Coffee facts to perk you up

 Did you know it’s National Coffee Day today? We wanted to pay homage to the drink that has got us through many long days by delving in to The Oxford Companion to Food to find some interesting facts you might not have known.

  1.  Coffee was first called Qahwah (Arabic), which is a poetic name for wine – there is a thought that this may have been because Sufis were excited to find a drink to replace wine in religious ceremonies, but it is likely that at the least coffee provided welcomed stimulation to prolong hours of prayer.
  2. Before ever being made in to a drink, coffee berries were eaten whole, sometimes mixed with fat, or fermented to create a type of wine, and the beans weren’t roasted until around the 13th century.
  3. Although it was probably cultivated for centuries before, coffee was first mentioned in writing by an Arabian physician in the 10th century called Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī, who is also known as Rhazes.
  4. Coffee spread through the Middle East and Africa, with intensive cultivation in Yemen, and then arrived in Western Europe, where coffee houses became very popular, eventually becoming an important factor in the Enlightenment movement of the 18th century.
  5. By the 18th century coffee had reached the Americas, and today there are many countries competing in their cultivation of coffee, including Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, and Tanzania.
  6. The flavour of coffee is affected by many factors, including the nature of the soil and the altitude of the plantation, which gives each coffee their own special characteristics.
  7. Without the caffeine coffee doesn’t just become ineffective at waking you up, it would also lose its aroma and most of its taste. Decaffeinated coffee is placed through a lengthy process which removes 97% of the caffeine without losing its aroma and flavour.

Image: “espresso” by Brian Legate, CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr.

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Photo: Gregory Warner/NPR