Dear coffee. Thank you for giving us a reason to rise out of bed in the morning, for helping us to function better, for being the excuse to meet up with friends and family at amazing cafes, and for tasting so darn good. We Australians love you (although not as much as the Fins, but more on that later).
I know it’s scant consolation but we’ve written this article specially for you, as an ode of sorts. In it, we detail some fun coffee facts and marvel at your importance in history…
History of Coffee
Rumour has it that in the 9th Century AD, Ethiopian shepherds were bemused when they noticed their goats dancing jovially in the fields. Their investigation led back to the coffee berries the goats had consumed.
Soon after, a local monk made a drink from the berries. Unsurprisingly to us, the poor fellow had trouble sleeping. As he tossed and turned that night, he could never have foreseen the impact his bespoke brew was set to have across the world…
At first, coffee berries were eaten by African tribes, who liked to mix them with fatty ingredients to create edible energy balls. But over time, coffee lovers found that it was preferable in liquid form.
Today, it’s estimated that a ridiculous 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed every single day, making it the second most traded commodity in the world, with oil coming in first and animals & animal products, agriculture, metals and more trailing behind it.
In terms of coffee consumption by country, Finland consumes the most coffee per capita, a whopping 9.6kg, which is equivalent to about four cups a day. Norway and the Netherlands make up the top three. Australia comes in at 28th.
How Caffeine Works
Our brains feature a chemical called adenosine. When it attaches itself to an adenosine receptor, you will feel drowsy. But when you ingest caffeine, it attaches itself to these receptors instead, leaving the adenosine all alone.
As a result, your pituitary gland assumes there’s some foul play going on and tells the nearby adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. It’s this adrenaline that gives you that jolt of energy you need to face the world and get stuff done.
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Other Random Coffee Facts
Premium Wild Cat or Thai Elephant Brews
If you have a cool $1500 to spare, you might fancy trying a kilogram of arguably the world’s most expensive coffee bean. The only other catch than the price? It’s been through the insides of a Sumatran wild cat.
Yes, you heard right. These beans are highly sought after because the cat’s digestive system is incapable of digesting the beans. Instead, their stomachs lightly ferment the beans, which produces an incredibly smooth, velvety coffee once the beans are excreted.
Black Ivory coffee employs a similar process, using the digestive tracts of Thai elephants to generate a unique flavour. It costs roughly the same as the wild cat version. With this in mind, it’s anyone’s guess which animal will be next!
Coffee as Satanic and Radical?
Coffee is almost universally revered these days but the caffeinated beverage wasn’t always held in such high regard. In fact, a number of countries have attempted to ban coffee throughout history.
A famous example was in 16th Century Italy where clergymen tried to ban coffee as they believed it held satanic powers. Luckily for us coffee lovers, the pope at the time – Clement VII – loved coffee so much, he not only lifted the ban but also baptised coffee.
A few decades later, King Charles II reportedly banned coffee houses in England when he grew paranoid that they were breeding grounds for conspirers.
Dark Roast or Light Roast?
Many coffee drinkers assume that dark roasts are stronger due to their colour and bolder tastes. However, the longer roasting time actually burns off some of the caffeine. In other words, if it’s caffeine you’re after, stick to light roast coffee.