The Stirring Story of Coffee: 11 Intriguing Facts from Bean to Cup

High angle view of coffee cup with vintage cezve and coffee grinder
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1. Papal Praise for the ‘Devil’s Brew’: In the 17th century, Europe was just starting to get a taste for coffee. Yet, the brew wasn’t welcomed by all, with some referring to it as the “bitter invention of Satan.” In a twist of events, Pope Clement VIII found himself interceding in 1615 at the request of Venetian clergy. After savoring the “Muslim drink,” he fell in love, quipping that it would be a pity to allow only infidels to enjoy such a delightful drink. By baptizing it, he believed, they could trick Satan himself.

2. Vietnam’s Brew Boost from East Germany: The 1970s saw East Germany grappling with a coffee shortage, and their solution lay in Vietnam. Investing the equivalent of many millions of dollars, they secured half of Vietnam’s coffee harvests for the next two decades. Ironically, by the time the first harvest rolled around in 1990, East Germany had already dissolved.

3. The Sweet Side of Coffee: Believe it or not, coffee comes from an edible fruit. Coffee cherries bear a sweetness that’s been likened to a fusion of watermelon, rosewater, and hibiscus.

4. A Royal Taste Test: Sweden’s King, in 1746, sought to prove coffee’s unhealthy nature. He instructed identical twins to drink copious amounts of coffee and tea each day for their entire lives. Yet, both twins outlived the king and the overseeing doctors.

5. Hamburgers and Brew: Before the rise of cola, hamburgers and coffee were the typical duo.

6. Boston’s Coffee Rebellion: Back in 1777, Boston was facing a coffee and sugar shortage. Over 100 incensed women stormed a wealthy merchant’s warehouse, demanded the keys, and choked him when he declined. They swiftly loaded their carts with coffee and left.

7. Turkish Coffee Culture: Coffee’s influence in Turkey is so profound that the Turkish word for ‘breakfast’ directly translates to ‘before coffee,’ and ‘brown’ is referred to as ‘the color of coffee.’

8. Natural Defenses: The coffee plant has a fascinating way of defending itself. The caffeine it produces leaches into the soil, which is toxic to other plants, inhibiting them from competing for sunlight.

9. Coffee Champions: Italy, France, and Brazil might be renowned for their coffee, but none make the top ten list of coffee-consuming countries. Instead, the Nordics rule the scene, with Finland topping the list and consuming over twice as much as Italy.

10. Ottoman Empire’s Coffee Conundrum: When coffee first emerged in the Ottoman Empire, it was deemed a drug and banned. However, it was eventually accepted as the Quran only prohibits intoxicants that cause inebriation or euphoria, and caffeine, being a mild stimulant, is permissible.

11. Health Perks: Regular coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other health problems. This is believed to be due to an unidentified component in coffee that interacts positively with the caffeine.

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