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 Foodto find some interesting facts you might not
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.