Coffee – maybe we are about to choose the wrong word, but one thing’s for sure – there are many less known facts about world’s most popular hot beverage which might surprise you (or even make you laugh), and we are here to make sure you become the coffee-know-it-all so you can spread your wisdom among your close ones. Enough with the intro, let’s get straight to the facts!
► We should be forever thankful for Ethiopian goats
If the legends were true, then we are to thank an Ethiopian herd of goats and their shepherd who noticed how euphoric and active his goats get whenever they are around a tree of bright red berries. Like any curious person, the shepherd decided to see what all fuss was about. The first thing he noticed was that it was not a cherry tree, but similar red berries of not so pleasant taste as he expected. He then tried some of the berries himself and felt re-energized within minutes, which encouraged him to pick some flowering branches and head to a nearby monastery, where he offered the plant to the Abbot. He boiled a branch with some red fruits, had a sip and, disgusted by it, tossed the bundle into the fire. Suddenly, a delicious aroma filled the kitchen and the Abbot decided to cook the plant one more time – the rest is history. Found by goats, picked by a shepherd, boiled by an abbot and, centuries later, loved by (more or less) anyone – who could ever imagine?
►Finland is the world’s most caffeinated country
No, we are not mistaken. It’s not Columbia nor Ethiopia, it’s the country of Santa Claus! The International Coffee Organization discovered that Finns consume 12.2 kg of coffee per person per year, which equals to almost 1300 cups per year and three and a half cups each and every day! And when we calculate that in espresso terms, it is 1745 espressos and nearly 5 cups per day per person. That’s quite a lot, don’t you think? They justify themselves with a fact that it is a dark and cold place for most of the year, which is why they need something to keep them going. That might be true as Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway also rank high in this research. Finland’s love for coffee goes as far as the Helsinki Coffee Festival, held since 2015 and is now the biggest coffee-related event in the cold North. So, the happiest people, the world’s biggest coffee addicts, the cleanest air… the list goes on and on, but we agree on one thing – Finland is absolutely awesome!
►Coffee successfully fought several ban attempts
There has been more than one (failed, thankfully) attempt to ban coffee for different reasons, from believing it stimulated radical thinking to claim it interfered with the country’s beer consumption (yes, we are talking about Prussia). Coffee’s first ban happened in Mecca in 1511 for the first-mentioned reason, and it was followed by the 16th-century ban in Italy whose clergymen believed it to be satanic. But, they did not think Pope Clement VII would love coffee so much to lift the ban and have it baptized soon after, which is exactly what happened! However, the story does not end here. Ottoman leader Murak IV took it even further and created the first punishments for drinking coffee in 1623, which included being thrown into the sea and beatings. A century later, the Sweden government struck again and made it illegal to have anything related to coffee, including cups and other dishes. Finally, we come to Prussia, where Frederick the Great issued a manifesto declaring beer’s superiority over coffee in order to keep the balance within the country’s beer consumption. And look at us today, drinking coffee and living on the edge – how cool are we?
► It is possible to overdose on coffee
Yes, you have read it well – as much as with anything else, it is possible to exaggerate with caffeine as well. The exact amount of caffeine that causes toxicity and overdose varies from person to person, depending particularly on one’s weight. As with all other drugs, the lower the weight, the lower the necessary dose it takes to cause damage. Consequently, this makes children, people with eating disorders and other conditions more vulnerable to caffeine overdose. In humans, more than 150-200 mg per kg of body weight (5 to 10 grams of total caffeine) ingested is considered lethal. To put it in another way, an average adult person should have over 100 cups of coffee to consume the fatal dose of caffeine. It is rare, but not impossible, especially if someone uses caffeine pills, so take care of yourself and make sure you don’t exceed the recommended daily dose of up to 400 mg per day.
► Women claimed it made men impotent
In 1674, women started the ‘Women’s Petition against Coffee’ because they were convinced it caused impotence by men. They were furious about the time and energy men spent at the coffeehouse. Instead of paraphrasing, we will quote several fractions of the original text: “For can any woman of sense or spirit endure with patience,” they wrote, “that when…she approaches the nuptial bed, expecting a man that … should answer the vigor of her flames, she, on the contrary, should only meet a bedful of bones, and hug a meager useless corpse?”… and they continue – “We have read, how a Prince of Spain was forced to make a Law, that Men should not Repeat the Grand Kindness to their Wives, above NINE times a night; but Alas! Alas! Those forwards Days are gone… For the continual flipping of this pitiful drink is enough to bewitch Men of two and twenty, and tie up the Codpiece-points without a Charm. It renders them that use it as Lean as Famine, as Rivvel’d as Envy or an old meager Hagg over-ridden by an Incubus. They come from it with nothing moist but their snotty Noses, nothing stiffe but their Joints, nor standing but their Ears”! That being said, we will stop ourselves here, but if you want to read more of this literary masterpiece, you can do so here.
Some extra short but fun facts!
♦ The most expensive coffee in the world is called ‘Kopi Luwak’, comes from Indonesia and is made from cat poop, in less disgusting words is made from beans digested by the Asian Palm Civet. You can buy it for €350 per kilo.
♦ There are only 2 types of coffee – Arabica, cultivated on the Arabian peninsula (in ancient Arabia a woman could only divorce her husband if he did not like her coffee!), and Robusta which is slightly more bitter and contains the double amount of caffeine.
♦ Espresso is regulated by the Italian government because it is considered to be an essential part of Italian life and culture.
♦ The origin of the word ‘coffee’ is the following: Arabic qahhwat al bun → qahwa → Turkish kahve → Dutch koffie → English coffee
♦ Japan has a Yunessun Spa Resort located in Hakone where you can bathe in coffee, tea or wine.
♦ World’s oldest cat ever named Creme Puff (38) drank coffee every morning of her furry life and she beat the record of a 34-year-old cat Grandpa Rex Allen who had the same owner and followed the exact same diet.
♦ There is a high chance coffee might run your car someday as scientists had great success in converting coffee into biodiesel.
♦ The first webcam ever was invented to check the status of a coffee pot at the University of Cambridge as many researchers would come to a coffee room from different floors and labs just to find it all gone.
♦ Brazil is the world’s leading producer of coffee, with more than four billion coffee trees. It produces around 33% of the world’s coffee today.
♦ Originally, coffee was food and not a drink as red berries were mixed with fat in order to form energy balls.
We believe it’s safe to say that we are glad to live in an era where coffee is all-around, cheap and easy to find, so let’s enjoy it while we can, shall we?