabia, woman can allegedly find legal ‘grounds’ (get it?) for divorce if her husband fails to bring her fresh coffee in the morning.

8. Italian “expresso”
The word espresso comes from Italian and means “expressed” or “forced out”. Espresso is made by forcing very hot water under high pressure through finely ground, compacted coffee.

9. Coffee is a fruit
Coffee beans grow on a bush. They are actually the pit of a berry, which makes them a fruit. There are two main varieties of beans: green and red. Red beans have a nicer smell and are less acidic. They are used to produce lighter coffees. The longer that coffee beans have been roasted, the healthier they are. Decaffeinated coffee comes from a chemical process where the caffeine is taken out of the beans. The caffeine is then often sold to Coca-Cola, a major buyer.