Coffee is arguably the most popular hot beverage in the world. It is made from the berries, or commonly known as coffee cherries, harvested from species of the Coffea plants. There are between 25 and 100 species of Coffea plants, however, the two most important species are Arabica and Robusta.
History of Coffee
How and when coffee was discovered is not known, however, legend has it that it was first discovered in Ethiopia centuries ago by a goat herder named Kaldi. He noticed that the behaviour of his goats changed after they ate the fruit from a coffee plant. They were energetic and could not sleep at night.
Kaldi then informed the local monastery of this strange happening and they made a drink from this fruit. They too experienced similar effects to that of the goats, and word of this fruit spread East to the Arabian Peninsula and across the globe.
As the popularity of coffee grew in the Arabian Peninsula, it was enjoyed in public spaces called coffee houses. The popularity of these coffee houses grew and quickly became the center of all kinds of social activities. You can compare these coffee houses with the coffee shops we know today. Many gathered there to socialise and to exchange news and important information.
Coffee plants are commonly grown in a region known as the Coffee Belt or the Bean Belt. This region is located along the Equator between 25 degrees North and 30 degrees South. Coffee plants favour rich soil, mild temperatures, and frequent rain. Coffee plants are grown in various countries including:
- Puerto Rico
- Costa Rica
- Ivory Coast
These plants can grow up to 30 feet high and are covered in green leaves with coffee cherries growing along the branches. While they can live up to 100 years, they are most productive after 7 years and before 20 years.
The Coffee Arabica plant species descent from the original coffee plants found in Ethiopia, and it is believed to be the first species to be cultivated. 70% of the world’s coffee is produced from this specific plant, and coffee produced from this plant is known to be mild and aromatic. Apart from being lower in caffeine, Arabica coffee (also known as mountain coffee) can be more expensive seeing as though the plants are more costly to cultivate and require special attention.
30% of the world’s coffee is produced from the Coffee Robusta plant, and it is mostly used in blends and instant coffee. Compared to the Arabica plant, the Robusta plant is cheaper to cultivate as it is more resistant to disease and parasites and therefore requires less attention. This is due to the amount of caffeine found in the plant, which acts as a natural repellent against harmful insects. Robusta coffee is known to have a distinctive taste, and it also has a lot more caffeine than Arabica coffee.
The fruit that grows on a coffee plant is known as a coffee cherry, and the beans used to make coffee are actually the seeds inside this fruit. Once these cherries are pink or red in colour, they can be picked. When opening these cherries you will find two beans which will later on be used to make your favourite brew.
Apart from being the key ingredient of coffee, coffee cherries can also be used in butter, chocolate or even sorbet. It is packed with antioxidants and has all the benefits normally associated with coffee.
Fun Fact: There will sometimes only be one bean inside a coffee cherry, and this bean is known as a peaberry. It is considered to be sweeter than a standard bean and more flavourful.
Types of Coffee
We all like our coffee made in a certain way, and there certainly are so many ways to enjoy coffee. Whether it is a plain black coffee or a frothy latte. Luckily though, there is a specific name that we can use when we order our favourite type of coffee. Here are the most popular types of coffee:
- Black Coffee
- Red Eye
- Flat White
- Cafe au Lait
- Irish Coffee
The Health Benefits of Coffee
Earlier we mentioned that the coffee fruit is packed with antioxidants which gives you a health boost. Drinking coffee in moderation has many other health benefits too:
- It can help you lose weight
- It helps you to focus
- It has a positive effect on your liver
- It can protect you from Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
- It can lower your risk of getting Parkinson’s Disease
- It can reduce your risk of getting cancer
The Side Effects of Coffee
Coffee is good for you, however, when it is not consumed in moderation it can have negative effects on the human body. It is recommended to have no more than 5 cups of coffee per day, and having more than this can have the following negative effects:
- Higher blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Raised cholesterol levels