The exact discovery of this well-known plant remains in the shadows, but there is a great bunch of legends about its origins. The first and probably most famous one traces its origins in the Ethiopian plateau, locating Africa as the born native countries. Indeed, Africa is the de facto native country of coffee.
The legend tells that an old peasant noticed how his goats became energetic and unwilling to sleep after eating some berries fallen from a tree, and started investigating about it. The coffee journey from Ethiopia reached the Arabian Peninsula, coming then in Europe and eventually landing in the new World by the Dutch merchants.
Hence, coffee is native to Africa areas such as tropical Africa, Madagascar, Comoros and Mauritius but it is cultivated throughout the world nowadays (more than 70 countries).
The most common coffee plants are the Arabica (Coffea Arabica) and the Robusta (Coffea Canephora). The process from the green beans to the hot cup of Joe can be chiefly described as follows: firstly, once ripe the coffee berries are picked. Secondly, the harvest is processed and dried. Finally, the dried coffee seeds are roasted to different degrees depending on the desired level of flavor and brewed with boiling water to produce the hot drink known as coffee.
Coffee, café, Java, cuppa, cuppa of Joe are one of the myriad ways in which the coffee drink can be called, the nicknames vary per the nation and historical traditions.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverage in the world and the first drug as number of users, with an associated pathology called “Caffeine Use Disorder”.
Hand in hand with the heterogeneity of names in which it is called, we find the way in which it can be found. Across the world we may find different preparation and tastes, such as the most famous ones as the Espresso, Cappuccino, French press, café latte, American coffee and so on and so forth.
Coffee is a major export commodity, among the largest agricultural ones, as well as a major source of income since it is one of the most valuable commodities. The coffee business is a gigantic behemoth, spawning network of international trade everywhere. All corners of the world are tied thanks to this tasty hot water.
Economics of coffee
Tens of millions of small producers make their living growing coffee plants in developing countries and billions of cups of coffee are consumed daily, making it a business that only in the US has total economic impact of more that 225$ billions. US consumers spend annually an amount greater than 75 billion and the overall US coffee industry counts more than 1 million jobs, including importers, transportations, shipping, packaging, sweeteners, disposable products, Equipment, Indirect services etc.
The coffee bean begins its journey on plantations in some less developed country, before being carefully roasted and packed off to travel the entire globe. Unroasted coffee is so widely traded and exchanged that there are futures contracts available in the main Stock Exchanges, from New York to London. According to a World Bank estimation, 95 out of 140 developing countries depend mainly on commodity exports, and coffee can be defined as the lion’s share of the majority of the business in such places (e.g. 50% of Uganda’s exports, 75% of Burundi’s exports).
Though international trade to the extent seen today is very much a feature of recent time (and it is being threatened by Trump administration), coffee has been linking the world since well before the dawn of globalization. In fact, global trade of coffee is thought to have been born when Yemeni traders brought the plant out of Africa. Then, after the explosion in trade networks with the international empires, coffee conquered the global status. The soaring demand for coffee was related not only to its flavor and stimulating effects but also because it was seen as a status symbol in most of Europe economies thanks to its exotic foreign origins.
Whereas coffee production is characterized by a huge number of small producer selling to a sprinkling amount of big enterprises, the opposite can be said when we analyze consumption.
Indeed, coffee shops are denominated by just few big players such as Costa, Starbucks and Caffè Nero, which for instance just in the UK operate in more than 2412 outlets. Exceptions apply in Italy, where the influence of big international coffee shops is quite null due to a strong cultural tradition and attachment to the hot beverage.
Coffee and Health
The hot dark drink is full of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, it makes you energetic and “smarter” thanks to the caffeine that blows from your body system right to the brain, improving various aspect of the brain function such as mood, vigilance, reaction times, general cognitive function and as before mentioned, energy levels.
However, there are conflicting results about memory effects, since on the one hand it is said that coffee could improve it but on the other hand it is said that coffee can increase and improve focus and attention but not helping in the acquisition of knowledge and thus memory.
Again, coffee can lessen the probability of heart attack, stroke, reducing the risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease, neurological disease and type 2 diabetes as well as reducing the risk of suicide.
Obviously, these results come from researches carried out on pure black coffee without the addition of sugar, cream and others sweetened stuffs. If you are a sugar-coffee drinker, I am sorry but your habit won’t help you prevent from having diabetes but it actually can trigger it, since daily high amounts of sugar are the perfect trigger of Type 2 diabetes. Same applies for Irish coffee, having several cups a day of the latter will hamper the benefits because consuming alcohol is something that should be done responsibly.
Nevertheless, it is important to stress the fact that all the benefits are related to moderate amount of coffee, where moderate can vary from person to person but a top limit should be set at non-exceeding the 3 cups daily.
Furthermore, coffee is one of the few natural substances that helps fat burning and boosting metabolic rate (and let you save a lot of money on fake supplements promising doubtful results).
The rush of caffeine can improve the physical performance, having a complementary work with fat burning and metabolic rate.
Some of the micronutrients contained are:
- Riboflavin, B12
- Pantothenic acid, B5
- Niacin, B3
Finally, from a nutritional point of view, the best time to drink coffee isn’t in the morning as a first thing after waking up. As a matter of fact, there is already an internal process in your body that makes you wake up, with cortisol levels climbing to new highs every day. Since cortisol and caffeine play opposite role and work in opposite direction, if you drink more and more coffee every morning, it is likely that you will eventually built a tolerance that it will make you crave for even more coffee in order to wake up.
Therefore, if you love drinking black coffee in the morning for the mere taste and enjoyment that a cup can provide, and you don’t care about caffeine of fat-loss property, keep on doing it;
Otherwise, if you want to exploit and unlock the full potential and benefits of this holy drink, try to change you habits from now on.