There are probably 7 things you didn’t know about the king of all beverages. Do you know that one of the most expensive classes of beans is harvested from elephant dung? We know, it’s crazy! And it’ll get crazier after you finish up this list of insanely amazing facts about our beloved beverage.
- Coffee is not a fruit—it’s actually cherry seeds
- An expensive variety of coffee comes from…elephant dung
- In coffee roasting, less is more
- But beware: there’s a coffee overdose
- It may shield you against cancers
- Coffee inspired some of today’s most used technologies
- This is probably a no-brainer, but coffee is a global phenomenon
Coffee beans are not true beans but are seeds of a flowering plant that grows cherries. The fruit itself is discarded; although it’s edible, you can’t make a juice out of coffee cherries because it isn’t very pulpy. It’s the seed we’re after, and each cherry contains two or three “beans.”
Speaking of coffee cherries, they are actually a favorite snack of elephants. And when we say snack, yes, they eat it up, grind the beans inside—hulled and crushed—and brought back to the outside world in the form of their dung. Elephant dung coffee, regardless of how disgusting that sounds, has been known to sell for $500 per pound. Talk about gold ‘digging.’
Coffee 101: the lighter the bean, the more caffeine it has. So, if you need to stay awake past the wee hours, a light roast will do you good. As for the type of coffee, reach for cold brew over iced or drip coffee on hangover mornings. For grogginess or jetlag, cold brew is also the best way to go. It has the most caffeine.
While’s it’s extremely rare, caffeine overdose is not impossible. Four 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee are the suggested limit set by the FDA. That is roughly 400 milligrams of caffeine every day. Overdosing could trigger migraines, palpitations, muscle tremors, and nausea. Drinking more than a liter can cause more serious side effects such as seizures and hallucinations.
A 2011 report by the Harvard School of Public Health demonstrated that in a 22-year study of nearly 48,000 men, those drinking six or more cups of coffee were about 60 percent less prone to male-only cancers like prostate and testicular cancer. In 2008, Lund University of Sweden conducted a study that suggests lowered risk of breast cancers for women who regularly drink coffee, at least for those who have a relatively common variant of the CYP1A2 gene – a regulating agent that helps metabolize both estrogen and coffee.
Here’s an interesting story: the world's first webcam was a product of Cambridge researchers' laziness to fetch coffee from their coffee machine. The cam was set up in the "Trojan Room" so employees could see whether or not the pot was full. If they could see ahead—via their "webcam"—that it was empty, it'd save them a trip, and a heartbreaking disappointment.
A good cup of coffee brings the world together; it’s the second most traded commodity on the planet, second only to crude oil. Every day, the world consumes nearly 1.6 billion cups of coffee. In America alone, people spend $40 billion on coffee and coffee-based products each year. Entire corporations rely on farming, processing, and trading coffee.
Yes, coffee is so good, the smell of a freshly brewed Arabica is hypnotizing. Its taste alluring and addictive—a legalized, widely accepted type of drug, if you will. Can you imagine life without it? No, me too. So, coffee break?
You can browse Christopher Bean’s fine selection of coffee here.