18 Sep Five Things Worth Knowing About Coffee
Coffee is much more than a somewhat bitter-tasting beverage that’s good for a pick-me-up in the morning. Rather, it’s an incredibly complex drink that has a complicated chemical structure and intriguing history.
The next time you enjoy a cup o’ joe, consider these five interesting facts about coffee.
1. Coffee Was Discovered by Ancient Priests Who Observed Goats
There’s some dispute as to whether coffee was initially discovered in Ethiopia or Yemen. However, the way it was found generally follows the same storyline regardless of which region it came from.
According to legend, coffee was discovered by ancient priests who observed that goats “danced” after eating part of the coffee plant. Priests then collected and boiled the coffee cherries, immediately noticing caffeine’s stimulating effects after they drank some of the concoction. The beverage was later used as an aid when priests needed to stay up for all-night vigils.
Once it was discovered, the consumption of coffee wasn’t limited to religious leaders. Many African tribes in the area mixed coffee cherries’ fruit with animal fat to create some of the first energy bars.
2. Instant Coffee Was Invented Almost 250 Years Ago
While instant coffee may seem like a modern luxury, it has actually been around for almost 250 years. The first version of this ingenious product was developed in England in 1771. Over 100 years later, in 1909, Belgian-American inventor George Constant Louis Washington created the first mass-produced instant coffee. This product, called Red E Coffee, was the first of its kind to be introduced in the U.S.
3. English Coffee Houses Were Home to Well-Known Places of Business
Early coffee houses were often hubs for business. In fact, many businessmen even kept regular hours in them (just as some remote workers do today).
Some of today’s most widely known and respected businesses got their start in coffee houses during the 1600s:
- The coffee house of Edward Lloyd served as a gathering place for insurers and mariners. It eventually became Lloyd’s of London, an insurance company that’s still in business to this day.
- Jonathan’s Coffee House was located in London and served as the original site of the London Stock Exchange.
- New York City’s Tontine Coffee House would later become the New York Stock Exchange.
4. The Coffee Bean Is the Pit of a Cherry-Like Fruit
The beans that are ground up and brewed for coffee are actually the pit of a cherry-like fruit that grows on trees. The fruit’s exterior is either red or yellow when ripe depending on the specific varietal. The flesh of the fruit may be left on (natural, unwashed) or taken off (washed) during processing.
5. Caffeine Is a Naturally Occurring Pesticide
The caffeine in coffee is a natural pesticide that looks white. The chemical’s bitter taste deters animals from eating the plant, and its stimulating properties harm insects that feed on the plant’s leaves or fruit.
Coffee Is a Complex Beverage
The next time you have a cup of coffee, take a moment to think about what you’re drinking. From the strange berries that made goats dance to the convenient powder we use today, coffee has shaped – and fueled – our world for centuries.