24 Fun Coffee Facts

We all like to drink a cup of coffee, and even know some Italian thanks to how many of the most important coffee types have Italian names. But these fun facts about coffee will make an interesting read and mentioning some of this trivia in a conversation is sure to raise some smiles.

  1. Legend has it that in the 9th century, a herder in the Kaffa region in Ethiopia noticed that its goats were excited after eating some beans, hence discovering the energizing property of the coffee bean.
  2. The word coffee dates from 1582, from the Dutch koffie, from the Turkish, from the Arabic qahwah.
  3. In French, the slang kawa still refers to coffee; it is Arabic inspired slang.
  4. The Arabic word qahwah comes from the verb qahiya, “to lack hunger”, depicting the appetite suppressant characteristic of coffee.
  5. Another legend about the origin of coffee comes from the region of Mocha in Yemen, where a starving Omar in the desert tried to chew the coffee bean. Finding them bitter, he would have tried to roast them, still not very good and too hard, then boil them. The fragrant drink thus made saved him, and later he was sanctified.
  6. The first evidence of coffee drink and trees comes from the middle 15th century.
  7. Among the Sufis (an Islam sect), coffee was drunk to stay awake during their religious ceremonies.
  8. By the 16th century, coffee was common in the Middle East, and the first coffee seeds smuggled to India, China, and Europe.
  9. The first European coffee house opened in 1645 in Rome, followed a decade later by others in France, then Austria.
  10. Coffee was introduced in Poland after the Battle of Vienna, when the Turkish army was defeated and its coffee supplies captured.
  11. During the Revolutionary War, coffee prices in the USA soared due to high demand, in particular as tea was getting harder to get from the British.
  12. Royal Navy Seamen used to burn bread to make a coffee ersatz.
  13. A coffee tree planted in the French Caribbeans in the 1600s is at the origin of all of the world’s arabica.
  14. Arabica is cultivated in South America and eastern Africa in articular, while Robusta is grown in central and western Africa and Brazil. Asia has both.
  15. Coffee plants have almost a thousand pest insects. In particular the coffee borer beetle drills a hole in the bean a lays its eggs, the larvae then grows eating the bean from inside.
  16. Producing 1 cup worth of coffee beans requires 140L of water, leading to environmental and water supplies problems in high production countries such as Ethiopia.
  17. The Borneo coffee Kopi Luwak is made from digested berries by the Asian palm civet. It is maybe the most expensive coffee in the world, at more than 30$ per cup. While some say the digestion activates particular enzymes and partially ferment the bean, others think it is quite acid and not particularly good; in any case, if not the price, then its production from force-fed caged civets should convince you that it’s not worth trying.
  18. In Thailand, force-fed elephants produce the black ivory coffee bean. As for the civet, mistreatment produce this coffee bean that is exalted mainly for marketing reasons.
  19. Decaffeinated coffee is made by dissoving the caffeine while the bean is still green. The caffeine is sold to the pharmaceutical industry, and traces remain in the bean.
  20. In 1931, coffee was vacuum packed, allowing longer storage with preserved taste.
  21. An Espresso is made with high pressure steam, leading to a more concentrated beverage than a regular occffee filter.
  22. A regular brewed coffee contains 40mg caffeine per 100mL. Espresso can have up to 5 times this amount, though the volume is much smaller.
  23. Instant coffee was invented in 1907, and gained popularity despite an inferior taste thanks to the convenience and speed of preparation.
  24. Northern European countries make up 9 of the top 10 world coffee drinkers. Finland is first with 12kg of cofee beans per inhabitant per year.
  25. In Spain, Torrefacto is a way of preparing the beans by coating them in sugar before roasting. It loses some flavours and is more bitter, but helps better preservation. It was used during the Spanish Civil War, and 70 years later it is still common.

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