That Sweet Elixir, Coffee

While partaking of the pleasures of my early-morning coffee beverage, I was struck with the astounding thought that I know very little about this wonderful elixir and mainstay of my caffeine consumption. Both raw coffee beans and the brewed beverage have a culture and a fanatical following the world over, founded on generations upon generations of historical coffee use. Here are 14 interesting legends surrounding this enticing and versatile beverage:

  1. Legend has it the effects of caffeine were first noticed by Ethiopian shepherds who noticed that their goats became more energetic after consuming coffee berries (The Oatmeal, Coffee Lovers United, Wikipedia article).
  2. Coffee grows on trees that can be up to 30 feet tall, but are cultivated to be much shorter for picking (The Oatmeal).
  3. Coffee beans are the green seeds inside a bright red berry, which are dried, picked, and stripped; the beans are then roasted around 500F. The beans pop twice and grow in size to indicate when they are done (The Oatmeal, Wikipedia article).
  4. Caffeine works in the human brain by attaching to adenosine receptors; your pituitary gland senses an emergency and tells the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (caffeine also increases your dopamine levels). Both of these reactions effectively give your body a ‘caffeine high’ (The Oatmeal, Wikipedia article).
  5. Oil (in the form of fuel) is the most sold commodity in the world, while coffee is the second most commonly sold item at the global level (The Oatmeal, Coffee Lovers United, Wikipedia article).
  6. African tribes mixed coffee berries with fat to create edible energy balls (The Oatmeal).
  7. All coffee grows in the ‘bean belt’, an area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (The Oatmeal).
  8. In 1675, the King of England banned coffee houses because they were seen as places where people could conspire against him (The Oatmeal).
  9. Caffeine is a plant’s natural defense mechanism, as it allows them to kill attacking hordes of insects (Santoso, September 29th, 2013).
  10. Scientists have studied both the complexity of coffee ring formation and the physics of spilling coffee while walking (Santoso, September 29th, 2013).
  11. George C. Washington, an English chemist, invented instant coffee in Guatemala in 1906 (The Oatmeal, Coffee Lovers United, Wikipedia article).
  12. The two most common sources of coffee beans are the highly regarded Coffea arabica, and the “robusta” form of the hardier Coffea canephor (Wikipedia article).
  13. In the late 15th century, Turkey passed a law making it possible for a woman to divorce her husband if he did not keep the coffee pot full (Hartston, September 27th, 2013).
  14. Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world and is excreted by a Sumatran species of wild cats, the Asian palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) (Hartston, September 27th, 2013).

There are plenty of other interesting facts that I have not included here; follow any of the above links to see comics, articles, and lists providing further fun details on that most wonderous of beverages, coffee!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. carrie says:

    I especially enjoyed reading #13….:)

  2. marialegault says:

    Awesome! Myself, I’ll never see coffee the same way again 🙂

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