400 billion cups of coffee are drunk each year around the world
SOME STIRRING FACTS
- In the West coffee consumption is about a third of tap-water consumption.
- After petroleum, coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world.
- More than 7 million metric tons are produced annually.
- Coffee is grown more than 70 countries around the equator in Latin America, South-east Asia and Africa.
- Every year more than 400 billion cups of coffee are drunk worldwide.
EXCITED GOATS AND THE SAINT FROM MOCHA
Legend has it that coffee was discovered by a lonely goat herder in 9th-century Ethiopia when he saw members of his herd becoming stimulated after eating some berries.
Another account attributes the discovery of coffee to an Ethiopian holy man called Omar.
According to ancient manuscripts Omar – who was known for his healing powers – was exiled from his home town of Mocha to a desert cave.
There the starving Omar chewed berries from shrubs only to find them bitter.
He roasted them to improve the flavour but they became hard.
He then resorted to boiling them to soften them.
Upon drinking the resulting fragrant brown liquid Omar was revitalised and sustained for days.
As stories of his “miracle drug” reached Mocha Omar was asked to return and was made a saint.
When coffee was first brought to Europe in the 16th century it was greeted with great suspicion as it was the drink of choice of the Muslim world with which the Christian West had been at war for centuries.
Pope Clement VIII sampled it, however, and allegedly declared: “This devil’s drink is delicious.
“We should cheat the devil by baptizing it.”
FROM AFRICA TO OXFORD
While Europe’s first coffee house opened up in Venice in 1645, thanks largely to the efforts of the Dutch and British East India Companies, the “devil’s drink” soon became popular in England.
The country’s first coffee house opened in Oxford in 1650.
Within 25 years the total number of coffee houses in the country had risen to 3,000 and they had become socially important places where the news, politics and gossip of the day were discussed and exaggerated.
Charles II tried unsuccessfully to ban them as hotbeds of sedition.
The Central Perk coffee shop in the TV show Friends has been reproduced worldwide
BEANS MEANS RECORDS
The world’s biggest coffee morning is Macmillan Cancer Support’s annual UK fundraising event.
Members of the public host gatherings, incorporating attractions ranging from pub quizzes to garden parties.
There have also been world-record attempts for:
- The highest coffee morning – on a jet fighter in 2004.
- The most distant coffee morning – Antarctica in 2002.
- The world’s deepest coffee morning – down Poldark mine, Cornwall, in 2002.
COFFEE IN A WORD
The word “coffee” comes from the Ottoman Turkish “kahve” via the Italian “caffe”.
The term “cappuccino” comes from the shade of the Capuchin friars’ habits, which resembles the colour of the foam on the coffee.
Espresso is Italian for “forced” or “rushed through”.
A FLAT WHITE AND ELEPHANT DUNG TO GO PLEASE!
The Thais are nothing if not ingenious when it comes to coffee.
In order to remove the bitterness from coffee beans they feed them to elephants.
As the beans pass through the animals’ digestive system their bitterness is removed by enzymes.
The beans are then retrieved from the dung and sold as Black Ivory, the most expensive blend in the world.
Kopi Luwak is made in a similar way but using cat-sized creatures called Asian palm civets instead of elephants.
COFFEE AND HEALTH
In 1657 London advertisements for coffee promoted it as a cure for scurvy, gout and other complaints.
However modern science indicates that there is no conclusive, research-based evidence that coffee drinking is especially good for you, helps you to live longer or banishes your hangover.
It may help keep you awake as you drive on the motorway at night but the caffeine in coffee may also exacerbate migraines, arrhythmias and sleep problems.
- Turkey passed a law in the 15th century allowing a woman to divorce her husband if he did not keep their coffee pot full.
- J.S. Bach composed the Coffee Cantata based on his dependence on the drink – he was a 60 bean a cup man. It features quirky lines such as, “If I couldn’t be allowed to drink my little cup of coffee three times a day I will turn into a shrivelled-up roast goat in my anguish.”
- The UK is 44th in the league table of coffee drinking per head. The Nordic countries and the Netherlands drink most. Finns consume 12kg per capita per year while Brits restrict themselves to a modest 2.8kg.
- Coffee and Friends. A coffee shop called Central Perk was one of the places where the six main protagonists in the smash-hit American sitcom Friends would congregate to socialise. In 2006 businessman Mojtaba Asadian set up a Central Perk franchise, registering the name in 32 countries with interiors inspired by the sitcom. Broadwick Street in London’s Soho got its Central Perk in 2009.
- The world’s largest coffee producer is Brazil with about four million coffee trees. Most coffee is transported by sea and there are about 2,200 ships transporting coffee beans each year.