Nectar of the Gods: Coffee, the World’s Most Popular Beverage

“I’m nothing without my first cup of coffee!” For most of the world, this statement is not only true, but deeply seated in our collective mindset. People are passionate about their coffee and complete morning routines are devoted to “The Nectar of the Gods”. But what do we really know about this magical concoction that wakes us up, helps us focus and fuels a whole culture of connoisseurs?

 

Coffea arabica

The most common and popular coffee bean is the Coffea arabica, originally indigenous to the mountains of the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia. It is also known as the “coffee shrub of Arabia”, “mountain coffee” or “arabica coffee”. Coffea arabica is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated. Believed to have been grown in Ethiopia for well over 1,000 years.

 

Arabica is said to produce better tasting coffee than the other major commercially grown coffee species, Coffea canephora (robusta), because robusta cherries contain twice as much caffeine as arabica. Since caffeine itself has a bitter taste, robusta is much more bitter than arabica beans.

 

Coffee’s effect on the body

Coffee has a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Coffee can be prepared and presented in a variety of ways. The effect of coffee on human health has been a subject of several studies. However, results have varied in terms of coffee’s relative benefit. The majority of recent research suggests that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults.

 

Coffee’s beginnings

The cultivation of coffee first took place in southern Arabia. The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen. In East Africa and Yemen, coffee was used in native religious ceremonies.

 

Economic effect of coffee

Coffee is an important export commodity, it was the top agricultural export for twelve countries in 2004, and it was the world’s seventh-largest legal agricultural export by value in 2005. Green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Some controversy is associated with coffee cultivation and its impact on the environment. To combat this, organic coffee is an expanding market.

 

Brazil is the top producer of coffee beans, with 33.1% of the market share, it is followed by Vietnam (15.2%), Indonesia (6.3%), Colombia (5.9%) and Ethiopia (5%). The top five producers control 65.6% of the worldwide market.

 

Fair trade coffee

The concept of fair trade labeling, which guarantees coffee growers a negotiated preharvest price, began with the Max Havelaar Foundation’s labeling program in the Netherlands. Coffee was incorporated into the fair-trade movement in 1988, when the Max Havelaar mark was introduced in the Netherlands. The very first fair-trade coffee was an effort to import a Guatemalan coffee into Europe as “Indo Solidarity Coffee”.

 

Culture

The “coffee break” was aggressively promoted by the Pan-American Coffee Bureau beginning in 1952. Before this time it had been unknown in the workplace, its uptake was facilitated by the recent popularity of both instant coffee and vending machines. It has since become an institution of the American workplace.

 

Folklore

The Oromo people would customarily plant a coffee tree on the graves of powerful sorcerers. They believed that the first coffee bush sprang up from the tears that the god of heaven shed over the corpse of a dead sorcerer.

 

Coffee has become such a large part of our society that it even has its own day. In the United States, September 29 is celebrated by the masses as “National Coffee Day.” A handful of other countries also carry on this tradition with their own day to commemorate the drink that has become so popular in our present day culture.

 

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