Who knew that one day a warm drink could make or break your day? Perhaps the cup of coffee I’m drinking right now could make or break this blog, I guess we’ll find out. Although it’s disputed if tea or coffee is the most popular beverage around the world, an estimated 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed globally each day. So there’s definitely no disputing that coffee is a popular drink.
Kaldi and His Jumping Goats
Can’t decide between having a cappuccino, espresso or Americano? No worries, historians are still debating where the story of coffee began exactly, but there seems to be a consensus that the earliest records of coffee drinking appeared in Yemen and Ethiopia. One story that points to this is when an Ethiopian goat herder by the name of Kaldi (AD 850) noticed that his goats, after eating certain berries from a particular tree, became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night. Kaldi reported his findings to an abbot at a local monastery, who then made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through long hours of prayer. Tales of this brew spread to Medina and Mecca, and then eventually to Cairo, Damascus, Baghdad and Constantinople. Coffee became a truly social drink when the first coffee houses (Kaveh Kanes) were established in Mecca.
Coffee in Africa
Although you may not be convinced by the story of Kaldi and his herd of goats, there is a long recorded history of coffee production in Africa. We have come a long way from the days of coffee houses in Mecca, so coffee production is a lot more widespread, but Africa’s coffee is still well sought after by caffeine fanatics around the world.
- Ethiopia – Located on the horn of Africa, Ethiopia may not strike some people as an ideal coffee growing destination due to its arid and semi-arid climate, but Ethiopia’s forest highlands (to the west of the country) provide ideal conditions for coffee production. The regions of Kaffa and Oromia are well known for their wild coffee plants and Ethiopia accounts for 39% of Africa’s coffee production. Small-holder farmers have had to compete with bigger multinationals and this means that farmers are often receiving less for the coffee they produce.
- Uganda – Making up 23% of Africa’s coffee production, coffee is Uganda’s top-earning export crop. Popular growing destinations include the slopes of Mount Elgon and slopes of Mount Rwenzori. Robusta coffee is still the dominant coffee grown in Uganda, but Arabica coffee has been introduced and naturalised in Uganda. Farmers in Uganda typically diversify their crops and don’t grow coffee on its own.
- Tanzania – Just like Uganda, coffee is Tanzania’s top earning export crop. Tanzania accounts for 6% of Africa’s coffee production and the coffee industry employs around 270,000 workers. Approximately 70% of the coffee produced in Tanzania is Arabica and most coffee farmers cultivate on less than 5 acres. Coffee from Tanzania is often not of a high enough quality to be sold in premium markets, so it’s usually blended with other coffee.
- Kenya – Kenya’s coffee is well known for its intense flavour, full body and pleasant aroma. About 70% of Kenya’s coffee is produced by small-scale holders and it’s estimated that 6 million Kenyans are employed directly or indirectly by the coffee industry. One of Kenya’s famous growing regions is around the high plateaus of Mount Kenya.
How Well Do You Know Your Coffee?
“Can I have a frappe-latte-macchiato-cappuccino with vanilla essence, no cream, and one sugar, on a flaming saucer.” Coffee can be enjoyed in a number of different ways, but getting to grips with all the different cups of coffee can be challenging. Let’s see how well you know your coffee. Here are some of the popular coffee orders that you’ll find on the menu at your local café:
- Americano – This cuppa is about as simple as they come and is made using a shot of espresso and hot water.
- Espresso – Looking for a real pick me up? Similar to ordering a shot at your local bar, an espresso is essentially a shot of coffee. This is made by forcing nearly boiling water under pressure through ground coffee beans which results in a thicker brew.
- Cappuccino – A favourite in Italy and the world over, a cappuccino is made with a shot of espresso, hot milk and topped off with frothed milk.
- Frappuccino – A popular order at Starbucks, the Frappuccino is made by combining ice, espresso, milk with sugar, a flavoured syrup and whipped cream.
- Macchiato – Similar to an espresso, with the only difference being the spoonful of steamed milk and foam to mask the harsh taste of the espresso.
Interesting Coffee Facts
- There have been several attempts throughout history to ban coffee. Including by Frederick the Great of Prussia, who placed a ban on coffee because it was interfering with citizens’ beer drinking habits.
- Coffee was originally chewed and not sipped. Arabian and African travelling traders from the early 16th century use to combine roasted coffee beans with animal fat for snacks on the go.
- Instant coffee has been around longer than you think. Instant coffee made its first appearance in England in 1771.
- Most caffeinated country? Finland. Even with all that Starbucks power in America, Fins still consume almost three times as much coffee as Americans.
- Hey, there’s actually a lethal dose of caffeine. Burning the midnight oil, but feeling sleepy? No worries, a cup of coffee will fix that. Just as long as you don’t have too much. According to research, 150 milligrams per kilogram of your body weight is enough to kill you (if you weigh 70 kg that would be 70 cups of coffee in one sitting).