5 facts you didn’t know about coffee

Cups of coffee on a table
There’s nothing better than a cup of coffee to start your day!
Image source: Thinkstock.

Perhaps one of the nation’s favourite beverages, there’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee to get you through the day. Or several, as the case may be! This week is UK coffee week, where we get the chance to honour all things caffeine. UK coffee week is aimed at raising money for the communities where our coffee comes from, to aid Project Waterfall.

To celebrate, we’ve come up with a list of interesting facts about this much loved drink.

Where does it come from?

Coffee beans with the coffea fruit.
The coffee bean isn’t actually a bean – it’s a fruit seed!
Image source: Thinkstock.

The humble coffee bean isn’t actually a bean at all – it’s a seed that comes from a fruit. These cherry like fruit grow on the coffea plant, and are harvested for the ‘bean’ that lies within. Originally, coffee was chewed – the berries would be ground together, some animal fat would be added, and then it would be rolled into tiny edible energy balls.

Some of the most expensive coffee comes from beans that have been fermented in the stomachs of the luwak, a wild civet. They can’t get enough of those little red fruits, but they are unable to actually digest the beans themselves. The droppings are collected and processed to become kopi luwak, which fetches a high price due to the complicated process it takes to make it.

Popular is an understatement…

Did you know that in the UK, we drink approximately 55 million cups of coffee per day? Whether you enjoy a lovely filter coffee first thing in the morning, or like to keep your caffeine levels topped up with an espresso throughout the day – there’s no doubt that we are a nation of coffee lovers! We may drink a lot of coffee, but it’s not as much as the Finns consume; Finland is known to be the most caffeinated country, consuming the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee a day. In fact, coffee is the second highest traded commodity throughout the world, second only to oil.

How to enjoy it best.

How to best enjoy your coffee
Make the most of your coffee!
Image source: Thinkstock.

To make the most out of your caffeine hit, the optimum time in the day to drink it is between half 9 in the morning, and 12 in the afternoon. Anytime before then, and the caffeine won’t be as effective – your body naturally produces a hormone called cortisol which helps you to wake up in the morning. Any coffee you drink in that time will have less of an effect.

You should avoid drinking this hot drink too close to when you head off to bed, as well. It can delay the release of the chemical melatonin that your brain produces to help you fall asleep, which can disrupt any plans of sleeping by up to 40 minutes!

Keeping the coffee pot topped up.

This cherished drink has been loved by many over the years, and is often the first thing that people reach for to start their day. But did you know that it is also the reason that the webcam was invented? Scientists in Cambridge university wanted to be kept up to speed on whether the coffee pot was full or not, without having to leave their desks. The rudimentary webcam refreshed the image three times every minute, so the scientists knew when they could go and make a cuppa!

A coffee ban?

Turkish coffee
The Ottoman empire tried to ban coffee.
Image source: Thinkstock.

Coffee hasn’t always been the popular beverage it is today – throughout history, there have been some attempts to ban it from consumption. It was first banned in Mecca in 1511 because it was believed to cause “radical thinking”, and again by clergyman in the 16th century because they believed it to be satanic. Pope Clement VIII really enjoyed his coffee, however, so lifted the ban and baptised the drink so that it could be appreciated! Perhaps one of the harsher bans was in the Ottoman empire, where the leader Murad IV sanctioned beatings to those caught drinking coffee – it was even punishable by death!

Have you got any little known facts about coffee that you would like to share? Drop us a message on Facebook to tell all!

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