0. For many, coffee is the logical first step in a morning routine. Whether a groggy individual scoops some ground beans into a coffee machine or a tardy employee orders a cup of joe while rushing to work, the mere action of consuming the beverage is ritualistic in nature. While some may rely on coffee to give them the energy necessary to wake up, others might use it as an afternoon-pick up. Regardless of the reason, it’s no surprise that billions of cups of coffee are reached for every day around the world.
1. Although it is true that coffee’s popularity spans the globe, over 90% of it is produced in the global South. Upon closer examination, we can find two of the world’s biggest coffee producers, Brazil and Colombia. These two South American countries account for a combined nearly 3.5 million metric tons (approximately 3 trillion kilograms) of coffee beans annually. Despite the association with South America and coffee production, many other countries also famously grow the crop. For instance, Vietnam has risen to success with a yearly yield of just over 1.5 million tons. Moreover, countries like Indonesia, Ethiopia and Honduras also harvest a significant number of well-loved varieties.
2. In spite of the monopoly of its global production, coffee’s rich history does not have South American beginnings. In fact, the earliest coffee origins seem to be associated with an Ethiopian legend written in the 1600s. In the story, a shepherd noticed how his goats became energetic after munching on coffee beans. Another early account comes from a Yemini Sheikh, who discovered coffee beans after being banished. In order to improve the bitter taste of the raw fruit, he boiled them and was energized by the liquid. In either explanation, no information on how the beans were grown is offered. The only takeaway from the two stories is that coffee has been used as a stimulant for centuries.
3. Indeed, coffee beans cannot just grow anywhere. Rather, a combination of consistently hot temperatures and mineral-rich soil plays a crucial role in the creation of coffee. What’s more is that the soil must be of a certain texture in order for the plants’ multiple roots to thrive. Beyond the basics, other details, such as the altitude of the farms, can determine the quality of the product. Let’s look at the case of Sumatra, Indonesia. This region produces some of the highest-quality bean varieties in the world at 600m above sea level.
4. In any large metropolis, rarely does one walk a kilometre without seeing a different coffee shop. In fact, you may also be faced with several household names on one block, all competing for business. For instance, Starbucks, which first opened its doors in Seattle, USA, in 1971, is among one of the most identifiable brands in the Western world. It has expanded to more than 50 countries and has become a place where professionals can independently work on their laptops or friends can simply catch up. Conversely, the notion of a coffeehouse is not a new one. These institutions date back to the Ottoman Empire and have been seen at several points in European history as places where artists, musicians or intellectuals would meet.
5. Notwithstanding its status as a universal beverage, coffee has adapted to fit almost every niche of the global economy. From the development to “just add water” instant coffee to the creation of “ready-made” canned coffee, consumers can find just about any variety of the substance they know and love. For instance, blended iced coffee was introduced in the mid-1990s by Starbucks. To date, their Frappuccinos come in several flavours including mocha, vanilla bean, chocolate chip and more. This assortment multiplies when purchasing the novelty beverage in other countries with unique options such as mango (China), grape (Singapore) and hazelnut (India) to name a few. By keeping up with trends in tastebuds, coffee manages to stay relevant and attract new customers.
6. However, not all coffee aficionados are concerned with this constant alteration. Taking Italy as an example, we see a nation that is dedicated to preserving the original taste and local customs. Italians typically drink a single-shot espresso with a glass of water, while standing at the bar of a coffee shop. Furthermore, there are particular rules as to what time of day particular beverages should be consumed. Most places will never serve a cappuccino past noon even to tourists who beg for one. The notion of trendy coffee beverages is simply not tolerated in many parts of this country.
7. As a result of the large volumes being consumed worldwide, one might imagine that this comes with a huge environmental footprint. Undeniably, issues such as deforestation, climate change, and responsible farming practices are all hot topics affecting the coffee trade at the moment. It is up to consumers to research how their favourite drink is being produced to ensure that they are making responsible choices.