A beloved drink by many, coffee has much more to it than meets the eye. Sure, we all know it has caffeine, comes from a bean, and goes great with dessert.
However, there is so much more to discover about coffee!
Here are some little known but interesting facts about your cup of joe. Fill a mug of your favorite brew and delight in it while you’re learning more about the bean and you will come to appreciate your coffee much more.
Hawaii is the only state in America that produces commercially-grown coffee and it is grown in what is known as the Kona district on the big island of Hawaii, giving Kona coffee its name.
Since it is one of the most expensive coffees in the world due largely to it being a very labor-intensive process to harvest, Kona is often blended with other coffees to make it more affordable.
Grown on the slopes of volcanoes Hualalai and Mauna Loa, these trees are difficult to access and work in on these mountains.
There are about 600 independent farms which are typically family owned and are small in size. Introduced to Hawaii in the 19th century, the coffee plant was originally brought from Brazil by Samuel Reverend Ruggles and the rest is Kona coffee history.
My Coffee Came from Where?!
While Kona coffee is pricey, the most expensive coffee in the world comes from Indonesia and costs about $600 per pound.
That breaks down to about $10 per cup if you make it at home yourself. Should you choose to enjoy it in a café, you can expect to pay up to $50 per cup.
The reason this coffee is so expensive is due to it being rare and unique.
The fruit from the coffee plant is eaten by a luwak, a wild cat, which climbs trees to pick the coffee berries, eats and digests them, then eliminates coffee beans in their, you guessed it, excrement.
Farmers then collect the waste and process it, creating a most unique and flavorful drink. Known as Kopi Luwak, this particular coffee may not sound like the most healthful beverage, but one study has shown that it may prevent breast cancer and has other health benefits as well.
One website devoted to allowing users to set their own world records currently has 18 world records set involving this tasty drink.
World records related to coffee include Longest time to balance 12 cups of coffee off chin, which is 36.6 seconds, tallest coffee cup tower, most women eating doughnuts and drinking coffee while dressed in black, and most coffee shops visited with a furby in one hour.
Sure, the records may sound unusual, but if you love coffee like those people do, you can try to set your own record.
One actual world record recorded by “Guinness World Records” for coffee is the Largest cup of coffee which was an astonishing 13,200 litres!
This record was just set in 2012 and the coffee cup used was nine and a half feet tall. Interestingly, in 2010 there was a Guinness World Record set for the longest a coffee-powered car was driven, which was recorded as over 200 miles.
The “car-puccino” was a modified 1988 Volkswagen Scirocco that was able to break down granules of coffee and convert it into usable energy.
Highly Traded Commodity
Next to oil, coffee beans, which are actually the seeds inside the fruit of the coffee tree, are the most traded and sought after commodity in the free world.
Across the globe, there are about 25 million workers in the coffee industry covering 50 countries. Brazil produces the most coffee, with Columbia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Mexico rounding out the top five producers.
Twelve billion pounds of coffee are consumed annually across the world and all of these beans are harvested on about 11 million hectares of farmland.
From Plant to Cup
With the ease of brewing a cup of coffee at home, it may not seem like it was a big deal to get that bag of coffee to your house.
However, coffee beans go through a long process before they are ready to be scooped into your machine to make an incredible brew.
First, a farmer cares for his plants to ensure they grow the finest fruit. After harvesting the fruit, he or she sells the fruit to a middle man, often referred to as a coyote.
The middle man sells the fruit to the mill where they are washed, hulled, and graded before export.
Coffee houses in countries where the beans are exported to then roast the beans and prepare them for a logistics company to transport them to be purchased by the millions of people across the world that will be consuming this wonderful beverage.
An estimated 100 million people in the United States alone drink coffee every day, spending $18 billion annually on various coffee beverages.
Why it’s Not a Cup of Bob
Coffee is commonly referred to as a cup of joe and though many theories abound on the origin of this phrase, it is unclear as to exactly when it was coined as well as why.
One theory is that “joe” came about as a misunderstanding of the French word chaud, meaning hot, which is pronounced similarly to joe.
Another theory is the belief that it came from Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels who banned alcohol on ships, making coffee a popular beverage of choice but some believe that the coffee reference was in place long before he held office.
One such belief is that the word was derived from the word “java,” which is a place in Indonesia where coffee was exported from, or it may have come from the shortening of the word jamoke, another term for coffee.
Regardless of where the term came from, it is a fun and interesting way to say you’re having a cup of coffee.
Eaten, Not Stirred
Before coffee was ever brewed, creamed, stirred, and drank from any carafe, it was actually eaten. It is believed that a shepherd in Ethiopia, upon seeing his goats eating the coffee cherries, decided to give the fruit a try.
The sweet taste was appealing, as was the stimulating effects of the caffeine, and the fruit began being consumed by humans both with and without the bean.
Legend has it that the shepherd, Kaldi, took the cherries to a monk who boiled the cherries to make a bitter drink and that is how the drink came into existence.
In the 1300’s, roasting the coffee beans became a widespread practice which increased the popularity and demand of them.
Trade of the beans grew rapidly after this and by the 17th century, Europeans were enjoying the beverage in addition to Arabs.
More Caffeine, Please!
There are two types of coffee beans that account for the majority of coffee produced, Arabica and Robusta, though there are other varieties. About 70 percent of the coffee consumed in the world comes from Arabica beans.
Arabica coffee has to be grown at higher altitudes than Robusta and the plant requires more tender loving care.
However, fans who favor Robusta do so in part to its higher caffeine content, being that it contains up to two and a half times the caffeine as Arabica.
The two types of beans are grown differently and are also roasted in different manners, producing the wide variety of coffee that are available. Within each type of bean, there are many different flavors and finishes.
Why the City Never Sleeps
New York City, also known as the Big Apple, is commonly referred to as “The city that never sleeps” and for good reason.
According to health care company Massive Health, New Yorkers drink nearly seven times the amount of others! That may be due in part to population density or the large amount of coffee shops that inhabit the city.
A Holiday to Celebrate Often
While observance of International Coffee Day is marked annually for September 29 with many countries such as the United States, Canada, and England participating, other countries have different days set aside to observe.
It is not sure exactly when the holiday originated, but it is recorded in Japan as early as 1983 and in America around 2005.
Many coffee-related businesses use this as a marketing strategy to gain new customers by offering free coffee and other discounts.
The day is also used by supporters of the fair trade movement to promote equitable labor and wage practices for coffee farmers.
As you can see, there is much to learn about this common household staple we take for granted. There is still so much more to this delicious, aromatic drink, so to show your true appreciation for java, make it a goal to learn more about coffee each time you enjoy a cup.
We always love to hear more about coffee and appreciate interaction with our readers!
Please share any interesting facts you have learned about coffee here or on our Facebook page.
About Tiffany Boutwell
Tiffany Boutwell is a Certified Nutritional Consultant, Holistic Health Practitioner, and owner of Natural Apple Holistic Health. Tiffany believes chronic illness stems from improper nutrition, and that a diet rich in whole foods can help people to be free from the undesirable effects of the Standard American Diet. She resides on a farm in Kentucky with her family where she enjoys reading, yoga, and writing. Tiffany has authored an e-cookbook and health articles in various publications.