An Introduction to Coffee – A Brief History of The Drink You Love

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. And for many, nothing will compare to the aroma of freshly ground coffee first thing in the morning. Of course, that aroma is nothing compared to the first sip, when caffeine rushes along every nerve and makes your fingertips and toes tingle with delight. The past decade has witnessed massive growth in the number of coffee shops on the high street and even the smallest caf? today offers a range of different coffee experiences.

The origins of coffee drinking are unclear. Stories have passed down through the generations of an Ethiopian goatherd who, upon noticing his charges were full of life after eating the beans of the tree, made a drink from the berries.

Most historians believe that coffee originated in Ethiopia and was smuggled into India, where it came to the attention of European traders. The French Sun King Louis XIV is credited with planting the first coffee tree in Western Europe, which is claimed to be the progenitor of modern Arabica coffee trees in the region.

Arabica and Robusta are the two main types of coffee bean grown today. The Arabica bean offers a rich aroma and flavor and is usually used in more expensive coffee blends whilst the Robusta is typically used to make instant coffee. The production of coffee is labor intensive. Coffee berries are picked from the tree (often by hand) and then the pulp is removed to expose the bean, which is then dried before roasting. It is during the roasting stage that the bean takes on a dark brown color and the oils emerge to give coffee its unique, tantalizing flavor.

The main coffee growing countries in the world are located in Central and South America (Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil), Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia) and the Far East (Vietnam and Indonesia). Trading in coffee is big business and the beans are considered a tradable commodity on the world’s stock markets. Over the past decade, there has also been a substantial growth in the production and purchase of fair trade coffee. Fair trade offers coffee growers a pre-determined price for their coffee beans, which tends to be higher than the price for commercially grown coffee. The growers form co-operatives to decide on how the money from the coffee harvest will be spent and invested in the community. Today, the majority of high street coffee chains actively promote, use and sell fair trade coffee beans.

Coffee is a versatile beverage and there are numerous ways to have it, starting with the basic black, white, or iced, you can also select from a variety of different types including:

    • Latte – a single serving of espresso topped with steamed milk.


      • Mocha – one-third espresso coffee again topped with steamed milk.


        • Espresso – a rich, dark, almost syrupy coffee served in a small cup.


        • Cappuccino – made up of an espresso topped with equal parts of steamed and foamed milk.

        There are known benefits from drinking coffee. Scientific studies have shown that it can lower the risk of forming some types of cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as increasing metabolism and aiding weight loss. However, on the negative side, too much coffee can reduce fertility, increase the likelihood of strokes, and dehydrate the body.

        Coffee is drunk throughout the world, at home, the workplace, in cafes and restaurants. It is a drink we all take for granted without understanding its origins or how it evolves from berry to coffee bean and then becomes coffee. It can be addictive and drinking too many cups can be detrimental to your health. However, like everything in life moderation is the key to enjoyment and boosting your health so you can enjoy more coffee.

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