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Two people toast with cafe lattes

The History of Coffee

Can you imagine a day that does not start with a cup of coffee? Americans drink about 400 million cups of coffee every day, totaling around 146 billion cups of coffee per year. Americans join over 1 billion people worldwide who wrap their hands around the hot (or cold) beverage at least once a day.

Following water and tea, coffee is the 3rd-most-consumed beverage in the world. With coffee beans produced in at least 70 countries across the globe and most people drinking coffee several times a day, its popularity is at no risk of diminishing. Piping hot or served over ice, coffee remains the best part of waking up.

What is the History Behind Coffee?

Colombian Supremo Single Origin Coffee

No one knows exactly when or how coffee was discovered but, according to the National Coffee Association, a legendary goat herder has been credited with the first cup. As the coffee tale is told, we learn that an Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi, discovered coffee after he noticed his goats became more energetic after eating the berries of certain trees. The goats became so energized they would not sleep at night.

After discussing his observations with the abbot of a local monastery, the abbot began making a drink with the berries and found he was more focused during evening prayers. The abbot shared his findings with other monks, and the knowledge of these “energizing berries” began to spread. It didn’t take long until the news of these beans traveled the world.

What was Coffee Originally Called?

The word “coffee” has roots in several languages. As news of the berries traveled through Yemen, it was called qahwah, a romantic term for wine. Through Turkey, it became the Turkish kahveh and then Dutch koffie before settling into the English word, coffee.

What Did People Drink Before Coffee?

While tea has been around since before our favorite goat herder happened upon the coffee bean tree, there were other drinks that were commonplace for morning consumption even before tea. Wine and beer were seen as breakfast drinks since ancient Greek times. In fact, in the 1800s, the English viewed beer as the only appropriate breakfast drink.

Back then, no one was given a hard time for downing a mug of ale before heading off to work because beer for breakfast was commonplace. However, that was because the water could often kill you. And the actual alcohol content of beer was only 0.5 – 2.0%. It was rather weak but did provide the carbs needed to give energy and a full feeling to get people through the day. 

How was Coffee First Consumed?

Chocolate Hazelnut Cold Brew

The coffee bean is found in the cherry-like fruit of a coffee plant. Very early on, the fruit would be mixed with animal fat to create a protein-rich snack bar. Evolving through fermentation processes and other uses, a drink was created by using the whole coffee fruit, including the beans and the hull. Eventually, in the 13th century, people began heating or roasting the beans, and this practice is the first step in making coffee as we know it today. 

7 Parts of the Coffee Berry:

  1. Center cut
  2. Bean
  3. Silver skin
  4. Parchment
  5. Pectin layer
  6. Pulp
  7. Outer skin 

5 Interesting Facts About Coffee

  1. Brazil is the world’s top coffee producer.
  2. Coffee has been outlawed several times.
  3. Finns drink the most coffee.
  4. Coffee drinkers live longer than people who don’t drink coffee.
  5. Caffeine-free is not the same as decaf.

1. Brazil produces the most coffee.  

Coffee field in Brazil

While we already learned that over 70 countries produce coffee, Brazil is the top producer of coffee worldwide. Brazil produces about a third of Earth’s coffee supply. This is roughly twice as much as the second-place producer, Vietnam.

2. Coffee is just misunderstood.

There have been several occasions in history when leaders sought to ban coffee for its influence on people. In 1511, leaders in Mecca banned the drink for encouraging “radical thinking.” A certain 16th-century clergyman attempted to ban coffee, calling the drink “satanic.” And as recently as the 18th century, the Swedish government made coffee and coffee paraphernalia illegal for alleged links to a rebellious movement.

On a positive note, Pope Clement VIII was so fond of coffee he had it baptized in 1600.

3. Americans aren’t even in the top 10 when it comes to coffee consumption.

While the 64% of coffee-drinking Americans drink a lot of coffee, they aren’t even close to the levels of consumption of the people of Finland. The average adult Finn drinks 27.5 pounds of coffee per year, whereas an American only consumes 11 pounds. Finland is followed by Norway, Iceland, and Denmark as the top four countries that consume the most coffee. 

4. Coffee drinkers live longer.

Research has linked moderate intake of 3-4 cups of coffee per day to a longer life span. Coffee consumption is also linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. While these are very positive health benefits, it is important to note that moderation is key. 

5. Decaf and caffeine-free are two different things.

Decaf Single Origin Coffee Mayan Water Blend

Eight ounces of brewed decaf coffee has 2–12 milligrams of caffeine. While that is vastly different from regular coffee, which has between 95–200 milligrams of caffeine, it is not entirely caffeine-free. Decreased caffeine is an improvement for those looking to drink coffee without the buzz but making it fully caffeine-free is not possible due to the natural occurrence of caffeine in the coffee bean.

Where is the Coffee Grown?

As we discussed earlier, most coffee is grown in Brazil and is followed closely by Vietnam. Colombia is a distant third. Brazil alone is responsible for over 40% of the global coffee market. It is interesting to note that most coffee is grown in southern countries and has the highest consumption in northern countries.

Top-Producing Countries for Coffee

  • Brazil
  • Vietnam
  • Colombia
  • Indonesia
  • Ethiopia

What are the Benefits of Coffee?

Coffee maker with cups of coffee in kitchen

Coffee is good for more than just a morning pick-me-up. It is full of healthy antioxidants that are credited with fighting inflammation, neutralizing free radicals, and protecting our cells from damage. Curbing cancer, enhancing exercise performance, and lowering levels of liver enzymes that typically indicate inflammation and damage are additional health benefits from coffee.

What are the Effects of Coffee on the Brain?

There are also links to cognitive benefits stirring around in that morning cup of Joe. The caffeine content in coffee may give us a short-term memory boost but also offers protection against cognitive decline. Coffee helps in two ways – caffeine prevents the development of beta-amyloid plaque found in the brain with the progression of Alzheimer’s and decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for dementia. 

Which Coffee Type is Most Popular?

With all of these great health benefits, it just makes sense that coffee drinkers have a “type.” What’s your favorite roast? Between light, medium, and dark, medium roast is probably the most popular type on the market today due to its full, balanced flavor and aroma.

The Different Coffee Roasts

  • Light
  • Medium
  • Medium-dark
  • Dark 

Which Coffee Roast is Most Popular?

Brooklyn Roast Coffee Beans in Bag

Medium roast coffee is the most popular of the roast levels in the U.S. Typically, it is a blend of several coffee beans to create a smooth, more traditional coffee tasting experience. This is the roast that is recommended for the inexperienced palate due to its well-balanced profile that welcomes flavor additives and creamers. Medium roast is a very versatile coffee for both the nuanced coffee lover and the novice. 

How Do I Choose a Coffee Roast?

A great way to take your palate on an adventure is to join a coffee subscription service. Take the opportunity to order different roasts as well as single-origin and blended coffees. You will find the flavor notes of each roast are unique, and you may gravitate to one roast more than another.

Or you may like them all! If you crave a slightly acidic, floral cup of Java, you will enjoy light roasts. Looking for something a little more chocolatey with a velvet mouth feel? Your taste buds may be searching for a dark roast. It may take a bit of experimenting, but you will know which flavors resonate with you and which ones send you searching for a different cup.

What is the Most Popular Coffee Drink?

The Perfect Espresso Coffee

The most popular coffee drink in the U.S. is the classic café latte. A shot of espresso blended with piping hot milk and topped with milk foam reached over 67 million orders in one year. The most popular coffee drink in the world is espresso and it manages to find its way into many popular drinks. Just goes to show espresso is remarkable alone or blended in.

Do More People Make Coffee at Home or Go to a Coffee Shop?

That depends on whom you ask. Seventy-nine percent of people say they prefer to prepare their coffee at home. Millennials are striking a new trend – gourmet coffees are their go-to but don’t sleep on their influence over non-espresso-based products. Cold brew, in particular, has become a favorite, and they will brew theirs at home for convenience with sustainably sourced coffee.

The increase of coffee subscription services is in large part to meet the demand of the coffee drinkers’ favorite baristas – themselves. It has become incredibly popular to brew a favorite coffee beverage at home with artisanally roasted beans from a high-quality roaster. With quality beans and affordable coffee-making equipment, brewing coffee at home has never been more attractive.

Isn’t Drinking Coffee a Social Activity?

Historically speaking, drinking coffee with others has been a valued form of socialization. With the ease of home brewing, the threat to socialization hasn’t increased but rather made the indulgence of coffee with friends that much more intimate. Younger coffee drinkers represent a high rate of coffee consumption in the U.S., and they are spending more money on higher-quality coffee experiences.

And high-quality coffee experiences don’t necessarily only happen in a coffee house. Home brewing offers plenty of opportunities for young coffee drinkers to experiment with flavor profiles while entertaining like-minded, sustainability-conscious friends in their own space. Whether it is at work, grab-and-go convenience, or a favorite brew style at home, younger coffee drinkers are leading the way and keeping it social. 

What’s Next in the Future of Coffee?

 

Dark Roast Cold Brew Reserve Coffee for Cold Brewing
Cold brew was a relatively niche market until 2015, and now it is widely available worldwide. Nitro brew followed closely behind as the next best thing. RTD (Ready-to-Drink) products have seen dramatic rises in popularity due to demand for convenience by Millennials and younger coffee drinkers. Where will coffee take us next? Snapchill.

 

Snapchilled coffee doesn’t take as long to brew as cold brewed coffee, and there is no need to add ice cubes. This brew method takes freshly brewed coffee and chills it rapidly, enhancing the flavors and aromas that can be missing in the cold brew process. When freshness matters, this trend is the next big thing. 

Younger Coffee Drinkers Influence the Flow of Coffee

In the United States, more younger people drink coffee than ever before. They are also more likely to share their coffee-drinking experiences with others. For the tech-savvy, fast-paced Millennial and gen Z coffee crowd, decisions are made and based upon the advice of friends. And those decisions are broadcast across social media.

With a good deal of disposable income and a solid lean towards rewarding experiences, the youth of today are influencing the coffee industry and its trends. With an estimated population of over 72 million strong, people aged 24-39 are using their smartphones to order their coffee and share their brew preferences. 

Are Coffee Futures Up or Down?

House Blend Medium Roast Coffee Beans in Bag

Coffee futures are up. And climbing! There are several reasons why coffee is a growing industry. Beyond the caffeine and its addictive qualities, coffee is a social beverage, and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. Artisanal roasters are rising to meet the demands of the next generation of coffee drinkers and provide sustainably sourced, small-farm coffee experiences at a reasonable price.

Whether you are meeting up for coffee in the breakroom at work, at the coffee shop on the way home, or brewing your own specialty-ordered blend at home, coffee will continue to bring us together. 

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