From the origins of its name to its surprising benefits and ‘fake’ aroma, here are some interesting titbits about this magical brew. By Satyaki Sarkar
One of the most popular beverages in the world, the invigorating aroma and strength of coffee unites caffeine enthusiasts from around the world. Each coffee lover has his/her own way of enjoying a cup of joe. So what’s the story behind your favourite caffeinated drink? Here are some fun facts.
1. All the coffee in the world is grown in the Bean Belt
As incredulous as it sounds, the only place where coffee can be grown is in the area between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, which includes the greater part of South America, Africa, and parts of South Asia and Hawaii. The reason for this is that the climate in this region is the only one suitable for coffee to grow. Now it might seem like that is a very limited area for one of the most popular drinks in the world, but in reality, this belt includes as many as 50 countries that can all grow and produce coffee. In spite of the latitude of these countries being extremely similar, there are varying factors like soil quality and elevation that can have a huge impact on the taste, and therefore, lead to the production of starkly different kinds of coffee.
2. Coffee is the second highest traded commodity in the world
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise, given its popularity, but coffee comes second only to crude oil on the list of the highest traded commodities in the world. With over 2.25 billion cups of coffee consumed around the world on a daily basis, it’s easy to see why. While the highest consumers of coffee are the United States and Europe, most of the production is done in South America and Africa. Currently, there are roughly 25 million coffee workers all over the world, with around 11 million hectares of farmland dedicated solely to the production of coffee.
3. Coffee was originally called Arabian Wine
Europeans originally referred to your favourite caffeine-infused beverage as Arabian Wine. It was taken from the Arabic phrase ‘qahhwat al-bun’, meaning ‘wine of the bean’, and that’s how coffee got its name. The phrase soon go abbreviated into ‘qahwah’ and then to ‘kahveh’ in Turkey, which eventually went on to become ‘koffie’ in Dutch, and finally, ‘caffe’ in Italy. Coffee was immensely popular in Turkey, so much so that the Turkish word for breakfast ‘kahvalti’ literally translates to ‘before coffee’, while the colour brown is called ‘kahverengi’ in Turkish, which comes from ‘kahveh’, ie coffee.
4. Coffee can protect your liver from the effects of alcohol
Here’s a reason for all coffee lovers and alcohol enthusiasts to rejoice! Coffee has been proven to be helpful in decreasing the risk of contracting the alcohol-related liver disease cirrhosis, which can lead to liver failure, and even cancer. In a documented study, it was discovered that participants were 22 per cent less likely to be afflicted with alcoholic cirrhosis for every cup of coffee that they drank per day. Additionally, a recent study conducted in Italy also found that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of liver cancer by 40 per cent.
5. The invigorating aroma is often artificially added
Several popular coffee brands like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts often use a fake coffee smell to draw in customers, while ScentAir, a very popular scent provider, is a favourite of the coffee industry, as well as retail stores, restaurants and hotels. The technique is called aromachology, which utilises the latest in fragrance technology to increase the appeal of the product. Coffee aroma is also injected into the container by several popular brands to make the coffee seem fresh when the container is opened for the first time. However, the ‘fake’ smell that is used is supposedly created from the particles of actual coffee beans themselves, and hence, is mostly authentic.
Photograph: Valeria_aksakova – Freepik.com