Americans are obsessed with coffee, with nearly 85% of adults in the U.S. drinking at least one cup a day, according to the National Coffee Association. Americans drink an average of three cups a day per person, which works out to 587 million cups a year. Nearly one-third of those cups are filled with gourmet coffee, which signals that many people are not just coffee drinkers, they are coffee aficionados.
Despite the popularity of a good cup of joe, people are still woefully uninformed about America’s national drink. The untold truth about coffee will give you almost the same jolt as your first cup of the day.
Punishable By Death
Coffee has a reputation as the bad boy of hot beverages, especially in comparison to its more sedate cousin, tea. Sultan Murad IV, who ruled the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, was one of coffee’s greatest critics. Murad hated coffee so much he took it upon himself to walk the streets of Istanbul with a 100-pound broadsword, ready to behead any citizen of the empire who dared drink a cup of coffee.
Murad’s successor, Ibrahim I, lowered the penalty for drinking coffee from decapitation to a severe beating with a club. Second offenses were punished by sewing the perpetrator into a leather bag and throwing it into the river. Hopefully, the second-time offenders drank enough coffee ahead of time to make a great escape. Despite these harsh measures, the Turkish people never gave up on coffee and have in fact turned it into an art.
Boston Tea Party
When American colonists decided to strike out against the British, they turned to tea and coffee to make a powerful statement. First, outraged by the high taxation of imported tea, a group of Boston merchants dumped the tea into the harbor. In 1773 Second, they shunned the drink in favor of coffee, which had been present in the colonies since their founding. Coffee didn’t become popular in America until it became patriotic to drink it. It also became a helpful elixir during the Civil War, when soldiers used it to stay awake and alert.
$1,000 a Pound, Brewed by Elephants
Starbucks is renowned for brewing an expensive cup of coffee, but the chain is nowhere near the most expensive coffee on the planet. Black Ivory Coffee, which is brewed from a special coffee bean found only in Thailand, costs nearly $1,000 per pound. The coffee beans are turned into cherries and then fed to elephants in the village of Ban Taklang. When the elephants poop the beans back out, they are separated from the dung by villagers who can earn $10 for fifteen minutes of work, a solid wage in a country where laborers frequently make just $6 a day harvesting rice.
But why would anyone drink coffee made from beans that were eaten by elephants? It turns out the digestion process breaks down the bitter proteins that are present in most coffee beans. The elephant digestion enzymes also ferment the beans, which help the fruit from the pulp get into the bean.
Coffee beans fermented by animals are actually quite popular. Kopi Luwak coffee is made from the feces of civets, a feline type animal found in Indonesia and the Philippines. This coffee sells for $200 a pound.
Elephants aren’t the only animals with a taste for the good stuff. Ethiopian goats may have been the first mamals to discover the greatness of coffee. According to legend, Kaldi the Goat Herder was tending to his flock when he noticed that the goats became super energetic when they ate local coffee beans. Kaldo told the local abbot about this phenomenon, who then shared the story with the other monks in the monastery. The wondrous powers of coffee then spread around the world until the news reached the Arabian peninsula, which had an abundance of these magical beans Coffee was imported to the U.S. by the mid-1600s, when it was first served in New York.
World Record – 4,000 Gallons
The world record-breaking cup of coffee was served at Caffé Bene in South Korea in 2014, weighing in at a massive 4,000 gallons. The mug constructed to hold the coffee was 10 feet, 10 inches tall and was filled to the brim with a black iced Americano. The record was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.
There’s plenty of evidence that coffee is actually good for your health. For example, studies have concluded that the caffeine in coffee increases the production of dopamine. Dopamine makes the neurons in the brain fire faster than they usually do, leading to improvements in mood, energy and reaction times. So next time you feel like you need a cup of coffee to clear your brain fog, remember that science agrees with you and go have a cup of coffee – or two. Coffee not only improves your alertness and your intelligence, it can help deter dementia, so indulging in coffee is worth it.
There have been many studies confirming that antioxidants keep us healthy and protect us from disease. Most of the articles focus on all of the different food you can eat to boost your antioxidant intake, but they are often missing the best way to increase consumption of this all-important substance: coffee. That’s right, coffee provides more antioxidants in the average diet than any amount of fruit and vegetables. To stay healthy, keep drinking that coffee, secure in the knowledge that you may be helping your body fight off cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Starbucks wasn’t the first or only famous coffee chain started in America. Teddy Roosevelt’s kids started the first coffee chain by opening innovative coffee shops in New York City. Their father had had an affinity for coffee since he was given the drink as a child in order to treat his asthma attacks. His kids – Kermit, Ted, Archie, and Ethel – opened the first Brazilian Coffeehouse in 1919.
Brazilian Coffee House was different than the coffee shops that dotted the city at the time. The original coffee shops were mostly intended for immigrants to stop in, grab a cup of joe and head to work. The Roosevelts aimed to make coffee appeal to the masses, encouraging them to stay at the coffee house and relax while enjoying their coffee. They opened four shops and then sold the chain, which was renamed Double R Coffee, to a married couple who had met and fell in love in the original Roosevelt cafe.
Mid-Morning Power Surge
Everyone who drinks coffee has felt the surge of energy that happens after downing a cup. While coffee first thing in the morning will give you a boost, researchers found that you can maximize the power surge by drinking coffee between 9:30 and 11:30 am. The researchers concluded that the body’s stores of cortisol, a hormone related to stress and alertness, typically drops sometime mid-morning. Drinking coffee after they drop will give you a nice jolt.
Coffee Can Kill You
We now know that coffee makes you smarter, provides antioxidants and helps you stay alert, but that doesn’t mean drinking coffee is without risk. Moderation is important because you can overdose on coffee just like any other drug. Although people have different tolerance levels to caffeine, generally 10 grams of caffeine, when consumed rapidly, are enough to kill you. One cup of coffee usually has about 100 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. In order to overdose on coffee alone, you would need to drink around 40 cups very quickly to be in danger of overdose.
Caffeine Content Varies
Speaking of caffeine, the amount of caffeine in coffee varies significantly depending on the beans. Starbucks brews a much stronger variety of coffee than McDonald’s, for example. The Starbucks Grande Clover Brewed Coffee contains a huge 375 milligrams of caffeine , while Grande Americano contains 225 milligrams of caffeine.
A medium coffee from McDonalds only has 145 milligrams of caffeine. If you drink coffee for the high that comes from caffeine, you won’t find it in the standard fast food cup of joe.