Let's Talk Coffee - Coffee 101

Coffee is one of the most common and popular hot drinks in the world and by those who drink it, it is often said to be one of the best. I am a coffee lover myself and have enjoyed many different coffee drinks during my short 18 years of life. Cappuccino, Mocha Latte, spiced latte, espresso, macchiato, and so many more. We all seem to love spending expensive money on a fancy cup of coffee at our favorite café!

What is Coffee?

Coffee is a popular brewed drink made from coffee beans, which is actually the seed inside the red berries on the coffee plant. The plant is only native to subtropical Africa and islands in southern Asia, but has now been exported and cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily the equatorial regions.

There are over 100 coffee species, but there are only two main species that are widely produced and sold around the world and that is Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. They are very different!

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Coffee Arabica is often considered higher quality than Coffee Robusta, since Robusta can have a burnt or even rubbery taste and is usually much cheaper, about half price of Arabica. The reason behind the low price and weird taste is that the Robusta beans have a lot more caffeine than the Arabica beans, almost dubble the amount; 2,7% compared to 1,5%. The large amount of caffeine in the Robusto keeps the insects away, making it the stronger and more hardy of the two species. Robusta beans also contain only half the amount of sugar of that the Arabica beans does, making Robusta most peoples second choice.

You can tell the difference between an Arabica and Robusta bean just by looking at it. The Arabica bean is oval and sometimes a little bent, while the Robusta is very round and symmetrical.

Most coffee that you buy in a grocery store is a mix or blend, meaning that it contains both Arabica and Robusta beans, making it cheaper and way easier to produce than Arabica alone. Instant coffee is usually made from almost only Robusta.

                                              Caffeine - Coffee as a Drug 

2D structure of caffeine
source: Wikipedia

The picture on the side is 1,3,7 - Trimethylpurine,  is the magical chemical we call Caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant. It is the worlds most widely consumed psychoactive drug, but unlike most other psychoactive drugs, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.

 90% of all Americans drink coffee or consume caffeine in other forms every day!

Caffeine works through blocking the adenosine receptors, preventing the onset of drowsiness, but it also stimulates some parts of the autonomic nervous system. Many use it as a energy boost when needed or to improve performance, as caffeine is known to have these effects, but it has shown in studies that some people use it just to feel more like themselves or they consider coffee a need.

Caffeine drinkers often, without knowing or thinking about it, end up with drug dependency complete with withdrawal symptoms when you fail to keep the intake up, causing headaches, irritability and sleepiness. These withdrawal symtoms can stay just a few hours up to a couple of days and will most definitely put you in a grumpy mood.

Caffeine occurs naturally in 60 different plants, including Coffee beans, Tea leaves, Guarana, Yerbe Mate and Kola nuts. You can extract the caffeine by pressure cooking caffeinated plants with CO2, you then get caffeine in white powder form. This powder is used in products with added caffeine and as available dietary supplements.

It is one of the worlds most loved and consumed drugs, but it hasn't always been as accepted. Through history several countries have banned it wanted to make coffee and caffeine illegal, including Sweden at various times between 1756 - 1823.

Even though caffeine classifies as "generally recognized as safe", a tablespoon of pure powdered caffeine can be lethal and some people have died from this kind of overdose.

Fun facts

  • The World record for drinking most coffee is 82 cups in 7 hours (don't try this at home)
  • Finland drinks most coffee per person, while america drinks most coffee in general
  • Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world costing between $120-$160 per pound
  • Coffee is on second place as the most traded item in the world, after oil.
  • There is a 10-13% chance for a coffee drinker to live longer than a non coffee drinker.

Source: Wikipedia, theroasterspack

About Alicia Adams

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