5 Interesting Facts About Coffee

Whether you’re a fan of lattes, cappuccinos, espressos or frappuccinos, coffee is one of the most popular beverages on the planet. It’s estimated that each year over 400 billion cups of coffee are drank worldwide, which works out at about 57 cups on average per person. In the UK coffee has even overtaken tea to become the nation’s favourite hot drink of choice.

So, as a celebration of all things coffee, let’s take a look at some interesting facts about our favourite beverage that we bet you never even knew…

The effects of coffee were first discovered by goats

We’re not kidding! (No pun intended) Legend has it that back in the 9th century an Ethiopian goat herder noticed his animals were acting strangely after munching on some berries. He then took some of the berries back to the local monastery, where the abbot made a drink from them. The monks noticed that the drink kept them awake and alert for longer and it wasn’t long before they spread the word about its effects… and so coffee began its rise to popularity.

Coffee actually comes from a berry

Although most people know that coffee is made from coffee beans, it is less well known that in fact these beans are the seeds of a cherry-like fruit. Coffee berries grow in bunches along the branches of coffee trees. To start off with the fruit is green but over time this turns red as it ripens. After picking, the fruits are processed to remove the skin and dried out. The beans are then roasted and ground, after that they are ready for brewing into the perfect cuppa.

40% of the world’s coffee comes from Columbia and Brazil

Coffee is enjoyed across the world, but did you know that coffee berries only grow along the Equatorial regions? This area is sometimes referred to as the ‘coffee belt’ as it runs along the equator, stretching from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. Conditions here are perfect for growing coffee as the temperature falls in the range of 15-30°C all year and annual rainfall is 1,500-3,000mm.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil and in South America it is big business. In many areas of the world coffee grows in mountainous regions so harvesting must be done by hand. The difference in Brazil and Columbia is that the terrain is very flat so machinery can be used to collect the berries much more efficiently.

Cars can be fuelled by coffee

While many of us use coffee to help fuel our daily lives, in 2010 a specially modified car was built to run on coffee instead of petrol. The car, nicknamed ‘the Carpuccino’ was made for BBC TV series Bang Goes The Theory and made a 210 mile trip from London to Manchester, powered by roasted coffee granules.

To fuel the car, coffee granules were heated to 70°C, this broke them down into Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide which were filtered and fed through to the engine.

Over the course of the journey the car used the equivalent of 11,000 espressos, which is 56 per mile. It took over 10 hours for the car to complete its journey as it had to be refuelled every 30-45 miles.

Despite the trip being a success we don’t expect coffee powered cars to take off any time soon though, as the total cost of fuelling the car on coffee granules worked out 50 times more expensive than petrol!

The first coffee machine was invented in 1818

The quest for the perfect cup of coffee has led man to create machines with the ability to brew coffee. The first was created in Paris by a man known only as Mr Lauren. It was a simple device that which was basically a metal pot with a chamber at the bottom and a pipe connecting the two. When placed on heat, the water rose up and infused the coffee.

Coffee machines have come a long way in the past 200 years though. Now modern coffee machines offer a variety of freshly brewed coffees served in a few moments at the push of a button.

1100 years and still going strong…

So over 1100 years after its creation, coffee’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down. The demand for new varieties and authentic coffee is growing as a new generation of coffee drinkers emerges. You only have to look at the amount of coffee shops springing up on every High Street to see evidence of this trend.

Right all this talk of coffee is making us thirsty… think it’s time for a cuppa!